Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Blending online therapy into regular face-to-face therapy

This article reviews the blending of online and face-to-face therapy specifically for depression.    This process helps increase the cost effectiveness of therapy while maintaining the support the patient needs.  The primary focus of this study is to determine the optimal mixture of online and face-to-face treatments to maximize the effectiveness for the patient and therapist.   In order to determine the best blend of protocols, they utilized the Delphi method.  It utilized two primary phases in which the first phase is explorative and conducted in two rounds of online questionnaires that dive into the patients' and therapists' viewpoints and opinions of online psychotherapy were evaluated. 

The surveys were completed by twelve therapist and nine patients.  The process of combining online and face-to-face therapy was well received by participants especially the patients when it came to self-management of the process.  The degree of the blend varied between therapist and patients.  Most of the therapist naturally preferred the traditional face-to-face session (75%) but the patients preferred a more blended approach (50-60%).  The numbers varied on the patient side based on the complexity of their problems, skills, and characteristics. 

In conclusion, the blending of online and face-to-face therapy was positively received on both sides and a good innovation for the industry.  Building an online database of modules would help in the building of personalized treatment plans for individual patients and would help motivate patients to become more actively committed to the process.  Further research is needed to ensure the cost-effectiveness of blending the treatment plans but all indications from the studies performed have shown positive results.   As patients schedules become more hectic a more flexible option is definitely going to benefit the treatment plans. 

van der Vaart, R., Witting, M., Riper, H., Kooistra, L., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & van Gemert-Pijnen, L. J. E. W. C. (2014). Blending online therapy into regular face-to-face therapy for depression: content, ratio and preconditions according to patients and therapists using a Delphi study. BMC Psychiatry14, 355. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-014-0355-z

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