Online Psychotherapy – A Sign Of The Times
One of the latest trends in mental health services is to be able to provide individualized treatment and care for patients wanting psychotherapy but not able to come into the therapists office for a variety of reasons. Known as online psychotherapy, this email based or online meeting based therapy allows patients to communicate with the therapists at any time from the convenience of their home, office or laptop computer.
There are many people that using online psychotherapy with very positive results. As with any type of online service it is important for the consumer to do some research and learn about the therapist, check that they are actually a licensed professional holding all required credentials for the area they are practicing in.
The online psychotherapy site should clearly list the therapist’s educational background, work experience and related skills and knowledge base.
In some cases the online psychotherapy program will require the first session be completed over the phone to allow the patient and the therapist to build some rapport and personal sense of each other, something that is challenging to do strictly through using email.
Each online psychotherapy session will occur either through email questions or comments sent by the therapist with an ongoing dialogue through the email from the patient. The patient or client may also ask questions of the therapist or counselor, plus there are typically readings, tapes or video presentations on communication skills, relationship issues or other relevant information, that the therapist will make available to the client. In some online psychotherapy session there may even be real-time chat programs that the therapist may use to communicate directly with the client, depending on the program, issue and the types of services offered.
There are also some therapists, like My Family Psychologist that use a combination of webcam and voice chat systems that allows the patient and therapist to speak directly to each other as well as see each other from the comfort of the own home and office.
Not all professionals in the mental health field are in favor of online psychotherapy. There is, of course, the concern that anyone can set up a website and provide services, so it is very much a user beware system. In addition there is also the concern that emails and other communication may not be truly confidential, especially if saved on the patients computer that could be accessed by other members of the household. Some therapists have also expressed a concern that without the actual face to face contact between the therapist and the patient there is less rapport and insight into the client, which may lead to less effective overall therapeutic gains.