Advertisement
Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

The Art of Relationships

with Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

There is an art to maintaining the intimate relationships in our lives. Read on to explore our experts' perspectives, and learn new techniques to improve your own relationship skills.

Important:

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Hide

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In-person Therapy Versus Online Help

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Therapy

As a therapist, I work face-to-face with patients to help them solve their problems and heal from emotional pain. My work online, such as writing this blog and offering feedback on WebMD’s Relationships and Coping community, is a much more recent phenomenon. While I try to help people understand various emotional or behavioral problems through this work, I don’t do therapy with it. For me, therapy is a psychological treatment that also involves a very personal relationship between my patient and me; something I cannot do through a blog or online forum. However, I still believe that the help people receive on the Internet can be therapeutic. And others do offer therapy online.

When I say that help offered on the Internet can be therapeutic, I mean that people might feel relief from it. For instance, it is clear that many of those posting on WebMD’s Relationships and Coping community are distressed and looking for help. It is equally clear that responses from others frequently do help them feel better or provide them with suggestions for how to handle their situations in a better way. Blogs (such as this one) and websites (such as the Anxiety Disorder Association of America website) are also helpful to many people.

In addition, many kinds of therapy are offered on the Internet. While this is still a new medium for psychotherapy and needs to be evaluated for effectiveness, research has shown some promising results for certain kinds of therapy. For instance, Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been developed to help people with ongoing depression and to prevent relapses. This treatment teaches specific methods for dealing with symptoms and has been shown to be somewhat effective.

Online access to help for emotional issues offers many advantages. For instance, it does not rely on geographic accessibility or the mobility of the person in need. It also does not have waiting lists, is available at all hours, and often does not cost money. And while it might be difficult to physically bring together enough people for a support group for a specific problem, this is not generally a problem on the Internet.

Because online treatment and more general online help for emotional problems is new, it must be approached with caution. It is important to make sure that you are reading articles from credible websites and are careful about who you chat with and believe when you are in open forums. If you are signing up for therapy on the Internet, it is important to know the credentials of those offering it.

Just as with other areas in life, be a smart consumer when looking for help with emotional issues. Ask yourself: Can I be helped online with articles, support groups, or therapy? Or do I need more personal face-to-face guidance? In the end, you can help yourself best by knowing what you want and thinking about what kind of help you need.

If you would like to join a general discussion about this topic on the Relationships and Coping Community, click here.

Photo: Digital Vision

Posted by: Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD at 2:57 pm

Comments

Leave a comment

Subscribe & Stay Informed

Sex & Relationships

Sign up for the Sex & Relationships newsletter and get relationship tips, diet and exercise tips to rev-up your sex life.

Archives

WebMD Health News