Emotional First Aid on the Internet: Theory and Research


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Series: Psychology of Emotions, Motivations and Actions
BISAC: PSY040000

Many individuals who suffer from acute distress avoid seeking psychological assistance due to barriers such as shame, stigma, and lack of availability of sources. These barriers are reduced in the online environment as a result of its unique features, particularly anonymity, textual communication, and the ability to overcome the limits of time and space. Providing psychological assistance on the internet has become increasingly widespread over the last three decades by means of various channels such as personal chats, email, and online support groups. The emotional first aid provided by trained volunteers constitutes a unique context of online counseling that emerged from the well-known community mental health services known as hotlines. The present book presents the various applications and illuminates the potential advantages of emotional first aid via the online environment.

The first part of the book presents the theoretical background of the two areas that comprise the phenomenon. The rationale of online counseling, its historical background, its advantages and limitations as a therapeutic environment are described, followed by the theory and practice of volunteer-based emotional first aid and crisis intervention. The second part of the book presents recent studies that have been conducted on various aspects of volunteer-based emotional first aid on the internet. One study employed quantitative methodology in order to furnish the profile of the help-seekers and the problems they present. Other studies, in which in-depth analyses of naturally-occurring texts were conducted sought to disclose the unique value of the three channels – personal chat, email and online support groups. For individuals –particularly adolescents – who suffer from anorexia, sexual abuse, or suicidal ideations. The last section focuses on ethical issues and on evaluating the helpfulness of online assistance provided by trained volunteers.

In view of the enormous discrepancy between the needs of individuals worldwide for mental health assistance on the one hand and the availability of traditional formal sources on the other, it is justifiable to expand the types of mental health assistance offered to the population. Volunteer-based emotional first aid is most appropriate for this purpose. This book can stimulate interest in this unique and valuable mode of mental assistance, enhance its application, and encourage its investigation. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Emotional First Aid: An Overview (pp. 1-10)

Chapter 2 – Characteristics of Psychological Assistance via the Internet (pp. 11-26)

Chapter 3 – Who Seeks Help Online? A Statistical Profile (pp. 27-46)

Chapter 4 – When Face-to-Face Help Fails: Online Assistance via Personal Chat (pp. 47-78)

Chapter 5 – Rendering Emotional First Aid via Email (pp. 79-98)

Chapter 6 – Online Support Groups (pp. 99-120)

Chapter 7 – Helpfulness of Emotional First Aid via the Internet (pp. 121-148)

Chapter 8 – Limitations, Risks, and Ethical Dilemmas (pp. 149-158)


The book focuses on online counseling. It may be useful for all mental-health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers), particularly useful for associations of crisis intervention and emotional first aid (e.g. IFOTES, Samaritans). It may also be useful for institutes for internet studies

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