In a world fueled by technology, it should come as no surprise that many are now seeking to fulfill their mental health and/or psychiatrist needs online. Many services are offering online therapist or chats with a board certified psychologist. A major concern that has arisen from online mental health services is the security and privacy of managing mental health online.
The world is not perfect and even seeing a psychiatrist in person can have some security scares as human errors exist. Overall online mental health services are secure and safe.Both are confidential practices and noth could expose information if security is not up to par. When searching for an online therapist you will want to keep this in mind while you search.
One thing you will want to look out for is the security of their website and/or app. You will want to read up on what security measures they offer in this regard. ALso check to make sure the online mental health professional is certified or licensed, and therefore bound to keep your confidentiality unless you are threatening harm to yourself or another. Also keep in mind the website or messenger may have a tracker that records your IP Address in case of emergencies.
If they use a messaging system , make sure it is secure. This information will usually be readily available on the page somewhere. Usually it is a system similar to what they use on bank websites for protection.
Another issue that comes up in the search for an online therapist is anonymity. A lot of people are attracted to taking care of their mental health online because of the anonymous factor. It can be easier to speak with someone freely when you are not directly in their presence. When the option of online therapy was a newer concept, you may have been able to get that kind of service but now many want some information such as a proper phone number , name and location. It helps to build trust and they can also get a hold of you if anything were to happen that required medical intervention.
You will also want to verify the software used if you are given the option of doing video chats as therapy. ost software has built in protection but as therapy often involves private information being shared it doesn't hurt to take a look to make sure you are protected.
Some steps you can take on your end to help ensure privacy include not sending any kind of payment info unless it is via the websites secure form, verifying any phone or fax numbers before sending confidential information and just doing your due diligence to verify they are who they say they are before engaging in services with them.
It is important to remember that even thought he method of therapy is different, HITECH and HIPAA laws still apply so your privacy is ensured to a point. This is why verification of credentials is important. While online therapy os booming right now, it is key to remember that it isn't an entirely new concept. It has been in practice in some form for roughly twenty years.
It is important to remember that privacy risk will always exist. Before technology gave us online therapy, the risk in offices was that a conversation could be overheard or that an unauthorized person may read a chart or the wrong patient may be called. It isn't that more risks are there now, they have just changed to reflect the society that we currently live in and the advanced technology that is available to us.