Text therapy and telemedicine are just the beginning of technology in counseling and psychotherapy. New technologies are constantly creating new opportunities and challenges in the lives of patients and practitioners.
In his lecture “Impact of New Technologies on the Practice of Psychotherapy,” now available for CME credit through AudioDigest, Michael Blumenfield, MD, explores 10 trends, ranging from driverless cars to social media, and how they’ll influence the practice of psychotherapy and behavioral health in the future.
1. Driverless Cars Make Room for Therapy
With the prospect of driverless cars potentially increasing free time, patients who previously found little dedicated time for psychotherapy sessions could convert their daily commutes into time with therapists and analysts.
2. Virtual and Augmented Reality Erase Borders
For patients who might still benefit from the look and feel of in-person therapy, practitioners could use virtual and augmented reality (imagine an incredibly sophisticated FaceTime) to connect with patients in different cities, states or even countries.
3. Social Networks Expose Therapists
Social media has had a deep and lasting impact on the mental health of the world, and the practice of psychotherapy is no exception. The challenge of patients projecting fantasies onto analysts becomes even more complicated when these patients can comb through social media to find detailed information about their therapists.
4. Social Media Helps Reconstruct Childhoods
At the same time, social media can be used as a resource in reconstructing early childhood life — possibly even offering documentation of actual events and experiences through video and other media.
5. Apps Analyze Patient Moods
More mood-analyzing apps have become available in recent years. These apps advertise an ability to evaluate and analyze a user’s mood — a feature that could prove valuable for therapists and patients alike. A study in the AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings Archive explores how consumers use the apps to learn about mood patterns and self-manage mental illness.
6. New Medication Improves Performance and Takes on Alzheimer’s
Known for their popularity in Silicon Valley, new classes of medications focused on cognitive enhancement promise some potential in increasing intelligence and improving memory as well as treating cognitive diseases, including Alzheimer’s. A study in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4476616/" target="_blank" rel="norefePLoS One, for example, discusses the effects of pharmacological treatments on the mortality rates of patients with dementia.
7. Cyber and Internet Addiction Persist
As concerns about cyber and internet addiction grow, practitioners and proponents of technology-based therapy are addressing the issues of cyber and internet addiction in their patients.
8. Online Relationships Complicate Things
Increasing numbers of couples are finding each other online, providing not only new options for connections but also additional challenges to navigate in couples and relationship counseling.
9. Robosexuality Emerges
Once only a subject of science fiction, robosexuality has become a reality — and one that might threaten human-to-human relationships, according to Psychology Today. For some, it’s an occasional practice, but others will develop relationships with robots and machines, opening the possibility of new relationship and sexual disorders.
10. The Computer Becomes the Therapist
Computers can be the object of romantic and sexual attraction, but they can also play the role of therapist. This use of technology in counseling and psychotherapy has the potential to make therapy more widely available and less expensive, once the technology learns to encourage verbalization on particular subjects and even make interpretations. Mental health chatbots, for example, are already commonly used by the public.