History of Online Counseling and Child Development

The history of Internet online counseling began about forty years ago. For the first twenty years of online counseling, educational and therapeutic ideals were promoted from free sources. Many of these ideals, promoted by child psychologists and child behavior experts, began to provide learning opportunities for parents and educators. Like many other online services that began after the dawn of the Internet, the online counseling concept was developed between educational and research institutions with a desire to foster a stronger learning environment. Below is a summary of the history of online counseling.

In October 1972, one of the first demonstrations of the Internet was a simulated psychotherapy session between computers at Stanford and UCLA. This took place during the International Conference on Computer Communication.

In 1976, not long after the introduction of the first personal computers, computer bulletin board systems began to be used.

Beginning in 1979, the first national online services, Source and Compu-serve, enabled online communications for personal computer users nationwide.

In 1986, Uncle Ezra (named after Ezra Cornell, the university’s founder) was founded by Jerry Feist, then director of mental health services, and Steve Worona.

1995 John Grohol, Psy.D. started offering free mental health advice on a popular weekly public chat.

In 1995, fee-based psychiatric services offered to the public began to appear on the Internet.

From 1995 to 1998, Sommers worked with over 300 people in his online practice, spanning the globe from the Arctic Circle to Kuwait. David Sommers, Ph.D. can be considered as the primary pioneer of “E-Therapy”. He was the first to establish a paid internet service.

In 1997, the International Society for Mental Health Online was founded to advance the understanding, use, and development of online communications, information, and technology for the international mental health community.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the interaction between mental health professionals and consumers online can be divided into two types:

Online counseling and e-therapy developed by numerous counselors and psychotherapists formed lasting helping relationships that are currently developing through internet communication means.

Mental Health Counseling – Counselors and psychotherapists are currently answering questions from the general population seeking professional mental health counseling exclusively via the internet.

Today, online counseling services are helping people worldwide. While this service is still in its infancy, online counseling is becoming a viable option for an individual or family’s counseling needs.

Thanks to Scott Wardell

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