Recent developments in technology have helped to improve the process of psychotherapy. Unfortunately, many therapists lack the computer skills or financial resources needed for the newest technology. Nonetheless, even basic advances in technology may help to improve the treatment of depression.
Method: The literature is reviewed for journal articles on the treatment of depression published during the past seven years in which treatments have been guided by technology.
Results: Six novel findings are summarized that may be helpful even when the therapist lacks skill or resources for advanced technology. 1) The efficient assessment of depression can be facilitated by technology, whether using standardized measures or simple daily ratings of mood. 2) Technology tools can be used to send semi-automated daily reminders to help clients develop more adaptive habits in thoughts or actions. 3) Depressed clients can begin to confront their negative view of self, often triggered by some form of loss, failure, or rejection, whether real, imagined, or anticipated. 4) Clients can confront their problems through therapeutic dialogue, whether conducted in person, over the telephone, or via video conference. 5) Clients can use writing assignments to identify, label, explore and express their thoughts and feelings. These writing assignments can be conducted via paper, email, or internet forms. 6) Clients value rapport with a therapist, and this bond seems important to ensure participation and adherence with treatment.
Conclusion: Even low-tech therapists can strengthen the treatment of depression using basic technology tools to replace, extend, or supplement traditional sessions. However, it is important to protect the rapport needed for sustained participation in therapy.
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