Are Technology Therapeutic Tools?

Are technology therapeutic tools?

New types of technology have changed our customs, habits and way of life. Today, we can not even leave the house without our smartphones, and we are constantly checking our emails and social media. These new forms of technology are here to stay because we have – among other things – built our lives around them.

There are a lot of nostalgic people who renounce these new forms of communication and what they entail. But it is undeniable – with them, our quality of life has improved much (though not necessarily). In the world of psychology, new technologies are being used more and more as therapeutic tools, as they have several important benefits.

Sometimes the new technology is used because it can cut costs, as it gives people with a busy life or who travel a lot the opportunity to access services, or because it can simulate different situations in exposure therapy in a very controlled way. One begins to use technological tools in psychology to treat various disorders, such as special forebears, Alzheimer’s, anxiety disorders and OCD.

Flight simulator is an example of technology for use in therapy

Virtual reality

From a cognitive behavioral perspective, the strategy is to treat specific phobias by being exposed to the fear itself. But with certain phobias, real exposure can be difficult and even dangerous, which is why some psychologists have started using technology. For example,  to deal with the fear of flying, flight simulators are used, which are very similar to the kind used by pilots in training. 

Virtual reality can be a very useful way to make a subsequent estimate of the dreaded object or situation. It can be used in conjunction with the fear of animals, heights or even public speaking. This method is being used more often now that virtual simulators are becoming more realistic.

Another benefit of virtual reality is the ability to get therapy from home. Of course , technology cannot replace a trained therapist, but it can enable the client to work on the task from home. It is a resource that can be economical in terms of time, and sometimes even money. It is not the only tool that can be used to treat phobias, but it is a supplement to therapy.

Cognitive stimulation on the computer

Cognitive stimulation is a form of intervention that aims to train certain cognitive functions. It can be used to strengthen or enhance functions that may have been affected by a disorder. This strategy is usually used for people with dementia, and works with memory, language and related functions.

Many cognitive stimulation programs that make use of tablets and computers have been developed. At first, the treatment of dementia was the primary goal, but today they are used to treat other disorders as well, such as ADHD, stroke and brain damage. This method is very versatile and allows the treatment to be personalized at a low cost.

For the elderly population, using technology is a form of stimulation in itself as they will have to learn how to use it. Many scientific studies use cognitive stimulation with new technologies and experience positive results. 

Person with speech bubbles around him with icons from social media due to addiction to technology

Future possibilities for the use of technology in psychotherapy

Technology seems to be becoming more and more present in the field of psychotherapy. For example, there are already psychologists who offer consultations over Skype, and there are already apps that are specifically designed to pay attention to your mood. You can find tons of apps that promise to improve your mental state. With the growing amount of technology being offered, it is important to be able to identify which ones will help you.

Not all apps fulfill the immediate promise of improving your mental state. When choosing one, look for scientific studies that support it. Either way , apps will never be a substitute for a professional. They can be useful as tools and resources, and they can enable or enhance the effect of the therapy, but it will never replace a real psychologist.

Finally, we would like to emphasize the role that technology plays in the administration of psychometric tests. It can drastically speed up the evaluation phase, and immediately account for the results. In this way, the psychologist does not have to “grade” the test. They can interpret the result and integrate it with other test results and evaluations. This allows them to spend more time creating an accurate evaluation tool.

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