E-mail Online Therapy –
Valentino Therapy is now offering online e-mail counseling for your convenience
By Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT #51746, Marriage and Family Therapist
What’s in it for you or those you feel may benefit?
- Convenience. With e-mail counseling you compose your thoughts anytime, anywhere you want on your computer, tablet or mobile device. This can be especially effective for those who may be challenged to verbalize quickly or who like to think a bit before they speak.
- Online therapy is very convenient and affordable.
- Most people recognize the many documented benefits of journaling and that writing, itself, is a powerful form of therapy. Others say it is how they keep themselves mentally healthy and resilient.
- Online, or e-mail, therapy’s aim is to be therapeutic writing wherein you collect your thoughts and feelings unhampered by a clock about to indicate your in-person session is at an end.
- Writers can clarify (especially to themselves) their feelings, situation and thoughts during their own quiet time.
- The art of writing, ideally including rereading and rewriting a bit before sending (on the part of the client and the therapist), increases objectivity in a natural way by externalizing and re-framing the feelings and issues. This encourages deeper understanding of situations without being overtaken by them, as they can seem to encompass, or at least affect, your life in so many areas. Even before the therapist responds, you often see the situation a bit differently and start the process of helping to heal, or center, yourself.
- You are able to get away from distractions to practice important self-care doing something just for you. You can find a favorite place, get comfortable with music or a beverage, even go outside in nature – whatever calms you and gives you moments in solitude.
- Research shows that writing during disturbing times, or change, is particularly useful.
- Therapist insight and interventions may be very effective due to the ability for you to read and re-read messages, plus you have a record to review, perhaps more accurate than your memory of a session, that allows you to track your own progress over time.
- The experience of therapeutic writing can encourage clients to express themselves more thoughtfully and precisely in their daily lives as well.
- In today’s society many have difficulty scheduling in-office visits due to conflicting schedules – the therapist is already booked at the time most convenient to you, travel considerations (distance, bridge tolls, parking, gas, travel time, time away from work), or child-care obligations, professional travel, and those simply too busy to fit regular therapy sessions into their busy lives, health, disability or limited mobility issues, time restrictions or cost.
- E-mail, or online therapy (e-therapy), may be useful for persons seeking support and insight at the client’s total convenience, making a specific time and place unnecessary.
- Some people prefer to express themselves in solitude via writing and can be side tracked in a clinical office setting, or find that they say far more – and more to the point – in thoughtful writing rather than in session.
- You can expect unconditional positive regard and respect for you and your unique life circumstances (even if being encouraged to improve them), compassion and understanding clinical strategies, interventions, methods and insight to institute a process of improvement or healing from a highly trained, experienced clinician.
- Privacy is provided via We Counsel’s portal for the therapeutic industry, which they contend surpasses industry encryption and HIPPA standards via your own private access portal – NOT regular e-mail. Regardless of encryption protection, privacy can never be guaranteed in today’s society and clients must take care not to compromise theirs by their careless actions (leaving a mobile device on unattended during a writing session, passwords out, etc.).
- While privacy, safeguards, password protections – security is a challenge all therapists deal with, the client is responsible on their end to safeguard their own private messages to and from the therapist so that no one may access their information on the client’s end. You do not give your private portal encryption passwords to anyone or allow them to be accessed by seeing your phone, address book, etc.
- There is no chance of running into anyone at your therapist’s office building when you are meeting your therapist online.
DISADVANTAGES? Of Course.
- Simply put, online or e-mail therapy is not for everyone. It does not take the place of an office visit where face-to-face reactions, non-verbal messages and body language can be accessed in conjunction with dialogue.
- Clients must be able to express their thoughts and feelings clearly, and to interpret messages carefully, with a willingness to ‘give the benefit of the doubt’ when humor or the intended meanings miss the mark. Humor is often lost or misinterpreted via e-mail exchanges.
- E-mail therapy is not for emergencies, not for people having suicidal thoughts, domestic or other violence, serious-severe substance abuse or a variety of other difficult diagnoses and issues. There are many situations and problems that are not suitable for my e-practice, among them: schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, some types of depression, crisis interventions for substance abuse, people who need medications coordinated with local physicians, those who cut or are suicidal, persons who like to rant instead of solve, people in crisis, and many others conditions that need to be considered on a case by case as there are clinical limitations. Each person’s situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if it is suitable for this milieu and this clinician.
- E-mail therapy is not as good as in-person as the instant reactions and positive non-verbal affirmations are not present.
- Not everyone likes the process of writing. Some people are more verbally inclined, so online e-mail therapy is not for those who are “talkers” and need to verbalize their thoughts and experiences in order to work them out.
- Major studies and research claim online counseling is as effective as in-office, but it is doubtful that is true for everyone.
- A potential drawback of online counseling is the inability for instant, spontaneous clarification. Clients lose the visual and verbal cues which would reassure them, or correct, misunderstandings that occur in all communications, whether in person or online.
- Diagnosis and help is only as good as the complete, honest information shared by the client – although this is an issue in face-to-face therapy also.
- Therapists cannot respond to crisis situations. Online therapy is not appropriate for those with serious psychiatric illnesses. The scope of the help provided can be limited.
- Online e-mail therapy is a bargain compared to weekly in-person sessions, gas, parking, childcare, bridge tolls, etc. You pay $40 per week for one hour of a Licensed California Marriage and Family Therapist’s time to read, respond and counsel based on your messages to the therapist.
- This service is available only to California residents (licensing requirements), meaning those you earn CA income, file CA taxes, live here in CA, etc.
- You will be asked to complete an extensive Intake Information Form and an Informed Consent Agreement for Online E-Mail Counseling before any sessions may commence. This is to be sure that your concerns appear to be a good fit for this medium and to save you time and money in case they are not.
- We Counsel collects the money on its site from you and forwards to the therapist periodically. Your financial interactions are strictly with their website, not wasting clinical time.
- Most insurance companies do not cover online therapy, though some are starting to. If your insurance does, it is up to you to turn in for reimbursement, though any information or diagnosis they ask for will be provided for your use.
- If you want to take advantage of online e-mail counseling, send your name and e-mail address to: firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive and invitation and instructions as to how to access the encryption portal.
- VISIT: other pages here at http://www.valentinotherapy.com for more information about the clinician.
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Valentino Therapy, CA LMFT, MA, ChT, Psychotherapist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
ASK THIS THERAPIST BLOG: https://askthistherapist.wordpress.com
3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology, Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples