Is cyber therapy worth it?

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Ubaldo Leli, MD, an analyst in private practice in New York City who is vice president of the China American Psychoanalytic Alliance (CAPA), conducted his first online analysis of a patient in China in 2004 via Skype while stateside. Since then Dr. Leli regularly uses the program to work with clients in China as well as to train clinicians there. Although this method of communication may be seen as inappropriate by many conservative clinicians, cyber therapy is becoming more and more prevalent. However, individuals like Dr. Leli openly admit that there are issues that arise. In particular, difficulties surrounding language barriers as well as cultural interpretation can be difficult in a setting where subtle inflections of voice and changes in body language cannot be as easily observed. “You have to pay more attention to the word the person uses and what exactly they mean by it,” Ralph Fishkin, DO, who is also on CAPA’s board, said. “You have to ask yourself if you’re precisely understanding their feelings.” Perhaps questions defining the debate should be centered around whether inconsistencies in communication during cyber therapy are worth the gains of reaching individuals in remote areas where services are not readily available. Click here to read an article from Medpage Today that discusses this idea more.

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