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

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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