Colleagues, acquaintances, e-patients, media and others often ask me, “What’s the state of online therapy? Does it have a future?” My answer hasn’t changed significantly in the past decade, for good reason — very little has changed in the field.
For folks who may be unawares, I’ve been a part of the mental health landscape and online therapy since the early 1990s, and e-therapy specifically when it started to hit the scene hard in the late 1990s. In fact, I coined the term “e-therapy” to describe online psychotherapy — a specific modality of psychotherapy that utilizes many techniques and features of traditional face-to-face psychotherapy. In 1999, I joined an e-therapy startup — HelpHorizons.com — as the industry’s youngest COO and led that company to a successful acquisition years later.
There’s no dearth of professionals willing to give e-therapy a try. In fact, when we ran HelpHorizons in the early 2000s, we had over 1,000 professionals at one point who signed up for the service.
What we lacked were people who actually utilized or wanted to utilize the service. And that’s the key problem with online psychotherapy: It’s a great modality that few consumers actually want to use.
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