Wikipedia has this to say about online psychotherapy;
"Online psychotherapy refers to the practice of traditional psychotherapy carried out via the internet.
Psychosocial interventions are effective in the treatment of a range of psychiatric disorders. Supply constraints however mean that access to psychotherapy is limited, particularly for those in less developed countries and in rural areas. The use and acceptability of the Internet as a medium for information on a range of physical and mental health issues is well documented.
More recently, the internet has become a vehicle in which psychological assessment can be conducted and treatment can be delivered. Compared to face-to-face treatment for psychological disorders, on-line interventions may be more appealing to those with mental illness. Online interventions are potentially accessible, cost-effective, and enable limitless access.
A range of therapy formats currently exist online. Many of these interventions have been validated for efficacy, and have been tailored for specific disorders eg. MoodGYM for depression (http://www.moodgym.anu.edu.au), panic online for panic disorder and http://www.moodswings.net.au for bipolar disorder."
One of the difficulties that providers of online psychotherapy or counseling will have to overcome concerns definitions.
One of the key concepts of psychotherapy is the diagnosis. Only licensed providers can diagnose, and their licenses may limit the area in which they can work.
And a diagnosis is going to be hard to do over the phone, in chat, or by e-mail.
Online counseling, or coaching, can be done without creating a diagnosis though.
However, I believe a case could be made for a diagnosis by a provider using a video conferencing platform.
Having said all of that, it looks like online psychotherapy is here to stay.
There is emerging research about the efficacy of online psychotherapy, and there are some interesting issues for the counseling/therapy community to discuss.
What kind of training needs to happen for online psychotherapists? My counseling education did not deal with online counseling in any way, especially on the technical side.
However, there are counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and coaches of all stripes joining the fray, and there is research happening, and associations forming, and online groups providing services, so you can bet that the early adopters are leading the way with their experiences.
What if a client is not a skilled typist, so the client's best style of communication needs to be discussed and how do I as an online psychotherapist determine that the client I am talking to is the client I am supposed to be talking to?
I imagine that latter concern would really apply to court ordered clients.
I doubt though that latter issue will be much of an issue, because I do not believe most jurisdictions will allow online counseling, say for a DUI, to take the place of face to face counseling at an agency.
Most consumers of online psychotherapy will then be voluntary, and I would have no problem working with them without needing to establish an identity.
Can you imagine your online psychotherapist prescribing some homework, homework that increases your IQ?
I hope you can imagine that, because you might find yourself doing the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Program, which has been shown to increase IQ.
The brain fitness folks are creating programs which stimulate neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells, and neuroplasticity, which is the neuronal rewiring we do when learn something new.
The more rewiring I can get done on a daily basis, the better my brain ages, and the more connections I have available for solving issues in my life.
If you want to get a head start on your brain fitness, try either of these programs.
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