Computerized Therapy: Additional Form of Tech Behavioral Health

Computerized therapy differs from traditional online therapy in that the computers role can be totally automated

Computerized therapy differs from traditional online therapy in that the computers role can be totally automated

Last week on Psych Central, a detailed article was shared by Dr. Fjola Helgadottir, on the growth of technology and computers as medium for therapy as the digital age continues to grow.

Dr. Helgadottir is a Senior Research Clinician at the University of Oxford and co-founder of AI-Therapy, which states they are an online treatment program that uses evidence-based techniques and award winning research to help you overcome social anxiety.

Computerized therapy is different than traditional online psychotherapy, as Chat 2 Recovery currently provides.  As well, many therapists across the country have increased their use of Skype or other video conference mediums to have live internet therapy. Dr Helgadottir states the following regarding this form of digital therapy:

In computerized therapy the computer is playing more than a passive role in delivering the clinical content. In other words, the computer is more than just a means of delivery, and may or may not be connected to the Internet.

Rather than meeting with a therapist face to face on a video conference, computerized programs and algorithms are created to provide support for individuals in real time – but they aren’t actually coming from a human being.  While this might sound space age and a true deviation from Freud’s theories about the importance of transference in human interaction in psychotherapy – there is potential value with modalities of support – such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

For those who have doubts or questions about the efficacy or usefulness of this therapy, Dr. Helgadottir also outlines 5 myths regarding computerized therapy that are helpful to keep in mind.

5 myths regarding computerized therapy:
  1. In the future, everyone will see their therapist using Skype
  2. Advances in artificial intelligence will lead to virtual therapists that look and behave like humans
  3. Computerized therapy is unethical.
  4. Computerized therapies are only for young people
  5. New technology will take jobs away from human therapists


Chat 2 Recovery can identify and agree with many of those thoughts and believes above.  Our goal of providing online addiction treatment and support is not to replace human interaction or engagement with a therapist in person, but to find new and effective means of supporting individuals in need.

In Dr Helgadottir’s  third article of her series on Psych Central, she discusses what the future of computerized therapy and other means of digital emotional support will look like.  In it she states that personalization will be an important factor in the engagement of clients through an online medium – and we couldn’t agree more.

The foundation of recovery from addiction is about connection with others through a shared experience, strength and hope.  Chat 2 Recovery will be continuing to expand our services in 2013 to spread the message of addiction recovery in 2014 – particularly through online and digital means.  We believe that support through online mediums from peers and from professionals will only help to expand and grow the addiction recovery community and increase positive outcomes for success from alcohol and drug addiction.

Blog written by Ashley Anderson, LCSW CASAC
Ashley Anderson is a licensed social worker and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor based in New York City. Beyond her clinical practice she is a technology enthusiast and is the digital & social media specialist for Chat 2 Recovery

Recovery from Addiction: Before & After recently posted an article that included 10 photos of individuals before and after recovery to share the positive effects of recovery from substances and wow – the results are signfiicant!  What a great way to share what life without substances can be like for individuals!

Thanks to for this great infograph. is a website that assists individuals in finding the right addiction treatment program for them.  The article below is taken directly from their website.

Also, feel free to reach out to us at Chat 2 Recovery for more information about our unique Online Addiction Program.  We can be reached at 855-436-6781 and feel free to read more information on our Psychology Today profile as well.


Addiction is devastating. It takes away health, personal potential, rips apart families, and all too often claims lives. What follows are the images and stories of 10 remarkable individuals who have struggled with deeply entrenched addiction, and yet still made their way to sobriety. They are heroes who were able to get the help they needed to see the way out of the fog of active addiction, where they have been able to reclaim their lives and relationships. Please consider sharing these inspiring transformations and help other addicts and their families see that RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE and that REHAB WORKS.

What follows are the stunning transformations of ten remarkable individuals who have successfully fought their addictions and come out the other side.

Click image for larger before and after pictures of individuals in recovery from substances

NIDA updates its consumer treatment guide in recognition of National Recovery Month


In celebration and support of September being National Recovery Month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has updated their official resource that answers questions they should ask potential treatment centers.

The revised consumer guide, Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask, is evidence-based and is being released in recognition of this year’s National Recovery Month.

The resource contains the following Table of Contents:

1. Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
2. Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?
3. Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?
4. Is the duration of treatment sufficient?
5. How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

You can download the full informative packet at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Website:

Chat 2 Recovery, a unique online addiction treatment program, is happy to answer any questions you have about the program. Call us today at 855-436-6781 for more information.

Happy Recovery Month 2013!

Nick’s Picks: Healing the Addicted Brain

Healing The Addicted Brain, by Dr. Harold C. Urschel.

Healing The Addicted Brain, by Dr. Harold C. Urschel.

In a previous blog, I said that I would periodically highlight the main points of books or articles on recovery, spirituality, or self-growth that I have read and strongly endorse.  Today, I will be discussing the book, Healing the Addicted Brain, by Dr. Harold C. Urschel.

This book is an excellent reference for individuals seeking to recover from drug addiction.  It is easy to read, and provides excellent checklists and written exercises for people to work on. It has also provides many references to useful websites.  The book may be too basic for experienced addiction clinicians, but it is organized in a way that could provide a simple structure for clinicians to use with their patients.

The book is organized into 12 main chapters:

      1. It’s a Disease
      2. Changing Your Thoughts from Pro-Addiction to Pro-Recovery
      3. Combatting Triggers and Cravings
      4. Medications to Initiate Recovery and Help Maintain Sobriety
      5. Your 12-Step Recovery Program
      6. Dealing with Difficult Emotions
      7. Dealing with Dual-Diagnosis
      8. The Recovering Family
      9. Lapse and Relapse
      10.  Health and Nutrition in Recovery
      11. Regaining Enjoyment and Pleasure
      12.  True Recovery – Maintaining Your Goals
Dr. Urschel states that although abuse of substances leads to physical damage to the brain, he suggests that repairing begins to occur between 6 months to a year of sobriety.

