Therapy is basically defined as the act of offering care and medical training to someone who is facing difficult situations in life by the help of a trained professional; therapist. There are various difficult life moments in human life sometimes occasioned by loss of a job, a home, a loved one, overwhelming emotions and feelings, challenges of parenting and family life, troubling relationships, difficulties at work etc. Such kind of life changes and experiences may hold one back, limiting his/her life in ways that seem unending.
Struggle with problems like depression, self confidence, and low self esteem affects ones attitude towards him/her self thus need for therapeutic support becomes essential in such moments. This is basically seen as traditional therapy because it entails physical contact between the therapist and the client facing the difficult moment. The therapeutic services which are aimed at helping the client overcome the experienced difficult moments in life making him/her regain the normal mental and psychological state are provided by well trained professionals called psychotherapists in accordance with the state and federal regulations and professional code of ethics.
Online therapy refers to the clients’ efforts to access the counseling services of a psychotherapist over the internet. This is basically an online conversation with a therapist either by electronic mail, chart, and video or even internet phone. Analytically, electronic therapy provides alternative counseling services and care in situations where the traditional method of psychotherapy is not efficient and/or inconvenient but not a replacement of the traditional psychotherapy. E-therapy is effective, private and conducted by skilled, qualified, and ethical professionals (Kate & DeeAnna, 2012). The online therapy conversations are enabled by use of e-therapy sites developed to connect the client with live human experts in emotional and mental health, who are ready to provide individualized support to various clients. This kind of a service is tailor-made as an effective alternative source of psychological counseling for people who may not have access to a therapist nearby, maybe nervous or embarrassed about the whole process of counseling. Many other people have fixed schedules which keep them from getting help in person, while others may not afford to see a counselor in person. Similar to the traditional therapy sessions, online therapy sessions last for an agreed period of time say half an hour or one hour depending on the agreement achieved between the client seeking for help and the psychotherapist. Thus from a basic point of view, the period taken for all the e-therapy sessions differs among clients depending on various factors as the complexity of the issue at hand.
Online Therapy Websites
MyTherapyNet.com is an online therapy site that offers counseling services and help to people with depression, stress, relationship issues and mental health issues. MyTherapyNet is a professional therapy site that specializes in the provision of therapeutic support to the mental health clients with the use of sound business principles and practices to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery. It is all proprietary such that all the components of the system are built and controlled by it to ensure high quality and uncompromised service. Powerful security measures are put into practice for customer satisfaction and confidentiality. Additionally, a client’s personal contact details are not stored by MyTherapyNet websites and the servers through which communication is processed thus chances of any other person accessing such details are greatly reduced (Kathleen, 2000).
Serenity Online Therapy is e-mail counseling and chart therapy specialized in mental health services. Carl Benedict who runs the Serenity Online Therapy is a licensed clinical professional counselor with a wide range of counseling experience; he provides support to clients enabling them to develop the emotional ability to skillfully manage and utilize their feelings to create a more fulfilling life. For the purpose of ensuring client security and confidentiality is achieved, Serenity Online Therapy uses a data encryption protocol. Together with such measures, professional guidelines are greatly followed in storing clients’ information to ensure the client’s online privacy in chat therapy and email counseling. The client’s email address and personal information are not shared to third parties and the payment is enabled by PayPal such that the therapist has no access to the credit card details (Carl, 2005). The website has guideline information for the client to help him observe privacy while accessing and using the services provided, such guidelines include use of safe email, regular email, privacy when using the questionnaire, and information concerning limits to confidentiality and privacy. The services offered can be reviewed at a later date, offers somewhat instant response but does not support the use of non-verbal cues.
Therapy247.com is another online therapy website that helps people who exhibit self defeating behavior and actions. The site offers help through chatting with victims on the Therapy247 forum. The site members believe in sharing their experiences of recovery however small or big in order to help each other overcome life problems together. It is basically a social networking site with like minded people who can help with one’s problems in which members use built-in communication services and message boards, create topics and invite people who share their interests. It is a free site that offers therapy related content through members’ sharing of their advice and problems with others in an effective form of therapy. The members base on the fact that words of comfort skillfully administered are the best therapy ever known to man. The problems tackled are mostly related to depression, anxiety, addiction, body image issues etc. Although chatting is not completely secure, it offers instant response to clients and can be reviewed at a later date.
The Online Therapy Institute is an established organization whose purpose is to verify e-therapy websites to instill ethical and legal compliance with the considered best practices. To ensure such measures are observed, it offers an Online Therapy practical guide which contains information and research, ethical and legal advice, describing the basic practices to be adhered to when setting up and/or joining a service, and the essential therapeutic skills needed for one to be an effective online therapist. Additionally, it provides training on mental health issues and the appropriate technology for mental health professionals, teachers and human resources professionals for the purpose of efficiency in service delivery. It is important to note that therapist and counselors have to comply with the restrictions and mandates of state law and online therapy professionals. These include issues professional licensing, following the ethics during the operations, observing practitioner and client protections and even electronic security measures (Kate & DeeAnna, 2012).
The basic disadvantage of online therapy is the risk of other people accessing one’s personal information which can be minimized by use of passwords. Together with that is the fact that not all problems can be solved or approached through online therapy for example non-psychological problems as financial or legal problems, child therapy etc.
However, e-therapy is neither psychotherapy nor a replacement or substitute for psychotherapy; this is because working with a therapist in person is the best method of accessing counseling services. Thus as much e-therapy is an effective form of counseling it falls short of psychotherapy. E-therapy is not similar to one searching for mental and emotional health information on the internet but more of an online conversation with a professional therapist who answers questions and provides psychological advice to the affected clients. The e-therapists go on developing established relationships with the client helping the clients’ explore personal issues.
Carl, B. (2005). Serenity Online Therapy. Web.
Kate, E. & DeeAnna, M. (2012). Online Therapy Institute: Bringing together technology and mental health. Web.
Kathleen, D. (2000). Online Therapy. Web.