Use of IM in Therapy, Patient Web Sites Increasing
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday published articles on the use of instant messaging services in therapy and patient Web sites.
Summaries appear below.
An increased number of therapists have begun to use IM services to counsel patients "on everything from quitting smoking to sexual abuse trauma," the Journal reports.
In recent years, MyTherapyNet, eGetgoing.com and other companies have begun to offer services that link users with therapists who recognize them only by screen names and provide forums for IM.
Supporters maintain that IM services can provide support to individuals who might not seek help in person, but, according to critics, such services are "too impersonal for effective treatment and should only be an adjunct to face-to-face counseling," the Journal reports.
The American Psychiatric Association also has said that IM and other online services should not replace in-person therapy for suicidal patients (Lavallee, Wall Street Journal, 3/28).
Web sites for hospital patients have "mushroomed" in popularity in recent years, the Journal reports.
For example, CarePages contracts with 450 health care facilities nationwide to provide personal Web sites for patients and their families that are "fully integrated with the hospital or clinic," the Journal reports. The Web sites do not appear on search engines, and patients and their families can block unauthorized visitors.
In addition, Caringbridge.org has more than 36,000 personal Web sites for patients. Many hospitals also have begun to offer personal Web sites for patients and provide bedside Internet access in some cases.
Aziza Shad, director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Georgetown University Hospital, said that personal Web sites are "a fabulous tool that keeps the patient happy and helps to keep families connected to each other" (Roberts, Wall Street Journal, 3/28).