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Five Years Studying Online Therapy


Updated November 06, 2005

Five Years Studying Online Therapy

Mar 15 2005

Some of the best Online therapists in the world have spent the last five years studying the work that they do. They recently "published" a summary of their five years together that will help define the future of this young field. The International Society for Mental Health Online (ISMHO) has sponsored this Clinical Case Study Group for therapists who do Online Therapy. Over the past five years a number of publications and presentations have emerged from the study group. Many of these are available online.

One of the more accessible articles emerged about halfway through the study. Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work provided information to dispute the following myths:

  • 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.
The article provides evidence disputing these myths and provides helpful lists of characteristics for people considering Online clinical work (as either a therapist or a patient).

Several book chapters and articles have also emerged from this Online peer supervision group. One of the most fascinating aspects of their work is that the group itself did not meet face-to-face. They used the Internet to hold their discussions, and thus faced some of the same limitations as they faced when working with Online "clients."

Mental health professionals considering Online practice will find the publications emerging from their work to be essential reading. Consumers seeking an Online therapist should certainly consider any of the Online therapists listed at the bottom of their article as seasoned Online mental health professionals who have participated in this unique peer supervision process. There is no better training available.

Last updated 11/5/05

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