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  1. #1

    Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Now Skype is Getting Nervous
    The Business End of Psychotherapy
    October 25, 2010

    Hey, get a Skype session going and provide therapy anywhere in the state! Sounds easy enough. But there are a lot of ways things can go wrong. For example, how do you know that the “container” at the client end is in fact private? Or, if a client across the state rapidly declines and then hangs up on you, what do you do?

    Now it looks like Skype is getting the willies about possible litigation stemming from the use of Skype as a therapy container, at least for their “Skype Prime” directory of service providers (referred to as “Call Providers”).

    The Admin for the Skype community comments:

    Call providers are not permitted to offer services relating to the following categories:

    • Content or Service, which is adult, sexual , pornographic or paedophiliac;
    • Content or Service which is offensive or promotes or legitimates racism, revisionism, or any other form of discrimination;
    • Content or Service relating to the offering of gaming, betting and lotteries;
    • Content or Service provoking violence
    • Content or Service provoking or encouraging reprehensible or illegal actions.
    • Content or Service relating to health and therapy
    • Content or Service relating to legal or tax advice

    Call providers must not promote their service or content on web pages which may be contrary to public order or good morals or likely to violate any law or to constitute a criminal offence.
    Read more...

  2. #2

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    I think you will find that that relates to the skype prime and it does not relate to skype it self: Skype - The Big Blog - Skype Prime

    This is the normal tos regarding the use of skype
    3.3 Content of communications: Skype does not control, or have any knowledge of the content of any communication(s) spread by the use of the Products. The content of the communication is entirely the responsibility of the person from whom such content originated. You, therefore, may be exposed to content that is offensive, illegal, harmful to minors, indecent or otherwise objectionable.

    There is an issue with using Skype prime but not skype its self

  3. #3

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Did you read the article? There are concerns about privacy/security with Skype but also ethical concerns about clients in distress or suicidal.

  4. #4

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter View Post
    Did you read the article? There are concerns about privacy/security with Skype but also ethical concerns about clients in distress or suicidal.
    I only saw the ongoing list that never seemed to end stating the Skype prime terms of use. yes I have read it once from top to bottom and I am not doing it again

    Concerns about confidentiality using Skype are more to do with the security of the computer its self, Skype calls are encrypted so the breach of security has to be from viruses intercepting the information at one end as I understand it, so all we can do is use best practice to keep the computer safe, I don't use the pc I use for therapy for general use only therapy, I have encryption for data storage and the usual anti virus and firewall security, I try to make the client understand the necessary precautions to take and inform them about possible problems they may need to think about at their end.

    In all honesty I don't think this is any thing else other than some people finding change hard to cope with, we call our banks over the phone and hand out personal and confidential information all the time, people talk to doctors and therapists via the phone and yet the phone security is easer to breach than Skype's.
    There is no such thing as total confidentiality nothing is totally secure and that includes face to face sessions, all any therapist can do is put in place good working practices and as much security as is feasible and possible.

    High risk clients are in my opinion not suitable for Skype or the phone but any therapist could find them selves in a position that was unforeseeable when the client was first assessed as safe to help over such a medium, we can be fooled or make an error as we are only human.

    In such cases we also need to understand that if a client wants to kill them selves sadly there is little we can do, in face to face sessions if a client states they are going to kill them selves and leaves the building you do what, I can't restrain them or lock them up I can only call the emergency services and leave it to them to sort out. generally if they are committed to ending their life they will probably succeed.

    Yes there is a risk but that has to be balanced against the benefits of providing such a service, there are many who do find help and support over Skype that other wise they would have to do without. the motorised transport we love to use kills thousands of men women and children every year but we still use it as the benefits out way the disadvantages.

    I can't find the article but the arguments have been well publicised in the past and yet on-line therapy is still becoming a fast growing medium of providing therapy, the demand is there and progress maybe unsettling for some but it probably is unstoppable.

