According to a recent story in the New York Times, psychiatrists and psychologists are turning to online video conferencing with products like Skype to counsel patients. This method of treatment is designed for people who want more flexibility in appointment timing as well as prefer engaging with a therapist in the comfort of their own home. Using a video conferencing client like Skype also allows the therapist to charge less for sessions due to the money saved on transportation and office expenditures. In addition, appointments are less likely to be canceled or missed due to inclement weather conditions, traffic jams or other delays. This also allows patients to continue working with a therapist in case of relocation by either party.
However, some therapists dislike the acceptance of video conferencing sessions due to possible problems with the Internet and the chance of losing a connection during a critical moment. There’s also the problem of making eye contact with the patient due to typical placement of cameras within laptops or even external webcams. Another issue for Skype therapy sessions involves licensing laws between states as the therapist may not be licensed in the state. Concerns for patients may include the privacy of the video chat sessions from other viewers, the ability to record therapy video sessions and the possibility that insurance will deny claims for online therapy.
While medical conditions like agoraphobia would be perfect for online sessions, doctors are questioning the effectiveness of online sessions for conditions that cause clear physical differences in a patient like substance abuse. Some therapists won’t even schedule online video sessions without first meeting the patient in person. However, younger therapists and young patients like teenagers are likely to adapt to this method of counseling over Skype compared to therapists that have been practicing for a number of years.