Two new studies suggest online therapy may be effective for treating mental health issues. Online therapy is increasingly popular, particularly among people who live in rural areas and cannot easily get to a therapist’s office or who are concerned about the costs of in-person therapy. New technology may pose some concerns, and the security of online therapy continues to be an issue, but research suggests the benefits may be significant.
The Benefits of Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The first study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reviewed studies of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) conducted between 2000 and 2012. CBT is a widely used and well-researched form of therapy, with most studies saying in-person forms of this treatment are highly effective. CBT focuses on reducing negative thoughts, thereby changing behavior and alleviating symptoms.
Most of the studies tracked participants for a relatively short period of time after undergoing therapy—ranging from eight weeks to about two years. Researchers found online CBT could effectively reduce symptoms of depression and other mental health issues. In some cases, online CBT was even more effective than traditional in-person therapy.
Reducing Suicidal Feelings in Doctors
Another study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, looked at how online therapy affects the well-being of new doctors. Young doctors often work long hours, including nights and weekends, and the stress of those long shifts can lead to mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts. One previous study found that suicidal thoughts increase four-fold during a medical residency.
Researchers looked at 200 first-year medical residents working 80-hour weeks and overnight shifts. Compared to doctors who received no online therapy, doctors who received four 30-minute online sessions before beginning their residency had fewer suicidal thoughts. Because the sessions were delivered online, researchers say it might be possible to provide such treatment to other doctors while still keeping costs low.
- Mozes, A. (2015, November 3). Online therapy may help some with emotional problems. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/11/03/online-psychotherapy-may-help-some-with-emotional-problems
- Online cognitive behavioral therapy benefits people with depression, anxiety. (2015, November 2). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151102125440.htm
- Study: Online therapy eases new doctors’ suicidal thoughts. (2015, November 4). Retrieved from http://news.wabe.org/post/study-online-therapy-eases-new-doctors-suicidal-thoughts
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