Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sexual Health Treatment - Is online the way to go ?

Is Online Counselling the Next Wave?
So you have a problem and you need to discuss it with a professional? Your marriage is on the rocks, you have become phobic, you are getting panic attacks, you are worried about one of your children's sexuality, you have just lost a loved one, or you have suddenly developed erectile dysfunction. What exactly your problem is does not really matter. The point here is, you need to discuss it with a professional that you trust and you need to find some resolution. There is a degree of urgency to all of this.
So what do you do next? Well, traditionally you would 'shop around'. You would ask a trusted friend if they could recommend someone or you'd ask your GP for a referral, or you would simply go through the Golden Pages and see if you could find the service you are looking for. Then you would ring up and make an appointment and wait for the day to come along.
Eventually you take a half day off work, assuming your boss allows it, and off you go and sit in a waiting room for half a hour before going in to discuss your intimate problems with a perfect stranger. It is not easy now is it?
But wait a minute! Is there not now another way - what about the Internet? The idea that the Internet could be used as a conduit for Counsellor/Client sessions still meets with considerable resistance from the professionals. As if they feel threatened by the very idea, they immediately start raising all sorts of objections. How does the Client know whom they are dealing with? Internet Consultation does not allow for the therapist to pick up on the subtleties of body language or the nuances in speech. And what about confidentiality they will ask?
While some of these objections may have validity, others are somewhat spurious and are common for all forms of counselling be they over the phone, head to head on through the internet. One way or the other, it is my firm belief that, whether you like it or not, the Internet is going to play a major role in delivering quality-counselling services in the coming years.
Take Erectile Dysfunction as a model for online consultation if you will. Here I can immediately see that there are some distinct advantages to this way of doing business over the more conservative traditional head-to-head model. Chief among these I would list:
(a) Men do not like talking live to another about their erectile dysfunction. So, if they can't get help through the internet they may never get it elsewhere.
(b) Completing a detailed
medical questionnaire online allows the client, maybe for the very first time in their life, to focus in on their problem. This of itself can be therapeutic.
(c) Research has shown that people are more likely to be truthful and accurate when alone and away from head to head encounters.
(d) In receiving a diagnosis and advice online, the client has a better chance of absorbing all the details of the consultation than he would if it were being delivered to him verbally.

No doubt, this topic will remain a controversial one for some time yet. I agree that the Internet can often be a den or rouges and thieves. Nevertheless, equally it can be an extremely useful and powerful tool. It is up to all of us to make it an honest and safe place to do business. One area that has hardly been touched yet is in the realms of psychotherapy. Watch this space.

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