Qualifications of Online Therapists

How to Tell if Your Online Therapist Is Qualified?

Online Therapist
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While online therapy has become increasingly available, it is important to check the qualifications of an online therapist before signing up for such services. How can you know if your e-therapist is qualified?

The internet has opened up new options for the delivery of psychotherapy. Professionals are now able to offer treatment sessions performed over the internet, and some therapists can provide therapy services entirely online.

Online therapy, often referred to as e-therapy, involves a mental health professional giving advice, emotional support, guidance, therapy, and other mental health services using the Internet. Sometimes this might mean exchanging emails, but it can also take place via online chat, video conferencing, or Skype.

Consider some of the following factors before you choose an online therapist.

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. To make informed decisions, consumers need to be aware of the skills 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.”

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 information. 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? In order to utilize this form of treatment effectively, your therapist should be tech savvy. Check that the professional is well-versed in e-therapy tools including email, web chat, video conferencing, and Skype.
  • Is he or she able to effectively utilize e-mail, web chat or video conferencing? Therapy over the internet differs quite a bit from face-to-face therapy. Your therapist should be able to communicate effectively over this medium and make you feel comfortable and able to share your experiences, even though you might be thousands of miles apart.
  • Is the therapist's website professional, up-to-date and easy to navigate? A quality website indicates that your therapist takes online services seriously and does not treat online clients as a second thought.
  • Is the e-therapist's website secure? Check to see if the provider takes measures to ensure that your personal information remains private. Confidentiality is just as important online as it is in a traditional setting.
  • Does your therapist also practice in the "real-world"? Look for professionals that have ample experience treating clients in traditional settings as well as experience with online treatment. By combining the know-how gained from both forms of treatment, you will be able to experience the best of both worlds.
  • Will the therapist start by assessing your needs? Online therapy is not right for everyone. This method of delivery can be useful in some situations, but more severe medical and psychological conditions require different interventions. A good therapist should start by determining right off the bat if e-therapy is an appropriate solution for your particular situation.

Some states including Florida also allow therapists to become certified as e-therapists. To qualify for this certification, professionals must be a licensed psychologist in their state, meet specific standards of ethical conduct and competency, and hold a particular level of work experience. Additionally, they must meet the state's minimum education and training requirements, pass a written exam, and periodically take a certain number of continuing education credits to ensure that their knowledge remains up-to-date.

Resources for Checking Therapist Qualifications

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.

The Florida Certification Board (). Certified E-Therapist. http://flcertificationboard.org/certifications/certified-e-therapist-cet/

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