Rant. I am a member of a dozen or so Linkedin Groups and I am following many online practitioners on Twitter. I read blog posts and news articles and receive countless newsletters, conference announcements and questions in my inbox- all related to online therapy.
That is to be expected since “online therapy” is my area of expertise.
Online Therapy- It’s more than HIPAA
Lately I have found myself tiring of the ongoing dialogue about the HOW of technology and therapy and less about the HEART of technology and therapy. It seems most conversations in the United States are concerned with only a few of the topics related to online therapy- HIPAA/HITECH, crossing state lines and oh, HIPAA/HITECH. Right after that, most are inquiring about how to start a practice online, with no apparent concern for training- and the threads that follow that topic are filled with questions about what platform to use, what keywords to post in a blog, and what niche one should create. Oh, and “Is online therapy efficacious?”
Online therapeutic process
RARELY, do Isee a post, an article, a comment, a question about the therapeutic process that takes place when working online. Rarely do I see a real interest in deconstructing the online therapeutic work to find out what “works” – what modalities are most easily adapted to online work, or how online disinhibition effects the online therapeutic relationship. We all want to know whether or not valid and reliable research exists but very few really want to know what really happens in the online therapy session. I don’t think it is because of a lack of curiosity. I think it is because most practitioners think that working online is the same as working face-to-face or that it simply won’t work. Middle ground does not seem to exist.
Why training is important
A phrase that summarizes the experience of many who enroll in our Certified Cyber Therapist course is this: “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Even practitioners who have long used technology with clients and who have enrolled in our course remark about how they just didn’t consider these factors we bring up for consideration when working online. ..which brings me to the celebration portion of this post.
I feel so privileged to read the inspired written assignments and blog posts from students who report not just a better understanding of the technology and the legal and ethical concerns to consider, but that they “get it.” Finally.
What do they get? Students report a deeper understanding of cyberspace as culture and they see how the immersive experience they have online can enhance their communication with clients. They see how a client might feel vulnerable after disclosing too much too soon because of the lack of inhibition. They realize the many options that exist and they see how online therapy can break the 50 minute paradigm we have become so accustomed to. They report delight at the various creative delivery options that are available to them. Most of all, they report a paradigm shift in their lives- the computer is not just a tool like a typewriter; it is a doorway to an enriching culture that can merge nicely into their lives. Mixed reality after all, is THE reality for most of us now- the merging of our online and offline lives. When we “get” that, our work online with clients becomes that much richer.
I celebrate the students at Online Therapy Institute who teach me new things every day!
See more student testimonials HERE.