Advances in internet technology, creative interfaces and evidence-based therapies are combining to propel healthcare to levels only dreamed of. “The motive behind the use of this technology is to maintain the essential qualities of the health-care interaction, while improving access by overcoming barriers such as economics, culture, climate, and geography,” (Rees, 2004). The dominant theme of therapy is so often to examine and collaboratively develop solutions rather than allowing any one barrier to prohibit progress.
“The landscape of mental health is shifting dramatically; online therapy is becoming mainstream.”
On September 23, 2011 The New York Times featured an article entitled, ‘When Your Therapist is Only a Click Away’. Based on the buzz this article caused, it was placed on the homepage of the New York Times website, on September 25, 2011. The piece beautifully illustrates how online therapy is used by real people in the real world. The landscape of mental health is shifting dramatically. Online therapy is becoming mainstream and the evidence-base for such therapy services is growing in Canada and around the globe. Technology is exciting and it allows us to provide services to people that would not otherwise get help.
Many vocational rehab professionals use their cell phone to talk to or text their clients. Some professionals use regular Skype sessions to communicate with clients, employers or other professionals. But it’s not just as simple as jumping online with a client. Professionals must be aware of and heed their legal and ethical obligations before practicing online.
Telehealth has been touted as the most significant contribution to health-care delivery systems of the future (Bashshur, 1997). eRehabilitation, a component of telehealth, is a cutting-edge and flourishing means of delivering rehabilitation services. At Brainworks, we have further developed and defined eRehabilitation as a comprehensive treatment platform that uses interactive audio, video, or data communications to provide rehabilitation services at a distance.
eRehabilitation embraces both mainstream and emergent technologies to deliver evidenced-based therapies. Some examples of how eRehabilitation can be used include:
- rehabilitation counseling via a secure web interface
- videos demonstrating job skills available on demand
- executive skills coaching (planning, scheduling, prioritizing, troubleshooting) assisted by video conferencing & the use of apps
- email and text messaging to access job support
- interactive web based learning modules for skill development
There are several advantages to providing therapy services online. By taking advantage of the power of the internet, services can be provided in context, with no commute for client or therapist, resulting in an overall cost savings. Moreover, shorter, more frequent sessions make good sense from a learning theory perspective, but until now have not been practical. Therapists can now provide more frequent mini sessions to spread out their involvement and contain costs while boosting efficacy. Clinical experience, confirmed by the literature, indicates that e-based sessions result in fewer cancellations.