The Internet: World Wide Web (WWW)

by Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.

Welcome to the future! The World Wide Web is the most vibrant, fastest growing, and most exciting part of the Internet. As you will recall from the first two articles of this series, we are using the image of the information superhighway to discuss the Internet. It has nine ( 9 ) lanes. The World Wide Web (WWW) is the fast lane, with pictures, colors, images, logos, cartoons and even sound and video. This is where the real action is. It's a newspaper with a built-in ticket to thousands of related resources and so much more.

Great...but what's in it for psychotherapists?

You're driving to work thinking of last evening's clients. Bedwetting...where can you get a simple article for those parents to read? You flip on your computer as you get to the office, "surf the Web" for about 10 minutes, and print out the latest info available. No books to thumb through and copy, no grad school files to dig out, no specialist friend to call. Collecting info for a paper? Two hours later you could have gathered more than enough, developed a few professional contacts on the way, and registered for a newsletter that will actually drop monthly child behavior management newsletters into your e-mail box - for free.

Links

How is this possible? You probably would have to see it to believe it, but let me try to explain. If you go to one resource, say Child Psychiatry, it connects you to many more through *links.* Colored words appear on your screen, like "Child Psychiatry Association of Great Britain." This is connected by programming language to your destination. By simply clicking on it once with your mouse, you are immediately transferred to your new destination. Once you've satisfied your interest, you link from there to yet another connected resource, a parenting organization in South Africa. The structure of the Web is akin to neuronal patterns in right brain thinking - all connected, but not linear.

Search Engines

"Search engines" function much like an automated card catalog in a library. You just type in your topic, and the computer gives you a list of "links" to take you to various destinations. Furthermore, specialized lists of mental health resources have sprung up, which can be found using a search engine. Type in names such as "SelfhelpMagazine.com"; "John Grohol" and "Myron Pulier" for extraordinary compilations of mental-health information. The search engines ought to locate each of these names, and they'll give you the *link* to get yourself there. All you have to do is click on the link, and presto! You will be there.

Self-Publishing

For the boldest among you, you can design and publish your own information on-line. You can publish your own articles or promote the tapes or books you might have for sale. You can post your organizational programs, schedule of events, or even put up pictures of your videotape series. You can do anything you want, and offer it to readers worldwide, for less than $50-100 per month. Many programs are being designed to facilitate self-publishing. The large service providers will soon be offering these services. If you want someone to develop pages for you, literally thousands of consultants are available. They will develop, publish and/or market your information for you. Just type in "website consultants" in your search engine.

If you would prefer having the work done for you, and want to benefit from the proximity and shared resources found in most professional office buildings, a mental health "cyber suite" is in construction at L-Soft international, Inc.. Known as "CyberSuites and Towers," this project will offer a wide variety of services designed specifically for mental health and related practitioners. A range of newer technologies will help provide cutting-edge opportunities for professionals on-line. For more information, please write to drm@cybertowers.com.

Addiction or Technophobia

The possibility of stumbling into a goldmine of information; the thrill of *surfing* topic streams; and the warm generosity of other professionals make the Web spellbinding and immensely gratifying. Navigation is so quick, easy, and varied that newcomers can easily find themselves lost in exploration. In fact, Internet addiction is currently being discussed as being a new disorder.

Don't use this as an excuse to stay off-line, though. Refusing to confront your technophobia because of a fear of addiction is like refusing to use a checkbook because of your fear of writing bad checks. If you structure your time. Don't let your underlying technophobia stop you from joining the 21st Century. Go through the initiation of getting connected to the Internet, and join the rest of us! It's the best non-human psychotherapy tool you'll have.

4/17/98

Dr. Maheu is an author, speaker, and researcher. She is the lead author of E-Health, Telehealth & Telemedicine: A Guide to Program Startup and Success co-written with Pamela Whitten and Ace Allen, published by Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

Infidelity on the Internet is Dr. Maheu's second book and she's currently working her third, tentatively titled "The Mental Health Professional Online: New Questions and Answers."

For more information about her speaking schedule, see this page: http://telehealth.net/speak.html

 

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