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Therapy in the digital age.

Posted Oct 23 2012 5:39pm

"Recalibrating Therapy for Our Wired World" is one psychiatrist's take on the changes forced on the practice by 21st century digital connectivity
For some, the new technology is clearly a boon. Let’s say you have the common anxiety disorder social phobia. You avoid speaking up in class or at work, fearful you’ll embarrass yourself, and the prospect of going to a party inspires dread. You will do anything to avoid social interactions. 
You see a therapist who sensibly recommends cognitive-behavioral therapy, which will challenge your dysfunctional thoughts about how people see you and as a result lower your social anxiety. You find that this treatment involves a fair amount of homework: You typically have to keep a written log of your thoughts and feelings to examine them. And since you see your therapist weekly, most of the work is done solo. 
As it turns out, there is a smartphone app that will prompt you at various times during the day to record these social interactions and your emotional response to them. You can take the record to your therapist, and you are off and running... 
When it comes to collecting and organizing data, software is hard to beat. But information has a tendency to spread, especially digital information. To wit, electronic medical data containing sensitive personal information can be released, either accidentally or deliberately, and disseminated. Anyone who has followed the hacking of supposedly secure and encrypted financial databases knows this is not a remote possibility.

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