Is Cybertherapy The Way Forward For Counselling And Psychotheray?

1690 words - 7 pages

The past 30 years has seen the Internet has revolutionize and give rise to countless opportunities in the communication and deliverance of counseling services (Sampson, and, Kolodinsky, 1997). Currently the Internet is used by more than 600 million people worldwide (Nua Internet Surveys, 2002), with surveys revealing that sought after health information is as widely used as music downloads or on-line shopping (Reuters, 2001). This medium of technology has created new possibilities for improving counseling services (aka "cybertherapy") and it being powerful enough to reach those who are unable to visit psychotherapists for geographical, physical of lifestyle reasons (Suler, 2000).Within the domain of Internet opportunities lies several deliverance methods of intervention which clinicians have been exploring. Communication advantages of text based or simulated pathways versus traditional face-to-face therapy, are still being identified, each with its' own pro's and con's.Also critical in this technological arena are the countless aspects of the many different types of treatments sought. The counseling of issues regarding eating disorders have shown the Internet to be a useful tool, however, other issues e.g. treatment of schizophrenia, have less supporting evidence.Important to any method of therapy are issues of ethical concerns, a boundary that the Internet has raised considerable thought for. With the most important concern being the welfare of the client, it is their preferences, skills and attitudes toward any type of therapy that are the imperative factors to consider (Suler, 2001).The practicalities of on-line intervention are many to be seen. With the removal of geographic constraints, individuals from less populated or remote localities are able to gain support from health professionals (Zabinski, Celio, Jacobs, Manwaring and Wilfley, 2003) and interest groups that would be otherwise unavailable. Because the Internet is accessible from a variety of locations, individuals overcome the feelings of isolation, giving them a sense that someone is there to help (Yager, 2003).The availability of on-line therapy broadens the opportunity to interact with clients in a number of different ways. Where asynchronous communication allows for a stretched time frame of response by both client and clinician, where the client and therapist do not have to be present at the same time (Suler 2000), synchronous communication is where both parties are at the computer in the "real time", interacting or "chatting" at that moment (Suler, 2000). Multi-media packages, video-conferencing and Internet telephoning as well allow for audio/visual encounters.With asynchronous communication (e.g. e-mail, bulletin boards), time constraints are of minimal concern with 24hr, 7 days a week access. A study by Winzelberg 1997, revealed 66 messages posted on a discussion board by participants part of an electronic support group during the hours of 18:00 to 0:700, hours when...

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