Back in the good old days on the Internet—hmmm, I
it was 2006—a Georgia psychologist, D. Craig Kerley,
Psy.D., ran the first therapy group in "Second Life," a 3-D virtual world
online. He had 400 members.
Today there are many more groups, including the Online Therapy Institute,
a reputable think tank for clinician avatars.
E-therapy is not new: The first computer–patient interview happened on a
one-K machine in 1966.
But what about real results?
This month, July 2008, The American Journal of Psychiatry
published a study of computer-based training for cognitive-behavioral
therapy (aka CBT4CBT). Seventy-seven cocaine-adicted subjects seeking
treatment received general drug counseling or computer counseling in
addition to traditional counseling.
The digital therapy included games, graphic illustrations, video and audio
instructions, along with examples that dealt with cravings, refusing drug
offers, problem solving and other coping skills.
Those getting digital help had half the number of coke-positive urine
samples as those receiving traditional counseling. The digital group also
showed longer abstinence from drug use (although the results were not
No signs that e-help will usurp humans—yet. But for now, it offers cheap,
accurate and flexible healing worldwide, and 24/7.