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How do you feel about the growing market for therapy apps?

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Gavanshir

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It seems like every other day I see an ad for a new therapy app where you can "Choose from 2000 licensed therapists you can access anytime anywhere online. Try it free."

Does the growth of these apps make therapy as routine and accessible as checking your text messages to the point that it will decrease its value? Regulation and quality control I'm sure is an issue and the APA seemed to be working on some kind of rating system for mental health apps. Do psychiatrists have anything to gain or lose in this new market? Pros Cons? Thoughts?
 

nitemagi

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I have relatively low expectations for these apps. I do believe having a vetted referral system is a useful and untapped niche for finding a therapist. I'm skeptical any of these have figured out how to do that.
 

F0nzie

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Geez therapy via text? Quite the deviation from standard of care. Are these therapists not worried about losing their licenses?


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Seroquelled

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From what I've read the quality of this so called therapy is quite low.
 

splik

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why would they worry? some of these apps (like joyable) don't even use licensed therapists. There is really little liability here, and there is going to be even less given that there will be widescale deregulation of the tech industry.
 
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birchswing

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I've seen some advertised more like you're writing to a psychic for a quick answer about a life problem, and they highlight how the person is available all the time for as many questions as you have. Seems like something some people would become addicted to. A problem is that if the therapist is being paid for their time, they have little incentive to stop telling the patient to use the service for constant non-therapeutic purposes. They'd probably get in trouble for discouraging users. So I doubt you ever get to a big picture. On the other hand, psychics advertise themselves like therapists and downplay their mystique and number guessing abilities (have seen some late night infomercials lately), so I guess there's a market for this no matter who's providing. And it's probably better than calling into a radio show to talk to a therapist where you're paying for help through ad revenue rather than directly.

There's a fun site called blahtherapy.com where you can either vent or be a listener anonymously for free. They also have a paid counselor option.

I've been a listener several times. Found out I am very good at it and can make people happy but it sucks the life out of you. Don't know how people could do it with back to back appts all day long. My trick in listening and helping is to tell people that are already in the process of solving the problem they think they have and praising them for what a good job they're doing at it and for what great insight they have. It really works. At least once.
 

smalltownpsych

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Some of my patients have used mood tracker apps and those can be useful but really no different than an old fashioned paper log. As far as providing psychotherapy, since the therapeutic relationship is much of the change agent, to me an app soinds about the same as a self-help book with a little extra coaching thrown in. Could be good for a few people, it won't make a dent in my practice because my patients need quite a bit more than that.
 
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MamaPhD

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+1 to smalltownpsych's comment. To the degree apps facilitate therapy homework, they can be useful. Self-monitoring is the most logical application. If someone prefers to monitor thoughts, moods, sleep, food intake, etc. using a smartphone rather than pen and paper, there's an app for it, and it might even prompt the person to do it. There is a nice app for self-administered CBT for depression, but it would require a user who is relatively disciplined and motivated, which depressed patients typically are not, so I haven't recommended it to anyone. There are also a few nice apps also to help patients with relaxation training or mindfulness meditation. Again, though, they're only useful insofar as they facilitate the overall treatment plan.

I think the text or live chat "counseling" apps are no more useful, or harmful, than a drop-in support group. At worst they are a live version of Yahoo Answers.
 

SeniorWrangler

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Lots of people don't have insurance that covers therapy or don't want to use their insurance for it. I suspect the quality of therapy is not dramatically worse than that of a random live counselor who's hung up their shingle in my state, where you don't need any kind of certification to be a therapist. In a few years, AI research will have progressed to the point where we will just tell Siri our problems and get evidence-based treatment for free from our iPhones.
 

Nasrudin

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I'm actually hoping to be a therapist for AI's. Please keep me in mind for referrals.
 
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justfolks

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As a patient who pays cash out of pocket for a therapy-only psychiatrist, I think these apps are just completely ridiculous.

Maybe this is a radical position, but I think that there are some things that require time and human interaction that cannot be automated or solved by some nifty piece of code.
 
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