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When Cybertherapy Goes Bad

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Local police began an investigation of the self-proclaimed "psychoanalyst," but he left that state before it was completed. The entire incident infuriated the online community of people with multiple personality disorder; one person posted a web page dedicated to exposing the unlicensed analyst.

In his discussion with WebMD, this man offered glowing references from other people he had helped. He pointed out that he doesn't charge for his therapy. And he has continued to offer counseling on his own web site.

Incidents like these show that chat rooms are clearly not the place to go for therapy, says Storm King of the International Society for Mental Health Online. Seriously depressed or ill people like Brandon need intensive therapy, face to face. "It's okay to try online therapy and see if it fits for you," says King. "But don't assume it's going to always work real well."

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 Journal.

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