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As the computer age makes the distance between us all seem smaller and smaller, the therapeutic world has caught on. With this in mind, some therapists are offering online therapy and phone therapy, also known as "distance therapy," in an effort to reach a wider range of people, in various locations, and across distances. As the name implies, phone therapy, or Internet therapy, does not use in-person, face-to-face communication as the primary mode of therapy.
Distance therapists offer phone therapy and Internet therapy to a wide range of clients. Sometimes, therapists offer distance sessions to their existing clientele to supplement their work, or as the primary way that the therapist and client “meet.” Many people like to use phone or Internet therapy because it often means that they can conduct therapy sessions with the therapist from the comfort of their own home, or even at times when they are traveling.
What is addressed in distance therapy truly depends on the therapist who conducts the Internet or phone therapy. On the whole, it depends on whether your therapist believes that his or her chosen “therapeutic modality” can be conducted across distance. Whatever modality is used, it will need to be able to be done without the “visual” feedback from a face-to-face session. Nevertheless, what is said and how it is said will be addressed, as will the various interventions that your therapist chooses to use.
Keep in mind that distance therapy may be contraindicated for people who are working through very challenging and upsetting experiences, or are experiencing multiple crises. Not only may such persons not benefit from distance therapy, it could very well put one at greater risk. A therapist who conducts distance therapy should be skilled in assessment and have a means of determining if a person is fit for distance therapy. A distance therapist is wise to have specific plans in place in case of client emergencies.
There are some concerns about distance therapy in the field of psychotherapy, not just because of potential dangers and misuse, but also about its efficacy. Some opponents of distance therapy believe that because humans are hurt in relationship to others, that one must heal in relationship, face-to-face. Distance therapy, they say, can skip over the most fundamental and important aspect of healing: the relationship. But generally proponents of distance therapy agree that the relationship is of primary importance and believe that they are indeed able to establish a trusting therapeutic relationship via phone or webcam. Other distance therapy proponents ignore the issue altogether and focus on helping people with surface issues, essentially providing distant coaching or counseling.
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Last Update: 04-17-2013