Centro Psicologico per l'infanzia, l'adolescenza, l'età adulta e la famiglia
Sulla base di un'esigenza emergente, legata alla vicenda Coronavirus ancora in atto, riteniamo opportuno segnalare che gli Studi Psicologi Monteverde prevedono i servizi di Consulenza psicologica e Psicoterapia Online.
La psicoterapia online, o a distanza, funziona?
Secondo molte ricerche presenti in letteratura la psicoterapia a distanza può avere
Online psychotherapy offers many advantages like benefits for the therapeutic process and the therapeutic communication itself, also by being more convenient than traditional settings of psychotherapy. Both many patients and therapists seem to be satisfied with the use of online psychotherapy. Not surprisingly, this kind of psychotherapy is increasingly being used. Online psychotherapy promises to solve economic pressures by being more cost-effective, offering a solution for workforce shortage problems and increasing access to necessary psychotherapy for many different populations suffering from mental health problems who might be difficult to reach such as patients living in rural areas. Reducing barriers to engaging in psychotherapy by reducing stigma, being able to attend online sessions anonymously thus enhancing a sense of privacy, reaching patients worldwide and across borders are other advantages of online psychotherapy. Conducting psychotherapy online gives the possibility to adapt services to specific patients offering more personalized care, enhancing patient control, and empowering the patient resulting in more adherence to and compliance with the treatment itself. The specific setting of online psychotherapy gives the therapist more freedom and offers physical protection, but might also protect the patient from breaches of intimacy boundaries and enhance the accountability of both patient and therapist. Additionally, online psychotherapy offers new opportunities for research, teaching, and supervision, enhancing the informed consent process, offering new opportunities through the use of social media and might give good assistance in emergency situations. Online psychotherapy might even improve and extend the therapeutic relationship.
One of the biggest and most discussed disadvantages of using psychotherapy is the risks with regard to privacy, confidentiality, and data security. Online psychotherapy creates new challenges to therapist competences which brings about the need for new forms of training and education, especially technological competences regarding many technical issues that might occur. Technological competence is not only needed by the therapist, but also by the patient. New communication skills are needed and particular attention must be paid to the development of the therapeutic relationship regarding the many boundary issues that might occur. Difficulties herein are put up by new access and availability issues and the loss of therapeutic control. Broader research, new guidelines, and a consideration of legal issues in general are needed especially regarding the practice across borders of nations, new payment and insurance issues, challenges to the informed consent process, dealing with emergency situations, enhancing the identification process of the therapist and the patient, and selecting patients that are suitable for online psychotherapy. The comparability to in-person treatment might be questioned and some fear danger to the image of psychotherapy. Therapists might fear increased liability and litigation. Online, new forms of misuse are possible and charlatans might utilize this kind of psychotherapy to achieve financial gains. Other feared disadvantages of online psychotherapy are the dehumanization and stigmatization of patients, patient dependence, and loss of patients' autonomy. New adherence issues might occur regarding the ease of ending an online session. Online supervision and teaching and the use of social media raise further ethical questions. Extensive costs might be faced by patient and therapists, when using online psychotherapy, for example, to set up the new technologies. Last but not least, the negative influence of technology itself might endanger its users.
This review has a number of limitations. First, only articles in English and German were included. However, only fourteen of the articles that were found to meet the search criteria were in a different language and therefore excluded. Among the emerging research topics not included in this review are online training and supervision, social media, avatar, second life, robots and bots, artificial intelligence, computer-mediated (self-help) therapy, psychology-related smartphone apps, internet-based group therapy and telecare, online forums, open chat, therapy for older adults, therapy for children and adolescents, and marriage and family therapy.
It is beyond the scope of the present review to offer exhaustive recommendations for clinical practice or how these ethical risks might be resolved in practice, and further systematic research should more fully address this topic. For some recommendations directly deducted from the results of this review, see Table 2.
Table 2 Recommendations for practice.
Counting the frequency of arguments does not clarify their relative importance; to evaluate their true weight, a more quantitative survey of experts' ratings is needed. Without that deeper understanding, the risks and benefits reviewed here remain anecdotal and qualitative, with only limited validity (92).
In future systematic research on efficacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of online psychotherapy is needed and practice guidelines, legal and ethical frameworks need to be developed. Further research in the fast growing field of online psychotherapy seems vital. Some important topics requiring further investigation are summarized in Table 3.