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Both groups met for seven consecutive weekly sessions of ninety minutes each. These groups were compared to a no-treatment control group, made up of seven individuals who were referred to group therapy but who were unable to participate. Participants in the no-treatment control group generally remained unchanged. In addition, roos group processes were found to be similar between the two therapy groups: cohesiveness, personal exposure, expression of feelings, independence, and order and organization. The Internet group, however, reported higher levels of aggression, action orientation, and therapist support and control than the face-to-face romos. Participants in both therapy groups expressed general satisfaction with their respective therapy chat rooms therapies.
Both groups met for seven consecutive weekly sessions of ninety minutes each. These groups were compared to a no-treatment control group, made up of seven individuals who were referred to group therapy but who were unable to participate. Participants in the no-treatment control group generally remained unchanged.
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In addition, several group processes were found to be similar between the two therapy groups: cohesiveness, personal exposure, expression of feelings, independence, and order and organization. The Internet group, however, reported higher levels of aggression, action orientation, and therapist support and control than the face-to-face group.
Participants in both therapy groups expressed general satisfaction with their respective group therapies. Introduction Computer-mediated interpersonal communication has become widespread by Internet technology. This revolutionary channel of communication has opened a new window of opportunity for psychologists interested in interactive therapeutic interventions. This technology, however, lacks a key feature of human interpersonal communication characterized by spontaneity, authenticity, immediacy, and directness.
Therapy chat rooms, cumulative evidence, from anecdotal reporting as well as from empirical studies, supports the use of asynchronous, Internet-based communication for both individual and group mental help e. Online group interventions have focused primarily on support groups in various areas of need, such as sexual abuse of women, cancer patients, and single parents. The clinical proposals for interventions, and actual interventions provided, have primarily been asynchronous.
An exception are the attempts made by Suler a, bwho viewed and analyzed psychological opportunities at the Palace, an Internet-based multimedia, live chat environment. Therapy-focused groups, using synchronous i.
There might be two explanations for this: first, Internet chat rooms are relatively newer than e-mail distribution lists listservsand hence have had fewer opportunities to be used for therapeutic purposes. Second, from a technical point of view, web-based chat rooms have changed from the less reliable and less friendly HTML-based technology to advanced and efficient Java applications.
In addition, the technology of password-protected chat rooms is therapy chat rooms new.
He listed a few disadvantages as well: less convenience, and reduced time for responding and reflecting. Therapy chat roomstoo, advocated the use of synchronous Internet chats basically referring to MUD cat. With the exception of Cohen and Kerrthose attempts that have been reported Colon, ; Quimby, lack close research, and mainly refer to practical considerations.
The purpose of this study was to examine group therapy procedures that took place in an Internet, Java-based, password-protected chat room, and to compare its usefulness to a standard therapy group as well as to a no-treatment control group. We employed both quantitative and qualitative methods in examining the impact of the new intervention.
Method Participants Participants were college students from several Israeli universities and community colleges who were recruited through newspaper and bulletin board that offered free group therapy to interested individuals. The mentioned both face-to-face and Internet chat room options, to be selected by the participant as preferred. Referrals were interviewed on the phone cjat order to screen out severe pathological cases and non-authentic referrals.
After screening, six of the participants three men and three women selected were ased to the Internet chat-room therapy group, and nine three men and six women to the standard face-to-face group. The allocation of participants to the therapy theraly was solely based on their preference. The size of the two groups was predetermined on the basis of an optimal group size desired for each intervention. Although this step put limits on the power of statistical analyses, we preferred to sacrifice this for therapeutic considerations.
A no-treatment control group of seven individuals three men and four women was made up of those who were deemed eligible but were unable to participate in either therapy group because of scheduling roomms other technical problems. We had no reason roomx believe that this latter group was different in any essential psychological factor from the two therapy groups. Interventions Participants in both intervention groups received time-limited, dynamically oriented therapy Hudson-Allez, ; Wells, Therapy was provided therapy chat rooms two female group therapists.
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Both therapists were similarly experienced professionals, in their 30s, and skillful in brief dynamic therapy. We preferred having two different therapists over a single therapist to prevent contaminating biasing effects. The therapist for the Internet chat-room therapy chat rooms, in addition to her therapeutic skills, had reasonable personal experience in using the Internet and in participating in Web chats. Participants in the Internet-based group therapy met in a Java application, password- protected chat room for seven sessions of 90 minutes each.
Under the windows was a text box in which participants typed their messages. All participants in the chat room used nicknames, whether real or fabricated. At the beginning of the first session, the therapist provided a list of several specific rules in regard to communication and behavior e.
Then the therapeutic communication began. Upon completion of each therapy session, we electronically saved the transcript of the group communication. The therapist used the transcripts after each session to analyze the group and to prepare for the next session. After the completion tjerapy the project, the transcripts were used to evaluate group processes. Participants in the standard, face-to-face therapy group also met at a predetermined time in therapy chat rooms convenient room on the campus of the University of Haifa.
Each of these scales includes 25 items, to which respondents respond on 5-point scales. Group Process Variables We thedapy a measure developed by Moose that includes 10 factors in the therapeutic group process: cohesiveness, action orientation, personal exposure, expression of feelings, expression of anger and aggression, independence, order and organization, newness, perceived therapist support, and perceived therapist control.
