Communication & Medicine, Vol 15, No 3 (2018)

Psychotherapeutic potential of online self-help groups: Innovative moments in thread openers’ narratives

Jesse W.C. Yip
Issued Date: 15 May 2020

Abstract


Previous research has found that online self-help groups related to healthcare can be therapeutic. These therapeutic effects often stem from social support conveyed by respondents; however, relevant studies appear to have overlooked the therapeutic potential of thread openers’ narratives. This article investigates thread openers’ narratives in 80 threads from four online self-help groups for anxiety and depression. The data analysis focuses on unique outcomes (UOs), referring to opportunities for therapeutic change to occur, which are conceptualized within the framework of innovative moments (IMs). The findings indicate that the presence of IMs is what makes online narratives therapeutic, but that they diminish gradually through interactions with respondents. This decline can arguably be attributed to respondents’ provision of unsolicited support, and this implies that most users do not find resolution for their problem through participating in online self-help groups.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.36741

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