Virtual support groups might make some conditions worse rather than better. These observers worry that the lack of nonverbal cues diminishes a therapist’s ability to read and ultimately relate to a client. The ethics of some commercial, Internet-based therapists. practical warning is more imperative for those who elect to seek help in the forums. People who use the Internet for therapy should be cautious consumers of the information and advice they receive.
Inaccurate information can be downloaded. Many virtual support groups seem to be especially vulnerable to misinformation, given that someone with inaccurate or even harmful information.
One should never rely on them as sources of information without confirming that information with a doctor. Clearly, even in times of pain, grief, and suffering, we must still be critical consumers of information.
Many health care professionals readily agree McDermott’s remedy on: Online therapy works best when used as a complement to professionally supervised care.
The American Psychological Association (2000) echoes McDermott’s call for caution. In an online pamphlet, they have advised potential clients to be aware of the distinct challenges presented by searching for advice online.
- Guard your privacy :
- Watch for commercial influences:
- Looking to a site’s “About” or even “Investor Information” links could provide information that the site is actually a paid advertisement or unduly influenced by a sponsor. Increasingly pharmaceutical companies are creating sites to market their products in the form of help centers. Information on such sites may lack objectivity because of the profit motive involved in the sponsor’s involvement.
- Exercise caution:
- In order to assess the usefulness of a site, you should check for frequent updates, review the licensing credentials of the author, and get a second opinion whenever information offered in an online forum raises concerns.
In focus group interviews, a group of researchers found that although people were willing to turn to the Internet for health-related information, they retained concerns about their privacy, the credibility of the source, and the accuracy of the information available, With increasing efforts to educate the public in media literacy.