Tele-Psychology: Therapy at a Distance

It is often not easy to provide psychological services to remote areas. The combination of poor transport links and a sparse populace provide considerable challenges. However, evidence is starting to come through that the communications revolution might provide a solution.

Some of the first small-scale studies are now examining the effectiveness of the remote provision of psychological therapies. The BPS research digest reports on the provision of specialist psychological help using video-conferencing to bulimia sufferers living in the remote Shetland Islands.

In the past it had been thought that videoconferencing might impair the effective formation of a client-patient relationship. What this study highlighted was that not only was therapy effective but there were also some unexpected advantages. Many of the participants found videoconferencing was less intimidating than seeing a therapist face-to-face.

Previous studies have demonstrated that one commonly effective psychological therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, might be effective via video-conferencing. Others have found that hypnosis can be effective via videoconferencing.

It’s not difficult to see the other advantages of this type of service provision. Studies have suggested that so-called ‘e-therapy’ may allow clients access to both different types of therapists and different types of therapies.

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Published: 15 May 2005

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