The New Technologies of Change


The New Technologies of Change

21st Century Tools are Transforming Therapeutic Practice

By Jordan Magaziner

September/October 2010


One of my college professors liked to say that to interview someone effectively, you have to be able to "see the whites of their eyes." To really get to the heart of another person, she insisted, you have to take in all of their nonverbal cues and quirks—do they have permanent laugh lines, or frown lines? Do they gesture dramatically, or keep their hands in their lap? Similarly, many believe that to treat clients effectively, therapists should be able to gaze into their eyes and engage them through every one of their senses. But more and more these days, technology is challenging the idea that therapy must revolve around the traditional, face-to-face clinical encounter.

The movement to apply new communication technologies to therapy seems to have started over the last 10 years with online therapy. Many of its proponents believe that not only is online therapy a convenient way to deliver services, but that some clients feel freer when using their keyboards in their own homes than they do in person. New York therapist Elizabeth Zelvin, who's been practicing therapy online for the past decade, says that her largest group of "e-clients" is composed of individuals who have "shaming" issues, such as eating disorders and sexual abuse. Working online helps them feel safe, making it easier to reveal issues at their own pace and giving them more time to express themselves. "The Internet is an egalitarian environment," says Zelvin. "There's no intimidating office with a big…

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