What we cover in this video
- The benefits, risk and limits of online therapy
During the informed consent process, it is important that therapists explain to clients the benefits, risks and limits of participating in online therapy.
Benefits of online therapy
Benefits of online therapy include potential reductions in distress, improvements in well-being, greater personal insight, improved relationships, and so on. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of online therapy for various presenting concerns.
Another potential benefit of online therapy is that it "meets clients where they are at". For example, accessing therapy from a mobile device, includes benefits such as less travel time and more flexible scheduling.
In addition, therapy via a mobile device may be especially helpful for those whose presenting concerns may make attendance at therapy more problematic, including clients with chronic pain and mobility issues, agoraphobia, and low energy.
Risks of online therapy
There are similar risks to providing online therapy and face-to-face therapy. For example, both can lead clients to experiences difficult thoughts and feelings.
That being said, online therapy does include some unique risks, including misinterpretation of tone or language during text interactions and more difficulty noticing and interpreting clients' non-verbal’s during video interactions. Therapists can reduce these risks by learning strategies for addressing these issues by taking training in the provision of online therapy.
Online therapy also includes the risk that because the therapy platform is connected to clients' mobile devices, some clients may expect an immediate response and use the platform for dealing with crisis. Setting expectations with clients about response times is addressed in another Snapclarity video so be sure to check it out!
Limits of online therapy
Part of running an ethical online private practice is discerning when online therapy or face-to-face therapist-client interactions is more appropriate. Informed consent can involve explaining to clients that text-based counselling may be less effective for more intensive concerns, including recent trauma or acute crisis.
Therapists should refer to clinical research, ask their PhD supervisor, and reflect on their training in online therapy, to ascertain which presenting issues make sense to address online.