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Am J Psychother. 2005;59(4):319-31.

Informed consent to e-therapy.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


E-therapy, the provision of mental health treatment through the Internet, poses many risks as well as benefits. This article addresses some relevant risks and benefits of e-therapy and discusses the practicality of using computers in the informed consent process. Although e-therapy has numerous proponents, no clinical trials have assessed its long-term effectiveness. To limit liability and to protect patients, e-therapy providers should disclose material risks as well as possible benefits and engage patients in an active dialogue. A thorough informed consent procedure enables patients to make an educated decision about whether e-therapy is right for them. In the future, e-therapy and informed consent online may become more common; in the mean time, clinicians must be prepared for e-therapy's uncertain legal status and allow patients to decide for themselves whether or not to seek counseling on the Internet.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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