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In this episode of Life Stuff 101, host Mio Yokoi speaks with Lawrence Murphy, the founder of Worldwide Therapy Online

Lawrence had the vision to consider the potential of providing therapy online over twenty-five years ago, and has been providing and teaching other practitioners about online counseling ever since. 

In this discussion, you will hear what helped him pursue his cutting-edge beliefs and how online therapy is helping people around the world today.

Episode Highlights:

  • Lawrence had an epiphany that if he could marry the technology of email to the technology of letter writing, it could potentially be possible to help anybody, anywhere.
  • He started pursuing the idea, although the thought at the time in 1994, was a very new one.
  • He held firm in his ideas and beliefs: Tenacity and not giving up has been keys.
  • Many of his early days, and to this day, he focuses on research.
  • Pursuing this area of work has been a struggle, but also a joy.
  • Many people are not going to go into a therapist’s office even if they know they need it. This is a way for people to access support they might not otherwise access.
  • The number of men who access therapy increases in the online environment.
  • It can be challenging for men to seek help.
  • Momentum goes by fits and starts. It was a complete struggle for the first ten years. In the beginning, there was a struggle to convince people therapy was a good idea at all, but the stigma has decreased over time.
  • The main course he offers is for therapists. The course involves twelve weeks of training looking at the aspects of offering online counseling.
  • People all around the globe take the course.
  • There can be theoretical and ethical differences.
  • Class participants are encouraged to contact their professional organization and their liability insurance provider and abide by their rules.
  • Lawrence and Mio discuss some of the differences from both the client and therapist perspectives in terms of engaging in online therapy vs. in-person therapy.
  • Many of the same principles would be applied online, as in-person.
  • However, there are differences.  For instance, it is harder for someone to walk out of a therapy session in person, while it may be easier to ‘shut down’ a computer.
  • Lawrence shares some of the advantages of asynchronous work.
  • With online counseling, a client can have access to the written counseling work and read feedback that can help them in real-time.
  • There are many people that haven’t thought through practical and ethical considerations of using video.
  • There’s some evidence that there may be some issues that are better dealt with in text than in remote and visual work.
  • Many companies considering or providing online therapy consult with him around developing policies and procedures.One of the most important things in counseling is fit, quote by Lawrence Murphy
  • Lawrence discusses the importance of encryption and secure servers.
  • Lawrence’s company licenses software to private practitioners and small non-for profit agencies, as well as to larger agencies and institutions.
  • American practitioners are advised to talk to their state board and insurance provider to find out what the specific rules are in their particular state.
  • Lawrence lists questions to ask when you’re seeking a provider.
  • Because of the importance of the therapeutic alliance, getting a half-hour consult can be beneficial to finding the “right fit”.
  • He’s surprised by the level of connection clients feel to him via text.
  • As long as the therapeutic alliance is strong, progress can be made.
  • Human beings want to connect.
  • Human connection is essential.

Resources Mentioned:
● Lawrence Murphy: Therapy Online | Research Institute
● When Writing Helps to Heal: Online PDF
● Life Stuff 101: lifestuff101.com | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
● Mio Yokoi: Registered Psychotherapist

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Three Key Points

• Lawrence realized that he could marry the technology of email and the technology of letter writing to provide online counseling.
• Research has been a focus and key to validating and understanding the value and benefits of online counseling.
• The therapeutic alliance can be strong over text and email. When this alliance is strong, progress can be made.

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