Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Web Secret 470: the death of inperson psychotherapy - part 1

I finally found someone who tried Talkspace.

It's not someone I know personally or another psychotherapist.

It's Casey Schwartz, a reporter who wrote "What happens when you share your deepest anxieties with an app?" for Departures magazine.

Quick reminder, Talkspace is a subscription-based psychotherapy app that allows for unlimited texting with a licensed professional starting at $128 per month.

Schwartz writes: "Despite the absence of a personal rapport, I surprised myself ... [finding] some small but real degree of comfort at having this source of encouragement and cheer, who was always only a text message away ... Yet because I happen to know what it is to actually sit in a room with a living, breathing psychologist ... I registered all too glaringly the superficiality inherent in my Talkspace arrangement. To me, insight and advice are nice, but the relationship itself is the point.

Others see it differently. “Cost, access, and stigma,” ... “Those are the three pillars of why people are interested in digital therapy.”

...The online therapy movement ... has provoked plenty of skepticism. Justin Shubert, a psychologist in Los Angeles and the director of Silver Lake Psychotherapy, questions the very selling point of many of these programs: the instant access. “When a therapist is on demand, that’s reinforcing an immature way of relating for a lot of people, where the therapist is there to gratify the client’s needs wherever and whenever they want,” Shubert says. “That’s not how real relationships work.”

...As for me, I soon realized that I was hesitating to reveal anything truly personal ... Our exchange began to wear on my nerves on or around day six... I found I had come to dread the whole communication. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I ghosted my online therapist."

Schwartz lists a couple of other apps in the same vein as Talkspace:

Lantern Instead of therapy, Lantern offers “coaching.” Users share problems via text and receive highly structured strategies for feeling better in that moment, such as guided meditation or breathing exercises. Starting at $49 a month. In 2016, Lantern raised $17 million for its mobile-based mental health coaching program.

T2 Mood Tracker This free app enables its users to track their own mental health, helping them to identify patterns and triggers by which they might gain greater insight and control over changes in mood. Who is behind this app? Like many innovations in tele behavioral health - the US Department of Defense. War is not good for people and other living things.

Ginger.IO This app combines the concept of smartphone-based fitness tracking with live human feedback and care from a coach or therapist and/or a psychiatrist to help with medication support. Works with text-message exchanges as well as videoconferencing. Starting at $129 a month.

Sam Using artificial intelligence, Sam provides users with instant access anytime, to help them with losing weight. FYI, Sam is powered by IBM's Watson.

Who needs people to deliver counseling?

1 comment:

  1. Good post Marina. Assuming confidentiality is built in to Talkspace and other similar apps, I think it work myself. I am grieving the loss of a pet, and I am finding the more immediate responses of a grief expert to be very helpful. This is as opposed to just in-person sessions in which, as up and down as grief is, I might feel really good at the time and wonder why I am there. However, I would add I don't think text(or email) alone is necessarily a good idea. Even if you hang on to your emails like I do, some of the responses, thoughtful as they might be, could be a bit more "knee jerk reaction" too. So I think I'd recommend text, but then in-person followup also to go over details of correspondence.