Dr. Urschel states that although abuse of substances leads to physical damage to the brain, he suggests that repairing begins to occur between 6 months to a year of sobriety.

The book strongly emphasizes that substance use disorders are diseases of the brain needing medications to correct them.  It clearly explains how abuse of substances leads to physical damage to the brain, with clear graphics of damaged brains due to substance abuse.  He suggests that it takes 6 to 10 months of sobriety before significant brain repair can occur.  He places a strong endorsement on using the new “anti-addiction” medicines to correct the problems of the brain.  He also suggests that these medications enhance a person’s ability to focus on and benefit from talk therapy and 12-step programs.

Dr. Urschel discusses how the addicted brain is full of distorted and irrational thoughts that trigger “pro-addiction” behaviors, such as “I can’t get through this without a drink.”

Click to view and download the Daily Trigger Chart

Click to view and download the Daily Trigger Chart from Healing The Addicted Brain

He provides worksheets to assess one’s pro-addiction thoughts and develop healthier pro-recovery thoughts.  He discusses the need to identify and deactivate triggers for drug use, and to have a plan in place to handle drug cravings. He provides a simple quiz to see how much one knows about cravings.  He easily explains how triggers are “hardwired” into the brain, activating memory and dopamine circuits leading to drug cravings.

An example of one of these worksheets is to the left, entitled the Daily Trigger Chart, courtesy of Enter Health.

Dr. Urschel spends considerable time discussing the new addiction medicines, including Vivitrol and Campral for cutting back on alcohol intake.  He goes into considerable detail on how these medications work to improve recovery success.  He also discusses the medications most beneficial for those abusing alcohol, opioids, stimulants, sedatives, and marijuana. He does an inspiring job of promoting the effectiveness of these medications.

Another chapter explains the basic concepts of 12-step programs, the importance of sponsorship, 12-step “tips,” the types of AA meetings, and how to find meetings.  Additional chapters include: dealing with difficult emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and anger; dealing with mental illness in addition to substance abuse; suggestions for the recovering family; ways of preparing for and dealing with lapses and relapses; the importance of health and nutrition in recovery; and the value of regaining enjoyment and pleasure while in recovery.

I fully endorse this book for individuals in early recovery and for those clinicians just entering the field of treating substance use disorders.

Blog written by Nicholas Lessa


Nicholas Lessa is the Clinical Director of Chat2Recovery, an online substance abuse treatment program, and Inter-Care, a leading substance abuse treatment program in New York City. He has been in the field of substance abuse treatment for over 30 years. He is the lead author of two books, Wiley’s Concise Guide to Mental Health: Substance Use Disorders and Living with Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.  He can be reached at

Does Online Counseling for Substance Use Disorders Really Work?


Chat 2 Recovery provides a new medium of support for recovery from alcohol and other drugs

Over the past 15 years, there has been a growing array of research studies showing significant improvement in those individuals treated using online therapy for such problems as depression, anxiety, gambling, eating disorders, and sleep disorders. But what about specifically treating substance use disorders online?

In 2000, John Cunningham, Keith Humphreys, and Anja Kski-Jannes, from Toronto, published an article about providing personalized assessment feedback for problem drinkers using the Internet. What they were actually investigating was whether there was interest in a free evaluation and screening tool. What they found was that their site received approximately 500 hits per month, clearly suggesting that there was interest and viability for such a site.

Similarly in 2001, Richard Cloud and Patricia Peacock developed their own website that provided a confidential screening tool that allowed visitors to review their alcohol use.  In less than 6 months, over 10,000 individuals visited the site and almost 3,000 took the screening.  Since that time, a number of other studies have been conducted that showed the positive benefits of online support for individuals.

A recent article posted on The Slate entitled “Therapy By Internet May Be More Effective Than You Think” continues to explore this discussion and expand the field of medical and  mental  health into the technology age.  An ever growing area of the medical word is the use of technology and video conferencing, which continues to grow particularly in use with physicians – the technical term called “Telemedicine”.

The formal  definition  for Telemedicine (from Wikipedia) is as follow:  Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities. It is also used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.


The growth of technology provides convenience, but also provides the opportunity to connect with others struggling with addiction at any time and any place

Our team at Chat 2 Recovery is interested in helping to grow the field of addiction treatment through telemedicine for those in need.  With our team of trained professionals and ease of availability with technology, our goal is to reach as many individuals in need of support around the struggles of addiction and substance abuse.  We utilize a combination of videoconferencing, text messaging, emails, and chat to support our clients as well as create a safe environment online for individuals to support each other.

While research is limited in regards to Telemedicine and the effectiveness of online therapy, we at Chat 2 Recovery believe in the benefits of being connected with others through any medium – even technology.  From the studies that have been completed, there appears to be ample evidence that it is effective and can be a benefit.  We hope to grow the  statistics  and evidence to support this!  We encourage you to reach out and provide us  with  feedback and ideas of what you would like to see from Chat 2 Recovery.

What has been your experience with or thoughts on the movement of online therapy as  a viable form of treatment support? We look forward to your thoughts and comments!

– Blog written by Nick Lessa

Nicholas Lessa is the Clinical Director of Chat2Recovery, an online substance abuse treatment program, and Inter-Care, a leading substance abuse treatment program in New York City. He has been in the field of substance abuse treatment for over 30 years. He is the lead author of two books, Wiley’s Concise Guide to Mental Health: Substance Use Disorders and Living with Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.

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