Would you use video-conferencing to meet with your psychologist?

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I was struck by this report in this morning's New York Times, "When Your Therapist is only a click away," which describes the increasing use of video-conferencing technology for therapist-client sessions.

"In three years, this will take off like a rocket," said Eric A. Harris, a lawyer and psychologist who consults with the American Psychological Association Insurance Trust. "Everyone will have real-time audiovisual availability. There will be a group of true believers who will think that being in a room with a client is special and you can't replicate that by remote involvement. But a lot of people, especially younger clinicians, will feel there is no basis for thinking this. Still, appropriate professional standards will have to be followed."

After some reflection, I can see both pros and cons in this new use of technology, but my first reaction was just what Eric Harris describes, an immediate reaction that "being in a room with a client is special" because there is so much communication that is non-verbal! But when I start to imagine how useful it might be in some situations--for example, emergency walk-in counseling sessions, or sessions when the therapists and clients face physical barriers to being together--perhaps they are temporarily separated due to travel for work or bad weather; or even as a way to lower barriers to starting counseling--I can see real advantages for online capability. But I would still totally worry about the credentials of online therapists and issues of confidentiality and privacy, however!! This seems like a technology that could be easily abused by the unscrupulous or careless.

But what about you? If you were advising a friend who was thinking about going to a psychologist, what advice would you give your friend? Would you recommend online therapy if it were offered? What safeguards would recommend to stay safe?


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This seems ridiculous. People should meet on a personal level. I enjoy Skype and utilizing other forms of technology but these new ways of communicating are becoming way more impersonal than necessary. In addition, people are able to tap in to technologies considerably easy. These sessions are usually private (hence meeting behind closed doors in an office), so why allow the risk of potentially letting others into our personal lives even more?

I would probably not recommend this type of meeting to a friend, but it may be quite useful in some situations. Although I think face to face communication is the best form of communication, there may be some barriers to this. For example, if a patient wants treatment and there is a highly recommended psychologist in a different state that would be their best fit. In this case it may be more beneficial to them to meet with this psychologist online than to meet with someone else in person.

I am not a big fan of Skyping or video conferencing in any way, so I would not be a fan of this. I think it is impersonal and it seems a bit disconnected. When I think of therapy, I think of sitting and talking to a professional one-on-one, face-to-face. The only instance I would find this video conferencing to be semi-acceptable was in case of emergency or if the patient was very far away, but wanted to continue sessions. It could become a component to therapy, but not the basis of every meeting.

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This page contains a single entry by khbriggs published on September 25, 2011 1:01 PM.

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