Final speaker at the MindTech Conference 2018, Dr Tom Insel took up the theme of Digital Mental Health 2028 and this got me thinking.
This included how future global mental health is going to be delivered via smart phone apps, he talked about his recent trip to see the Masai people in Africa and left us with an enduring image of the Masai warrior with a spear, goat, and smart phone! AI will deliver mental health information via our mobiles using apps and technology, and in fact, this is already happening - though you may be unaware of it. Your phone, if it is a smart phone, can already tell you more than you ever would guess about your activities and health, including mental health. This is why the evidence base is so important in any discussion of the use of apps. We are so lucky as ACTO members to have access to Orcha's tried and tested mental health apps. Of course these don't just benefit us as therapists, more importantly, they benefit our clients.
Dr Insel's speech reminded me of the Delphi Poll (Norcross, J. C., Pfund, R. A., & Prochaska, J. O. (2013). Psychotherapy in 2022: A Delphi poll on its future. In: Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 44(5), 363-370. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034633) that some of you will be aware of the future of psychotherapy. The Delphi Poll carried out this pool every 10 years for the past 30 years, drawing on 70 psychotherapy experts to forecast psychotherapy trends in the next decade. Until 2012 economics has been the main driver, but for the first time ever this is different:
- This is our first Delphi poll where predictions make a clear break with traditions. In previous polls, the economy was seen as the primary driver of change; in the present poll, new technologies are the highest rated drivers of change. The top five predicted changes in therapy interventions are online therapies, smart phone applications, self-help resources beyond books, virtual realities, and social networking interventions. In all probability, psychotherapy faces a period of disruptive, technological innovation (Kazdin & Blasé, 2011).
It might be worth throwing ourselves back to when this paper was written - if published in 2013, the research was done and it was written in 2011/2012 and how many advances there have been since 2012 in digital technology. These guys were quite revolutionary to vision this change in dominance for psychotherapy - it's a shame that psychotherapy and counselling didn't listen harder to this research or we could be in a much better place in digital mental health care today than we are. Our Academy courses are all aimed at up-skilling therapists to be more employable and to have the confidence to use digital within mental health care.
Philippa will talk over a few ideas rising from this research, and aim to engage and discuss with those attending about how the future might look for us specifically as online therapists.