Physical or virtual therapy? Here’s what works according to Dedoyin Ajayi

“The pandemic intensified the challenges that we observed in 2019 around mental health, and the economic and social disruptions it created led to a large increase in anxiety and depression.”- Dedoyin Ajayi. 

2020 marked a significant time for the entire world because of the pandemic. For most of the year, people cooped up in their homes and had to adapt to a new predominantly virtual lifestyle. Going from having consistent interactions with hundreds of people in a week to only interacting with close family members in the same home for months began to brew various issues like domestic violence, anxiety, depression, and, in certain cases, suicide

Photo Credit: CBC

During this time, Dedoyin Ajayi, a clinical psychologist, and Oluwaseun Raphael Afolayan, a software engineer and technical author, saw the gap in the mental health space, and their previous idea of creating a mobile mental health service was required. With so many people actively looking for help without knowing how to reach a professional to handle their cases, Dedoyin Ajayi and Oluwaseun Raphael Afolayan started a mental health service called “”.

By creating this initiative, the goal was to create a space where people could easily access mental health care that was fast and affordable during a time when everyone was experiencing financial constraints. has continued to provide virtual mental health care to Nigerians within Nigeria and in the diaspora, thereby increasing the quality of healthcare available in the country. 

Photo Credit: The founders of via Techpoint

To understand the effectiveness of technology on mental health, we spoke with Dedoyin Ajayi, a licensed psychotherapist with a specialty in emotional health and COO at She highlighted the impact of mental health care and how they intersect to provide clients with the best results for elevated mental wellness. 

The intersection between mental health and technology

Mental health in Nigeria used to be a hush-hush topic. However, with the internet and people actively deciding to change their perception of it, more Nigerians are becoming increasingly receptive to mental health issues and getting help.

At, the goal was to provide affordable and accessible mental healthcare from anywhere in the world, with the internet and mobile communication apps as the key tools for its execution. With the world going virtual during the pandemic, virtual therapy solved providing access to care for the people who needed it. Clients would book the service and get paired with a therapist. 

Virtual or physical therapy?

The pandemic revolutionised the use of technology in daily dealings. Business conversations and workspaces became virtual, forcing everyone to adopt the new norm. This new norm also affected mental health care, with therapy sessions going virtual. While physical sessions possess distinctive qualities, virtual sessions are equally as effective as physical sessions.

“Based on the feedback we’ve received, people are getting their desired results. And if that weren’t the case, we would’ve gotten enough feedback to know that virtual sessions don’t work, but they do.”

For many clients, virtual sessions make them more receptive to treatment and help to reduce their anxiety about speaking with a stranger. “Because they are in their space, they do not feel out of place and can sit, be centred, and tethered to their energy. For many people, that has been a huge relief,” said Dedoyin. “Even before the pandemic, I’ve had clients that would come to sessions with a nose mask on just because they were shy. It was such a strange concept to share your entire life with a stranger, but virtual sessions help significantly to mitigate the concerns surrounding social anxiety and therapy.” 

“While physical sessions are great, I don’t think there is such a significant difference to make them a healthier or better option in place of virtual sessions.”

The future of mental health

As technology evolves, we encounter significant innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These innovations, because to the ways they perform, have posed the challenge of job security for people of various professions, causing them to wonder if AI or a robot might take over their jobs, but this is not a concern for therapists and other psychology practitioners because of the nature of the profession. 

Photo credit: WHYY

“I am not fazed,” said Dedoyin. Confident in her profession and the rigidity of the psychological system, Dedoyin is confident that AI or machine learning will not take on human emotions in all of its complexities and take over from the human beings in the profession. “There’s a big difference between what AI can do and what the human soul can do,” says Dedoyin. “AI can replicate intelligence but cannot replicate emotional empathy.” 

“While we can leverage AI on so many levels, in seeing AI as a threat in replacing the therapists in their jurisdiction as agents of mental health care, honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.”

Whether virtual or in person, if you’re seeking therapy, you must always look for promptness and quality.

 “Make sure that in your hearts, you are determined to get the help you deserve. Your therapist must be prompt and knowledgeable about the things you are presenting with.” 

Technology was created to make life easier, and with virtual therapy, getting quality mental health care is the epitome of “fast and efficient” healthcare. After running a virtual therapy clinic for four years, Dedoyin Ajayi is certain that the intersection between technology and mental health is beneficial to the progress of mental health care. Would you ever try virtual therapy? Let us know in the comments.


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