Concerns About Confidentiality in Online Therapy

One of the most pressing concerns in online therapy is the protection of client information. The use of electronic communications presents a threat to patient confidentiality if proper precautions are not taken. For example, one health care organization in Michigan accidentally posted the medical records of thousands of patients to the Internet (Luepker, E. 2003.)

Before you consider trying online therapy, you should first consider the privacy of your personal information. Does your potential online therapist utilize a secure site to protect your privacy? Discuss the issue of privacy with any potential therapist and inquire about what precautions he or she takes to ensure the confidentiality of your personal information.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself

  • Do not access therapy e-mails or chats at work. Ideally, online therapy should occur on a private computer that is not shared with other users.
  • If you must use a shared computer, always close the browser when you have finished your session.
  • Do not share your computer or e-mail passwords with others.
  • Double-check all communications between you and your therapist to be sure they are properly addressed. Confidentiality breaches often occur when client or therapists click the wrong name in their address book.