  5. #5

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    My concerns are not with online counselling per se - there are many clients (e.g., in Canada's northern territories, now Nunavut; or Australia; etc.) who have no other options. But, like much on the net these days, it is caveat emptor since there are really no regulatory bodies and many of the people operating as online counsellors have dubious credentials and don't even have basic training in psychotherapy or ethics.

    Additionally, I still think you're missing the point: Whether it applies to Skype Prime or any and all usage of Skype, what do you think is the reason for Skype to issue such a warning? They are obviously concerned about the risks of Skype counselling and worried about legal liability. Anyone using Skype for online swessions should be even more worried than Skype, both in terms of the welfare of the client/patient and in terms of their own professional and legal liability.

  6. #6

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    I am no legal expert and probably that would be best answered by a lawyer, to me is seems sensible for any company to protect it self from a possible legal issue, if you understand that skype took a fee for providing this service and I think I am right that in such a case they are deemed as partly responsible for any actions taken by users of such a service, a bit like some company renting out the office space and are deemed responsible for health and safety of all who use the office space.

    Your going to have give me a bit of help here, I can find this
    Call providers are not permitted to offer services relating to the following categories:

    • Content or Service, which is adult, sexual , pornographic or paedophiliac;
    • Content or Service which is offensive or promotes or legitimates racism, revisionism, or any other form of discrimination;
    • Content or Service relating to the offering of gaming, betting and lotteries;
    • Content or Service provoking violence
    • Content or Service provoking or encouraging reprehensible or illegal actions.
    • Content or Service relating to health and therapy
    • Content or Service relating to legal or tax advice
    Call providers must not promote their service or content on web pages which may be contrary to public order or good morals or likely to violate any law or to constitute a criminal offence.
    The following categories are currently available to describe service calls:

    Astrology & Spiritual
    Business & Finance
    Computing
    Creative services
    Coaching and tutoring
    Relationships
    Sport
    Others
    And there is a part relating to therapy but not only therapy, its lumped in with tax advice and any health related business and that would include a qualified Doctor giving advice, so I don't see it as a statement that therapy via skype is a bad thing in its self just that they do not want the responsibility and the possible legal implications to involve them.
    I am no lawyer but that seems to make sense to me.

    Regarding qualifications I agree but just as there are people with poor qualifications providing a poor or bad service as there are therapists with lots of qualifications also providing a poor and bad service.

    What the answer is I don't know, in the UK its all gone a bit screwy after so much arguing and clashes of idealism it was quite evident that regulation is still quite a way off and that's a major lost opportunity. even if we had a simple register that excepts qualifications from some training schools and evidence of insurance etc that would be a good start.
    But some people tried to push self interest over the need to offer some protection to the general public and that ruined it, ( in my opinion).

  7. #7

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Payment for services aside, I'm not sure I see a difference between skype counselling and anonymous call centres with respect to client safety.

  8. #8

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Quote Originally Posted by megk View Post
    Payment for services aside, I'm not sure I see a difference between skype counselling and anonymous call centres with respect to client safety.
    What do you mean, Meg? Are you talking abiout crisis centres?

  9. #9

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Yes. It seems to me that the risk is just as great for those that use crisis lines. Many of those places are volunteer based and callers may assume that counselors are fully qualified. In addition, the anonymity creates similar risks as it would with skype.

  10. #10

    Re: Skype prohibits Skype counselling or therapy

    Quote Originally Posted by megk View Post
    Yes. It seems to me that the risk is just as great for those that use crisis lines. Many of those places are volunteer based and callers may assume that counselors are fully qualified. In addition, the anonymity creates similar risks as it would with skype.
    Two points:

    1. Yes they are volunteers but they are given specific training in crisis intervention and confidentiality issues before they ever take a call.

    2. It is far easier to compromise or intercept an internet transmission than a telephone transmission, especially in the day of wireless internet accdess, so there are additional securioty precautions that need to be taken for online counseling.

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