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Medicine The Internet

A Teletherapy Startup Removes Barriers To Mental Health Care 102

Posted by timothy
from the more-than-a-nickel-though dept.
waderoush writes "Is the digital age sending the old therapist's couch the way of the reference librarian, the CD, and the travel agent? Could be: several recent studies have found that therapy via the Internet is just as effective as face-to-face treatment. But it's taken online therapy startup Breakthrough about four years to convince venture investors and insurance companies that online therapy can remove many of the road blocks to mental health care, including the high cost, the social stigma, and the difficulty of access. So far, Breakthrough has partnered with 100 licensed psychiatrists and psychologists in Texas, California, Virginia, and Maryland; every provider on the site has a profile and a welcome video that allows potential clients to evaluate them before they even talk online. 'Now we have greater research supporting telemedicine, and people are more comfortable digitally,' says co-founder and CEO Mark Goldenson. 'I think the market is ready for it.'"
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A Teletherapy Startup Removes Barriers To Mental Health Care

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  • by Forbo (3035827) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @03:40PM (#45095281)
    Seriously, why the hell hasn't this already been a thing? I regularly engage in therapy, 99% of it is just discussion. Very little, if any, would be unable to be reproduced digitally.
    • Sometimes you don't want your family to hear what you have to say to an objective third party for your mental health, I guess?

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        Yep..you think it is bad having your CC's number hacked....wait till your mental health records get out...and everyone knows those "deep dark" secrets you keep that only your therapist knew till then...

        Talk about information ripe for blackmail.

    • Because a lot of the benefit of therapy is making you leave the house and actually interact with the outside world. This just reenforces those with problems doing so to stay agoraphobic and not develop skills to deal with externalities
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It already is a thing in places like Canada and has been for a while. I've done a number of setups for telehealth; the doc sits in a normal little office a couple days a week and sees clients up in the more remote parts of the province where getting around means plane or helicopter.

      They do simple stuff too, like "Man, why is my nose bleeding so much?" You just call a nurse and chat for a bit, get a feel for if you should do something simple, or head off to the emergency room at 3am.

    • by segmond (34052)

      NSA has your theraphy sessions. It's true that face to face your therapist might hide a tape recorder, but online? No matter what, there will be that feeling it's being logged. Most chat/instant messengers allow for a logging option. NSA will certainly be logging these.

    • Seriously, why the hell hasn't this already been a thing? I regularly engage in therapy, 99% of it is just discussion. Very little, if any, would be unable to be reproduced digitally.

      Then you are going to a worthless therapist. Most therapy is what you what you do the rest of the time. The time with the doctor is to diagnose and come up with things to work on, such as strategies to avoid triggers, introspection about relationships, changing attitudes and reactions, etc. You have to work at it. The doctor does not make you better. Only you can do that. I wish there were some screws in the back of my head that could be adjusted, but it doesn't work like that.

      • There's a huge difference between seeing the doctor (psychiatrist) and therapy (with a psychologist or LISW). The doctor does the drug prescribing thing, the therapist helps work through other issues by helping develop 'coping skills' and the like, perhaps suggesting exercises to reinforce the process. It used to be that the doctors also did talk therapy, but that hasn't really been true for some time. Some good doctors will take the time to talk, but they still won't try to address 'therapy issues'. For
      • by Forbo (3035827)
        I think you misunderstood what I meant. 99% of the interaction with the therapist can be reproduced digitally. Of course it still comes down to it being a matter of somebody wanting to change, but that doesn't have anything to do with what means they use to interact with their therapist.
    • by Lithdren (605362)

      This has been going on for years, just not 'liscenced' like this is. My mother for example, after my father died, joined an IRC channel for support of people who have lost loved ones to Cancer. She ended up becoming a major person to the group and helped many people through what she had to deal with, while getting help herself for her own issues from the loss of my father

    • by xystren (522982)

      There can be a problems with this, especially with tele/web-based/distance therapy. The resources to intervene within a crisis environment do not exist. For example, if someone is suicidal or homicidal, how does one intervene appropriately? What if a patient/client in a tough situation (ie divorice) and their coping skills are less than adequate, and they just terminate the session after stating "they hate their spouse. There is no way to ensure that the patient is safe. Even a 911 call to the police for a

  • by msauve (701917) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @03:43PM (#45095323)
    Eliza [manifestation.com], is that you?
  • by barlevg (2111272) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @03:47PM (#45095353)
    Did anyone else at first misread that first word as "Telepathy?" Because a Telepathy-based start-up for addressing mental health issues... now THAT would be cool.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @03:47PM (#45095367)

    Yay! Now I won't have to leave the basement to get my prescription for my social anxiety! Thank you internet!

