Ground rules in online psychotherapy
Online psychotherapy dates from 1995 and is still in its infancy. This research focuses on the therapeutic qualities of online psychotherapy and the role of ground rules in creating a secure frame for the therapeutic relationship in this new medium. Chapter 1 presents the history of online psychotherapy and a description of the main modalities for therapeutic interaction, namely, e-mail therapy and chat room therapy. Chapter 2 reviews the literature dealing with the psychotherapeutic relationship, with regard to the definition of ground rules. In this chapter I identify seven categories of ground rules that are common to all approaches to psychotherapy. These categories will serve as a prism in evaluating the options for creating ground rules in online psychotherapy. Chapter 3 explores the therapeutic qualities of e-mail and chat room therapy according to the seven categories of ground rules. It also presents a survey of 236 therapeutic web sites. According to the findings of this survey, online psychotherapy is not a substitute for face-to-face psychotherapy, although there is. a potential for creating a secure frame in a virtual clinic, which does not yet exist. In Chapter 4I present my limited experience with online psychotherapy and the virtual clinic which I have developed according to the guidelines of the seven categories of ground rules. It is too early to draw conclusions based on this limited experience, but it opens several options for further research.