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Web-Based Psychotherapy Can Work
Date:8/20/2009

Finding could help bring treatment to thousands who need it, experts say

THURSDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Online psychotherapy with patient and therapist texting each other in real-time can be effective, potentially giving thousands or even millions of patients new access to much-needed treatment, researchers say.

The new study adds to a growing body of research and practice involving technology-based treatments for depression and other mental health issues. In this case, the specific type of therapy used was cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

"There is a role for this, it's exciting," said one expert, Dr. Kathryn J. Kotrla, chairwoman and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "CBT is tremendously underutilized."

This and other computer-based treatment could benefit people in rural or remote areas who need psychotherapy, including traumatized veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cognitive therapy "is proven [effective] for trauma-related issues," said Kotrla, who is also associate dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Round Rock campus. And providing it online means that "it's discreet, it's time-related. It avoids the issue of stigma," she said.

The new findings, by a team at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, are published Aug. 22 in a special Global Mental Health edition of the journal The Lancet.

According to an accompanying commentary article, prescription rates for antidepressant medications have soared over the past two decades, alongside a decline in the number of people receiving in-person psychotherapy.

Meanwhile, the commentary states, a good proportion of people for whom therapy is recommended never show up and half of those who do show up don't last through to the fourth appointment.

So, "people are look
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