In the past three weeks, we’ve discussed what we know and don’t know about online psychotherapy, and four reasons to move your practice online. As you’ve read, online psychotherapy has a great deal of potential, and may be a good fit for your practice. It does, however, come with some risks to both you and your clients. Here, I’ll address some of those risks and how you can minimize them.
Four reasons to move your practice online
As I’ve outlined in the past two weeks, there is a lot we know and a lot we don’t know about online therapy. If you’re considering moving part or all of your practice online, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you have the appropriate technology, and are you comfortable using it? Do you have policies and practices ready for online work? Have you ensured that your online work will be fully legally and ethically compliant, and consistent with best practices like those outlined in the new AAMFT Online Therapy Best Practices guide? Are your clients appropriate for online therapy?
Many therapists wrestle with the choice of whether to practice online. While these are not determining factors — in other words, I’m not saying your final decision should be to practice online, as there’s more to consider than what’s below — here are four good reasons to consider making the move.
What we don’t know about online therapy
Last week, I offered a snapshot of what we know about online therapy. That data shows a great deal of potential for online work. However, there is also a lot that we don’t know about online therapy. In today’s post, I’ll address three of those unanswered questions.
As I mentioned last week, the research base for online psychotherapy is growing quickly. It may be that answers to these questions will be more readily available just weeks or months from now. In addition, the fact that we do not yet have answers to these questions should not stop therapists interested in working online from doing so. But for the time being, these are issues where we as a field are still seeking important information.
What we know about online therapy
The world of online therapy continues to develop rapidly. There are now dozens of videoconference platforms designed or marketed specifically to therapists. The research base is steadily growing. States and provinces are working feverishly to provide clarity in law for therapists working online.
In such a rapidly-changing environment, it can be difficult for therapists to reasonably assess the current state of online psychotherapy. Here’s what we can safely say we know as of April 2017. Unless otherwise noted, “online therapy” here refers to interactive, video-based work. Other forms of technology, including phone, text, and chat, are often used in therapy, but less is known about them.
Therapy by text? Yes, and that’s good
Earlier this year, Talkspace raised eyebrows when it raised $2.5 million in venture-capital funding for its platform linking therapists with clients by video or simple text messaging. The site offers video therapy for $29 for 30 minutes, or unlimited text-messaging contact with a therapist (that is, therapy by text) for $25 a week.
This is good. Here’s why.