Online Group Psychotherapy

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Online group psychotherapy is already here, but many of the therapists who are leading online groups are unaware of the legal and ethical issues that should be considered. They lead online groups the same way they lead groups face-to-face and learn how to do it by trial and error, sometimes making unfortunate mistakes.

Online groups can be synchronic (through video conferencing) or a-synchronic (through text only, where the participants and group leader are not online at the same time). Each of these modalities hold different dynamics. In each, the group therapist should be aware that the application tool is HIPAA compliant and to take measures for guaranteeing confidentiality. In online group therapy you should identify the obstacles to connect (for example, the disembodied environment) and know about online group dynamics.

Here is a sampling of tips from our course Online Group Psychotherapy:

  • Use self-disclosure to create more online presence in your Internet therapy group.
  • Add suitable items to your group agreement for your online groups.
  • Do not ignore the background and events that happen in the group members room.
  • Be aware that online you cannot control the holding environment as you usually do in your office and learn how to guide the group members to create this environment for themselves.
  • Learn how to overcome the absence of the body in online interactions.
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