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The use of technology in psychotherapy training: some research-informed reflections part 2

The use of technology in psychotherapy training: some research-informed reflections part 2

Inter-personal Relationships

Anecdotally, from discussions with others within UKCP, the primary concern about online training is that it would exclude examination and exploration of personal process. Therefore it seems logical to start with this theme.

Irwin & Berge (2011) discuss the concept of “online presence” as being different from physical presence and the need for careful consideration for both the student’s experience and that of the tutor. Francescato et al, (2007) have found that “social ties, formed initially more in the face-to-face groups, lasted more among online students.”, while Blackmore et al. (2006 & 2008) found that learners disclose more, not less of their personal lives, which requires careful management but is useful. They further state that students need to be “psychologically-minded”, but given that this is a pre-requisite for being a psychotherapist (as evidenced by the UKCP requirement for a self-reflective process) this would seem to fit with the overall intention of a training.

Van Deurzen et al. state:

“Observations of a large cohort of psychotherapy trainees on a European wide eLearning project have shown that internet-based interrelationships between students on the one hand and between tutors and students on the other hand are quite different to that in face-to-face training situations. It was found that relationships and interactions in some ways were more distant and aloof, since no direct face-to-face contact existed, with all relating being mediated through electronic communication. In other ways this form of communication seemed to facilitate an intimacy and directness not equalled in face-to-face training, which led to some interesting and poignant explorations.” (2006)

Likewise Joinson (2001) found “visual anonymity” leads to heightened self-awareness.

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