Despite of the benefits embedded in online therapy, the service delivery is highly controversial. First, very little research has been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of online therapies. Second, people who are in extreme crisis and need help may not be able to write their concerns to the psychologists and wait for the reply.
Sites offering online therapy are very alike - have almost the same pages, site content and prices. Each site claims having only professional psychologists and guarantee confidentially. The purpose of http://www.4etherapy.com/about_online_therapy.htm is to deliver the professional online counselling with licensed clinicians. The site content is limited to "home", "about online therapy", "for professionals", "about us", and "contact us" pages". Clients of this site are offered email, private chat and phone sessions. Notably, it is stated that the license of each clinician is verified with the state's regulatory board and therapists are responsible for providing the proof of liability insurance. Individuals who have busy schedules, difficulty with travelling, or other privacy issues are invited to use this website.
Another site http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/e-therapy.asp offers the wider range of services: in office counselling, audiovisual counselling, telephone therapy, email therapy, real-time chat, hypnosis tapes, and educational videos. In addition the site is divided into two parts: one for clients and another for medical staff. There is a lot of information about online therapies, self-improvement books, free discussion groups, questionnaires, articles and FAQ. The staff consists of Physician, Nurse, Nutritionist, Chiropractor and even Veterinarian. This site http://www.gracetreecounseling.com/OnlineCounselingTreat.htm provides information about the benefits of internet therapy as well as some limitations. In addition, it is stated that online counselling is not appropriate for issues regarding child abuse and suicidal behaviour. Individuals with such problems are provided with the phone numbers of the services providing assistance on these issues. Confidentiality and privacy concerns are also addressed, even though very little is noted about the competencies of the staff members. The site content is limited to "about us", "meet the counsellor", "treatment options", "services and fees", "privacy agreement" and "helpful link".
Nevertheless, the huge number of sties offering online therapy to clients is threatening. It is hard to control the quality of the assistance and almost impossible to verify whether the individual typing answers is truly professional. Strom King, the president of the International Society for Mental Health Online, has noted that internet cannot be controlled by government and people have to take more responsibility for what they consume online (Kliger 2000). Moreover, Martha Ainsworth (the holder of the site uniting therapists) said she knew of no lawsuits filed against online advisers even though many of them lack competence to be therapists (Kliger 2000).
The professional community has no single meaning about the effectiveness of online therapy. As it was already stated, most of associations have already integrated online therapy as part of their service. Moreover, many universities introduce the programs training psychologists in tele-health. For example, the Pacific