Psychology of the Web & Therapeutic Interventions in Cyberspace
Online Course Materials: Articles
Developed by John R. Suler, Ph.D.
General Course Description
What is it about online communication that reduces otherwise respectful people to attack strangers? Then again, a shy person may finally “come out” online, authentic with her likes, dislikes, and standpoint. People undergo therapy in virtual realty (such as Second Life) and some even use synthetic therapists. How does therapy change when a client can redesign the office to reflect her mood? It’s a fascinating new era. The digital age provides a variety of options for clients and therapists to pursue their paths online.
This introductory level course explores these therapeutic aspects of cyberspace and consists of three chapters from telemental health expert Dr. Suler’s 2016 book Psychology of the Digital Age: Humans Become Electric. The chapter on Cyberpsychology Architecture describes eight dimensions for understanding the positive and negative psychological qualities of any type of digital environment. The chapter on the Disinhibited Self covers one of the most essential concepts in cyberpsychology: the online disinhibition effect, which is the tendency for people to say and do things online that they wouldn’t ordinary say or do in-person, for better or for worse. The third chapter on Electric Therapeutics applies the eight dimensions of cyberpsychology architecture for understanding the personal growth potentials of technology, including self-help activities, interventions conducted by clinicians, and artificially intelligent psychotherapists. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.
“The most innovative psychotherapies in cyberspace will probably not be those that attempt to duplicate an in-person meeting, but rather those that take advantage of invented synthesized environments.”
– Dr. John Suler
- This course will teach the participant to
- Describe the online disinhibition effect.
- Critique the psychological qualities of different online environments.
- Cite the benefits and hazards of online communication.
- Recommend technology to aid the therapeutic process.
- Question the effects of faster self-disclosure on long-term intimacy.
- Suler, J. R. (2015). Cyberpsychology architecture. In Psychology of the digital age: Humans become electric (pp. 21-53). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Suler, J. R. (2015). Thedisinhibited Self. In Psychology of the digital age: Humans become electric (pp. 95-111). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Suler, J. R. (2015). Electric theraputic. In Psychology of the digital age: Humans become electric (pp. 380-416). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Online communication
- Disinhibition effect
- Increased pace of self-disclosure (gifts and drawbacks)
- Anonymous communication
- Invisible witnessing
- Potential for increased intimacy
- Transparency of digital natives
- Flame wars
- Decreased sense of responsibility in large groups
- Absence of immediate social feedback
- Computers as therapeutic tools
- Using apps for personal change
- Shape your narrative on social media
- The therapeutic aspects of Text and visuals
- Creative expression in social media