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Not sure on the meaning of some of the terms used to describe e-mental health services? This glossary provides some helpful guidance.

Avatar therapy

A specific form of eTherapy conducted online with the use of avatars (icons or figures that represent the participants online) sometimes including audio. This can be used to engage in role-play or to simply sit and chat as you normally would in a face-to-face session. Found to be particularly useful for social skills training and phobia treatment.


Delivery of structured early intervention or treatment programs for clinical disorders/symptoms via the internet with or without human support.

Synchronous eTherapy

Treatment provided using real-time (synchronous) communication, through mediums such as chat rooms, webcams, avatar programs etc.

Asynchronous eTherapy

Treatment provided using asynchronous communication mediums such as email, text messaging, forums etc.

Other terms used interchangeable with eTherapy include ‘cybertherapy’, 'online therapy', 'web therapy' among many others.


A broader term describing a range of health interventions delivered using technology. This includes mental and behavioural health promotion, prevention, and treatment/management interventions that are delivered via the internet (or other electronic technologies), with or without human support.


Internet forums or discussion boards are online discussion websites where conversations can be held in the form of posted messages. Unlike chat rooms, they are asynchronous (the conversation doesn’t happen in real-time, but rather over an extended period of time), messages are usually longer than a line or two, and they are generally public.

Forums are usually hierarchical in structure, and many forums will have ‘sub forums’ each of which will have various sub-topics. This allows conversations to be arranged by theme or topic area.

Many forums are pre-moderated (messages must be approved by a moderator before they are published) or post-moderated (messages can reviewed and removed/edited by moderators after they are published). Most forums require users to register an account and username, although permissions will vary - some will allow anonymity, while others will require the user to use their name.

Online communities

A broad term for websites designed to allow social interaction, usually gathered around a common interest or theme. This includes websites such as forums, chat groups, and groups on social media websites such as Facebook.

Open and closed group chat rooms

Group chat rooms are websites that allow for users to participate in synchronous group conversations. Open chat rooms are open to the public and anyone can participate. Closed chat rooms are open only to people with the access details, and can be used for private conversations or even as a space for working with young people (such as online group work).

Social media

Social media are websites or applications which are used for socialising online - whether through posting status updates, chatting online, sharing photos or video etc.

More information on how young people socialise online.

The Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner: Up-to-date information on cyberbullying and reporting abuse on social media platforms.


Clinical consultation conducted via video conferencing software or hardware. Telehealth has been in use in Australia’s medical system since the late 1990’s.

Therapeutic text

Therapeutic communication conducted through instant messaging. Also known as synchronous eTherapy.

Therapeutic email

Therapeutic communication conducted through email. Therapeutic email is a type of asynchronous e-therapy.

Web or application based online interventions

Websites, mobile applications or software designed to deliver improved health outcomes for users. This includes static information or video, online forums, therapeutic games/computerised activities, mobile applications, online counselling etc - any intervention that is primarily delivered using the internet or software.

Web or video logs

Personal journaling websites, email, or video recording. This can include journaling for personal reasons, public broadcast (i.e. video blogs or ‘vlogs’) or for therapeutic purposes.

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