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Title: E-therapist experiences and perceptions of using email to interact therapeutically
Author: Field, Jennifer Leigh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 2395
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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Email usage for mental health services is on the rise. However, research in this area is scarce and focused on its effectiveness. Although preliminary etherapy effectiveness research shows positive results, little research exists that explores e-therapy practice. Thus literature relies on face-to-face therapy theories to make sense of e-therapist processes. However, the perceptions and processes of e-therapists may be affected by the differences in mediums. This study aimed to further the understanding of e-therapy practice by exploring e-therapists' perceptions of how they interact therapeutically. The qualitative methods of Interpretative phenomenological analysis were used. The author conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 e-therapists who used CBT techniques, six interviews were conducted via email and six via computer-mediated telephone. Email and telephone transcripts were analysed separately for recurrent themes. Major themes that arose from both telephone and email interview analyses addressed how etherapists perceived the differences between face-to-face and email therapy interaction affected their practice, specifically the absence of face-to-face contact resulted in a sense of loss of traditional therapy concepts, immediacy and presence. Other themes referred to e-therapist intentions of forging and strengthening therapeutic relationships via email by using email's time delay to thoroughly consider and edit responses, its boundary flexibility to adhere to client needs and preferences and its textual nature to better understand client issues. One major theme which arose from the email interview data referred to participant preferences for email over face-to-face interaction, highlighting that they viewed the distance from clients and the process of writing as enabling them to construct higher quality therapy responses. Implications of these findings were that e-therapists perceived that while some email-specific aspects caused challenges, others were facilitative in their therapy practices. New e-therapy processes were discussed in the context of current literature. However further e-therapy-specific and clientfocused research is needed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Coun.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available