Online therapy is a good option for some people, but you need to first assess your needs, goals, resources and skills before deciding which treatment option is best for you.
The History of Online Therapy
Distance communication between a therapist and client is not a new concept. Sigmund Freud utilized letters extensively to communicate with his clients. Self-help groups began emerging on the Internet as early as 1982 (Kanini, K. & Regehr, C., 2003). Today, there are numerous sites offering mental health information as well as private e-therapy clinics such as Find-a-Therapist.com and HelpHorizons.com.
The growth in online counseling and mental health services has led to the foundation of the International Society for Mental Health Online. This dramatic rise in the availability of online health care has led to a need for information and guidelines for customers interested in receiving mental health services via the Internet.
Online Therapy Might Be Right For You If...
- You live in rural or remote area with limited access to mental health facilities.
- Your schedule is too busy to allow for traditional therapy sessions.
- You feel uncomfortable with traditional therapy options. Online therapy can be a useful mental health tool for people who feel inhibited when meeting someone face-to-face and may appreciate the anonymity that online therapy provides.
- You are comfortable with computer technology and can perform basic tasks such as e-mail and instant messaging.
- You feel comfortable sharing personal information online.
Online Therapy Might Not Be Right For You If...
- You have been diagnosed with a serious mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, major depression or anorexia.
- You are currently experiencing a crisis or are suicidal. If you are in a crisis, you should immediately contact a nearby emergency room or mental health professional.
- You are uncomfortable using computer technology or do not wish to share information in online communications.
- You are unable to share your thoughts and feelings with an online therapist.