Computerized Therapy to Help Those with Major Anxiety Disorders
An article - "Anxiety Treatment with a Computer Just as Good as Therapy, Study Says" - immediately caught my attention this morning. Computer therapy on the same level as face-to-face therapy? What is this world coming to?!
Yes, that was my initial reaction. I confess, I am people person. I believe face-to-face therapy is a great way to help those with anxiety. Being able to talk to another human being who has a specialty in helping those with anxiety disorders is definitely on my list for top treatments. "Oh technology," I thought to myself, "You may be great, but can you really be as good as talking with an actual person?" I had my doubts about computerized therapy for those with anxiety disorders and I wasn't the only one skeptical. Psychiatrists wanted to see some data.
Computerized Therapy Studies
In the first study, subjects were selected and told to report their anxiety level five times during the four-week testing period and in the end, those who received this therapy DID have a decrease in anxiety level. Directly after the therapy, subjects were asked to give a five minute speech blindfolded. Those that received the actual computerized therapy showed significant improvement, whereas the ones who received the placebo CT did much worse.
In another article 22 studies were analyzed. The anxiety disorders among subjects included: major depression, social phobia, panic disorder and general anxiety disorder. 80% of the subjects completed all computerized programs and lessons. Ten of the studies provided data on patient satisfaction with computerized therapy. 86% of those patients reported they were satisfied or very satisfied.
Both this study and the previous studied concluded that this therapy reduced the amount of time with a clinician and provided more convenience for the subject.
But what exactly does computerized therapy involve?
"Recent research on computerized CBT delivered over the internet (iCBT) or by computer in the clinic (cCBT) has emphasized programs in which a predetermined syllabus presents the principles and methods of CBT in a series of lessons, usually with homework assignments and supplementary information. The majority of newer programs are designed for individual anxiety or depressive disorders."
Sounds almost like taking a class on the computer, just instead of it being a class, it's therapy.
One therapist commented, "This certainly isn't going to replace therapy. I see it more as a very inexpensive, very easy to deliver, first-line intervention that could help a lot of people. For those it doesn't help, then maybe we could devote the more expensive and time-intensive resources to them."
I would have to agree with her. This seems like a great alternative for those that don't like the face-to-face therapies, are on a tight budget, or just want to try something else. Also, I am sure computerized therapy and face-to-face therapy could both be in an individual's treatment plan if they wish to do both.