Mailbag: March 19

In response to the March 8 column “Online counseling hurts more than helps”:

Your headline “Online counseling hurts more than helps” was a little misleading. While I agree that “social” or forum-based counseling could be harmful for the reasons presented in the article, classifying that as “online counseling” is inaccurate. Real online counseling is an analog of the face-to-face counselor-client experience and it has been proven in study after study at least as effective as conventional face-to-face therapy for many conditions.

Online counseling is an umbrella term encompassing a variety of therapy delivery methods, but forum-based “psychological guidance” is not considered therapy by anyone within the profession. Online therapy platforms such as iCouch.me use video technology to allow users to see a real, licensed therapist in a secure, private environment. This is real counseling and certainly very helpful. Research suggests that among many groups, especially younger people, online video counseling can be even more effective than traditional face-to-face interactions because it makes it easier for clients to make their sessions. The missed appointment statistics are dramatically improved in online video therapy clients compared to control groups in conventional therapy environments. There’s also an element of increased comfort in the online video environment. Going to a therapist’s office can be intimidating and often leads people to obfuscate their true feelings. In the one-to-one online therapy environment, clients feel much more comfortable and not as guarded.

At iCouch, we’ve seen hundreds of patients and it’s interesting that our therapists notice a much higher retention rate with online clients compared to their offline clients.

When using terms such as online counseling, it’s vital that there be a differentiation between “real” online therapy and Loyola-type programs. The Loyola program is not considered counseling, but more a forum for guidance. I agree completely that these forums have the potential to be risky, especially in crisis situations, however, please don’t suggest that online counseling hurts more than it helps.

— Brian Dear,
CEO of iCouch.me

In response to the March 8 column “Stand up to ‘stupid drunk’ friends”:

I was compelled to write in response to your recent article about George Huguely. Although you make valid points, there is one statement that needs addressing;

You write, in part:

This was not the first incident. Apparently, after a previous violent act against her, he wrote her a note that said “Alcohol is ruining my life. I’m scared to know that I can get that drunk to the point where I cannot control how I act.” And then you write: If he knew this before it’s a wonder why he continued with it …”

Seriously? This statement glaringly indicates that you do not know much about alcoholism, nor have you had much, if any, experience with people with alcoholism. This disease is not a choice, it cannot be wished away, it cannot be shamed away, it cannot be controlled simply by being aware of it, as your question/statement indicates.

Alcoholism is a devastating disease, it is a disease of broken promises to oneself, one’s family and friends. It’s a disease of desperation. Many alcoholics desperately want to stop drinking. Many do stop, and many start again. Many die trying to stop. Many ruin their own lives, and the lives of others, as George Huguely has so horrifically done.

Your statement perpetuates the ignorant belief that “alcoholics could stop if they wanted to.” Please educate yourself about the topics you write about.

What is a “wonder” to me is how your article ever got published with such an irresponsible statement included in it. Shame on you.

— Rebecca Scott,
Ypsilanti, Mich.

In response to the March 1 column “UA, colleges must teach critical thinking skills”:

I rarely read the Daily Wildcat, but I was glad to look at it on Friday, March 1, and see an article titled: “UA, colleges must teach critical thinking skills.”

Finally, a sign of intelligent life on campus.

Well, I am contacting you so that you know that my younger son, Matine Yuksel, has decided to promote your invitation for K-12. I have been teaching Philosophy and Logic at Pima College for more than 10 years, and I am dismayed to see a great majority of my students are clueless regarding critical thinking.

My son is a very accomplished student with great work ethics. He made TV news for tutoring college algebra to high school students while he was a fifth grader in elementary school. He just won several prizes in Science Olympiad, Arizona. He is preparing himself for Harvard or MIT. Currently, he is busy preparing for AP exams. (He is AP National Scholar and he is most likely in top 20). He works at a pizza shop and he manages his money pretty well and does not ask us for pocket money or any expenses on his car … Well, I am sorry for indulging in praising my son, but as a father, I consider myself very lucky for having such a hardworking student who also appreciates the importance of critical thinking.

Within about two weeks, Matine will start organizing his friends to promote the cause.

Some of my students are also interested in promoting it in public (he has some interesting ideas about that) … So, I thought you would be interested in helping them:

www.change.org/petitions/critical-thinkers-not-information-receptacles

— Edip Yuksel,
adjunct philosophy professor at Pima Community College


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