The Role Of Technology In The Assessment And Treatment Of Psychological Disorders

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The role now played by technology in the society has a great impact, besides being useful, it has become necessary. It has become so necessary in everyday life that even in the smallest things that are done, technology is used. The internet now provides an infinite number of sites to help people with their daily issues. One of these ways of helping people is E-therapy. E-therapy is a way of offering psychological therapy to a person through the internet. People can basically communicate with a therapist through phone calls, video conferences or texts. All important information about e-therapy, also known as online therapy will be given below.

One of the first demonstrations of the Internet was a simulated psychotherapy session between computers at Stanford and UCLA during the International Conference on Computer Communication in October 1972. “Ask Uncle Ezra” was one of the first known services to provide mental health advice through the internet, it was free and offered to students of a university in New York. This service was founded by Jerry Feist, who was the Director of Psychological Services in that university on those times. Then, in 1995 professional psychotherapy was provided to individuals with a charge. Advantages E-therapy has a lot many advantages but at the same time it has many disadvantages. Some of the advantages of online therapy is that it has a great level of accessibility, it is practically available for any person who wants to use it. For example, people who live far away from the city or from the places where doctors do their therapies and who are not able to drive all that distance, can be very convenient to use this kind of therapy. People who are also physically disabled or that cannot leave their home can also take advantage of online therapy. It is also very convenient because it can extend the service to more clients due to the fact that appointments can be scheduled with a short period of time. Online counseling can also be easier to afford for both therapist and client. Anonymity is other advantage, because since there’s no face to face contact, clients may communicate more open, it could lead to a greater level of honesty. And the last advantage is that it offers many different ways of communicating, these therapies can be through emails, video conferences, text messages, etc. It can be hundred times better to a person who has problems expressing themselves in words.


Online therapy also has different disadvantages. Absence of verbal and nonverbal cues is one of them. For therapists, it is very important to understand nonverbal communication in order to understand how the patient is feeling. It is also necessary to identify if there’s any incongruence between nonverbal and verbal. Confidentiality and security are other disadvantages. In normal therapy, doctors are responsible for maintaining confidentiality of their clients, but given the nature of the medium, it is hard to maintain the confidentiality because it is a greater risk of being jeopardized. Therapist credibility, because clients are not able to know how good the therapist is, they have no way of making sure of their credentials and qualifications. Online therapy has been questioned about its effectiveness, some people argue that if a therapist and a client do not interact face-to-face, it could be more difficult to give a clearly diagnosis and easily to a client to be misdiagnosed.

Ethical Considerations

Online therapy deals with ethical codes and has different considerations. According to ACA (American Counseling Association), in order to provide online therapy services, the latest ACA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice have to be established. The first one is Confidentiality, here, counselors have to ensure that all the clients who are receiving online therapies, are provided with enough information that explain them what limitations e-therapy has and the difficulties of ensuring them confidentiality of all the information that is given through electronic communications. To reduce a high risk of confidentiality breaches, therapists have to use e-mail encryption and security web site. The second one is establishing the online relationship between the therapist and the client, which consists of five sub-divisions. First, therapists must do an appropriate in-take procedure to all their clients in order to identify and know if online-therapy meets the needs of the clients, acknowledge clients that online therapies do not work in some situations and let the client know what the limitations and risks are before using this kind of therapy. Then, therapists must develop a plan with each client and refer them to another kind of therapy if they see that this one is not making any improvements. Clients must also be informed of how the schedules could be and what are the rates of online counseling. When the primary therapist is not available, they provide another therapist’s information, so clients can communicate with them. Therapists must practice only in the areas there are trained to work in. And the last ethical consideration is that therapists must have a written consent by someone authorized when there’s a minor or a person who cannot grant such consent.

Study on Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The first study which was published on August of 2006, made by the Centre for Mental Health Research. The present study was designed as an exploratory investigation of the parameters that influence the effectiveness and retention of users on open access websites. They wanted to investigate if Cognitive Behavior therapy (CBT) was more effective than longer programs, and if add-on components of stress management or behavior therapy helped to bring positive outcomes.


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An online RCT (online randomized controlled) was controlled for nine-teen weeks. It took place from January 2005 to May 2005. There were two thousand seven hundred ninety-four participants, one thousand eight hundred forty-six were women and nine hundred forty-eight were men, the median age was thirty-five to forty-four years old. All participants were diagnosed with elevated scores on the Goldberg Depression Scale of 5*96 (S.D.=2*09). They were randomized selected to one of six versions of a Cognitive Behavior Therapy website. The different versions were selected of components of extended CBT, behavior strategies, brief CBT, problem solving and stress management.


Not all participants completed the assigned intervention, only 20.4 percent did. The interaction of measurement occasion and treatment version was significant [F(13,131)=2*20, p=0*01]. Just doing one module of introductory CBT was not enough and was not effective to reduce depression symptoms. But extended CBT helped with the reduction of depression, even if it was done with behavior strategies or not.

Study on Online Counseling: Analysis of Therapy Services on the Internet

The study investigated the emerging practice of online counseling. The practice of counseling is typically known as the face-to-face therapy where the client and the therapist share the same space, but it has been changing with the offering of online therapy.


Sixty-seven individuals were selected for this survey, all of them receiving therapy services online. They had from twenty-seven to sixty-nine years. Thirty-three participants were females (M=44.7 years, SD=8.7 years) and thirty-four participants were males (M=49.1 years, SD=9.8 years). The questionnaire was The Online Counseling Questionnaire, which is a questionnaire designed for this study and for previous research. It has forty-seven questions about backgrounds, fees, services, and communication technologies of therapists.


This descriptive analysis showed that about 70 percent of the clients were females. They were concentrated in the age of twenty-five to fort-four. The length of e-therapy can vary from just one session to more than one month with sessions. Some therapists showed that they’ve conducted more than one hundred sessions with one single clients, although in general online therapies were short-term, with a mean of five sessions per client.

To conclude, e-therapy is basically another way of getting help by a specialist. It is not the appropriate method for everyone, it depends on what the issue of each client is. But for several mental disorders is better to seek a traditional doctor. Online therapy has also many advantages and disadvantages, so after knowing all of them and after considering all of the ethical codes, a decision could be made to use this tool or not. Studies have shown that it is useful to reduce stress and depression. E-therapy is a really good way of getting help with daily live issues, but it depends on each person.

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