Most Frequently Asked Questions about Online Therapy
Q. What is Online Counseling?
A. Online counseling is the provision of professional mental health and substance abuse counseling through the internet. It can also include other electronic means of communication such as telephone or online chats, email, video conferencing. It is confidential, short-term and solution focused. It is intended to prevent the exacerbation of lifestyle conditions that interfere with health living. Online Counseling addresses issues such as improving relationships at home and work, stress management, marital/parenting problems, grief and loss, problems with addictions.
Q. What is not addressed through confidential online counseling?
A. Online counseling is suitable for individuals who are not actively suicidal or homicidal or psychotic or at danger of serious harm from withdrawal from alcohol or other substances. Individuals with these type of issues need to call 911 or go to the nearest ER. Online therapy has its limitations and some clients may need a more traditional approach to therapy, like a a face-to-face counselor. Examples of some limitations would be individuals with life long treatment resistant problems. Online therapy is not a place to be diagnosed, you would need to be seen in an office by a medical doctor or clinically licensed counselor.
Q. How is online counseling kept confidential when using the Internet to communicate?
A. Keeping online conversations private is the responsibility of both the therapist and client. The therapist by law must protect client's private mental health information. Therapist clinical notes are secured in password/encrypted folders
Q. Does online counseling work?
A. Yes, in some situations. Online counseling is still relatively a new way to provide therapeutic services but some research as well as patients who have gone through online counseling state that online counseling can be effective.
A few research sources: http://psychology.about.com/od/psychotherapy/a/onlinepsych.htm
Richards, Derek & Vigano, Noemi. (2013). OnlineCounseling: A Narrative and Critical Review of the Literature. Journal of Clinical Psychology
Alleman, James R. (2002). Online counseling: The Internet and mental health treatment.
Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Vol 39(2), 2002, 199-209.
Wagner, Birgit & Harp, Andrea B, & Maercker, Andreas. (2014) Internet-Based Verses Face-To-Face Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial. Journal of Affective Disorders. Vol 152(154), 2014, 113-121.
Q. What are some of the challenges of online counseling?
A. The most common issues with online counseling are problems with the technology being used, connection issues. Interacting without visual or verbal feedback. It's easy to miscommunicate in written form.