A question I get asked a lot is – can an online therapist diagnose you? Yes, they can! There are many online therapists that have earned their qualification from either Psychology or Medical School and are qualified to treat patients suffering from all types of psychological and physical disorders including ADD/ADHD, anxiety, OCD, depression, fear, phobias, stress, insomnia, panic attacks and many other disorders.
How does this work? The Online Therapists essentially use the same principles as a qualified Psychologist in order to diagnose your disorder or condition. They access your mind and analyse your past and present situation and then write to you with their diagnosis. Based on their diagnosis they can suggest to you either a course of treatment or simple relaxation techniques to help you relax and reduce your symptoms. Alternatively, they may refer you to someone who can give specialized treatment.
It’s important to remember, however, that a Therapist doesn’t ‘diagnose’ your condition. Their role is to help you manage symptoms and learn to cope with your condition. They cannot ‘put a label on your disorder’, i.e. they cannot tell if your symptoms are actually due to a physical or mental health problem or whether you are suffering from some sort of personality defect.
So, if a therapist cannot diagnose you, how do you know if they are reliable? Firstly, look at their qualifications. If they are from reputable organizations such as the Association for Psychological Therapy (APT) or the American Psychological Association (APA), they should be a good match to your therapist. They will probably be accredited and have achieved an internationally recognized standard of their specialty. Also check online to see what kind of feedback they have received regarding their services. You may wish to avoid therapists who receive a lot of negative feedback.
Secondly, check the references of the online therapist you are considering. Ideally, you should choose someone who has experience and who is highly qualified in their field. You may also want to contact their regulatory board and ask them for references. Finally, check the therapist’s registration status and make sure they are registered with the relevant body in your country. If not, this could indicate that their therapist practice is not regulated by the appropriate regulatory body. Unfortunately, there is no regulatory body for the online therapist area, so it is up to you to do the research to ensure your therapist is properly trained and regulated.
Unfortunately, the internet also makes it easy for unscrupulous people to pose as professional therapists, and to deceive their victims. The first sign to look for is if the online therapist is offering a guarantee for your online session. If they don’t offer a guarantee, try asking for one. You may be able to get a refund, but remember that if the session does not go well, you will have to pay for the session yourself!
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that the online therapist you are considering will be able to diagnose you with confidence or to help you recover. However, there are some things you can do to ensure that your online session is both confidential and safe. Always choose an online therapist that has been approved by the regulatory body in your country. There are many helpful websites that list approved professionals, and you can also ask your doctor for recommendations. In addition, always choose someone who has experience in the kind of treatment you are seeking online, and who can explain things clearly and in an easy to understand manner.
As well as your regulatory agency, you may want to investigate the background of the online therapist with whom you have chosen. Although most are reputable and genuine, you should also carefully check their background to make sure they are qualified to administer a therapy that you require. You may wish to consider researching their education and training to make sure they are up to speed on the latest advances in the field, and to make sure that they are experienced in treating your particular symptoms. It is also important to choose a professional who will be willing to work with you as a team. A good therapist will listen to your symptoms and help develop a treatment plan that takes into account your individual needs.