We thought it would be good this week to touch on a hot-button topic that is getting a lot of press these days. E-therapy is the backbone of the Mobile Wellness Program. What is E-therapy? E-therapy is counseling that is delivered via telephone, email, real time computer chat, or video conference. E-therapy has been around for many years in telephone form, but has become popular recently with technological advances such as Skype, email, and web chat functions in places like Google or Facebook. As with any new technology or practice, many of the studies have outlined positives and negatives of this type of intervention. Let’s look at them.
Positives of E-therapy
1) Accommodating-Many forms of e-therapy are flexible in scheduling. Some are even self guided so that people can work at their leisure. People enrolled in e-therapy can participate in their own homes or even at work during their lunch break. Many types of e-therapy are available through different smart phone applications or even through texting, making it convenient.
2) Effectiveness-Many studies have shown that e-therapy can be just as effective as traditional in person therapy. Perhaps people working through e-therapy are more comfortable because they are in a comfortable setting?
3) Accessible-E-therapy is growing as an option for people who are in rural settings or people searching for specialized counseling that is not available in their area. Access to services is much more appealing when the choices are to talk to someone on the phone/Skype or driving three hours for an appointment that lasts 30 minutes!
Potential negatives of e-therapy
1) Cost of electronic devices to access e-therapy-This negative has been subdued the last couple of years with the arrival of cost –effective smart phones, however modes such as Skype requires some acclimate to technology.
2) A large argument for many years in the counseling field is that e-therapy is not as effective as traditional in-person therapy. Several studies have come out in support that e-therapy is as effective as tradition therapy, but the argument continues.
3) Identity concerns-How does the therapist know that he is emailing or texting with the correct person? This conflict is mainly reserved for email and text as opposed to telephone or video conference.
Human Service Center and Sinnissippi Centers have taken several steps to counteract the potential negatives to make the Mobile Wellness as user friendly and comfortable as possible. The program is designed to be cost effective to the client. If you don’t have internet access, we have self guided text worksheets that can be mailed to you every week. If you have a smart phone, we can get you a free application to help support you in your recovery. We employ and use CBT methods, which are evidence-based as a best practice (see Arin’s previous post on what CBT is if you are unsure!) We use currently emailing and texting only for appointment reminders. The majority of the therapy is self-guided or done on the telephone with me. If I ever had concerns about the identity of the person I was speaking with, myself or any other member of the team would ask for verification (date of birth, address, etc.)
So in a nutshell that’s the highlights of E-therapy both good and bad. Did you think of any potential positives or negatives that I missed? Please feel free to post. I did leave some out as I hope to facilitate a discussion this week. Thanks for checking in!
Corey Campbell is a clinician/trainer with the Human Service Center of Peoria, IL. All thoughts on this blog are representative of only Corey and do not reflect the Human Service Center.