Online therapy sessions could deliver help to thousands of Australians including women seeking help with domestic violence and country people whose self-reliance, heavy work schedule and geographic isolation rule out seeing a therapist face-to-face.
A review of technology use in therapy, counselling and dispute resolution by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has shown counselling in cyberspace holds “a great deal of promise”.
The Institute’s Elly Robinson says the increasing proliferation of online therapy sites offers an alternative source of help that may suit some clients with some types of problems.
“It’s astonishing that no more than a generation separates everyday users of computers, mobile phones and the internet from people for whom these tools are completely foreign,” Elly Robinson said.
“Yet there are signs that online therapy could be helpful for rural people, single parents at home, people dealing with issues of violence, or those who want anonymity and the privacy of accessing a service in the comfort of their own home,” she said.
Young people familiar with technology may be particularly suited to online therapy. However people over forty, more marginalised groups and the computer illiterate are less likely to be suited to online treatment.