Building Virtual Relationships

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I am a firm believer in the value of face-to-face communication. However, over the past few weeks, I have been impressed by a story of hope and support – that has resulted from an on-line relationship.

A tragic life change

Johan is a handsome, 24 year-old male client of mine who was a landscape gardener.  He was referred to me by his doctor after a serious car accident that has left him unable to walk and only able to move about in a wheelchair.  The challenges ahead of him are great.  He has had to give up his work, which has always been the love of his life.

For some years, Johan has been an avid blogger on social media and now has thousands of followers.  His blog has always provided a creative outlet for him after a day of being out in the open.  He has also written about his accident: how it has changed his life and how he can never go back into his much loved profession.  But he has blogged about his experience in a positive way; how he has been determined to overcome his disability, knowing that there were others far worse off than he.  Despite having frustrating days, Johan understands that he faces the same issues as others who have been permanently injured and this sense of shared identity has been crucial in promoting strong on-line relationships.

His many readers have developed a strong empathy with Johan and when his mother recently wanted to raise funds for an electric wheelchair, she made contact, via his blog, to his existing followers.  Within days, not only was the money raised for the wheelchair but also offers of job opportunities also came. Continue reading

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