2010: A Mental Health CyberSpace Odyssey

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Technology continues to enter the world of behavioral healthcare in interesting ways.

  • Tele-Psychiatry
  • Web-Cam to Web-Cam Counseling Sessions
  • Online Addiction Treatment Groups
  • Mental Health Social Networking Sites
  • Web Seminars for Both Professionals and Laypeople
  • Psychology Blogs

And more recently…Virtual Environments.

Take a look at the work being done at a company called InWorld Solutionsâ„¢ –  InWorld Solutionsâ„¢ will officially launch in October 2009.  It is the First Internet-Based Virtual Environment Designed Specifically for Behavioral Healthcare.  It uses emerging technology and cognitive behavior therapy principles to create virtual environments that become a part of the overall clinical treatment process.  It was initially used for troubled teens in residential settings and combined role-play computer generated environments with talk therapy.  Les Paschall, the co-founder of InWorld Solutionsâ„¢, issued a press release to help explain the company’s vision.

“InWorld is designed to manage a wide range of disorders, and we’re seeing unprecedented levels of engagement and participation in our first use with clients who suffer from oppositional defiance disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as patients dealing with issues of anger management and substance abuse.”

Making Sense of Technology

Some or all of the items mentioned above may give you pause.  And yet, we are merely scratching the surface in terms of the overall role and impact the Internet will have within our profession.  We are bearing witness to the rise of new ideas and new models of treatment.  Technology will find a place within our profession but what will it look like?  It’s a question that’s worth asking.  Will it play a role in your world?

Lisa Holland, PhD decided to find out what role it might play for her.  She is giving technology a try through the creation of a Blog where she will be able to share her unique skills and interests with others.  See for yourself at

Important Questions for Online Counseling

Online counseling is another web-based medium that is receiving more and more attention.  For the past decade, Dr. Jon Suler of Rider University has been researching the phenomenon and role of the field of psychology on the Internet.  He offers an online book with a section called, “Psychotherapy and Clinical Work in Cyberspace” that is an interesting read.  Dr. Suler predicts there will eventually be online psychotherapy specialists for each of the different types of online clinical models and formats.

In his book, he raises and attempts to answer a variety of questions that are important for the evolution of mental health treatment on the World Wide Web.  Some of the questions are listed below.

  • Are human relationships being infiltrated and dehumanized by machines?
  • Will really poor computer-mediated psychotherapy replace the tried and true methods of traditional psychotherapy?
  • Is technology addressing these deficits and offering new and enriching forms of human interaction?
  • Is it ethical to attempt psychotherapy in cyberspace?
  • Is it legal when a psychologist licensed to practice psychology in New Jersey does online therapy with someone in California, or India?
  • Does the American Psychological Association have jurisdiction over the psychologist who works online with that client in India?
  • If a psychologist or therapist is making mistakes, who will be there to evaluate and correct him/her?

A Resource Worth Looking Into

As the lines between cyberspace and mental health treatment blur, we are seeing more and more people make a concerted effort to understand how best to integrate the two. represents one such collaborative effort designed to do just that.  As the blog states, “The developer of this website is a licensed psychologist, Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.  She has extensive experience in amassing health care information related to ehealth, telehealth and telemedicine.” She and a team of like-minded practitioners offer readers a well-done blog that boldly addresses many of the issues pertaining to online counseling.  If you are interested in online counseling at any level I recommend you take a look at some of the interesting blog posts on this site.

Here are links to two of their more recent posts.

Legitimate Online Counselors Are Coming, but Meanwhile, Consumer Beware – Part 1

Online Counseling and Professional Licensure?

These are interesting times indeed!  The role of technology within the therapeutic process has only just begun.  What role, if any, will it play in your mental health career?


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