Regulation of Online Therapy
As the use of online therapy grows, some critics have raised concerns about whether digital modalities are adequately regulated to ensure clients receive safe and competent care. However, licensed therapists point to key regulatory structures and ethical obligations that also apply to online practice. So, how should a proper regulation of online therapy be?
Concerns About Less Regulation
Some argue that less oversight of online therapy providers could result in unlicensed or underqualified therapists offering services digitally. They claim that without in-person interactions, it may be easier for those lacking proper credentials or training to operate websites and apps that facilitate therapy.
This has led some observers to call for increased regulation and monitoring of online therapy services to weed out unsafe practitioners. However, licensed mental health professionals counter that they are still strictly regulated, even when working remotely.
Regulation That Applies to Both In-Person and Online Therapy
Therapists point out that the same licensing requirements, credentialing bodies and ethical codes that govern in-person practice also apply to digital modalities.
Licensed therapists seeking to offer online services must still meet qualifications in their state or jurisdiction. They remain bound by ethical codes from organizations like the American Counseling Association and American Psychological Association.
And credentials like Certified Health Informatics privacy training ensure the proper use of technology to protect client data and privacy in digital practice.
Therapists remain ethically obligated to provide competent care, maintain professional boundaries, refer out when necessary, and ensure client welfare – regardless of treatment modality. These duties act as a major form of “self-regulation” for the profession that extends to online work.
While some argue that online therapy faces less oversight than in-person modalities, licensed mental health professionals point out that the same regulatory structures apply to both. Therapists working digitally must still meet licensing requirements, abide by codes of ethics, andremain ethically obliged to provide competent care for clients. In this way, the profession’s own rigorous self-regulation works to ensureresponsible practice. Both when therapists and clients are together in the same room and when they interact across technology.