Great Scot! The kilt wearers are treating depression with computers
Can a computer treat depression? Scottish health policy creators are willing to find out. With the costs of mental health treatment continuing to skyrocket and in many western countries, new approaches are being sought.
One option is the use of computer based programs to assist others to challenge irrational thoughts and become more positive thinkers.
So the question is, will it work?
In my opinion, the answer is yes and no. It really depends on the person’s needs as they access the program. The program will use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) strategies to assist patients. Although CBT has a wide range of applications and some very powerful strategies that people can use, it is not an effective treatment style for everyone.
The other issue is that in therapy, the strategies people learn are not the most important factor leading to empowering change. The most important factor leading to empowering change is rapport. The relationship between therapist and client trumps all other factors. How do you build rapport with a computer?
So how will it help? Well, all knowledge and training based on solid scientific principles can help. Noticing patterns in how you think and discovering new ways to think and behave are very useful mental health building methods. Anyone can learn useful strategies from a CBT based program that could help them improve their life. There is an automated online program for overcoming depression in Australia called mood gym (also CBT based). From what I have ascertained, users have had some good results.
On the negative side, changing your thinking is not always the right answer. Since all problems are emotional problems, attempting to create change in others at the level of ‘thoughts’ is not always the best method. Although some other psychologists will disagree, I believe treatment should always be tailored to the client. One size does not fit all.
The other issue, as previously stated, is rapport. Rapport is the foundation of a relationship. Without it, progression is difficult.
Have you ever had this experience?
Perhaps you went into a shop and you were ready to buy an item. All the shop assistant had to do was politely ask ‘how can I help you’, and the sale would be made. However, for whatever reason, they ignore you, or seem to not want or care about you. Do you still buy the item? I don’t! No matter how amazing the item may be, if I don’t feel connected to the person representing it, I’m not buying it or buying into it.
Finally, relationships increase accountability. Telling a close friend that you are committed to acting in a new way is more powerful than writing it down in a workbook. However, for the best effect, I suggest you do both.
Can computers help us overcome deep emotional problems? What do you think?
Key Points Review
1. Any program or device that can teach you how to create a more empowering and positive mindset is useful.
2. Rapport is more important than psychological techniques.
3. Accountability is higher when having to report back to another person, as opposed to self driven accountability.
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