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Home > Tech Views > General Computing

Friday, April 22, 2005
Online psychotherapy

1. Page 1

Online Psychotherapy

What name should one give to this new trend? Should it be "cyber-psychotherapy", "electronic psychotherapy" or "electro-psychoanalysis"? No matter how the case might be defined the truth of it remains the same; the number of universities along with that of therapists who log on the Net and start offering their services via electronic means to the world, are on the increase. Even worse, there are numerous occasions when, on the other end of the line, there is a machine programmed to offer answers to questions pertaining to our psyche.

Martha Ainsworth, head of the metanoia.net services, is as categorical as one can be: "This is not a typical psychotherapy. One of the terms we tried in determining this new service is "behavioral tele-sanity". I've just resorted to "interaction" or "Sanity Services through the Internet". These terms are pretty lax, but we'll have to make do with them till the therapists involved in it make up their minds on a different terminology"

How then is online psychiatry accomplished? Here's an example:

You log on the address http://www.mentalhealth.com. You select the "Disorders" menu. A list of fifty-two mental illnesses is displayed right in front of you: Agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, not to mention paranoia and schizophrenia. You normally select the one that… suits you and the computer displays the symptoms. Are they the ones manifested in your own behavioral pattern? Then, you are on the right track. You move on to the next display in which the machine asks whether you are a physician or a patient. If you are a patient you have to fill in your sex and age. As soon as you are through with submitting that sort of information, the questioning process commences: How often these symptoms appear, when they appeared for the last time and so on. You fill in your answers and come up with a diagnosis.




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