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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2002 Apr;5(2):95-105.

Working alliance in online therapy as compared to face-to-face therapy: preliminary results.

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Graduate School of Social Work, Regional Research Institute for Human Services, Portland State University, Oregon 97207-0751, USA.


Online therapy, defined as the provision of mental health services through the Internet, is a growing field that has sparked an abundance of interest and controversy. A primary concern in the practice of online therapy is whether a working alliance, considered a central component of successful therapy, can develop when participants are geographically separated. Working alliance scores were compared between a small, primarily female sample of online therapy consumers and a representative sample of traditional face-to-face therapy clients. Results revealed significantly higher means on the goal subscale and composite score of the Working Alliance Inventory in the online sample, suggesting that a working alliance can be adequately established in therapy delivered online. No significant differences in the level of working alliance were found within the online therapy sample with respect to modality of communication, client presenting problem, or therapist. Themes from comments suggest the importance for participants of the disinhibiting effects of the medium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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