The following business analysis essay on eCounseling has been submitted an expert, 100% American freelance writer from Ultius. It is to be used as both a guide, model or example representing exactly how a business analysis essay should be presented.
Groceries, movies, music, doctors and pharmacies: It seems everything is available online these days. Just like Ultius, Internet businesses are growing, changing, and taking the consumer experience to another level. Insurance companies encourage patients to order medications online, to be shipped in the mail. Doctors offer patient access to their online medical records. Walmart took up the challenge for ordering groceries online. Even therapists are joining the online game. Counselors, psychologists, and licensed therapists started providing basic care via online chat, video conferencing, and mobile apps. And, while they certainly do not recommend online treatment for patients suffering from acute or chronic mental illness, providers offer testing, counseling, addiction relief, and other forms of help.
What is eCounseling?
eCounseling goes by several names: online therapy, e-therapy, e-counseling, teletherapy, and cyber-counseling. All are considered equal in nature and represent a new trend in mental health care. Counselors provide treatment via online platforms. Some use old-fashioned chat rooms and instant messaging to counsel with patients. Others use more modern systems like internet phone calls (i.e. Google Voice, Skype, etc.) and video conferencing (i.e. Google Hangouts, Zoom, Any Meeting, etc.) (Cherry). Treatment plans, therapy modules, and other treatment processes are relatively the same as with traditional therapy (Cherry). For example, relationship counselors meet with individuals and couples once or twice a month for therapy. During the typical 45-minute session, counselors listen to the patient, coach them to reveal emotions and belief patterns, encourage alternative reactions, and develop treatment plans to guide future sessions (Cherry). The difference between in-office and online visits is the location.
On the other hand, eCounseling is not psychotherapy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), psychotherapy is defined as “talk therapy, a way to treat people with a mental disorder by helping them understand their illness” (National Institute of Mental Health). Therapists employing psychotherapy teaches patients methods to cope with mental illness and traumatic experiences (National Institute of Mental Health). This therapy process is referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (National Institute of Mental Health). The difference between counseling and psychotherapy is determined by practitioner level, diagnosis, and severity. For example, overweight patients wanting to focus on losing weight and overcoming food addiction will seek guidance from a counselor. Teenagers suffering from bulimia will need advanced behavioral therapy from psychotherapists.
History of eCounseling
The first attempt at online counseling was designed to help college students studying at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (courtesy of Susan Lang). Jerry Feist, founder of the Director of Psychological Services, determined students had similar questions and concerns (Lang). By answering one student’s question and posting it online, students and faculty would receive the information faster and more effectively. Not only was it the first attempt at an advice column, it served as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) site (Lang). “Ask Uncle Ezra” was more than an online advice column though. The platform evolved from a question and answer platform to a sincere attempt at trying to help students alleviate stress and frustration. Members of the community from outside of the university started relying on the platform for help (Lang). One young citizen asked “Uncle Ezra” “My ex-girlfriend left me. And I am trying to get her to be my girlfriend again. I really love her. But I am only 12. So how can I get her to be my girlfriend again?” (Lang) While this question is cute and sweet, it represents how much the system helped others.
“Ask Uncle Ezra” started the advent of online counseling. Soon more self-help tools appeared online. According to Landau in a CNN article, Soon many counseling agencies and medical centers starting offering counseling resources on their websites. Whether in the form of resources to direct patients to solutions or actual advice to help in times of grief, depression, or stress, the online database grew. Now smartphones offer counseling apps for patients (Landau). Self-help groups started offering free, confidential chat sites designed to replace traditional group therapy (Landau). Insurance evens started encouraging online therapy over in-office visits (Landau).
