What you need to know before choosing online therapy

Become an informed consumer of telepsychology services—learn factors to take into account when considering online therapy and explore additional resources.

With the click of a mouse or the tap of an app, you can have instant and inexpensive access to a therapist, or so make the claims of many new tools and technologies that want to take psychotherapy out of the therapist’s office and into whatever location you are connected to the Internet. Using the Web can be convenient for the many people who are comfortable using the Internet and looking for help.

But before you sign up, log in, and start chatting, there are points to consider about telepsychology.

Psychologists commonly refer to any therapy delivered by telecommunication tools or devices as telepsychology. You may hear it called Web therapy, phone therapy, text therapy or online therapy. Anytime you’re interacting with a psychologist using a website, a phone or a mobile app, you could be taking part in telepsychology services.

Technology can contribute to an evolution in how people receive psychotherapy or work with a psychologist. Researchers are taking great interest in telepsychology and telehealth, evaluating how well it works, especially compared to in-person, in-office psychotherapy sessions. But much like the technology, the research is still new, and there is a lot science doesn’t yet know.

There are a few points to consider before signing up for any services that are offered exclusively online or by telephone.

Why people like Web therapy
Web therapy has a lot of promise and offers benefits compared to in-person psychotherapy.

It can be convenient. Online therapy can take less time away from the office or your workday or worry about traffic. No need to travel miles to meet up with your psychologist. Dial a number or log in to a site, and the session can happen wherever you are comfortable.Compared to traditional in-person therapy, it can sometimes appear less expensive. Some apps will advertise pricing that provides unlimited use for a weekly or monthly fee. Or the online session may seem significantly lower than in-office visits. If you’re not interested in using health insurance for psychotherapy, this can be a benefit. More about insurance and online therapy is discussed in the next section.Online communication is very comfortable for many people, especially younger adults or those who use technology often. More people are using email, webinars and text messaging to communicate, and it can seem more comfortable or easier than talking to someone in person, especially when revealing personal or private information.It can provide access to those who can’t get to an office. In some rural communities, the nearest psychologist office may be an hour or two drive away. Some people with chronic illnesses or disabilities may not be able to drive or easily able to leave their home. In these situations, Web- or telephone-based therapy may be their only option for help.
What you need to think carefully about regarding Web-based therapy
Despite the potential benefits, psychologists caution that Web-therapy may not be the best option for everyone or every situation in need of professional support. Here are a few points to consider or ask before signing up:

Is this the right tool to help me? The research hasn’t yet shown that stand-alone therapy online or via texting is effective for everyone in every situation. Some sites advertise that they offer therapy, but those claims may be misleading or false. For example, the people behind the apps may not be licensed or qualified to provide therapy.Is the therapist licensed? Licensing protects you. Therapist and psychotherapist are not legally protected words in most states, meaning anyone can claim to be a therapist and offer services that may appear as therapy. It may not always be easy to know that you are receiving evidenced-based psychotherapy.

All psychologists and other professional health providers must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensure laws protect you by ensuring only those who are trained and qualified to practice receive a license. It also ensures that you have recourse if there are problems with your treatment. Before you sign up for any Web services, find out who you are working with, if he or she has a license, where that license is held and the license number. Most states offer an online, searchable directory of professionals licensed in their state.Is the psychologist licensed in the state you live? Licenses are granted by each state with their own laws and rules, much like each state determines what residents must know to earn a driver’s license. But unlike driver’s licenses, which allow you to legally operate a car in all states, a health care provider is limited to providing services in the state in which they are licensed. The provider must be licensed in the jurisdiction where you are located, and making that determination may be difficult to do if you don’t know where he or she is physically located.Is the site or app secure? Will the information I provide remain confidential? Psychotherapy works in part because psychologists ensure that clients have a safe, private space to share deeply personal and sometimes difficult stories, thoughts or emotions. What happens and is said in a therapy office stays there, with the exception of a few situations. The site or app you use should, at a minimum, be HIPAA-compliant and have the ability to verify your identity and your therapist’s identity.How will you pay for the service? Many insurance companies cover the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders—treatment that includes in-person psychotherapy. If you work with a psychologist in her office, your insurance could cover most or all of the fee, depending on whether you need to meet a deductible or have a co-pay. Psychologists will often provide an invoice that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. But online therapy or web therapy services are often not covered or reimbursable by most insurance providers. If you plan to be reimbursed, check with your insurance company first. Otherwise, prepare to pay for the full cost yourself.
More psychologists are exploring online sites and apps just as more patients are interested in using them. Research does show that some technological tools can help when used in conjunction with in-office therapy.

