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Surprising Science

Digital Therapy: Help on the Go

Digital communication technology has made it possible for individuals to consult a therapist online but the service is not without its drawbacks and pitfalls. Not everyone is eager to sign on. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Thanks to encrypted digital communication technology, more and more patients are having online therapy sessions. Using microphones and Web cams rather than a psychologist’s office, counseling appointments can often be conducted more conveniently for both patient and therapist. “In three years, this will take off like a rocket,” said Eric Harris, a lawyer and psychologist who consults with the American Psychological Association Insurance Trust. “Everyone will have real-time audiovisual availability.” But will everyone be willing to sign on?

What’s the Big Idea?

Harris says there will always be a group of diehards who believe strongly in face-to-face therapy but ultimately, he claims, the practical advantages of digital therapy will overwhelm most people’s doubts. Yet there remain practical disadvantages, such as the difficulty of making eye contact and the inability of therapists to evaluate their patient with senses other than sight. Other practical questions have not been solved, such as how insurance companies will reimburse online treatment and how fraudulent therapists will be prevented from taking advantage of the vulnerable. 


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