Is Your Online Therapist Qualified?
Just as counselors and therapists practicing in the "real-world" often have widely varying qualifications and licenses, online therapists also differ in training and credentials. In order to make informed decisions, consumers need to be aware of the qualifications of a potential therapist, including degree obtained, specialized training, current practice, experience and ability to meet client needs.
Unfortunately, many consumers know little about online therapy providers. In an article appearing in Health Management Technology, licensed psychologist Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D. said, "Patients don't know what they don't know. They can read a dozen online disclaimers and still not understand that their online therapist is an unlicensed graduate student in a foreign country" (Blair, 2001.)
In order to avoid unqualified providers, it is important to check that any potential therapist is a licensed professional. A therapist should be able to provide his or her full name, credentials and real-world contact info. Be sure to verify their qualifications through state licensing boards and online registries.
Questions You Should Consider Before Choose an Online Therapist
Before choosing an online therapist, you should ask yourself some questions about the therapist's level of professionalism.
- Is your therapist informed about the technology used in e-therapy?
- Is he or she able to effectively utilize e-mail, web chat or videoconferencing?
- Is the therapist's website professional, up-to-date and easy to navigate?
- Does your therapist also practice in the "real-world"?
Sources for Checking Therapist Qualifications
- American Board of Medical Specialties
Verify the board certifications of psychiatrists.
- The National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology
Find a licensed psychologist in this searchable database.
- American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy
Find a licensed therapist in Marriage and Family Therapy.
More About Online Therapy: Ethical and Legal Issues in Online Therapy
Blair, R. (2001) Psychotherapy online - Internet/Web/Online Service Information. Health and Management Technology.