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Therapists can't prescribe drugs, you have to go to a psychiatrist for that. Psychiatrists center around diagnosing mental problems and prescribing appropriate care, therapists are about talking problems out.

  • Oh, hey. Nice virtual presence device.

  • I totally read that as "Telepathy Startup".

  • Confidentiality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @04:14PM (#45095683) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately no therapy transacted over the internet or the telephone system can, these days, be said to abide by the confidentiality agreement the therapist is supposed to abide by.

    • Maybe the therapists ARE abiding by the agreement, but SOMEBODY else is illegally breaching that confidentiality? Toss some lawyers at the problem, they always sort it out. Heh, I can see it now - a massive hack to purge HIPAA sensitive data, while keeping all the other stuff.

      Next up, if only nutcases have privacy, then terrorists will all become nutcases... oh, wait.
    • by fa2k (881632)

      I love the comment, great to bring it up, but it's slightly hyperbolic. NSA haven't broken encryption (that we know of).

      - They have access to all communicated data, but only the ciphertext if it's encrypted. This means that they can know when you "went to" the psychiatrist on line. The authorities could already learn this from security cameras and cops. It would be easier, though, to search for people with mental problems and to answer whether a given suspect has had therapy.

      - SSL security may be circumvent

    • by nbauman (624611)

      Unfortunately no therapy transacted over the internet or the telephone system can, these days, be said to abide by the confidentiality agreement the therapist is supposed to abide by.

      What confidentiality agreement?

      When Monica Lewinsky's therapist handed over her therapy notes to Kenneth Starr, that was the end of client-therapist confidentiality in the U.S.

      HIPAA explicitly allows therapists to disclose information for law enforcement purposes.

      Covered entities may disclose protected health information to law enforcement officials for law enforcement purposes as required by law (including court orders, court-ordered warrants, subpoenas) and administrative requests; or to identify or locat

  • I have family members that will find this very interesting; finding competent local mental health professionals has been difficult for a couple of them.

    Thank you Slashdot.

  • States and the education institutions that lobby them still want their cut from license fees and paid supervision hours. If you start providing therapy across state lines where the endpoints don't provide license reciprocity, you'd best hire a lawyer first.
  • Psychedelic psychotherapy is an interesting new field... combining it with online therapy might make for some interesting experiences!

    (honestly yes, I am joking... please don't take that as a serious suggestion)

  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @04:54PM (#45096065)

    therapy via the Internet is just as effective as face-to-face treatment

    Meaning, it still isn't very effective... but at least it is cheaper. Why not give it a try?

  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @04:59PM (#45096123)
    Everybody who would like their private therapy sessions recorded and stored by the NSA raise their hands.
  • I thought that's what Cleverbot [cleverbot.com] was for
  • How do you feel about that?

  • So when some poor nutjob calls their shrink and then offs themselves LIVE ON VIDEO OVER THE INTERNET, it'll take even LESS time for it to hit the sharing sites!

  • The screening process for new clients would be a new twist for me, usually I'm trying to pass myself off as a sane when I take one...

    - Eddy

  • I will postulate that online therapy is less intimidating then face to face therapy and therefore, more productive. In the future I will try to post something that is more controversial, I promise.

    • In the future I will try to post something that is more controversial, I promise.

      I have a phobia of using the internets, you insensitive clod!

  • "several recent studies have found that therapy via the Internet is just as effective as face-to-face treatment"

    Recent studies have also shown that cyber-sex is just as effective as getting your girl friend to sit-on-your-face :)

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