E-therapy as an information system
The internet has definitely become a vital communication tool for access of various services, such as education, business and health among others. This means it is an information system that enables people to gain crucial information over the internet commonly known as online access. With the recent technological advancements, the internet has become a useful mental health resource for both patients and therapists thereby accepting e-therapy. Therefore, e-therapy is defined as an online modality used to deliver psychological support. It uses asynchronous and synchronous communication modes to deliver support that could be aimed at solving relationship or personal issues. As such, it is considered an information system because it uses computer mediated communication to provide psychological support.
To begin with, input constituents are the keyboard, mouse or microphones that clients and therapists use when communicating. For example, a client uses the keyboard when typing the kind of information that he or she requires to be accessed by the therapist in asynchronous communication. Similarly, in synchronous modes, both clients and therapists may use microphones in video conferencing communication methods. Processing constituents are the software or modalities needed to convert input information to output. As such, e-therapy emails, live chats, support groups and video conferences are considered the software needed to process data. For example, email allows counselors to clients to exchange short text messages. Furthermore, live chats allow instantaneous communication between users. On the other hand, output generally refers to the results achieved from these communication methods. They could involve psycho-educational information obtained from websites about the various mental issues by a user. Generally, e-therapy is considered an information system because computers, modalities and internet are used to provide psychological support.
E-therapy ethical challenges
Despite the technological advancements, e-therapy also faces various ethical concerns because it is mainly based on quality services provided and trust between clients and therapists. The various ethical concerns include misunderstandings, appropriate concerns, technological interruptions, professionalism and confidentiality issues. Appropriate concerns mainly relate to the urgency in which e-therapy can be carried out. Eating disorders, severe psychosis and suicide attempts by clients are some of the crises that may require urgency and may not be properly addressed using e-therapy. For example, email e-therapy would be difficult for a client who is about to commit suicide because of the time taken to send or receive messages. As such, therapists should inform clients of emergency procedures. Secondly, misunderstanding is possible due to the lack of nonverbal cues when using some modalities. For example, it would be difficult to address important client feelings like understanding and empathy hence, raising ethical issues. Similarly, modalities like instant messaging would not appropriately highlight body language, which is important for therapy. This concern can be addressed through use of other modalities like teleconferencing and Skype.
Confidentiality or privacy challenges could occur as a result of breaches due to unauthorized information access. Some of these breaches include inadequate website security or human err when sending emails. As such, ethical concerns are raised because unauthorized people could access client’s confidential information. Therefore, therapists should ensure security measures like firewalls are available and hackers are avoided. Professionalism involves the ability of therapists to maintain a balance between profession and personal life. For example, people including family members are increasingly using the internet to gain private information concerning health practitioners. As such, therapists can use passwords to protect private information. Finally, technological issues may result from server crashes or computer internet malfunctions during therapy sessions. As such, clients should be duly informed of these cases.