More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Chat Room Therapy Proves Effective
Thursday, August 09, 2007

As Internet tools become increasingly more advanced and widespread, their potential for therapy becomes harder to overlook. We have covered successful employments of telepsychiatry as the sole method of treatment, but a new study in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics shows that telepsychiatry can also effectively augment more traditional treatments by leaning on newer forms of communication.

Dr. Hans Kordy from University Hospital Heidelberg began his experiment as 114 people finished their inpatient treatment. He divided them up into two groups, only one of which had weekly meetings with a group therapist in a chat room. After 12-15 weeks of 90-minute meetings, the chat room group was substantially more likely to retain the benefit gained from the inpatient treatment. Chat participants had only a 24.7% chance of a negative outcome while the controls deteriorated 38.5% of the time.

This experiment is particularly compelling because of the very low dropout rate. High perseverance indicates not only that the statistics compiled have greater validity, but also that almost all patients believed that the treatment was effective and convenient enough to merit their continued participation.

Chat rooms have been used to discuss everything from gardening to sex, so why not emotional problems? Dr. Kordy shows that they can be very effective in keeping mental illness under control outside the safe hospital environment. Consider some of their benefits. Chat rooms are uniquely suited for group therapy, where the logistical problems of getting a geographically dispersed group together can sometimes overshadow the more important problems of emotional healing. Their relative anonymity, ease of use, and record-keeping utility make them an effective tool for therapists. Of course ensuring patient confidentiality is paramount in these types of situations, but as encryption methods become more advanced guaranteeing security has become much easier and more efficient.


That's fascinating and opens a whole new world of access to treatment for those who are not so mobile or live in rural areas.


I agree this can be a wonderful tool, and is much more viable now that we have the ability to better control the chat-room environment. A chat-room can act in lieu of a support group for those who are unable to get out, or who live too far away from others to really form a real-world support group. :)
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