|•||The two types of telecommunication.|
|•||Transmission channels and devices.|
|•||The Internet, with a focus on the World Wide Web.|
Psychotherapy is ordinarily thought of as involving very private and intimate dialogue between two or more people. Technology can connect people to information and to each other, as easily from across the world as from across town. How can psychotherapy and technology be blended? It should not surprise clinicians that the usefulness of telecommunications technology for mental health care rests primarily on extending and otherwise facilitating relationships.
However, common reactions to the notion of delivering mental health services online are to question confidentiality, to mention delays, and to express concern with the elimination of nonverbal behavior through some technologies. Even though such concerns are ripe with merit, exclusively negative reactions to bringing mental health care online ignore important realities. As we explain in the remaining text, some varieties of psychotherapy and support services are well suited to electronic media, and new applications have just begun to emerge from research labs around the world.
Please note the inclusion of the term support services in the previous sentence. For the first time in history, professionals are more easily able to develop services that do not involve direct contact with clients. Consider the following example sent by a user of the SelfhelpMagazine.com discussion forums (a type of online bulletin board covering mental health topics), which is not moderated:
I used your forum for a couple of months when I had lost my therapist. Please know that you are indeed life savers by giving us a vehicle to help ourselves. I thank you.