Teletherapy: What measures are in place to protect your privacy?

Online therapy or Teletherapy has been gaining traction over the years, and it definitely had a foothold during the pandemic. However, there is some growing concern that using online therapy can expose a lot of your private information. Do companies protect user data properly? Is there enough security in place to prevent data breaches from occurring? Here’s what you should know before you sign up for any online therapy sessions.

a woman giving online consultation

Photo by MART PRODUCTION

Data Privacy Concerns

Looking for teletherapy in Los Angeles? You might want to do some research into the therapy offices in your area that offer teletherapy. Therapy offices collect and store private patient information, abiding by HIPAA laws. However, it’s important that a therapist explains to each client the importance of therapist confidentiality, as well as the process by which their information is protected in the digital realm.

 

Important Features in HIPAA-compliant Software

It would be a good idea to ask any online therapist you’re considering if they’re using HIPAA-compliant software in their sessions. Such software should include:

  • access controls that provide you with options to access your private information at any time.
  • session access handling so that you’re automatically logged out when the session expires. This prevents unrestricted 3rd parties from accessing your secure data.
  • data and communication encryption; this will usually be in the form of SSL encryption because it prevents unauthorised access by encrypting data.
  • data management and backups, where information can be deleted by the therapist upon your request.
  • multi-factor authentication (2FA), with an authentication app or a mobile number when accessing the teletherapy platform.
  • regular updates to the software being used to prevent breaches in the future.

 

Protecting Yourself

There are steps that can be taken on your end in order to protect your data, such as changing your password every three months to reduce the chances of getting hacked. Choose a password that’s as strong as possible, including both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

 

Ensuring Privacy During The Appointment

Look for an online therapist who holds their sessions in a private setting, such as an office or an appointment room. You should also attend your therapy session in a private location, such as a room in your home, your car, or anywhere that is away from other people. After all, there is no privacy if other people can hear the contents of your therapy sessions.

 

Code Of Ethics For Online Therapists

Online therapists do have the capability of recording your online sessions, but they are required to ask for your consent first before recording. They should inform you if they plan to record anything and explain how these recordings will be used to help you during therapy.

 

In the event of an ethics violation, the matter should be brought up as quickly as possible to the appropriate board so that action can be taken to further protect your information. But now that you’re aware of what to look for when searching for an online therapist, you’ll have a much easier time weeding out the disreputable ones from those who actually care about your well-being and privacy.

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