The history of Internet online counseling began approximately forty years ago. The first twenty years of online counseling promoted free source educational and therapy ideals. Many of these ideals promoted by child psychologist and child behavior experts began to serve parents and educators with learning opportunities. Like many other online services that began after the dawn on the Internet, the online counseling concept was developed between educational and research institutions with the desire of promoting a stronger learning environment. Below is a synopsis 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 come into service.
Beginning in 1979, the first national on-line services, the Source and Compu-serve, allowed nationwide on-line communication for personal computer users.
In 1986, Uncle Ezra” (named for Ezra Cornell, the University’s founder) was founded by Jerry Feist, at that time Director of Psychological Services, and Steve Worona.
In 1995 John Grohol, Psy.D. began offering free mental health advice in a popular weekly public chat.
In 1995, fee-based mental health services offered to the public began to appear on the Internet.
From 1995 through 1998, Sommers worked with over 300 persons in his online practice, spanning the globe from the Arctic Circle to Kuwait. David Sommers, Ph.D. can be considered the primary pioneer of “e-therapy.” He was the first to establish a fee-based Internet service.
In 1997, the formation of the International Society for Mental Health Online took place to promote the understanding, use and development of online communication, information and technology for the international mental health community.
At the beginning of the 21st century, interaction between mental health professionals and consumers on the Internet may be divided into two types:
Online Counseling and E-Therapy, developed by numerous counselors and psychotherapists, formed ongoing helping relationships that currently evolve through Internet communication means.
Mental health advice – Counselors and psychotherapists currently respond to questions generated by the general population seeking professional mental health advice solely via the Internet.
Today, online counseling services are helping individuals worldwide. Even though this service is still in it’s infancy stage of development, online counseling is becoming a viable option to an individual or family counseling needs.