The digital age has brought about many changes in the way we conduct business, education, entertainment and mental health. The trend to incorporate technology into our mental health programs, while in its infancy, continues to grow in popularity and use by both educational and private mental health providers. There has been a great deal of discussion on the methods, ethics, problems and benefits of this new technology, however little research has been done on the effectiveness of this method of counseling on clients.
For years the counseling profession maintained a strict face to face technique of meeting with clients. This trend is being challenged as more people are finding it difficult to arrange appointments, find specialists, transportation, child care and a host of other issues that conflict with the ability to receive therapy. As early as 1982 internet self-help groups began to appear on the scene which led to the development of fee-based internet clinics by the mid-1990’s (Reamer, 2013). These transformations and challenges have led therapists to transition into the use of technology to facilitate sessions.
Technology that is being used today continues to transition as more technology and faster systems are developed. The use of the telephone has been the catalyst for this move and today along with teleconferencing sessions are being done through web-based application, video conferencing, chat, email, electronic social media, and web-based interventions (Reamer, 2013). These different methods of counseling have often shown to be much more useful, convenient and adaptable to a larger portion of the population.
Significance and Justification of the Problem
While the use of technology has provided a number of different benefits the primary discouragement has been generally limited to ethical questions, client privacy and confidentiality (Reamer, 2013). Little is known or researched concerning the efficacy of the counselling relationship on clients who use and participate in e-therapy. The increased use of e-therapy can have a major impact on both the industry as well as those who participate in the sessions. Participants will have a great level of choice of therapist since they are no longer confined to their local market. They are able to seek out specialist who can assist them in their particular area of need. They are no longer hindered by the need to commute to a certain locale to obtain services. Patients are able to use parts of their day that were previously unavailable.
For the industry, therapist can now attract a larger segment of the population to market their services. This will allow more specialization and concentration on expertise of the therapist rather than being a one size fits all type therapist (Reamer, 2013). No longer is there a need for a primary office to work from and thus lowers the amount of expenses associated with being in practice. The expansion of services to the rural community will expand...