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Psychology today : Pros and Cons of Internet Counseling

Abstract: What are the Pros and Cons of the use of the internet for psychological issues?

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Psychology today : Pros and Cons of Internet Counseling

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Question(s): 
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 30 Aug 2008.

What are the Pros and Cons of Internet Counseling?
What new methods does psychology offer today?

Answer:

We know that many people with psychological problems use the Internet to find free information and to connect to medical or psychotherapeutic experts. Anonymity can help in seeking information or communicating with other people with similar problems. This might help motivate the client to seek professional help or join a self-help group if necessary.

Today psychology is changed, since the Internet offers some kind of basic psycho-education about symptoms, possible names or diagnoses of symptoms, and different kinds of treatment approaches. This can be valuable additional information to the psycho-education of a medical doctor, psychotherapist or social worker, but it should not be misused to substitute for personal consultation!

  • The internet offers all kinds of information, but usually without any quality control!
  • Any counselling on the Internet will not consider your very personal situation, your resources, your personal environment.
  • The communication on the internet is limited to words. Usually a face-to-face communication in a psychotherapy session offers additional information (like facial expression, your movements, etc.).
  • Internet counselling is not intended to make a diagnosis or offer psychotherapeutic treatment. The aim is to offer basic information and to promote self-help opportunities or to motivate the client to go to a health professional.
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