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The expanding world of telecommunications has brought about new methods of providing help to individuals suffering with psychological problems. E-therapy is a relatively new ways of helping individuals to resolve various concerns by means of e-mail, real-time chat, secure web-based instant messaging, videoconferencing, and Internet phone.
What is E-Therapy?
Distant mental health treatment has existed for a very long time. The founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, regularly used letters to treat his patients. The ever-expanding world of telecommunications has opened many opportunities for providing help to suffering individuals with medical as well as psychological problems. E-therapy is a relatively new method of helping individuals to resolve various concerns like everyday life and relationship issues. Presently, it is being used to provide services successfully to a wide range of people including military personnel and individuals who live in isolated areas where access to live services is extremely difficult.
The Internet allows continuous communication between an individual and a licensed mental health professional. Services are currently available using e-mail (regular or encrypted), real-time chat, secure web-based instant messaging, videoconferencing, and Internet phone. Many e-therapists offer more than one of these modes, giving the e-client a choice based on his/her preference and availability.
The focus of e-therapy varies from one e-client to the next. Some choose to use e-therapy to work through problems pertaining to their relationships with others, or develop new ways of coping with day-to-day stress. Other e-clients use e-therapy as a supplement to other types of real-world services, or to help clarify other issues they are currently working on.
What are the Benefits of E-therapy?
The growing research into e-therapy has shown that the efficacy of treatment outcomes is equivalent to traditional in-office sessions. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, however, e-therapy’s strength is in the ability for the e-client to explore their concerns with the e-therapist without the discomfort, embarrassment or awkwardness of going to an office.
E-therapy is also a way of filling the need for individuals located in areas where therapists are not readily available. For example, research has shown that residents of rural areas, disabled individuals and other under-served populations often have an easier time finding a suitable therapist online than in their local communities. E-therapy has also been shown to be effective for clients who may have difficulty reaching appointments during normal business hours.
Is e-therapy right for me?
E-therapy is not psychotherapy. It is not meant to diagnose or treat mental disorders, and it should not be compared to traditional face-to-face assessment or counseling services for more complicated issues. The purpose of e-therapy is to help a person address and cope with the issues of concern in their lives under the guidance of a licensed professional. It is similar to “life coaching,” helping a person address specific concerns and learn new skills. E-therapy is not intended for individuals who suffer from chronic and/or severe mental illness.