What eTherapy Is Not:

Online therapy is not illegal, when practiced thoughtfully and with careful consideration of the issues. Some non-lawyers have made outright, outrageous claims about the legality of online therapy, when in fact, there is not a single state within the United States (or, for that matter, a single country within the world) that has specifically addressed the issue of online therapy regulation through law or a court decision. Nor has there been a single court decision in any state or country (to date) addressing the jurisdictional issues of the practice. Professionals who make well-intentioned claims about the illegality of online therapy are misleading professionals and the lay public. Since online therapy is not psychotherapy (no more than occupational therapy is considered psychotherapy), psychotherapy laws do not obviously or automatically apply. This issue may be decided some day, but as of now, e-therapy is a legitimate form of professional help.

Online therapy is not without research backing its use. Some professionals are claiming there are little or no studies out there that support online therapy's effectiveness or use. Many studies are indeed single case studies or research presented at professional conferences (not in peer-reviewed journals). This is a fairly typical pattern for new treatments making their way through academia circles, starting with the lowest and easiest studies to conduct, and gradually moving to larger, more complex, and better funded studies. For instance, in a study presented at a professional eating disorder conference in the U.K. last year, investigators showed that using online therapy is more effective than no treatment at all or a support group. But because this study was never published, few are aware of it.

Online therapy is not a cure-all or answer to everyone's problems. Nor has anyone ever suggested it should be. In fact, e-therapy is much more likely to increase traditional psychotherapy services because of its outreach to the population of people who would never even consider going to see a therapist face-to-face might try one online. Used as an adjunct to ongoing face-to-face therapy, or when therapy is terminated or the client moves away, it can be a very helpful modality to many people in many different ways.

from

Best Practices: Best Practices of eTherapy
Clarifying the Definition of e-Therapy
John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
May 2, 2001

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