As the creator of the Online Counseling Directory – a listing service for therapists who are practicing Tele-Mental Health – I frequently get asked one question by other psychotherapists. “Why should I add online therapy to my practice?” Sometimes the question comes from a place of fear or unwillingness to change. But, I think it’s important to take it at face value.
There is a lot of talk about Online Therapy these days. And, I think it’s healthy to ask the question – Why?
So, after hearing the question over and over, I’ve come up with a few of the reasons why it is an important service that we should be offering our clients. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it does cover some of the main motivational points.
Meeting with your client online provides them with the convenience of meeting you without fighting traffic and finding parking to get to your office. Time is saved and, in an increasingly busy world, time is very precious. Stressed out individuals and couples can now meet with their therapist in the comfort of their own home, office, or hotel room, while traveling.
Coming to a therapist’s office can be somewhat intimidating. Our clients are out of their familiar environments and – in some sense – on ‘our turf’. It is not conducive to the ease of transaction that is essential in a therapeutic relationship. Meeting them while they are sitting on their couch, in their own home, allows for a greater sense of comfort and safety on their part.
There is a tremendous need for therapy around the world. And, in some areas, the need is unmet by local providers. Think of small towns in North Dakota or Alaska, or Ex-Pats living in Dubai looking for English speaking therapists.
Some studies show that there is one mental health provider in India for every 400,000 people. (By the way, English is one of two official languages in India and they have a booming economy and a growing mental heath crisis). China is another area where the need for mental health care far out paces the available providers. The need is clear and we, with the ability to meet that need, should explore ways to do it.
I live in New York City, but I grew up in a small town in Kentucky. We all knew where the local therapist’s office was and community mental health center. We also knew what car most of our neighbors drove. So, if you saw your friend’s car parked at the local counselor’s office – well, you get the picture. And, there was, of course, always the risk of meeting your neighbor or boss in the waiting room. One can see how online counseling provides just that extra layer of confidentiality in small town America.
5. Practice Growth And Outreach
Speaking of small towns, many therapists living in rural areas struggle to grow a full time practice. The number of people seeking their services are just too limited. In respect to the state license issue (we should only be treating clients who live in states where we hold a valid license), it’s far better to increase your potential client base from your one small town to the entire state. Myrtle Beach may or may not be able to provide enough clients for a therapist. But, it’s much easier to have a successful practice when you are able to treat the entire state of South Carolina.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not an exhaustive list. I think each clinician should find their own motivation for adding this service to their offerings. But, let me add one final thought. In addition to creating the Online Counseling Directory, I As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not an exhaustive list. I think each clinician should find their own motivation for adding this service to their offerings, but let me add one final thought.
In addition to creating the Online Counseling Directory, I also produce a podcast that explores the world of Tele-Mental Health. I’ve talked to hundreds of online therapists and 90% of them said they initially began offering online therapy because their clients asked for it. Sometimes, the client was moving and wanted to continue work and, other times, it was because they were having difficulty finding the time to come to sessions. But, I think it’s significant that most of the movement to online therapy is client driven!
I always tell my clients that “information is power”. It’s important, as a therapist, to be informed about this changing and developing aspect of our field. If you are looking for some additional information that can help with your decision, please visit our site: www.onlinecounseling.com.
Clay Cockrell, LCSW is the founder of Onlinecounselling.com – a listing directory with the mission of helping clients all over the world to find the therapist or life coach that will best meet their needs. The site also works through their educational resources and podcasts to help counselors work online in an ethical, responsible and legal manner. This is a site for online therapists developed by an online therapist. Originally from Kentucky, Clay moved to New York City with his wife in 1997 and started the concept of Walk and Talk Therapy – he walks with his clients in Central Park instead of meeting in an office. He has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s The Doctors. He has also been profiled in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and National Pubic Radio.
www.onlinecounselling.com | Take Your Practice to a Global Audience.