Online Counseling Research

Numerous research studies and papers support the use of online therapy. Findings from studies investigating the efficacy of individual telepsychotherapy with conditions including panic disorder, public speaking phobias, and agoraphobia have suggested that treatments administered electronically have significantly decreased most symptoms associated with those conditions (e.g., Botella, Banos, Villa, Perpiña, and Garcia-Palacios, 2000; Bouchard, et al., 2000; Murdoch and Connor-Greene, 2000). Patients receiving mental health treatment through video conferencing reported “high levels of satisfaction.”

Research also supports the efficacy of physician counseling plus telephone support (Curry, Ludman, Grothaus, Donovan, and Eleanor, 2003), computerized early intervention (Schinke, Schwinn, Di Noia, and Cole, 2004), and web-based screening and brief intervention (e-SBI; Kypri, et al., 2004) for reducing alcohol consumption among both adolescents and adults. Hester and Delaney (1997) found that behavioral self-control training, a CBT intervention designed to help participants change their behavior around drinking, was equally as effective when delivered online (Copeland and Martin, 2004). Further, the reductions in alcohol use were maintained over a 1-year period.

A number of leading professional organizations have endorsed the use of online services for mental health. Many organizations have specifically tasked teams to investigate online services, and all have ultimately endorsed their use and put forward guidelines for appropriate practice. Among these organizations are:

American Psychological Association

National Association of Social Workers

American Counseling Association (includes a specific section in their ethics code about it)

US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Telepsychology outcome research with children and adolescents: a review of the literature.

August 2012 | Source

Slone NC, Reese RJ, McClellan MJ. 2012
Psychological Services 2012 Aug; 9(3):272-92.

SUMMARY: This review provides a summary and critique of the empirical research focused on psychological services provided to children and adolescents using three technology media (i.e., videoconferencing, Internet, and telephone). The evidentiary support for providing services with each of these media for a range of concerns is encouraging.

A controlled trial of web-based feedback for heavy drinking college students.

2007 | Source

Walters, S.T., Vader A.M., and Harris, T.R.
Prevention Science, 2007 8:83-88.

SUMMARY: A randomized controlled trial of “electronic CHeck-Up to Go” (e-CHUG), a commercially available web-based intervention, suggests that it effectively reduces alcohol consumption among heavy-drinking college freshmen.

Procedural and methodological issues in telepsychiatry research and program development.

December 2000 | Source

Frueh BC1, Deitsch SE, Santos AB, Gold PB, Johnson MR, Meisler N, Magruder KM, Ballenger JC.
2000 Psychiatric Services, 51:1522-1527.

SUMMARY: Psychiatric interviews conducted by telepsychiatry appear to be generally reliable, and patients and clinicians generally report high levels of satisfaction with telepsychiatry.

Online counseling: The Internet and mental health treatment.

2002 | Source

Alleman, J. R., Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Vol 39(2), 2002, 199-209.

Ethical standards for internet online Counseling.

1999 | Source

American Counseling Association, (1999).

Applying technology to online counseling: Suggestions for the beginning e-therapist.

2004 | Source

Elleven, R. K., & Allen, J., Journal of Instructional Psychology, 31(3), 223-227.

The scope of WebCounseling: A survey of services and compliance with NBCC standards for the ethical practice of WebCounseling.

2003 | Source

Heinlen, K. T., Welfel, E. R., Richmond, E. N., & Rak, C. F., Journal of Counseling & Development, 81(2), 61-69.

Suggested principles of professional ethics for the online provision of mental health services.

2001 | Source

Hsiung, R. C., Telemedicine Journal and e-Health, 7(1), 39-45.

Suggested principles for the provision of mental health services.

2000 | Source

International Society for Mental Health Online.

Standards for the ethical practice of WebCounseling.

1997 | Source

National Board for Certified Counselors.

Internet counseling: Trends, applications, and ethical issues.


Patrick, P. K. S., Contemporary Issues In Counseling. Manuscript submitted for publication (Allyn and Bacon).

Ethical issues in internet counseling. Counselling Psychology Quarterly.

2000 | Source

Robson, D. & Robson, M., Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 13(3), 249-257.

Online counselling: Learning from writing therapy.

2002 | Source

Wright, J., British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 30, 285-298.

Thus far, research findings indicate that online counseling may be beneficial for clients who do not have easy access to traditional face-to-face therapy.

2002 | Source

Mallen & Vogel, 2005., THE COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGIST, Vol. 33 No. 6, November 2005 819-871 DOI: 10.1177/0011000005278624

The Use of Technology in Mental Health: Applications, Ethics and Practice

2010 | Source

Kate Anthony (Author, Editor), DeeAnna Merz Nagel (Editor), Stephen Goss (Editor), THE COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGIST, Vol. 33 No. 6, November 2005 819-871 DOI: 10.1177/0011000005278624