I have just returned from BACP’s Evening with Yalom by video link, which was attended by nearly 1,000 BACP members
I have just returned from BACP’s Evening with Yalom by video link, which was attended by nearly 1,000 BACP members. I confess that the prospect of having the great man beamed into a conference hall in London worried me a lot as I thought people might be terribly disappointed. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Somehow the giant screens and the technology via which we could interact with Yalom and his psychotherapist son Victor, while they sat looking relaxed at home in California, created an experience that for me was infinitely superior to the last time I was in one of Yalom’s large audiences in a London University lecture hall. Strangely the technology made it feel more direct, more authentic, more intimate even.
I would like to have asked Yalom what he thinks about online therapy, which we revisit in our news feature this month. I can’t imagine, with his emphasis on working in the here and now, that he would rate it very highly. I have never had online therapy myself but have the same instinctive suspicions as I do of online dating. I remember being told during my therapy training that over 80 per cent of communication is non-verbal. If this is true then surely online therapy would be seriously limiting? But, as the interviewees in our feature all agree, online is how most people communicate these days. Online therapy can reach people who would never access therapy in their whole lives; it is preferred by different age groups for its convenience and flexibility; it is cheap to deliver. And for many people it offers a more effective experience than face to face: some therapists are reporting that clients are able to ‘drill down to the issues that matter more quickly’ and are also more ready to ‘disclose personal information when they can’t actually see or be seen by their therapist’.
Wasn’t this why another famous therapist introduced the couch? He felt uncomfortable when his patients looked at him and believed that when no eye contact was made, patients felt freer to express themselves.