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Because of the embarrassment that can surround female sexual dysfunctions, online interventions offer an anonymous and private treatment alternative. Recently, an online cognitive-behavioral treatment for female sexual dysfunctions was evaluated. Although significant improvements were observed in sexual functioning, the treatment was primarily a behavioral intervention because of difficulties with engaging participants in cognitive therapy over e-mail. To address this limitation, the use of chat groups was incorporated into a new online treatment for female sexual dysfunctions—the PursuingPleasure program. Thirty-eight women participated in the PursuingPleasure chat groups. The goals of the chat groups were to address and overcome challenges as women progressed through PursuingPleasure and to create a social support network where group therapy processes could be used. The chat groups aimed to address misunderstandings, monitor changes, and receive feedback. A qualitative analysis of the chat groups revealed that they helped to facilitate the cognitive-affective aspects of the program, as well as fulfill their other intended functions. This study demonstrates how the use of chat groups in the online treatment of female sexual dysfunctions is a useful addition to Internet-based treatment. Feedback suggests that the chat groups were one of the most helpful aspects of the program, although a small group of women reported finding the groups unhelpful.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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