Technology-Assisted Psychotherapy (TAP): Adapting Computerized Treatments into Traditional Psychotherapy for Depression
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Technology may be changing the process of psychotherapy. Unfortunately, some therapists lack the computer skills or financial resources needed for the newest technology. The literature is reviewed for journal articles on the treatment of depression published during the past 7 years in which treatments have been guided by technology. Six findings are summarized that may be helpful when therapists lack skills or resources for advanced technology. (1) The assessment of depression can be facilitated by technology, whether using standardized questionnaires or simple ratings of mood submitted each day. (2) Technology tools can be used to send daily reminders to help clients develop more adaptive habits in thoughts or actions. (3) Clients can confront their problems through therapeutic dialogue, whether conducted in person, over the telephone, or via videoconference. (4) Depressed clients can confront their negative attitudes, often triggered by some form of loss, failure, or rejection, whether real, imagined, or anticipated. (5) Clients can use writing assignments to identify, label, explore and express their thoughts and feelings. These writing assignments can be conducted via email, or internet forms. (6) Clients value rapport with a therapist, and this bond seems important to ensure participation and adherence with treatment. Therapists can strengthen the treatment of depression using basic technology tools to extend, or supplement traditional sessions. However, it is important to protect the rapport needed for sustained participation in psychotherapy sessions.
KeywordsDepression Psychotherapy Technology
I am grateful to Bob Butler, Julia DiFilippo, and Patti Watson for providing thoughtful and critical comments on earlier versions of this paper.
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