Virtual Support Systems

The Guardian publishes an article today by Tim Lott who ‘reviews’ or rather, explores his experiences of a newly implemented online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programme available free through the NHS.

I have to say my gut instinct is to be a little sceptical. Perhaps because I don’t think the human relationships can be wholly replaced but I can accept firstly, the responses of those who have actually undertaken the courses as opposed to me who will admit to knowing little about them and secondly, can understand how some people might find it easier to accept treatment without wanting to actually see and talk to another person (although the referral comes via the GP).  I think, as well, there is a vast difference in effectiveness depending on the severity of the illness so for some people it would be completely inappropriate but perhaps there is some place for those who experience milder forms of illnesses.

Lott shares some of this, I think natural, scepticism.

My instincts were against it – I was insulted by the idea that my difficulties could be solved online. So I logged on to my first session with some trepidation.

So what does Lott say?

He talks through each of the six sessions and recounts the kinds of tasks and activities that he encountered and concludes that it wasn’t as bad as he had feared it might be. There was some value to it although it isn’t anything like a replacement for a face-to-face programme of therapy.

Perhaps, it meanders into the ‘better than nothing’ territory.

It may well be better suited to some character types over others.

image dougwoods at flickr

The programme he used was Beating the Blues which is aimed at those suffering from mild depression and anxiety.

The other prescribed programme is FearFighter for panic and phobia treatments.

These two programmes are available free through prescriptions.

Other non-prescribed models (that are free) are the MoodGym which is run through the National University of Australia and Living Life to the Full which is a programme run out of Scotland written by a psychiatrist based at Glasgow University.

The Guardian also publishes it’s own list of online therapies along with some ‘reviews’ or explanations of the sites. The areas covered run from Eating Disorders to Sex Therapy and Anger Management and others. Some of these though, are charged.

It’s an interesting development and although I have no personal experience, some scepticism aside, if it helps anyone it is no bad thing.

One thought on “Virtual Support Systems

  1. My experience of CBT is that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (bearing in mind that one does not serve bread at every meal and for every occasion).

    I’ve used books quite effectively after the initial course of group-based therapy, I guess the online stuff would be the same…

Comments are closed.