Many psychologists and patients are finding text messages helpful for quick check-ins or reminders. Some apps can help track and log moods or thoughts. Web-conferencing and streaming in real time can offer continuity when a patient is on vacation or not able to make a regular session.

There are cases in which Web-conferencing or therapy via telephone does seem to be a viable option on its own for some people. But for now, with the current research and with the current technology, mobile apps and text messaging are best used as complementary to in-person psychotherapy.

reference: APA
16 replies
  1. Fateme Hemmati
    Fateme Hemmati says:

    I think many teenagers avoid any direct and face-to-face communication due to age-specific conditions. An online counseling session with a qualified online counselor and psychotherapist can be the beginning of an intimate, deep and effective relationship for these teenagers.

  2. Masoumeh Ashoury
    Masoumeh Ashoury says:

    Hello, this article explains what you need to know before choosing online therapy and the factors you should consider when considering online therapy. A few things to consider before signing up for any service that is offered exclusively online or over the phone = Why do people like web therapy? Is this the right tool to help me? Is the therapist licensed? Is the site or app safe? Is the information I provide confidential? How do you pay for the service?Etc

  3. Masoumeh
    Masoumeh says:

    Hello, this article explains what you need to know before choosing online therapy and the factors you should consider when considering online therapy. A few things to consider before signing up for any service that is offered exclusively online or over the phone = Why do people like web therapy? Is this the right tool to help me? Is the therapist licensed? Is the site or app safe? Is the information I provide confidential? How do you pay for the service?Etc

  4. zeinab rostami
    zeinab rostami says:

    Based on the article: The advantages of online psychotherapy, the client can go anywhere in the world to communicate with his therapist, in whatever style and approach he wants, and buy time for himself and not walk for miles.
    And only the need for online treatment should be sufficient knowledge
    My opinion: online, a person cannot get 100% output because when he is projecting, he cannot get a feeling of understanding from his therapist, especially in EFT treatments that require empathy and hugs.
    And it is necessary for the treatment process to be in person

  5. Arefeh akbarpur
    Arefeh akbarpur says:

    Of course, online treatment is very helpful, but the point is that online therapy is not suitable for all sections of our society, for example, it can be more useful for those with higher education or relative awareness of their problem.

  6. ساناز سعادتی
    ساناز سعادتی says:

    In my opinion, first of all, we should know that psychology, like other professions, has a subset of specializations, that each person will go to the right specialist in this field according to her understanding of the scope of her problems.

  7. ghazal moulayi poor
    ghazal moulayi poor says:

    Many studies show that online therapy is highly effective. A recent study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders concluded that online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is our leading therapeutic technique, is equally impactful as face-to-face CBT.

  8. ساناز سعادتی
    ساناز سعادتی says:

    Therapists can receive the necessary online treatment methods and expertise, knowledge, training and supervision.

  9. ساناز سعادتی
    ساناز سعادتی says:

    Online therapists follow the rules and regulations set by your geographic location. For example, in the United States of America, only people who have received special training and passed the necessary licensing procedures are allowed to call themselves psychologists.
    Therapists can receive the necessary on

  10. hadis torkamandi
    hadis torkamandi says:

    The fact that we can have psychotherapy with an application and using the Internet makes it much easier for us, this method is called remote psychology. In my opinion, there are significant benefits of web therapy or online treatment of traditional melons in the office, it also saves time, sometimes it costs less, and in some areas, the closest psychological office may take hours.

  11. nadia norouzi
    nadia norouzi says:

    hi, i think In general, proper communication and necessary trust cannot be done with this method

  12. Rozhan Khajehvandi
    Rozhan Khajehvandi says:

    Hello sir,
    It was such an amazing and helpful article.
    Thanks for sharing the information to us.
    Also I feel like trusting online people would be a little bit hard but still it can be the easiest way.

  13. hadis torkamandi
    hadis torkamandi says:

    Psychology is so broad that it can influence the state of others from a distance

  14. Mohadese salimzade
    Mohadese salimzade says:

    Hello professor, the article was excellent and my opinion about telepsychology is positive and I think it has more benefits than what you said in the article. With this part of the article, it is about saving time and not worrying about being late and traffic. I agree, in general, virtual work is done faster, especially now that it is the modern century and progress can be seen day by day, even now, with the advent of artificial intelligence, this progress can be seen. I think remote psychology can have disadvantages as well as advantages. The permission that we must make sure that the person behind the program is trained for this and then tell us our personal information. We must be careful not to trust any website that we are not sure about.


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