On my last day of vacation in Italy, a chatty café owner in Rome introduced me to a tall, charming Italian man. He was a local artist, I learned; his name was Marco. Just a day earlier, my friend Lynn and I had sat in a piazza in Florence talking about how hard it is to meet nice guys. It had been two years since my last relationship, and, admittedly, I'd grown a little standoffish with the opposite sex. Lynn and I agreed that I could open up a little more. So when I met Marco, I figured...
So when she became depressed, she joined a growing number of people who are
turning to the Internet for professional counseling. Though many experts warn
that Internet counseling isn't as reliable as face-to-face therapy, for people
who are too busy, homebound, or -- like Sarah -- live in remote areas, Internet
therapy is one of the few alternatives available. (See Is Online Help Safe?)
"It was a lifesaver," she says. "I couldn't very well tell my
supervisor I was suicidal." She remains convinced she would have suffered
professionally if anyone she worked with knew of her illness. Recently
divorced, she also felt isolated from friends and family, who seemed to dismiss
But with her cybertherapist, she says, "I felt at ease. I could talk
about my resentment -- my feeling that I was really wronged by my ex-husband --
and she heard me. That was very important to me."
The online sessions had some other advantages as well. In person, Sarah
says, she tends to look cheerful no matter how sad she's feeling. "I could
be more honest with email. I could take as long as I needed to consider my
answers to her questions, and I could talk to her at any time. I didn't have to
limit my needs to Thursdays at two."
Sarah wrote her counselor twice a week for six months. It cost her about $30
a session. "I might have been able to complete therapy quicker if I could
have seen the counselor in person," she says. "But in my situation, it
was the best solution, and it worked."
Today, Sarah feels good about herself. "I still touch base with my
therapist every few weeks," she says. "It's nice to know she's there if
I need her."
Barbara Burgower Hordern is a freelance
writer based in Missouri City, Texas, a Houston suburb. Her work appears in
publications ranging from Money to Biography to Ladies Home