The top five ethical arguments against participation in online psychotherapy were (issues of privacy, confidentiality and security); (competence of the therapist and need for special training); (technology-specific communication issues); (research gaps) and (emergency issues). As effective as video conferencing can be, when you don't physically share the same space as the therapist, it can be more difficult to connect emotionally. Even when talking on video, you may miss some body language signals. The therapist may not see the leg you hit under the table, for example, or you may find it harder to capture the therapist's empathy and affection.
In addition to the importance of face-to-face interaction, there are other aspects to consider when comparing online therapy with face-to-face therapy. Reducing barriers to participating in psychotherapy by reducing stigma, being able to attend online sessions anonymously, thus improving the sense of privacy, reaching patients around the world and beyond borders are other advantages of online psychotherapy. The messaging aspect of some online therapy services can also be useful for tracking your progress and monitoring any setbacks. One of the main dangers of online therapy is opening a can of worms that cannot be contained properly and that makes things worse instead of making them better.
Some therapists offer online therapy through their own private practices, while others use third-party websites or directories to connect with patients. Because online therapy can cross state and even international lines, it is vitally important to know whether or not the therapist is licensed within the state in which the patient lives. Confidentiality is as important in online therapy as it is in more traditional forms of treatment administration. In fact, people often tell me that their online experience has been more satisfying than their previous in-person therapy.
People who are unable to leave home for various reasons, such as physical or mental illness, may find online therapy as a useful alternative to traditional face-to-face psychotherapy settings. Seeing an online therapist from the comfort and safety of your home can often help you open up, be more vulnerable, and better cope with difficult emotions that may arise during a therapy session. Online therapy also allows you to communicate with a qualified specialist from anywhere in the world, avoiding the expenses, travel time and the inconvenience of having to meet in person. In addition, some online therapy companies do not have clear guidelines for managing risky situations, such as a patient who may appear suicidal in their message responses, says Lynn Bufka, PhD, deputy executive director for practical research and policy at the APA.
Unlike face-to-face therapy, online therapy allows you to connect with a licensed therapist or counselor using any device that has an Internet connection, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. To begin with, that research focused primarily on the usefulness of online psychotherapy before shifting the emphasis to situations where online psychotherapy could be used, in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of this approach (. Practitioners should also do their due diligence when it comes to ensuring that their decision to hire an online therapy company does not violate compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), state licensing laws, and other legal and ethical practices, says Baker. Unless online therapy is encrypted, there is a danger that private information will be made public quickly.