Clinical FAQ

What is online counseling?

Online counseling (also named e-therapy, web counseling, telemental health, internet psychotherapy, and cybertherapy) is the use of electronic media and information technologies to provide services for participants in different locations. It is used by trained professionals (e.g., therapists, counselors) to address a variety of issues including addictions. Online counseling can include a range of services including screening, assessment, primary treatment and aftercare services. It can provide more accessible modes of treatment than traditional face-to-face treatment for those who actively use electronic means of communication including e-mails, instant messaging, text exchange (chats), videoconferencing and voice-over IP (VOIP). Online counseling can assist people in accessing treatment services who traditionally would not seek services because of barriers related to geography, shame, guilt, stigma or other issues. It can be provided as a sole treatment modality or in combination with other treatment modalities like traditional or existing programs. For more information, readers are encouraged to read Considerations for the Provision of E-Therapy, SAMHSA, 2005.

Is online counseling effective?

Although there is not yet many research studies on the effectiveness of online therapy, the initial reports are very encouraging.  According to a 2005 article on online counseling, “Thus far, research findings indicate that online counseling may be beneficial for clients who do not have easy access to traditional face-to-face therapy.” (Mallen & Vogel, P.767.)  Ninety percent of those who used online counseling felt it helped them, many of those eventually sought help through traditional face-to-face therapy (FtF), and many stated that they would not have initially sought FtF therapy. (SAMSHA, 2005)  Copeland and Martin, 2004, reported that interventions for alcohol conducted over the internet exhibited “promising results”.  They also stated, “There is good evidence that computer-delivered interventions for mental health and behavioral problems can be effective.”

What are the downsides of online counseling?

Potential problems with online counseling include: a lack of experience with the use of electronic equipment or electronic communication, the lack of non-verbal cues which provide added information about the emotional state of a client;  misunderstandings associated with written responses (e.g., lacking emotional cues, knowing whether something was said in jest/sarcasm, etc.), inappropriate training of counselors for text-based communication; technological failures and breakdowns, and the chance of web-based information being sent to the wrong address or of being hacked.

Who might benefit from online addiction counseling?

Individuals with mild-to-moderate levels of addiction severity may benefit.  It may be difficult to benefit if the person is using addictive substances daily for an extended period of time.  Honesty is also a prerequisite for successful treatment online.  If the person cannot be honest about lapses or difficulties with meeting their goals, there is little point in continuing this treatment approach.  Individuals with a sincere desire to change their addictive behavior may benefit from online counseling.  Those who feel comfortable regularly communicating online through e-mails, instant messaging, text messaging and consider themselves to be computer literate may benefit.  Decent typing skills and adequate communication skills are also helpful.

What provisions are made for clients of Chat2Recovery in the event of an emergency?

We do require your address (which is kept strictly confidential) in the event that someone needs to physically get to you while you are home or to determine the nearest emergency services.  We also require the name and contact information for, at least, one significant other in your life (e.g., spouse, parent, sibling, friend, physician, sponsor, therapist, etc.) to contact in the event of an emergency.  Chat2Recovery provides all members with  a hotline number to call in the event of an emergency as well as contact information for your primary counselor at Chat2Recovery.

Is Chat2Recovery legal?

Yes. Online counseling is recognized by professional licensing agencies such as the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, the American Telemedicine Association, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to name just a few. All counselors are expected to obtain specific training in providing online therapy.

What is the philosophy of Chat2Recovery?

Chat2Recovery believes that every person seeking treatment is a unique individual presenting with a unique set of circumstances. Consequently, each person must be treated in an individualized manner taking into account their unique circumstances. We do not believe that one approach fits all. It is our mission to assist you in determining what will assist you towards leading a more productive lifestyle.

What are the ethical standards of Chat2Recovery for online counseling?

Chat2Recovery subscribes to the American Counseling Association’s “Ethical Standards for Internet Online Counseling.” For further information, members can refer to the Patient Orientation Handbook.

Are Chat2Recovery counselors qualified to provide these services?

The management team of Chat2Recovery considers the counseling team to be the product of the company. As a result, a great deal of time and effort is placed upon hiring the most clinically competent counselors available. All of the counselors are New York State licensed to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment. They are also assessed for comfort level with online counseling and computer literacy skills. Furthermore, all counselors are expected to obtain certification as an Online Therapy Specialist through 40 hours of training at the Online Therapy Institute.