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Each scale is represented by nine items, to which respondents respond on a 6-point scale. The measure was found to be reliable and valid in research. Evaluation Questionnaire Thetapy constructed roomss questionnaire for the purpose of the study. It contained 11 items, each of which the participants had to rate on a 6-point scale. Four specific items were added to the Evaluation Questionnaire used with the chat-room group; these referred to their specific experience e.
Procedure Participants were given the research roomw therapy chat rooms two weeks before the intervention started. The questionnaires were sent to and returned from the Internet and standard intervention group participants online and through regular mail, respectively. Participants continued with their regular lifestyle during the seven weeks of therapy; they were invited to in cases of technical difficulties.
Participants in therapy chat rooms Internet-based therapy group commonly used their home computers, but were allowed to use any location they wished for connecting to the chat room. In several cases, participants in this group contacted us for technical reasons e. In all cases, problems were solved satisfactorily. Upon completion of therapy, the research questionnaires were re-administered to the participants. Members of the no-treatment control group were administered the questionnaires at the same points in time as were the members of the therapy groups.
Later, we independently interviewed the therapists in regard to their respective professional experiences. Slight differences were found between the two therapeutic groups after intervention, with an advantage to the Internet chat-room group. In terms of group processes as reported by participants, the two groups were found to be mostly similar in perceptions of group cohesiveness, personal exposure, expression roomss feelings, independence, and order and organization.
Members of the Internet group, however, reported higher levels of aggression, chatt orientation, and therapist chatt and control.
The Evaluation Questionnaire revealed that participants in both groups expressed general satisfaction with their respective group therapies; therapy chat rooms was no statistical difference here between the two groups. A review of the specific items administered to the participants of the chat-room-based therapy found that anonymity was a major factor in their readiness to open up. Furthermore, although participants in this group felt emotionally close to one another, they were not particularly interested in actually meeting the other group members.
Generally, we found evidence of growing messages of positive support, personal disclosures, interpersonal sensitivity, and group cohesiveness made by the participants during the course of therapy. Both thought the groups had positive, constructive processes, generally similar to therapy groups that they had led. Both therapists, however, noted the very brief length of the group intervention and thought it was too time-limited to bring about a substantial and permanent change in participants.
The chat-room therapist reported that her experience was similar in many factors, and different in others, to standard therapy groups that she had led. Discussion Although this study should be considered preliminary, and its findings should be handled carefully, it seems that an anonymous, Internet-based, chat-room group therapy is a legitimate method of psychological intervention and has a positive impact on interested individuals in need.
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In terms of group thefapy, as reported by the participants, some of the group processes evinced by the two groups were similar, and others were different. In terms of satisfaction with therapy, both groups were similarly partially satisfied. From a qualitative perspective, moreover, the chat-room group experienced therapeutic factors that typically exist in therapy groups. Taking all this evidence together, we may cautiously conclude that an Internet chat-room could be used for group-therapy purposes.
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The current research has several limitations that warrant attention. First, as mentioned above, the groups were very small therefore one should be cautious with generalizations. That is, we do not know how individuals in other age groups, level of education, or problem areas would react to such an online intervention.
Moreover, as indicated, the small size of the groups prevented us from detecting what seemed to be ificant differences. Only future research, replicating and extending our preliminary investigation may offer answers to these problems. This possibility, too, should be examined in future investigation. Intensive research is needed to further examine numerous other professional and scientific questions, such as the preparation of therapists for this type of professional conduct, the rules by which groups ought to operate, and so on.
The findings of this study, however, provide initial empirical support for the use of an Internet chat room as a legitimate therapeutic mode. Much has been therapy chat rooms and written in recent years about the growth and change mental health professions are going through in relation to the Information Revolution and opening opportunities in cyberspace.
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For instance, Grohol listed seven ificant reasons why online therapy has prospects for becoming an effective and accepted line for provision of mental help: perceived anonymity of users, computer-mediated communication disinhibiting effects, accustomed Net use, response immediacy, trying out new behaviors in a secured online situation, providing of help to people who cannot access help otherwise, and the resemblance of rooks situations to real-world situations.
Fink extensively demonstrated how the Internet, in addition to the exploitation of personal computers, can effectively be used for psychotherapeutic applications. The current research, though limited in scope and empirical examination, is taking the field a step forward in proposing and testing what only a short therapy chat rooms ago seemed to be a science fiction. If we can maneuver our professional conduct wisely, profiting from the advantages while avoiding the pitfalls of online-based mental help Barak, ; Childress, ; Lebow,we may advance psychotherapy to a new and much improved realm.
Endnote A shorter version of this article was presented in S. The authors are indebted to NetVision, an Israeli Internet Service Provider, for the donation of the Internet chat room and related programming. Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Prof. E-mail: azy construct. Psychological applications on the Internet: A discipline on the threshold of a new millennium.
Applied and Preventive Psychology, 8, Potential risks and theraly of online psychotherapeutic interventions [on-line].
Computer mediated counseling: An empirical study of a new mental health treatment. Computers in Human Services, 15, Colon, Y.