Risks, Benefits, and Expectations of Telemedicine

Telemedicine provides the patients with a right to confidentiality under the same laws that protect the client’s confidentiality for in-person psychotherapy.

Particular benefits of telemedicine include flexibility, as telemedicine is not as limited by time and location boundaries (e-mail therapy can be done at any time in the comfort and privacy of a client’s home or office). With e-mail therapy, clients may find it easier to express their feelings and thoughts by writing out their internal experiences on a computer at their own pace – take the time to reflect on their responses and those of the therapist, and have an accurate record of the exchanges. Online Therapy may be a good fit for those who feel concerned about issues of trust, privacy, disclosure or being seen. See the Online Therapy Research section for more information on the benefits of telemedicine.

However, it has to be mentioned that as with in-person treatment, there is no guarantee that the telemedicine treatment will be effective in reaching clients’ particular goals. In addition to that, there are risks unique and specific to telemedicine such as the therapy sessions or other communication being occasionally disrupted or distorted by technical failures.

Therapy is a process, whether face-to-face, or online, and no quick fix is available. A therapist cannot be expected to make important life decisions for the client. Such decisions are client’s alone, although a therapist can aid in his or her decision-making process. As a therapist, I am not authorized to give any legal advice, as these activities do not fall within my scope of practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist. A client should not consider online therapy if he or she has serious thoughts of hurting him- or herself or others, has a chronic mental illness requiring intense treatment; or feels uncomfortable with computers and keyboards.