App-based therapy platforms may well represent the next evolution of psychotherapy practice. I praised Talkspace a few years ago for offering access to mental health care for many who otherwise would never find their way to a therapist’s office. But the platforms — Talkspace, Betterhelp, and the like — have run into controversy over their confidentiality policies. Therapists using these apps may have little to no ready access to the client’s full name, address, or other information necessary in an emergency.
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.
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.