Shrink link Pick a Net analyst, key in your problem and have that therapy experience without leaving home.

Whether you are driven witless with worry or simply feeling a teensy bit down, now's the time to tune in, log on and chill out with your very own electronic shrink.

Engaging in therapy from your computer terminal does have certain advantages. Why go through the trauma of lying on a psychoanalyst's couch when you can talk to them from the comfort of your own sofa? Online therapists cannot make you feel bad about yourself. They cannot look you in the eye and say, "How does that make you feel?" You can confess your hang-ups and hide behind the anonymity of e-mail. In some cases, you needn't even provide your name.

Some people might find the process cold and impersonal, but most therapists post digitally enhanced photographs of themselves on their web pages, so you can visualise the person dispensing those words of wisdom.

Choosing your therapist can take a bit of work. One site, Metanoia, offers an index of online shrinks with a star rating, and advises on cost and how quickly individual therapists respond to their e-mail. There are other indexes, with names like Cyber Psych and Shrink Link. Generally, you e- mail a 200-word summary of your situation and the shrink responds in anything between 24 and 72 hours - provided, of course, you key in your all-important credit-card details. Fees start from $20 and you can opt for ongoing therapy or ask for response to a single issue.

I decided on a consultancy called Surfing the Self because it was cheap and quick. For one-off consultations, you are advised to write to your counsellor with a simple, specific question. I decided to pretend to have a vague, non-serious crisis. Here's what I wrote:

"I am a 34-year-old writer, female, and I feel like right now I'm going through a mid-life crisis! On paper, it sounds like I've got everything going for me - I am successful in my career, I have a partner I love and supportive friends. But, somehow, recently, none of that has seemed to be enough. I feel sort of dispirited and flat, as if I've kind of lost my way. This is odd, because I've always been a fantastically ambitious and driven person. I know I'm at a time of life when I should be making lots of big decisions - but I can't seem to decide on anything. In the meantime, I am doing precisely nothing, just drifting along in a sea of lethargy. Any thoughts?"

Dear Ms Chaudhuri:

The questions you raise reflect life issues that often confront people in their thirties. It is not unusual for people who are wrestling with such important concerns to feel as if they are "drifting in a sea of lethargy". Goals and aspirations change as we mature, and it takes courage and persistence to manage the new challenges we must face. During times of transition, people often begin to question many things they once took for granted; accomplishments may not seem as fulfilling as they once were; new conceptions of the self and one's place in the world may become more salient. Personal transition and growth, while ultimately normal and salutary, nonetheless give rise to feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt. Sometimes these feelings can be quite uncomfortable and they can be difficult to resolve. Although you have achieved much in life, it is clear that there is something missing, something you still need to accomplish. One way to increase one's sense of control over one's life is to engage in a systematic process of introspection; this can be facilitated by writing down one's thoughts in a journal. Introspection involves answering questions that one has about life in a logical and honest fashion, arriving at a path that one can follow. This path needn't be an immutable one; it can be changed as needed as new data about what is truly important to you becomes available.

We hope these observations have been helpful to you. Please contact us again if we can be of any further assistance.

Sincerely, David A Safran, PhD & A Train, PhD. Surfing The Self http://dsi-

I enjoyed reading the response, but felt I could have found such advice in a self-help book. However, this may be because my problem was not very specific. In the US, the National Board of Certified Counsellors is now working on a code of conduct and standards for professionals and consumers using psychological services online.

"The poorly informed consumer in crisis who has a history of mental health difficulties will be an easy target for incompetent or fraudulent Internet counselling providers," warned James P Sampson, a Florida State University psychotherapist, in the LA Times recently. This may be true when it comes to serious psychological problems, but for those in need of a quick-fix, Net therapy can be useful. "I think it best serves people who need to fill in the cracks," says John Grohol, a psychologist who hosts a free live chat at his Psych Central Web site (http://www.grohol. com/ ) "It can be a great adjunct to regular therapy or a support group. "The Metanoia index is at

sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all