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Anonymity Helps In Overcoming Inhibitions During Online Counseling

Online counseling through Internet is gaining momentum slowly but surely as anonymity assists the patient to chat freely with the practitioner// and discuss problems of any sort, as they do not come face to face with them.

If the person being talked to is not visible, it is easier for the client to speak about terrible experiences or problems.

"Psychotherapy is treatment for mental or emotional illnesses," explains Fredi Lang of the Association of German Psychologists (BDP) here. Counselling, however, is about providing advice on how to deal with problems.

On the Internet, however, the terms psychotherapy and counselling are often misunderstood to mean the same thing.

The BDP instituted a quality control system five years ago to aid clients seeking online counselling.

Meanwhile, about 20 websites have passed this test and now bear an insignia with the text "Counselling by Psychologists".

To obtain the award, the site's operators must have a diploma in psychology and inform their clients about the limits of online counselling and the necessity of encoding any correspondence by email.

However, this method of quality control is not sufficient, according to Ragnar Beer, psychologist at the University of Goettingen, central Germany.

"Non-verbal communication is missing online. That makes counselling or therapy very difficult," says Beer.

However, a new approach to counselling called Interapy has been developed by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as an Internet platform for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Interapy involves clients writing about their experiences on the basis of written instructions. Four-fifths of participants were free of symptoms after counselling.

One reason for Interapy's success is the close nature of the relationship between the client and the therapist. "We noticed that from the very
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