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Coaching or Therapy via Internet?

with 5 comments

The Freakonomics Blog points to a recent article (Net Gains for Mental Health) in the London Times:

Type “online counsellor” into any internet search engine and hundreds of thousands of results will appear: with a click of the mouse, and a glance at a screen, you, too, can be cured of your depression, phobias and eating disorders, go the claims. Unbelieveable? Perhaps not. A growing body of research has found that when – and this is crucial – it is carried out responsibly, and kept specific, online therapy is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the rising levels of mental ill-health.

Some of us have been doing this sort of thing for a while. I’ve coached people via e-mail, Instant Messaging, and phone. I’m always careful to test — even more often than while face-to-face — and I’m far more likely to be explicit and overt. I can’t say I like doing it as much as face-to-face, but it can work.

I wouldn’t want an inexperienced or poorly-trained person doing it, though.

What do you think?

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 14th, 2008 at 6:26 pm

5 Responses to 'Coaching or Therapy via Internet?'

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  1. While it has it’s limitations, and reuires a strong focus on linguistic acuity rather than sensory, it can be useful… I’ve done it succesfully in a mental healths etting providing on-line coaching/counselling for recovering alcoholics via IM… sometimes it’s the only way we can provide them detox aftercare.

    Adam

    17 Mar 08 at 07:49

  2. I think IM might be a decent compromise between e-mail and phone. What I dislike about it is the same thing I dislike about e-mail: it’s only text, and therefore loses everything that the prosody and melody of the voice can communicate and everything that the body can communicate. I find that when working with plain old text, I have to keep backtracking to get the feedback I need.

    Perhaps the videoconference would be the better choice. I don’t know. On more than one occasion, I’ve found that the best thing I could do was to just hold the person and let them cry.

    Michael DeBusk

    23 Mar 08 at 15:33

  3. I’m currently experiementing with setting up OpenMeetings (an open source video conferencing tool) with a view to creating a social networking, project managing site for charitable campaigning and voluntary organisations… there could be an interest there for video supportive counselling. But I agree about the ultimate need for touch… it communicates root level unconditional acceptance, a very powerful therapeutic need.

    Adam

    24 Mar 08 at 05:27

  4. I hope you give it a shot and write about your adventures. It should be interesting.

    Drifting from topic:

    Have you seen Basecamp? It’s an online project management tool I’ve been reading tons of good things about. http://www.basecamphq.com/

    Please contact Teri about a tool her company has developed to help charitable organizations to raise funds. She tells me it’s been quite effective.

    Michael DeBusk

    25 Mar 08 at 23:40

  5. Thanks, I will

    Adam

    19 Apr 08 at 05:10

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