A research group at the University of Norrköping, in southeast Sweden, treated 90 patients for depression via e-mail only throughout the spring, a first in Sweden.
“The collected data look good and we have very good feedback from participants,” psychologist Kristofer Vernmark told the local Norrköpings Tidningar newspaper.
Patients and therapists exchanged longer e-mails once a week, and shorter ones whenever needed.
Vernmark said many patients liked to be able to write about their problems whenever they occurred to them, rather than wait for a weekly appointment with their therapist.
“It is actually much more difficult to go back to those thoughts and feelings when you are finally sitting down with your psychologist,” he said.
Some also dreaded having to reveal their emotions in person.
E-mail counselling would also be cost-effective, a major factor in Sweden where a one-hour session of counselling typically costs 1,000 kronor (107 euros, 134 dollars).
But Vernmark acknowledged that more studies were needed before internet therapy was ready for the mainstream.