Computer-assisted psychotherapy for depression is developing rapidly. Several existing software programs can carry out many of the therapeutic tasks involved in depression treatment. Such programs help users to detail their problems, draw up a day-to-day treatment plan specific to their needs, rate their progress, practice coping with setbacks and do relapse prevention.
Computer-assisted psychotherapy programs are often based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) what is then called computerized CBT (CCBT). Anxiety and other mental health disorders can also be treated with computer-assisted psychotherapy.
Benefits and Challenges
Computer-assisted therapy may be a means of providing cost-effective psychological services to individuals experiencing barriers to treatment. Although in computer-assisted psychotherapy a human touch is missing, computers have significant strengths that can be used to advantage in depression treatment:
- earlier access to treatment,
- more treatment time than clinicians can usually give,
- ease of treatment scheduling at home,
- lower treatment cost,
- confidentiality is greater and stigma avoided,
- consistency of treatment instructions is greater,
- self-help enhances a sense of control over one’s own destiny,
- built-in outcome measures and systematic feedback.
Many studies have demonstrated that computer-assisted therapy is effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Some of these studies are:
Jesse H. Wright, M.D., Ph.D and others
Judith Proudfoot, PhD and others
Sharon Dolezal-Wood, Cynthia D. Belar and John Snibbe
There are three main modes of delivery for computer-aided depression and anxiety treatment:
- internet access (MoodGym, Depression Program, Defeating Depression, Feelbetter),
- telephone-accessed interactive voice response systems (COPE and BTSTEPS) and
- desktop software
- independently used (Good Days Ahead).
- with required supervision of a mental health professional (Beating the Blues and FEARFIGHTER).
We recommend two computer-assisted psychotherapy programs: Good Days Ahead and Depression Program.
1. Good Days Ahead
Good Days Ahead is a computer program used to treat depression and anxiety as well as stress and low self-esteem. It utilizes interactive multimedia with scientifically tested cognitive therapy treatments designed to introduce positive changes in how you think and feel. Good Days Ahead is an easy-to-use software program with videos, high quality graphics, and stimulating self-help exercises designed to help you overcome depression and anxiety.
2. Depression Program
The Depression Program is an Internet based 16-session cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment. Access is anonymous so using it is confidential. The Depression Program has a number of tools and resources to help each individual battle their depression.
The introduction of computer technology into psychotherapy offers the significant advantages of flexibility, consistency, and economy that would make psychotherapy more effective and more available treatment to a much broader population.