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Talking therapies?

27th November 2009

In the New Statesman Alyssa MacDonald investigates an idea to offer people cognitive behavioural therapy online or by text message.

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It seems strange that people could be offered a type of mental health "talking therapy" which will be delivered without any talking.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence believes that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the best treatment for mental health issues such as eating disorders. These therapies are usually conducted in person.

Recently a Lancet eating disorders seminar said that information collected on CBT delivered online or by text message could help bulimics and binge eaters, although the report added that "some uncertainty still remains".

Although NICE has already given its approval to online therapy for depression and anxiety, it should proceed with care.

There have been only a few studies to date about this type of "telemedicine" and it is common sense to believe that face-to-face contact for mental health treatment is more effective for the patient.

Research has shown that more patients "drop out" of online CBT and telephone therapy is not as effective as treatment in person.

However, if a person is too far away or too shy to see a therapist in person, offering online or phone therapy is a better option than nothing at all.

The problem is if text message or online therapy mean fewer patients are allowed to see a therapist in person.

Despite the technological advances, this course of action would mean a "step back" for mental health treatment.

 

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Comments

Vijaya Prasad

Wednesday 9th December 2009 @ 15:36

It is very sad that patients with mental health problems are treated mechanically! I am a psychotherapist and many of my patients who were sent for 'beating the blues' computer treatment, came back to me feeling much worse than before.


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