How e-therapy works
At this time, most e-therapists work by
- e-mail (most)
- chat (some)
- web message systems (a few)
- videoconferencing (one or two)
- Internet phone (one or two)
In a few cases, you might be invited to use telephone or fax for an initial contact, for instance to provide credit card information.
Usually, the therapist will respond to your first contact by e-mail, at least to arrange further interactions.
E-mail is still the most common way therapists interact with you online. Because you dont both have to be online at the same time, you and the therapist can take time with your thoughts and write at length. E-mail is especially preferred by people who like to write, and people who have very busy schedules.
Secure, web-based message systems are increasing in popularity because they offer the best possible security, although they are a little clunky to use. Your correspondence is not saved on your computer, so it is safe from prying eyes. On the other hand, you can't go back and read it later.
Chat (live, real time) is preferred by those who want right-now response from the therapist. Just remember: chat is a very slow way of communicating, and if the therapist is charging by the minute, you may find this a very expensive way to interact with a therapist online (especially if you are a slow typist).
Most therapists believe that videoconferencing is (or will be) the ideal mode for therapists to interact with you online. Because the therapist is able to see you, he/she has more information and can probably be more helpful to you. However, most people also agree that Internet video technology isnt quite good enough yet. We know it eventually will work; hospitals and clinics are getting excellent results with telemedicine systems. However they also spend tens of thousands of dollars on hardware and connections. Those of us who rely on a little web-cam and a dialup Internet connection will have to wait awhile for consumer-level technology to catch up.
An interesting note: quite a few people report they are able to be much more revealing to their online therapist precisely because there is no visual connection. They feel safer because they cannot be seen.
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