Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective Online in Precise Circumstances

The many benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy are widely lauded among both mental health professionals and the clients who have benefited from its introduction into their lives. In particular, those experiencing symptoms of depression are likely to gain a great deal of personal empowerment and inspiration from undergoing a course of cognitive behavioral therapy, achieving a greater understanding of themselves and the world at large through examining thoughts and behaviors. Unfortunately, access to this form of treatment as well as psychotherapy at large is significantly limited in many parts of the world, and those who may stand to benefit most from CBT are often unable to find a practitioner or to afford treatment.

Explorations in the viability of online delivery of CBT have been underway for quite some time, and more advanced and precise investigations are being made into the possibility of reaching out to those without reasonable access to mental health care through the utility of the Internet. Recently, a team of researchers in the United Kingdom set out to discover whether CBT delivered in real time by a qualified therapist was capable of showing promise for recovery in those with feelings of depression. After an eight month follow-up with clients who were diagnosed with depression and participated either in general health care or an online CBT program, the researchers found that those involved with cognitive behavioral therapy showed a recovery rate of nearly 50%, about double the rate of the control group.

The precise delivery method of the therapy may play a major role in its success; while other studies have been performed on the potential of online therapies to be effective, some have involved computerized “therapists” or have provided human therapists on a delayed basis, such as over email. The researchers and contributors note that while mental health professionals may not favorably envision therapy “call centers” or other futuristic ideas for easy-access, long-distance therapy, such realities may be approaching.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Freddie

    Freddie

    September 7th, 2009 at 10:23 AM

    It is very pleasing to know that the recovery rate with CBT is nearly fifty percent. It is also interesting to hear about the futuristic ideas mentioned in the post… that could well be our future – got a problem, get consultation online or on the phone. Whichever way this is headed, one thing is for sure and that is – we are going to have better and better health-care services in the future.

  • Carly

    Carly

    September 7th, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    I cannot have ever imagined that online CBT would have its benefits but I guess I have been proven wrong! I am not sure how I feel about having a computerized therapist online and working with you but it seems that having one in real time would be fine. Better than nothing as the old saying goes.

  • Yolanda

    Yolanda

    September 7th, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    Hey, that’s why peer support chat rooms on mental health topics are so popular. People want to talk to a person that will understand them, and they want it now not later. No one wants to wait for an email. The findings of that CBT study don’t surprise me.

  • Teach

    Teach

    September 7th, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Rather than being horrified, traditional therapists could champion the technology and move with the times. Purely from a business perspective alone it would create new job opportunities in their field and potentially expand their client base substantially. When the constraints of geographical location are removed the sky’s the limit.

  • Piper

    Piper

    September 7th, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    This is a step in positive direction as it makes it possible for people in remote areas to connect and get treatment. It makes it so much more convenient for people who already have problems… And the best part is that results are showing, there is a positive trend observed with this kind of treatment.

  • Dr. Notary

    Dr. Notary

    September 7th, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    Would there be webcams? If this arrangement were to rely upon voice alone I’m unsure whether I would be supportive of the framework. I feel the loss of nonverbal visual cues like body language would be detrimental overall to the therapeutic process.

  • Rice

    Rice

    September 7th, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    ^^ Good point there… the online counseling can be a supplement to an in-person counseling but not a substitute. There is more to it than just listening to what the other person says… We have telephones, cellphones, internet, web-cams, but we still meet people. And it is not without a reason. This is especially important in treatments wherein a the counselor’s presence also plays a part, and not just his voice or image.

  • Fletcher

    Fletcher

    September 7th, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    Providing such services are staffed by fully qualified therapists, I can envisage that happening. The choice is that you either keep pace with technology or be left behind.

    To resist technological change is to resist the advancement of the modern world. It’s an exercise in futility. Change will happen with or without you.

  • Richie

    Richie

    September 8th, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    There are now self-help videos and other great support stuff online that can really help patients, because a counselor is not available 24X7, but a video can be watched anywhere and at any time. Hope this new piece of information of the recovery rate being high inspires more and more people to give this method a try.

  • Katie S

    Katie S

    September 9th, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    I like this idea as a supplement to traditional therapy instead of simply the only treatment that someone receives. Extra support is always a welcome thing.

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