Is your online gender therapist licensed in your state?
As an online gender therapist licensed in Ohio, I can only see clients who are in Ohio and I can only provide services in Ohio. My license doesn’t permit me to see anyone in another state; even if they’re a current client a traveling on business or something. So check with your state licensing board to make sure the person you’re considering working with is licensed to practice in your state. If they’re not and offering services anyway, then that’s a big red flag about their ethics and integrity.
Does your therapist conduct sessions over a secure chat, email, or videoconference system?
People talk about some pretty freaking private stuff in therapy. You want a therapist who’s put care into making sure your privacy is protected. And your therapist is obligated to keep your health information private and safe. Skype and FaceTime are not secure. Best practices in telemedicine (online therapy) strongly discouraged therapists from using those systems for therapy sessions. The most commonly used chat apps are not sure either. Even regular email is not secure. I offer videoconferencing over Doxy.me, a videoconference solution designed for healthcare professionals that protects client data. I am very careful to avoid sensitive information when communicating over chat and email.
Does your online gender therapist have training in providing online therapy?
Online gender therapy is great and convenient and helps a lot of people, but there are cases when providing services online risks doing more damage than good. Providing therapy online is very different from offering services in an office. A gender therapist with training (continuing education, certification, or consultation with another therapist who has expertise) in online gender therapy will know how to evaluate whether or not you are a good fit.
Has your therapist worked with you to develop a crisis plan using resources in your local community?
Many people to expect to have a mental health crisis, but they can and do happen (especially if you’re working on other issues in therapy, such as childhood trauma). When you’re in crisis in a therapist’s office there are many ways the therapist can support you:
- help you call a friend or family member to meet you at the office
- talk with friends or family (with your permission) to establish a safety plan
- assist you with getting an emergency appointment with your psychiatrist
- assess whether or not you should go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation
These things are much harder to do long-distance. That’s why it’s so important for an ethical therapist to work with you to develop a crisis plan, and hope that you never need to use it. I typically address this with my clients during the second online therapy session.
The American Psychological Association has a great article about what you should consider before choosing online therapy and they cover some additional points that may be helpful.