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I called Susan Mankita, LCSW, a social work consultant and educator in Miami, Florida, to ask how online sex therapy fits within the counseling profession as a whole.Mankita has been training mental-health professionals about online practice since 1995; she developed and moderated the AOL Social Work Forum for 10 years.There is no audience to perform for; just you, your honesty, and a diary that writes back.
That means including notes like "I just welled up with tears" or "suddenly furious." Emoticons also have an important role in adding "tone," Mankita said, and both parties must work hard to lay groundwork and establish communication protocols.
Like many netizens who take to chat like Labrador retrievers to tennis balls, I didn't think I would be able to go deep enough verbally.
So I wrote e-mail, including emotions, raw and fast, without editing thoughts or words on the page, and sent it to a couple of friends without letting myself revise or polish.
In person, you can hope the therapist tunes in to your body language, providing a bridge between feeling an emotion and expressing it."One thing therapists learn in school first off is that when assessing a client, you balance what they say against what you see," says Mankita.
"At the very beginning, it was incredibly hard to get used to (relying on clients to report their own emotions).