Therapy in LA
Therapy in L.A.


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August 2001
By Joyce Parker, Ph.D.

In the July 2001 edition of the National Association of Social Workers News, an article reported on the development of standards for on-line therapy. There is a concern that many mental health practitioners are providing Internet therapy without clear practice guidelines. The National Board of Certified Counselors has developed the following standards:

  1. Liability insurance should be reviewed to determine if Internet counseling is covered.
  2. Encryption should be used whenever possible, and if not, clients should be informed of the risks to confidentiality.
  3. Clinicians should consider carefully local customs regarding age of consent and child abuse reporting.
  4. Links to Web sites of all appropriate certification bodies and licensure boards should be on the clinician’s Web site to facilitate consumer protections.
  5. Although there is no conclusive research, clinicians’ Web sites might list presenting problems that may be inappropriate for Web counseling. These might include sexual abuse as a primary issue, violent relationships, eating disorders and psychiatric disorders that involve distortions of reality.
  6. The possibility of technology failure should be explained.
These NBCC standards can be found at There is a new professional association specifically for mental health counseling on the Internet, the International Society of Mental Health Online. Their Web site is

The author of this article, and founder of the website, Joyce Parker, passed away in 2011. To honor her we are keeping her articles posted at this website.

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