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Click away your blues
Vidya Srinivasa Rao |
January 29, 2003 10:36 IST
Nursing a broken heart? Need some advice on your relationship problems? Online counselling can give you the emotional support you need.
Social and psychological problems have been escalating at an alarming rate. And disturbingly, no one is spared. A stressed-out CEO or a harassed employee, a disgruntled wife or an anxious new mother, a confused student or a lovesick teenager have one thing in common. They all need someone's shoulder to cry on.
Enter the Internet. It offers a new medium for counsellors, whose forte lies in the business of mending broken hearts and for the depressed and emotionally disturbed as an outlet for their woes.
Among the advantages of the Net is the 24/7 support available for those seeking advice instantly. Others who are emotionally vulnerable and unable to express themselves in person find solace in the anonymity and privacy that sites offer. In case of extremely personal issues, email allows them to freely communicate with their counsellors.
Online counselling is slowly gaining a foothold in India. Just as phone-in counselling became a hit in the 70s, online counselling (email, chat) is fast appealing to the new generation in crisis.
Dr. A K Sharma, a member of World Psychiatric Association from the Indian chapter says there are enormous benefits. "It is an easy tool for all who need counselling for their emotional crisis and can be utilised by those who cannot seek such help from close ones, unavailability of experienced counsellor, high costs, distance, time, confidentiality and various other reasons," explains the former head of Delhi Psychiatric Society.
With a keen interest in the information and communication technologies and his vast experience in depressive disorders, Sharma set up an online counselling service. According to the site, there are group of qualified psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psycho-analysts and counsellors worldwide who make use of the Internet to treat emotionally distressed people.
The e-counselling section explains what the process is about and the FAQs throws more light on the kind of people who need online counselling, prices and contact details. Goodhealthnyou.com allows you to post a query on the site. Make sure you have read and understood the tips they have provided before you submit your query.
AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) has taken a step forward by launching an Internet based AIDS help line to answer queries about the dreaded disease. The service started by the AIDS education and training cell, has been named as e-shubchintak. Send an email with your question and they will get back to you.
The Kolkata based Lifeline Foundation is a member of Befrienders.org, which works to prevent suicide worldwide and has a network of over 31,000 volunteers in over 40 countries. For support, one can use their free and confidential email crisis service that usually responds within 24 hours.
A major downside to online counselling is the lack of personal touch. Most therapists agree that online counselling is not a substitute, but complements the conventional approach.
Dr. Feroze Nadiadwala, a member of the Delhi Psychiatric Society feels that a face-to-face sitting helps the counsellor extend bonding with the patient. "It helps us to study the patient's body language and form an opinion based on that," he explains.
For a precise response to your online queries, here are some broad guidelines to follow.
Give accurate details
Provide correct email id
Mention if you have sought any help from elsewhere earlier
Do not use abbreviations
Mention your age and sex precisely
Mention if you are on some medication
"Another major component of in-person psychotherapy is spur-of-the-moment dialogue between the two players absent in online therapy," adds the doctor.
The solution to this could lie in distinguishing between online and offline or in-person cases. Says Dr. Sharma, "If a patient requires more emotional techniques, then in-person consultation is best. Whereas counselling on issues like personal relationship and sexual problems can be done online."