See Inside May / June 2011

Distance Therapy Comes of Age

Recent studies show that psychotherapy delivered through electronic devices can benefit patients

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Gabriela (not her real name), a 42-year-old investment counselor, has been receiving therapy by computer chat for more than a year now. She fell into a deep depression after her last breakup and needed an ear she could count on to be consistently supportive and objective. She had face-to-face therapy years ago after she lost a child, and she thinks it is overrated. With chat therapy, she can look back at the e-trail and relive therapeutic moments. She can also see her progress in black and white.

Linda (also not her real name), 57 and divorced, has been receiving chat therapy for more than two years. She participates in one session a week and pays less than half what she would pay for an in-person encounter. “And there’s no wasting time on chitchat about the weather,” she says. “We get right down to business.” Her therapist has helped lift her out of a debilitating depression that began when she was trying to console a grieving friend. But she has never seen her therapist; she has never even heard his voice.

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