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Unread September 14th, 2004, 09:58 AM
JustBen JustBen is offline
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Default ISHMO's Myths & Realities of Online Clinical Work

John Suler, the moderator of the "Psychology of Cyberspace" forum, was kind enough to stop by and contribute to our discussion of online clinical work. He linked to two excellent works, and I'd like to specifically address ISHMO's "Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work" (http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/myths.html)

Under the "Myth #1" section, the authors assert that: "It is important to note that personal computers are relatively easy to break into and obtain information saved in them, including sensitive reports on clients. On the other hand, however, this possibility is not greater than breaking into a therapist's office or a locked file cabinet."

Frankly, this is absurd. The average Internet-connected PC is "pinged" by hackers two or three times an hour. These aren't specific attacks, just people prowling around looking for weaknesses that they can exploit to get at whatever information you might have stored. Can anyone honestly say that they've noticed two or three people an hour hanging around their office door looking for security vulnerabilities?


The "Myth #2: Text-only is inadequate to convey a richness of human experience" section opens with these lines: "Why do people continue to argue that words alone cannot convey the breadth of human experience? The whole body of human literature from Homer to hip-hop renders this frequently stated myth absurd. It is widely believed that Shakespeare saw as deeply into the human heart as Freud."

Words alone can convey the breadth of human experience, but they often don't. It's easy enough to cite Shakespeare or Homer, but most clients don't have that kind of talent or skillcraft. I'm not an opponent of online clinical work, but the assertion that the average client can convey the same information in plain text that they convey in-person is the kind of claim that makes people dismiss the online argument. Text cannot convey non-verbal messages, and it almost never conveys unintentional messages, which I think most therapists would agree can be quite useful.
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