Hackernoon logoHow Technological Breakthroughs Are Powering Psychotherapy by@ayoerrry

How Technological Breakthroughs Are Powering Psychotherapy

A few years back, maybe you did not envisage there would be this tremendous transformation that has taken place in psychotherapy; neither did I. Breakthroughs in technology have afforded us the opportunity of accessing online therapy from the comfort of our homes and in real-time.

It was never a comfortable idea to realize that a lot of people believe that mental illness, sometimes known as a mental disorder, is rare and “happens to someone else.“ The true position is that mental illness is common and widespread. 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), found out in a study that nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017). Ensuring that this large number of people receive adequate care was never an easy task.

Therapists had been belabored by attempts to reach out to people with mental health problems and taking into consideration the stress that is associated with the coronavirus pandemic, you won’t be wrong to project a global pandemic in mental illness. However, there is now a ray of hope.

There are a lot of brands that are deploying advancements in technology to fashion out ways to ensure that people who have mental health issues are adequately taken care of.

You can now leverage any of the following technological innovations to access your therapist as compared to when you only had to resort to traditional counseling.

Email 

Though the email is an ancient technology compared to modern communication tools, it still comes in handy for online counseling. Luckily for its four billion users, developers and security researchers are doing everything possible to ensure that this old technology remains viable and secure despite the daring nature of modern cyber attackers.

Encryption is employed in the emailing system to obscure your data. If your online counselor’s website has https in its URL, then it is using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to keep your information secure as it travels from your computer to the website's server. 

With SSL, messages between you and your counselor are encrypted. Your online counselor’s website should be SSL-enabled, as this will protect you against getting your passwords or vital information stolen by someone "tapping the line.”

The emailing system allows you and your online counselor to exchange written detailed messages. You can write down all your pain points and your counselor, in turn, will proffer detailed written solutions. 

It’s an opportunity for you and your counselor to have a well-thought-out overview of the problem at hand. The only shortcoming to the emailing system is that there is no tone of voice or body language. 

You may not be able to present yourself in the best light when it would be more effective for you to slip up.

Texting 

Quite unlike what obtained in the core years of traditional psychotherapy, online therapy affords you the opportunity of using a messenger app. For instance, BetterHelp has created an app that you can use to find out if  you have a mental health issue with just a click as well as finding a therapist in your area with their “Enter Zip Code and Find Help.”

All these forms of instant messages are quick and are good for those who need instant response. You have the opportunity of getting feedback in real-time and at your comfort.

Video chatting 

Possibly, the coronavirus pandemic might have made video conferencing the new norm for businesses. With the dramatic changes such as social distancing and working from home that have been introduced into our lives, it has become expedient that the practice of psychotherapy must transform. 

Something has to change if mental health care is to reach the people in need. The traditional way of practicing psychotherapy must give way to online counseling. 

The essence of traditional psychotherapy is to allow you to have a face-to-face session with your counselor. This you can now do through your computer or smartphone that allows you to have an experience that's like traditional counseling. 

With video conferencing, those tidbit signs like body language and tone of voice that can enable your online counselor to have a better perspective of your problem have become possible. Live video conferencing has gone through a huge transformation, brands like Skype and Zoom have made this possible especially after the cybersecurity breach that Zoom had, where 500,000 users passwords fell into the hands of hackers. 

There has been some degree of improvement, so there is a lesser lag. You must, however, understand that things can still go awry and must take extra precautions while video conferencing with your online counselor.

Chatbots

Wherever there could be complications in meting out mental health care, efforts should be made to mitigate these problems. The number of people with mental health issues globally is in serious disparity with the number of therapists that can attend to them.

To ensure we overcome these impediments, chatbots must be deployed into online counseling. Fortunately, the integration of AI and machine learning into chatbots technology has ensured that we no longer have language barriers. 

AI chatbots can now communicate in different languages. TechTimes reports that  Amica a chatbot has been developed in Australia that uses an AI to provide suggestions to couples on how they can divide their money and property based on their circumstances. 

This is as a result of divorce issues that have greatly risen from the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical situations call for critical actions and leveraging technological breakthroughs to enhance mental health care as well as other related issues is a step in the right direction.

Lead image by Iluha Zavaley on Unsplash

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