Air Force veteran Jack logs onto myrecovery.vbhcs.org for session with e-therapist.
By Emily Luxen
COOKEVILLE, Tenn.-Therapy for veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life is getting a technological twist.
A website started at the Plateau Mental Health Center in Cookeville allows veterans of any age to get help online in the privacy of their own homes. The website connects veterans with electronic therapists or e-therapists. They can discuss concerns on topics ranging from substance abuse, to depression, to post traumatic stress disorder in secure chat rooms.
Program Manager Richard Gillespie says the conversations may not be face to face, but the approach works.
"Some people are more comfortable in this setting," said Gillespie. "It also helps people in rural areas because there may be limited options available for those with substance abuse issues."
E-therapists said they've gotten a great response and still feel connected to their clients.
"We can tell how they're feeling by the colors they use, or the words they use to express their feelings," said E-therapist Kim Sowell, "We still get insight into how they are feeling that day."
The website is funded by grant money and offers four free therapy sessions per day. Over the last 21 months, 178 people have enrolled in the program, and Gillespie would like to see it continue to grow.
"Right now we are primarily helping people in middle and east Tennessee," said Gillespie. "I hope one day it grows even more."
"It opens up a new way of doing things," said Sowell. "I think it is the thing of the future."