Effects on the medical industry
While eCounseling and teletherapy are relatively new ideas, recent studies have found they already are effecting the medical industry. Inpatient hospital visits were reduced, and many patients reported using less medical care. After studying nearly 100,000 veterans who used online therapy, John Hopkins determined the average hospital stay decrease by 25 percent in patients receiving online care. On the other hand, patients using tradition, in-office counseling saw a slower decrease in hospitalization. More than 90 percent of online therapy patients report less medical symptoms (i.e. headaches, chest pains, high blood pressure, etc.) than patients who see therapists face-to-face (Jones).
The American Psychiatric Association reported in 2007 that patients in Ontario, Canada reported seeing no difference between face-to-face visits or online therapy. Recovery rates between the two were virtually identical. Another study in 2007, showed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients responded positively to online therapy, and the results were long-lasting. The American Journal of Psychiatry analyzed a test program aimed at determining the effectiveness of online therapy versus CBT. The program conducted intensive research on 45 veterans suffering from PTSD after the September 11th attack. Within eight weeks of therapy, patients receiving online therapy showed greater improvement than those patients receiving traditional CBT therapy. The control group receiving online therapy continued to show success six months after the first session (Breakthrough).
eCounseling makes treatment available to more people
One of the top successes eCounseling sites have enjoyed is making treatment options available to more patients. Studies show more than 26 percent of the American population suffer from mental illnesses (Best Counseling Degrees). However, one out of three people with diagnosable illnesses say they don’t see a therapist or counselor (Best Counseling Degrees). This number doesn’t include psychologists or psychiatrists, providers more accessible to these patients (Best Counseling Degrees). More than half the population believe mental health treatment is inaccessible, and 39 percent of people who don’t receive help say it’s too expensive (Best Counseling Degrees). eCounseling makes these services more accessible to those patients with scheduling issues or cannot afford traditional treatment.
The greatest advantage of online counseling is the convenience of use. The traditional therapy generally takes long days to complete. Online counseling is relatively less-expensive than traditional in-person or face-to-face counseling session. In Tustin, regular counseling can cost roughly from $65 to $120 or more per one hour. On the other hand, online counseling is available is cheaper than the regular counseling therapy (Global Accessibility).
Americans say they want counseling and need it. But high costs, incompatible schedules, location, and privacy all reduce the chances they have to seek help. eCounseling started as a self-help service and has grown to incorporate counseling and life coaching. But patients should be careful and determine when it is best to see a counselor online or in person. Online self-help groups and life coaching is no replacement for true, psychotherapy.
Best Counseling Degrees. “Is The Future of Counseling and Therapy Online?” N.d. Web. 26 May 2016. http://www.bestcounselingdegrees.net/online/.
Breakthrough. “Is Breakthrough effective?” N.d. Web. 26 2016. https://www.breakthrough.com/why/effectiveness.
Cherry, Kendra. “What Is Online Therapy? A Look at the ins and Outs of Online Psychotherapy.” VeryWell. 9 May 2016. Web. 26 May 2016. https://www.verywell.com/what-is-online-therapy-2795752.
Global Accessibility. “How Does Online Counseling Help Individuals?” 26 April 2016. Web. 26 May 2016. http://globalaccessibilitymap.com/how-does-online-counseling-help-individuals/.
Jones, Edward R. “Breakthrough’s Quality Program: Proven Effective Online Care.” Breakthrough Behavioral. Aug. 2014. Web. 26 May 2016. https://www.breakthrough.com/assets/breakthrough-quality-program-white-paper-a6919a45af94c8a9dd33f198bc677ded.pdf.
Landau, Elizabeth. “Therapy online: Good as face to face?” CNN. 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 26 May 26, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/31/online.internet.therapy.cbt/index.html?iref=24hours.
Lang, Susan S. “For two decades, Dear Uncle Ezra, world’s first online advice column, has aided the perplexed, the shy and the confused.” Cornell Chronicle. Cornell University. 20 Feb. 2007. Web. 26 May 2016. http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2007/02/any-person-any-question-ask-dear-uncle-ezra-advice.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “What is psychotherapy?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). N.d. Web. 26 May 2016. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml.