Online Therapy, e-therapy, online counseling, teletherapy – all these terms describe therapy and counseling services that are provided online. Online therapy involves an ongoing dialogue where the therapist and client establish a therapeutic relationship through messaging and / or video conferencing. Some people choose to consult with an online therapist on only one occasion or issue. Others prefer to establish a continuing relationship, and utilize the online counseling service on a regular basis.
Online Therapy might be a good fit for you if:
- You are at least 18 years of age
- You are not currently in a crisis, feeling suicidal or homicidal
- You understand the potential limitations of online counseling
- You are hesitant, reluctant, or unable to otherwise seek face-to-face therapy
- You agree (along with your online therapist) that the issues you are experiencing can be appropriately dealt with through online counseling
How does Online Therapy work?
Online Therapy is the provision of professional mental health counseling services via the Internet. Services are typically offered via email, real-time chat, and video conferencing. A growing number of clients are using online therapy as a complete replacement to traditional office visits with a psychotherapist . While some form of tele-psychology has been going on for over 35 years, the advent of internet video chat systems and the increasing penetration of broadband have resulted in a growing movement towards online therapy. Clients are using videoconferencing, synchronous chat and asynchronous email with professional counselors in place of or in addition to face-to-face meetings.
The growing body of research into online therapy and counseling has established the efficacy of online therapy with treatment outcomes at least equal to traditional in-office settings. Online therapy has additional benefits unrealized by office-based treatments as it allows the patient to attend sessions at a higher rate than traditional sessions. The number of missed appointments is much less than with in-person therapy. There is some research to suggest that online therapy is more effective because a client is at greater ease and feels less intimidated than they would in traditional settings. This makes clients more likely to be honest and thus allow the counselor to provide better treatment.
Online therapy is also filling the unmet need for clients located in areas traditionally under-served by traditional counselors. Rural residents and expats along with under-served minorities often have an easier time finding a suitable therapist online than in their local communities. These access issues are solved with online counseling resources and result in clients receiving culturally or linguistically relevant treatment that they would not have otherwise been able to receive. African Americans tend to have an elevated rate of stress-related diseases and have lower access to traditional face-to-face treatments.
Online therapy has also been shown to be effective for clients who may have difficulty reaching appointments during normal business hours.  Additionally, research is demonstrating that online counseling may be useful for disabled and rural people that traditionally under-utilize clinical services.  *From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_counseling
Limitations of Online Therapy
Please keep in mind that there are some potential limitations to online counseling. Because online therapy does not occur in a face-to-face setting, clients and therapists are not able to decipher tone, expression, or body language. In addition, there may be instances when technical difficulties prevent clients from utilizing the service, or online therapists from being able to respond as quickly as they would otherwise. If you are easily frustrated by technology or do not have convenient access to the internet, email and online counseling might not be the right fit.
Can I get evaluations done using Online Therapy?
The purpose of most evaluations is to determine the nature of a problem which involves developing a diagnosis and a set of recommendations, if necessary. Face-to-face time with your evaluator is an important component of this process. Online Therapy is therefore seldom the best means of obtaining an accurate diagnosis, although in some circumstance it may be appropriate. For this reason, online therapy is often denied reimbursement by behavioral health insurers.