Technology in therapy survey follow up: resources

Following up on the mhconcierge.com online survey about use of technology by mental health professionals, here are some resources to help with the challenges of understanding and working with technology:

  • From Medscape, “The Emerging Issue of Digital Empathy,” which appears to have originally been published in the American Journal of Pharmacy Education. This article discusses dramatic changes that are evolving in regard to use of technology, particularly telemedicine, services. The authors discuss research that fines that there is a tendency for empathy to be reduced when using online services. This is described as the “online disinhibition effect,” which involves “subtle, but powerful underlying factors that contribute to the nature of communication via digital devices.” This helps explain a tendency for some digital users to be more harsh, critical, and aggressive when communicating online. The authors provide recommendations about how medical, including mental health, professionals can be aware of this and have training to reduce the risk of this occurring. Viewing the entire article requires a free Medscape subscription. (This article came to our attention courtesy of Gregg Eichenfield, PhD)
  • A more positive perspective is provided by Pauline Wallin, PhD, in a posting on The Practice Institute ‘s blog. “How Social Media Can Enhance Your Professional Reputation” was posted on 7-16-16, and provides an overview of the benefits for therapists to have accounts on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites. She provides brief advice about how to use these sites to promote a mental health practice.Dr. Wallin is a graduate of the U. of MN and will be co-presenting with MPA president Robin McLeod, Ph.D. on 10-29-16, “Building a Successful Practice in Uncertain Times.”
  • Psychiatric Times posted “Wearable Devices for Mental Health: Knowns and Unknowns” on 6-30-16. The authors state, “the potential of wearable devices for health in general and mental health tickler is broad.” They note that just generally being more physically active is desirable for most people, but particularly helpful for people mental illness. They also note that the real-time from these devices can potentially “serve as an objective marker of condition severity and treatment response.” These devices also can help with goal setting, activity and medication reminders, and apps to help with sleep, exercise, fitness, depression, and more.
  • The May, 2016 issue of Wired magazine published “The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup.” This article also has been posted online. It is a fairly long, and very detailed, discussion about the history of virtual reality research and emerging “mixed reality” technology in which virtual reality is overlaid on actual reality. One company in particular, Magic Leap, is reportedly is making amazing progress in improving the technology, so that the experience is powerfully “real.” The technology is evolving to allow for more “social” virtual reality experiences – almost like virtual reality chat rooms. The author reports, “Researchers found that the you-person view that VR creates is so intense that it’s emotionally taxing.” While there is no mention of mental health treatment, it is obvious that there are several aspects of virtual reality which have tremendous potential for mental health treatments, such as social and other phobias, PTSD, and social skills training.
  • The British Journal of Psychiatry posted “Embodying self-compassion within virtual reality and its effects in patients with depression” online in February, 2016. The authors review the potential uses of virtual reality for mental health treatment and report on a study of people with excessive self-criticism as one of their symptoms of depression. They participated in a virtual reality scenario in which they practiced giving and receiving compassion in a series of virtual reality experiences. Results found that the participants became “less severely depressed,” measured four weeks after the end of virtual reality treatment. Should be noted, however, that the size of the group was small and the measures of depression were limited.  (This article came to our attention thanks to the prolific posting service of Ken Pope, Ph.D.)

mhconcierge.com will follow up additional postings as we become aware of quality technology resources for mental health professionals.  You are welcome to suggest an article for review, and if we use it we will be glad to document how it came to our attention. 

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