By: Jennifer Peter
Online therapy (also known as Teletherapy) seems to be the latest buzz among public figures such as Michael Phelps. But what makes a platform safe? What type of license is required for therapists to offer online therapy?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), here are a few things to keep in mind when finding the right online therapy business:
Is the therapist licensed?
Licensing protects you. Therapists and psychotherapists are not legally protected words in most states, meaning anyone can claim to be a therapist and offer services that may appear as therapy. It may not always be easy to know that you are receiving evidenced-based psychotherapy.
All psychologists and other professional health providers must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensure laws protect you by ensuring only those who are trained and qualified to practice receive a license. It also ensures that you have recourse if there are problems with your treatment. Before you sign up for any Web services, find out who you are working with, if he or she has a license, where that license is held and the license number. Most states offer an online, searchable directory of professionals licensed in their state.
Is the psychologist licensed in the state you are located in?
Licenses are granted by each state with its own laws and rules, much like each state determines what residents must know to earn a driver’s license. But unlike driver’s licenses, which allow you to legally operate a car in all states, a health care provider is limited to providing services in the state in which they are licensed. The provider must be licensed in the jurisdiction where you are located, and making that determination may be difficult to do if you don’t know where he or she is physically located.
Is the site or app secure?
Will the information I provide remain confidential? Psychotherapy works in part because psychologists ensure that clients have a safe, private space to share deeply personal and sometimes difficult stories, thoughts or emotions. What happens and is said in a therapy office stays there, with the exception of a few situations. The site or app you use should, at a minimum, be HIPAA-compliant and have the ability to verify your identity and your therapist’s identity.
While many of the platforms may seem appealing due to their convenience or their cost, doing your research before choosing an online therapy business is extremely important for your safety and security. Georgetown Psychology offers this service in 9 states with licensed therapists on our HIPAA-secure platform, Theranest. For more information on online therapy, please visit our website www.georgetownpsychology.com/services/online-therapy/