Computer Mediated Communication for the Enhancement of Psychotherapy

Computer Mediated Communication for the Enhancement of Psychotherapy

Markus Wolf (University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany) and Stephanie Bauer (University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch043
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Abstract

Psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions rely mainly on verbal communication and language. With the expanding use of computers as well as the capacity of the Internet to bridge geographic distances and to increase access, computer mediated communication (CMC) plays an increasing role for the delivery of psychosocial interventions. This chapter focuses on the advantages and limitations of CMC for psychosocial and psychotherapeutic approaches and introduces three specific CMC-based interventions developed for the provision of step-down treatments in psychotherapy, in which e-mail, Internet chat and the Short Message Service (SMS) were used. Empirical findings on the feasibility, user acceptance, and effectiveness of these interventions are reported. Finally, future perspectives for CMC in psychosocial and psychotherapeutic contexts as well as research directions are outlined.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Chat: Virtual area where people can exchange online text messages synchronously, that is, real-time, over a computer network, for example, the Internet. Also referred to as Internet relay chat (IRC).

Relapse Prevention: In the course of illness, relapse is an increase or return of symptoms after (partial) remission or recovery, that is, period of time when no or few symptoms are present. Any strategies or treatments applied in order to prevent a recurrence of symptoms, such as aftercare programs or maintenance therapy, are called relapse prevention programs.

E-Health: The use of electronic interactive technologies (e.g., Internet, CD-ROMs, personal digital assistants, interactive television, and voice response systems) to enable health improvement and health care services (Eng, 2001).

SMS: Short for “Short Message Service” or “text messaging.” Service available on mobile phones provided by a telecommunications company for transmitting very short text messages.

SMS: Short for “Short Message Service” or “text messaging.” Service available on mobile phones provided by a telecommunications company for transmitting very short text messages.

Chat: Virtual area where people can exchange online text messages synchronously, that is, real-time, over a computer network, for example, the Internet. Also referred to as Internet relay chat (IRC).

E-Health: The use of electronic interactive technologies (e.g., Internet, CD-ROMs, personal digital assistants, interactive television, and voice response systems) to enable health improvement and health care services (Eng, 2001).

Stepped Care: The practice of starting one’s therapeutic efforts with the least expensive and least intrusive intervention possible and moving on to more expensive or more intrusive interventions (stepping up) if necessary, in order to achieve a desired therapeutic goal. Stepped care “represents one attempt to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of decisions about allocation of resources in therapy” (Haaga, 2000, p. 547).

Online Therapy: Any type of professional therapeutic interaction that makes use of the Internet to connect qualified mental health professionals and their clients (Rochlen et al., 2004, p. 270).

Relapse Prevention: In the course of illness, relapse is an increase or return of symptoms after (partial) remission or recovery, that is, period of time when no or few symptoms are present. Any strategies or treatments applied in order to prevent a recurrence of symptoms, such as aftercare programs or maintenance therapy, are called relapse prevention programs.

Stepped Care: The practice of starting one’s therapeutic efforts with the least expensive and least intrusive intervention possible and moving on to more expensive or more intrusive interventions (stepping up) if necessary, in order to achieve a desired therapeutic goal. Stepped care “represents one attempt to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of decisions about allocation of resources in therapy” (Haaga, 2000, p. 547).

Telepsychiatry: The use of electronic communication and information technologies to provide or support clinical psychiatric care at a distance. This includes communication modalities such as phone, Fax, e-mail, the Internet, and so forth. Telepsychiatry and e-mental health services are used to improve access to mental health care in rural, remote or underserved areas.

Telepsychiatry: The use of electronic communication and information technologies to provide or support clinical psychiatric care at a distance. This includes communication modalities such as phone, Fax, e-mail, the Internet, and so forth. Telepsychiatry and e-mental health services are used to improve access to mental health care in rural, remote or underserved areas.

Online Therapy: Any type of professional therapeutic interaction that makes use of the Internet to connect qualified mental health professionals and their clients (Rochlen et al., 2004, p. 270).

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