This paper is related to an online therapy. This paper consists of the elements and contents of the information that is found on any online therapy website along with the information of the professionals that are involved in that therapy. The paper also outlines the way in which most of the communication relating online therapy. The paper will also highlight the policies and regulations that provide fundamentals to run an online therapy. The paper also comprehends the state regulation authority to observe and scrutinize online therapy. The paper will also present the information relative to the ethical and security issues like confidentiality along with informed consent. The paper will end up with a small discussion regarding the benefits and risks of the online therapy. The first selected website of online therapy that retrieved was www.lzcybershrink.com where the services are advertised by Elizabeth Zelvin. Elizabeth Zelvin is acknowledged as a licensed clinical social worker along with a psychotherapist.
All services are provided by the single person that is her. Ms. Zelvin as retrieved from her biography holds 20 years of experience and was involved in a private service in New York State. Ms. Zelvin handled communication relating online therapy through implication of a chat room setting. This chat room provides opportunity to clients to arrange a schedule of treatment and appointment with Ms. Zelvin before actual arrival through employing email. The professional involved provide a password for her patients and start conversation through signing in at same time through online setting. The cost is offered based on ½ hour, hour and email exchange. The cost of a 30 minute chat is set at $65 while a 60 min chat is priced at $100 while a single email exchange costs $45. The service accepts most of the online payment systems and credit cards but the payment have to be done before the actual schedule of therapy. The website also shows advertisements regarding the books and songs she has written along with the poetry. The website is whole relating the promotion content of the Ms. Zelvin. (Zelvin, 2009) The other website that was retrieved as an online therapy website is www.live-counselor.com. This website provides services of online therapy employing a chat room for communication purposes.
The website involves 200 different professionals that are therapists, counselors, along with some social workers available. The website consists of live counselors who provide a mediating service to make connections of the clients with the required therapist, counselors and the social workers. The site provides support with addictions, coping with crisis or physical conditions, eating disorders, parenting, personal development, personality and emotional disorders, and relationship issues. The service provided is charged per minute. The rates range from $1to $1.89. Registration of credit card is done before starting of conversation. Live-counselor is just a moderator and has not required setting appointments yet the clients may sign-in anytime their service provider is available. The profile of professionals shows a mark on them while they are online. The site does not have any other content besides service providers’ biographies, disclaimers in regard to not taking responsibility for anything that occurs on the website, and the billing process. (Live-Counselor, 2009) The third website relating an online therapy was retrieved from www.serenityonlinetherapy.com.
The website provides the information regarding the therapy via email or a chat-room set-up. The website centralizes on a single service provider that is “Carl Benedict, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in the State of Maryland”. He got the experience of 12 years as therapist and provides services in mental health clinic along with a hospital. Mr. Benedict counts for a three years experience in online therapy. The price of chat is charged as $50 for 60 minute chat along with a discount offered as a package for the clients of online therapy. Many categories of articles are uploaded by Mr. Benedict regarding various issues clients might be experiencing like as, depression, childhood trauma, addiction, parenting, grief and loss, and duel diagnosis. The website also shows some inspirational poems along with some sayings to motivate the clients by Mr. Benedict. (Benedict, 2009) “All states in the US, except California, license professional counselors. The state counselor licensure boards administer the application processes and procedures that have been established by law in each state.”
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) website lists the contact information for each state’s, except California, Board of Mental Health Practice. The website empowers and enables clients the ability to check the credentials of professionals who are offering online therapy and make an informed decision of whether or not to hire that particular professional. (NBCC, 2009) For the reason of advancement in technology and science there do arise some ethical and security issues. It is depicted that online therapy give rise to issues like; security, which concerned that either online therapy is safe and effective, either there is chance that clients provide true information relative to the consent, along with the confirmation of clients and professionals as real who are involved in communication process while in chat rooms. All three websites retrieved for this paper provide disclaimers on them to make clients and professionals on safe side while online therapy like “If you have serious thoughts of hurting yourself or others, dial 911 or if you have a chronic mental illness requiring intense treatment online therapy is not an option for you”(Benedict, 2009). The three websites visited all use chat room settings for communication purposes.
A password is provided to the client who registers himself by making payments through credit card. That specific password is then used by the client whenever he wants to sign in not only in chat room but also for the therapy session. The client has no way of knowing what type of security software or measures the online therapist is using to protect their personal information. Nothing guarantees that the client is who he or she claims; in a traditional setting the client and the therapist know who is present. Online therapy present some barriers regarding the options of making payment and the client is also going through a risk to pay for an online therapy session. All three websites involve a credit card payment which provides risks to clients in terms of leaking of their credit card and personal information because of providing information online. On other hand in physical setting the credit card is only swiped or the payments can be done through cash and cheques.
The client holds every control regarding his personal information while in a physical office or clinical setting along with having every possible payment option for making payments. Some of the ethical issues also arise because of the technology advancements, like as is it ethical to provide online therapy when there no guarantees that the client and therapist say he or she is. In an office setting at least the client and the therapist can use ids to ensure identity. Online therapy does not require medical records; how is the therapist supposes to know the physical and mental health of a client? The therapist has to rely on self-disclosure which is taking a big risk on the therapist’s behalf. How can a therapist tell if the client is fully participating in therapy? In a traditional setting the therapist can rely on body language which is how most human communication is made. This part of report presents some risks that are involved while involving oneself in online therapy.
A traditional therapy session allows for a therapist to get a full picture of the client’s well-being by having access to medical records and being able to read a client’s body language. Another uncomfortable element with online therapy is because clients likes to know who is helping him, what he or she looks like for security reasons, and the inability to read body language is upsetting. Some benefits that are derived from online therapy in terms of clients are discussed in this part. An example of advantage is anonymity; this helps those clients who face some social difficulties in a traditional therapy setting and hence can find it advantageous to be in their comfort zone while at their own home. Clients having difficulties to approach a regular and dependable transportation can be benefited by the online therapy. This technology also facilitated those clients who lack the presence of any local therapist and thus can get the opportunity to find someone online for that help and assistance.
Online therapy is an alternative for clients and is the client’s choice to decide what works best for him or her. After going through an in-depth study of the online therapy it is recommended that the client has to measure the both sides of the online therapy before deciding for himself what to implement. Individual needs vary from person to person so we cannot say what work best for whom. It is also depicted that the technology on one side is exciting as well as controversial at the same time.
Benedict, C. (2009). “Services”. Retrieved from: http://www.serenityonlinetherapy.com Live-Counselor. (2009). “Services”. Retrieved from: http://www.live-counselor.com The National Board for Certified Counselors(NBCC) . (2009). Retrieved from: http://www.nbcc.org.
Zelvin, E. (2009). “Elizabeth Zelvin”. Retrieved from: http://www.lzcybershrink.com.