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Digital Therapy is gaining popularity. Will it replace traditional face-to-face therapy?

Digital Therapy is gaining popularity. Will it replace traditional face-to-face therapy?

Many people and organizations have come to embrace the impact of social media including the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and various other upcoming social media platforms. What does the general adoption of social media mean for the clinician that is trained and educated on traditional therapies and interventions. How do you embrace technology, on a personally and vocation level?

These are very important questions to ask ourselves and something that every clinician should think about before putting technology into clinical practice. I am not advocating for any position on digital therapy vs traditional therapy, but I want to bring up the fact that technology and social media cannot be ignored in clinical practice. Our digital footprint has become important such that it is constantly being used in our daily lives from checking feeds, posting our newest experience for others to see, networking with others to find a better work opportunity, shopping for our basic needs, and learning about current news and trends. I think a good way to think about the growth of digital therapy is how can it be effectively used given the limitations that it may possess. Does it provide opportunity for those who may never seek out therapy to try? Does digital therapy serve as a vehicle or catalyst to help people understand that therapy can be for anyone, not just those that have severe mental health problems.

Bloomberg posts up a recent article titled “Digital therapy is quick and convenient. But can it replace the analyst’s couch?” It is worth a read and hopefully facilitate some discussion and thinking about what our future holds as clinicians as impacted by the digital age. A quote was made by a founder of one of the current digital therapy companies.

“The service was built with millennials in mind, targeting a generation saddled with the emotional and fiscal burden of student debt and often stuck living with parents.”

This is the target audience that online services are targeting, not those that are already accustomed to traditional therapy.

Here’s another quote of the future clientele population we are likely to work with…

“The first big clue it was going to be big among millennials was 99.5 percent of users wanted messaging, not voice.”

Because many people, including a significant number of clinicians, are now use to communicating primarily through text, we have to become aware that it will have some impact on how therapy services are provided, whether we are for or against it.

I believe that integrating and understanding the impact of technology on clinical theories and interventions is something that very few graduate programs on mental health are covering. It is simply because we are in the infancy of understanding how technology can be used as a clinical intervention or way of providing services.

This is the beginning of many posts on the intersection of technology and psychology. I hope that this sparks a conversation in you and I ask that you be part of the conversation below by commenting on your thoughts about the future of therapy as impacted by social media and technology.

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