Numerous research studies and papers support the use of online delivery of behavioral and mental health services. Findings from studies investigating the efficacy of individual telepsychotherapy with conditions including panic disorder, public speaking phobias, and agoraphobia have suggested that treatments administered electronically have significantly decreased most symptoms associated with those conditions (e.g., Botella, Banos, Villa, Perpiña, and Garcia-Palacios, 2000; Bouchard, et al., 2000; Murdoch and Connor-Greene, 2000). Patients receiving mental health treatment through video conferencing reported “high levels of satisfaction.”

Research also supports the efficacy of physician counseling plus telephone support (Curry, Ludman, Grothaus, Donovan, and Eleanor, 2003), computerized early intervention (Schinke, Schwinn, Di Noia, and Cole, 2004), and web-based screening and brief intervention (e-SBI; Kypri, et al., 2004) for reducing alcohol consumption among both adolescents and adults. Hester and Delaney (1997) found that behavioral self-control training, a CBT intervention designed to help participants change their behavior around drinking, was equally as effective when delivered online (Copeland and Martin, 2004). Further, the reductions in alcohol use were maintained over a 1-year period.

A number of leading professional organizations have endorsed the use of online services for mental health. Many organizations have specifically tasked teams to investigate online services, and all have ultimately endorsed their use and put forward guidelines for appropriate practice. Among these organizations are:

American Psychological Association

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National Association of Social Workers

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American Counseling Association (includes a specific section in their ethics code about it)

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US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

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Research Articles

Aug
2012

Telepsychology outcome research with children and adolescents: a review of the literature.

SUMMARY: This review provides a summary and critique of the empirical research focused on psychological services provided to children and adolescents using three technology media (i.e., videoconferencing, Internet, and telephone). The evidentiary support for providing services with each of these media for a range of concerns is encouraging.

Aug
2007

A controlled trial of web-based feedback for heavy drinking college students.

Dec
2000

Procedural and methodological issues in telepsychiatry research and program development.

SUMMARY: Psychiatric interviews conducted by telepsychiatry appear to be generally reliable, and patients and clinicians generally report high levels of satisfaction with telepsychiatry.

Dec
2002

Online counseling: The Internet and mental health treatment.

SUMMARY: Online counseling: The Internet and mental health treatment.

Dec
1999

Ethical standards for internet online Counseling.

SUMMARY: Ethical standards for internet online Counseling.

Dec
2004

Applying technology to online counseling: Suggestions for the beginning e-therapist.

SUMMARY: Applying technology to online counseling: Suggestions for the beginning e-therapist.

Dec
2003

The scope of WebCounseling: A survey of services and compliance with NBCC standards for the ethical practice of WebCounseling.

SUMMARY: The scope of WebCounseling: A survey of services and compliance with NBCC standards for the ethical practice of WebCounseling.

Dec
2001

Suggested principles of professional ethics for the online provision of mental health services.

SUMMARY: Suggested principles of professional ethics for the online provision of mental health services.

Dec
2000

Suggested principles for the provision of mental health services.

SUMMARY: Suggested principles for the provision of mental health services.

Dec
1997

Standards for the ethical practice of WebCounseling.

SUMMARY: Standards for the ethical practice of WebCounseling.

Dec
2006

Internet counseling: Trends, applications, and ethical issues.

SUMMARY: Internet counseling: Trends, applications, and ethical issues.

Dec
2000

Ethical issues in internet counseling. Counselling Psychology Quarterly.

SUMMARY: Ethical issues in internet counseling. Counselling Psychology Quarterly.

Dec
2002

Online counselling: Learning from writing therapy..

SUMMARY: Online counselling: Learning from writing therapy.

Dec
2002

Thus far, research findings indicate that online counseling may be beneficial for clients who do not have easy access to traditional face-to-face therapy.

SUMMARY: Thus far, research findings indicate that online counseling may be beneficial for clients who do not have easy access to traditional face-to-face therapy.

Dec
2010

The Use of Technology in Mental Health: Applications, Ethics and Practice

SUMMARY: The Use of Technology in Mental Health: Applications, Ethics and Practice.

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