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Orlando Sentinel* 16 June 08 includes an article: “You’ve got mail
— from your shrink” by Robyn Shelton.

Here’s an excerpt:

[begin excerpt]

Pros

*Convenience. There’s no need to drive, line up baby sitters or miss work.

*Anonymity. The therapist can’t put your name to a face, adding another
layer of privacy.

*It’s just better in certain cases. Some people, especially those who
have grown up texting and e-mailing, are very comfortable expressing
themselves via computer.

With e-mail therapy, for example, people have time to focus their
thoughts without the pressure of a ticking clock, said Michael Freeny, a
personal counselor in Orlando. He said people are more likely to be
honest in written communication.

*More people can get help. Mental-health professionals aren’t available
in many places. It’s even harder to find someone who specializes in,
say, phobias or sexual-orientation issues. The Internet brings expertise
from miles away.

Also, a lot of people are embarrassed to see a psychologist, said
Lucille D’Amico, a licensed mental-health counselor with Global
Counseling Associates in Windermere, which offers Internet-based
therapy. She doesn’t see the Internet as taking patients away from
office practices so much as offering a choice for those who would never
get help otherwise.

*Starter therapy. Some people use Internet counseling to test the
waters, Freeny said. Many have no idea what’s involved and think Dr.
Phil’s in-your-face method is standard. Then they try a few sessions
online and decide to begin in-person therapy.

Cons

*Cost. Mental-health coverage rarely includes Internet counseling, so
most pay upfront with credit cards. Therapists say the rates are
comparable to those for traditional counseling. For example, an hourlong
session may run $80 to $150.

*Out of sight. The therapist loses many cues in an online session. “The
old saying is that 90 percent of communication is nonverbal,” said
Altamonte Springs psychologist Alan Keck. “It’s not what you say but how
you say it, and all the postural and facial clues that go along with it,
and that’s completely lost” in most Internet-based therapy.

*Privacy. Family members, spouses or friends might come across e-mail or
other records of the counseling sessions.

*Limited use. Internet therapy is not suitable for everyone, including
those with diagnosed conditions such as bipolar disorder or
schizophrenia. Boston-area psychologist John Grohol said most Internet
clients are struggling with life’s curveballs: the demise of a
relationship or career problems. “These are people who are trying to get
through difficult patches,” said Grohol, who runs the site PsychCentral.com.

*Wild West. There are no laws or regulations for Internet counseling.
What if a Florida resident is getting counseling from a therapist in
Idaho? Where can the client turn if he or she needs to make a complaint?
For now, nowhere.

[end excerpts]

The complete article is online at:
<http://tinyurl.com/3omexl>.