Fees and payment options
Most e-therapists charge a small fee for their services; this enables them to devote appropriate professional time and attention to your needs. In almost all cases, the fee is far less than you would pay for the same amount of time spent in that therapists office.
Compare fees; they vary enormously. Do not necessarily assume that therapists who charge more are better; some may be, but not always.
Most of the therapists accept one or more of these forms of payment:
- Credit cards: insist on a secure form (look for the little padlock in your browser window), or submit your info by phone or fax (make sure the number actually belongs to the therapist)
- Online electronic checks: insist on a secure form (look for the little padlock in your browser window), or submit your info by phone or fax (make sure the number actually belongs to the therapist)
- Telephone billing--charge it to your phone bill
- Check or money order sent through postal mail (try to verify that the postal address actually belongs to the therapist)
Never send credit card or checking account information by e-mail, or in an unsecured web form.
If youre looking for free service
People sometimes write to me saying, I want to try Internet therapy. Please refer me to a site thats free. I dont recommend it. Heres why:
- E-therapists are professional care providers. They provide expert, specialized techniques of emotional healing. Think of them as emotion doctors. You pay a medical doctor for professional services; you also pay a psychotherapist for professional services.
- A few people have a misconception that therapists are nothing more than compassionate listeners. Although they are compassionate, they also bring considerable expertise, skill and training into the process.
- If a service is free, you may be getting less help than you deserve. Without charging for it, the therapist may not be able to devote adequate time to your needs.
- E-therapists make their living at psychotherapy. They deserve to be paid for their work. Its a two way street. You are getting something of value, and you give something in return.
- A few e-therapists will negotiate a fee reduction if you are in financial difficulty. You will have to search around to find the ones that do. But please dont take advantage of their kindness needlessly. If therapists are continually taken advantage of, fewer of them will remain available online.
With some free services, you may never get a reply at all. On those sites, if your question is chosen, the therapists reply may be published anonymously, a la Ann Landers. And you may have to wait several weeks to find out whether or not your question was chosen for a response.
If you want to be assured of timely, personal help, youll be better off consulting a therapist who charges a fee but guarantees a response.
Next: Are there legal issues?>>