By Nicole Godine and Jeffrey Barnett
International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning
The use of various technologies in the practice of psychology has increased greatly in recent years in concert with increases in the use of these technologies in the lives of most individuals. E-mail, text messaging, chat rooms, and the Internet have greatly changed how many individuals communicate and maintain relationships. The psychotherapy relationship is no exception. The scope and practice of telepsychology, the use of the Internet and other technologies in the provision of psychological services, is reviewed along with relevant research that supports their use in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and disorders. Clinical, ethical, and legal issues and challenges are addressed and recommendations for the effective and appropriate use of these technologies in psychological practice are provided.
Mental health services can be delivered by e-mail, real-time chat, telephones, videoconferencing, cell phones, and websites (Grohol, 2003; Smith & Allison, 1998; Stamm, 2003; VandenBos & Williams, 2000). Synchronous modalities of communication, in which participants communicate in real time, include online chat, telephones, cell phones, and videoconferencing. Videoconferencing is a “technological procedure that allows individuals to see and hear each other on a computer monitor or video screen in real time” (Germain, Marchand, Bouchard, Drouin, & Guay, 2009, p. 42). It is different from real-time chat, telephone conversations, and cell phone conversations in that videoconferencing allows users to view and speak to each other in real time, whereas chat, telephones, and cell phones only allow the users to speak to each other (not view each other) in real time. Asynchronous forms of communication, in which there is a delayed response time, include e-mail, websites (which might be simply informational, or might offer contact with a mental health professional through e-mail), and text messaging via cell phones.
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