Technology has been increasingly shown to assist individuals struggling with anxiety and depression.
Technology can be used in many different ways. Here are a few:
- Online or e-therapy. This can consist of regular emails with exercises and information. Information can be delivered by video, e-book or a simple word document.
- Telephone support. Telephone counselling has been around for a long time, such as with an organisation like Lifeline. Now it is more accessible because a person can literally call from anywhere, at any time, if he is anxious or depressed by utilising his smart phone.
- Self- directed e-therapy can be complemented with telephone support.
- Skype or face time is a variation of telephone counselling.
- There are websites where counsellors are available 24/7 to answer your questions. You pay per word or per minute.
- Online courses where you can sign up and participate in a course which is hosted on a website.
Over the past decade, programs have been run utlising these technologies and shown to be as effective as face to face psychotherapy when dealing with anxiety symptoms.
“13-year-old Nick Wroblewsky, wasn’t keen on spilling his problems to a stranger. But his parents were growing increasingly worried about him. After the death of his grandmother, he had begun to worry about burglars and natural disasters, obsessively researching crimes in their neighbourhood and reading up about tsunamis. Then last year, after his grandfather came to Langdon, Alta., to stay with them while receiving palliative care, Nick began complaining that he couldn’t feel his hands and feet, and his marks fell in school. Their family doctor suggested these were symptoms of anxiety.”
Eventually, his parents learned of the Strongest Families therapy program, based out of Nova Scotia (Canada) but funded through the local health region, that offered an alternative to medication, spared Nick the stress of office appointments and included family members.
For eight sessions, over several months, Nick and his mother, Amy, received weekly phone calls from a trained counsellor, watched a video and filled out a notebook, learning the signs of anxiety and coping measures, such as mindfulness, to improve symptoms.
Sitting down to his December exams, Nick practised the belly breathing exercises he had learned. He made the honour roll. His anxiety is under control, his mother says. He is still curious about the world, she says, “but not afraid of it.”
(The Globe and Mail May 2015 “Unleashing the power of technology to deliver psychotherapy”.)
This is just one example of how e-therapy works. It is effective because it is based on CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
CBT is the gold standard for treating anxiety and depression. It involves:
- Psycho-education – clients need to learn about their condition and the symptoms. Technology is great for delivering information. This can be done via email, booklets, videos or web forums.
- CBT comprises behavioural tools such as breathing, mindfulness, exercise and facing one’s fear. Once a client knows the tool, it is up to him/her to practice it to make a change. Technology is great for behavioural tools because it can remind you when to do an exercise and record your results.
- Affirmations, messages and exercises can be recorded on audio and can be replayed as often as you like, for example, when doing relaxation or meditation.
- Cognitive tools teach new, helpful ways of thinking. Practicing new thoughts and recording your growth on a spreadsheet will lead to meaningful change.
The key to the success of utilising technology, is that all of the above can be done without a therapist’s intervention. The therapist’s main role is to provide support and motivation and, where necessary, to explain concepts that were not understood.
Anxiety Solutions CBT Psychology Practice has been utilising e-therapy for many years. Our CBT model and tools are very well suited to e-therapy.
We also do Skype counselling which enables us to offer our services internationally.
Benefits of technology for treatment of anxiety and depression:
- The costs tend to be lower
- There is no hassle of going to an appointment
- You can practice the tools in your own time
- You can access the course from wherever you are
- You can work at your own pace
- If you are anxious about leaving home, you can do it in your lounge room
Please call for more information.