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Therapy in Cyberspace:

Law and Ethics,
Myths and Realities,
Technical Difficulties, Formulations and Processes

of an Online Clinical Practice

Michael Fenichel, Ph.D.

A course for 7 hours of continuing education


This course fulfills Law and Ethics requirements

This course looks at the Law and Ethics, Myths and Realities, Technical Difficulties, Formulations and Processes of an Online Clinical Practice.

  • We explore how the legal and ethical standards of psychotherapy are impacted by the therapeutic relationship being online, rather than face to face.
  • We look at the Myths and Realities of an online clinical practice:
    • Online therapy is impossible, period
    • Online therapy consists almost exclusively of e-mail exchanges
    • Text-only is inadequate to convey a richness of human experience
    • Suicide prevention and crisis intervention are impossible online
    • Effective online counseling for serious disorders is not possible
    • Geography doesn't matter when providing mental health services online
    • Online clinical work always involves one counselor or therapist working with individuals and groups
    • Online principles are the same as offline principles
    • Online training and peer supervision are ineffective
    • Any clinician experienced in face to face work can do online work
  • We will examine the Nuts and Bolts, Benefits, Limitations and Future Directions of Online Support Groups
  • Technical Difficulties, Formulations and Processes will be discussed.

Learning Objectives

In this 7 CE course clinicians will:

Review Law and Ethics as they apply to an Online Practice
Review HIPAA Compliance
Explore Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work
Look at Technical Difficulties, Formulations and Processes as they pertain to a Online Practice
Review Critical Issues in Cybercounseling
Explore the Nuts and Bolts, Benefits, Limitations and Future Directions of Online Support Groups

is approved by the:

APA - www.psychceu.com is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. www.psychceu.com maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
CA BBS - California Board of Behavioral Science accepts our CE Provider Approvals through APA, NASW, and NBCC. Course meets the qualifications for hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Science
Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, Mental Health Counseling (BAP 753 )
NAADAC - The Association for Addiction Professionals (#575)
NBCC - National Board for Certified Counselors - www.psychceu.com has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6055. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. www.psychceu.com is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. (ACEP #6055)
Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (#1761)
The Texas Board of Social Work Examiners (#6246)

maintains responsibility for the program.



how it works

Due to the wonders of technology, the minute you submit your order over our secure line, it is encrypted, and processed safely and securely by Authorize.net, a secure web processor. Or, if you prefer, call us toll-free 888-777-3773.

You will immediately receive confirmation of your order, your password and how to access the course material. (Please do not block e-mails from classes@psychceu.com, orders@psychceu.com and info@psychceu.com)

If you ordered an online course, you can begin to take the course immediately.

You will receive instructions, via e-mail, on how to take your test online.

Contact us or call if you need technical support.

Your test will be graded online, so the moment you have passed, you may print out your certificate of completion.

That's it! You are done!


From the course:

Required therapist skills for effective online communication

Practical skills

  • Fast or touch-typing
  • Comfort with Internet modalities and software programs (e.g.,IM, chat, email, downloading the latest browser)
  • Curiosity and courage to investigate and alter parts of your computer you might not normally bother with (e.g. adjusting the configuration, adding hardware, etc.).
  • Comfort responding swiftly when necessary (or tolerating delays between messages)
  • Ability to accumulate, store, and use appropriate web links
  • Ability to receive, store, and protect communications from clients
  • Knowledge of encryption and other privacy technology
  • Expressive writing, facility with both language and other available visual cues
  • Training/expertise as mental health professional, with a theoretical base to draw upon

Emotional skills

  • Comfort describing own and others' feelings in text
  • Comfort in a text-only environment
  • Ability to make effective therapeutic interventions using only text
  • Awareness of how client perceives therapist online
  • Skill at clarifying accuracy of online communication
  • Love of being online
  • Experience with online relationships (synchronous and non-synchronous)
  • Flexibility in approach and conceptualization of therapeutic relationships (e.g., believing it's possible to form therapeutic relationships without visual cues or employing traditional psychodynamic, frameworks, concepts, and techniques)
  • Confidence with technology and role as online authority
  • Tolerance for computer glitches
  • Ability to move between modalities (virtual and f2f) in response to client need and circumstances
  • Ability to handle acting-out behavior and intensity of emotion as expressed in client messages (ranging from frustration and anxiety to client projections, anger, boundary and abandonment issues, etc.)

Required client characteristics

  • Comfort online
  • Ability to contract and maintain a shared working relationship online
  • Ability to clarify miscommunications, in both directions
  • Motivated
  • At least moderately fast typist (or has voice technology)
  • Reasonably expressive writer, adequate reading/comprehension skills
  • Credit card, willing to use it online

Copyright © 2000-2007 Michael Fenichel, Ph.D.

Michael A. Fenichel, Ph.D., is a Clinical/School Psychologist, specializing in Learning, Communication, and Interpersonal Relationships. He is a Licensed Psychologist, State of New York, in private practice, School and Outpatient Clinic Practice, and Consultation.

Defining influences and activities: Clinical work with individuals, groups and families; fifteen years plus in schools, clinics, and private consultation in areas of cognitive and emotional functioning, disability and forensic evaluation; participation in NIMH-funded international study of long-term psycho-social adjustment among de-institutionalized psychiatric patients (Fountain House); leadership positions within professional unions and psychological associations (e.g., 1999 President, New York State Psychological Association, School Psychology Division); training and supervision responsibilities for school districts, professional psychology associations, and university graduate psychology departments, as well as private practice; recent involvement in presenting forums and training on causes of violence, in collaboration with the American Psychological Association and MTV; staff development activities and seminar presentations on the use and study of the Internet for educational and mental health activities; establishment of hundreds of web sites in the areas of mental health, adolescence, Internet, and education; Founding member and 2001 President, International Society of Mental Health Online.



All material included in this course is either in the public domain, or used with express permission.


www.psychceu.com adheres to the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists. Our courses are carefully screened by our Planning Committee to adhere to APA standards. We also require authors who compose Internet courses specifically for us to follow APA ethical standards.
www.psychceu.com maintains responsibility for the program.



 Take the test online!
Print out your own certificate!
This course counts as a 'regular' (not self-study) course by the CA BBS!

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