Online therapy has emerged as a viable new option in the helping profession. Online therapy or e-therapy occurs when a therapist provides therapy and support over the Internet. E-mail, chat, video, or smart phone are all ways individuals can communicate through online therapy. Online therapy websites are abounding on the Internet, any individual seeking online therapy will surely find what they are looking for. This paper will evaluate and explain the content from three online therapy sites, how professional associations and state regulatory boards view online therapy, the security and ethical issues involved with online therapy, and the advantages and disadvantages of online therapy.Mytherapycouch.
com According to Mytherapycouch.com (2012), “Mytherapycouch.com is the cultivated brainchild of a group of dedicated mental health professionals who joined with a group of IT experts - all who share one vision: Create a therapeutic, virtual community of individuals with a focus on nurturing and compassionate guidance.” Mytherapycouch.com is devoted to providing individuals with a safe and positive place to develop (Mytherapycouch.
com, 2012). Each therapist employed by the site is a carefully selected fully licensed clinical or counseling psychologist. Each therapist must at least five years of professional experience (Mytherapycouch.com, 2012). The site has pictures of each therapist along with a quick biography for individuals to read.
The sites IT staff has over 20 years of experience designing advanced, high-volume platforms to provide users with a rich, interactive online experience. The site provides individuals with group, and one-on-one counseling services.Mytherapycouch.com offers many ways for individuals to interact with each other as well as the staff (Mytherapycouch.
com, 2012). MyTherapyCouch.com provides basic forums free of charge to the community but encourage individuals to participate in the sites paid only support groups. Individuals who participate can earn rewards through a point system which helpful contributions can earn cool forum perks as well as free memberships to the paid-only support groups (Mytherapycouch.com, 2012). Mythrapycouch.
com taker the sites public forums very seriously and do not tolerate abusive or unconstructive individuals. The site provides individual with a free question and answer forum, private support groups, and direct counseling. The private support groups provide individuals with professional input and privacy. Direct counseling is personalized, qualified, and convenient. The site matches individuals with therapists who are familiar with the individual’s issue.
The online interaction occurs through e-mail only, the site does not instant messaging or phone and video chat.LivePerson LivePerson provides individuals with a safe and easy enviroment. The site is the world’s number one online counseling expert (LivePerson, 2012). LivePerson provides services to thousands of people worldwide.
The site operate 24 hours a day and employs professionals who are experts in more than 600 categories, some of which include sex therapy, family therapy, ADD and ADHD, depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, and so on (LivePerson, 2012). LivePerson provides a user-friendly platform for individuals to find professionals at the moment the individual would like (LivePerson, 2012). The sites online interaction occurs through live chat and e-mail. According to LivePerson (2012), “LivePerson users maintain anonymity within a completely safe and secure platform.
Our online counseling takes place in a private and strictly confidential environment with anonymous aliases, providing a higher level of anonymity than traditional face-to-face counseling.”Getting started on the site is very easy with three simple steps to follow. Choose a counselor, start chatting free, and pay when ready. Counselors are available for quick chats to deal with quick matters or weekly sessions to assist in an ongoing problem. LivePerson’s pricing ranges anywhere from 20 to 500 dollars and the first few minutes of therapy is free.Online-Therapy.
com Online-Therapy.com is a web-based therapy based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The site offers many programs that address numerous different issues, such as insomnia, depression, bipolar, and so on. Online-Therapy.com staff includes consultant therapists, cognitive behavioral therapists, practitioners and support staff (Online-Therapy.com, 2012).
All staff work together to give individuals high-quality online therapy. Online-Therapy.com head therapist, Margaret Sweet has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and over 29 years of experience in psychology and mental health, social services and human behavior (Online-Therapy.com, 2012).
To get started on the site all individuals need to do is follow a self-explanatory online step-by-step therapy.The therapy consists of eight sessions in eight weeks. Individuals who participate will get access to worksheets in each session, and to a personal therapist who will monitor every aspect of the individual’s online therapy program. Individuals will receive daily feedback and access to live chats with a therapist. The site offers a test at the beginning of the program that allows individuals to address and evaluate his or her problems. It also offers an online forum that allows individuals possessing similar problems to meet and chat.
The site offers mobile access as well to an electronic tablet or smart phone. The site is a little pricey but offers a 14-day money back guarantee.Professional Associations and State Regulatory Boards Views Professional associations are often slow at times to endorse new practices, such as online therapy. Many states have different licensing requirements and treatment guidelines.
Online therapists are subject to the same laws that regulate online therapy. Laws are very clear in most states; therapists must be licensed in the state of residence of the client. The same verification process is required by state licensing boards if a therapist wants to practice online. No matter what the communication technology used to deliver therapy, practice is practice.
Security and Ethical Issues Online therapists are still regular therapist, therapist who must act responsibly in caring for clients. Most therapists follow a code of ethics that governs his or her behavior. Just because a therapist is working online does not mean these codes go out the window, the codes must be followed. Online therapists must act as a therapist at all times.
Online therapist cannot abandon a client, misrepresent credentials, services, fees, or make any false claims. Most online therapists are skilled professionals that take his or her job very seriously. Many mental health professionals believe that online therapy is not ethical and that it could harm individuals. The truth is that not all therapists make effective online therapist and that online therapy is not appropriate for some individuals. Many organizations that practice mental health begun to publish guidelines about Internet activities that are ethical.
Some of these organizations include American Counseling Association, Internet Health Coalition, and the National Board of Certified Counselors.This world is not perfect and confidentiality is compromised every day, even in the best circumstances. The Internet is not a very good means of secure communication. Many therapists are responsible at protecting client confidentiality. It is very unusual for a credited therapist to reveal client information. Many online therapy sites have begun to offer an increased level of security protect clients better.
Online therapists must protect client’s confidentiality as they would in an office setting.Advantages and Disadvantages There are many advantages and disadvantages of online therapy. One advantage of online therapy is it can go anywhere. Many times individuals are postponing therapy sessions due to the individual’s busy lifestyle.
A second advantage of online therapy is that is affordable compared to regular therapy. Another advantage of online therapy is that many people who would not feel comfortable discussing problems in a face-to-face setting are seeing somebody online. Individuals can create the therapy environment he or she enjoys. A few other advantages of online therapy is its convenient, provides service to housebound or handicapped individuals, and individuals who live in remote areas can access therapy.With advantages comes a disadvantage. One disadvantage of online therapy is that therapists cannot view the client’s nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication can be very important to therapist when helping an individual with a problem. A second disadvantage of online therapy is that it is not appropriate for everyone. Individuals suffering from serious problems may not be getting the detailed therapy needed. Many other disadvantages of online therapy include insurance policies not covering therapy, unreliable technology, and therapists cannot respond to crisis situations.Conclusion Online therapy is simply communicating with a qualified, professional by e-mail, instant messaging, and chat through a computer. Many online therapy sites have been created for individuals seeking a different way to receive counseling.
Mytherapycouch.com, LivePerson, and Online-Therapy.com are just three of many successful online therapy sites. Each site differs but has similar missions and goals. There are many security and ethical issues regarding online therapy along with many advantages and disadvantages.
It looks like online therapy is here to stay and is growing with every passing day.