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Determining Whether Text Therapy is Right for You

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In part two of her report on text therapy, NY1’s Shazia Khan looked at some things you should keep in mind before typing away.

Nicole Amesbury, licensed mental health counselor with Talkspace, offers therapy via text. The online and mobile app is one of a recent crop of digital providers that have therapist’s texting with patients.

The appeal is a no brainer: lower cost, convenience and an anonymous relationship between therapist and user.

"There are some people that won't go to face-to-face therapy because, for instance, they are suffering from panic attacks, from agoraphobia; they don't want to leave their home. There are some people with types of concerns with maybe some sexual health concerns or something," Amesbury says.

With more folks turning to text for therapy, Dr. Lynn Bufka with the American Psychological Association says data is also starting to surface.

"We're increasingly seeing research showing it's an adjunct, that it can be a useful way to supplement an ongoing therapy relationship, but we really don't know if it can be effective just on its own," says Bufka.

She says there are also some things to consider if you want to receive therapy over text. First, how secure is the connection? Are HIPAA security and privacy rules being followed?
Is the therapist licensed, and if so, where?

"You want to make sure the person is licensed where you are. That protects you, the consumer, because if there are any problems or issues, you can go to the licensing board in your state," Bufka explains.

She also says you should set goals.

"It's really important to say here is what I want, here is what I'm struggling with, here is what I hope to accomplish with therapy," says Bufka.

Since body language and tone of voice are nonexistent over text, nuances of communication may be lost.

"It's possible that either the therapist or the patient could misperceive humor, could perceive an insult when there wasn't one intended, could miss the level of distress or the level of concern that somebody is conveying," Bufka says.

These are just some things to keep in mind before you enter the brave new world of therapy.

View part one of Shazia Khan’s report on text therapy here.

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