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Professor Studies Remote Psychotherapy


Utilizing psychotherapy via teleconference appears to be just as effective as face-to-face sessions, according to a new research by Stéphane Guay, a psychiatry professor at the Université de Montréal.

Psychological services is a safe and effective treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD and other issues and is being way underused. Phone, webcam, or secure chatroom is considered teleconferencing and more and more people are seeking this out.

Previous studies have shown that phobia therapy via teleconferencing was just as efficient as face to face contact," says Dr. Guay, who is also director of the Trauma Studies Centre at the Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital's Fernand-Seguin Research Centre. "We wanted to see if the process could also be used for post-traumatic stress treatment."

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Guay studied 17 post-traumatic stress victims from the Outaouais region underwent 16 to 25 sessions via teleconference with Montreal therapists. He then studied a control group consisted of patients receiving face-to-face therapy.

He discovered that the tele-therapy group and the control group equally benefited from their therapy. "The same number of patients in both groups saw a significant decrease in their post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety symptoms," says Dr. Guay. "In fact, 75 to 80 percent overcame their chronic post-traumatic stress."

Researchers later evaluated and none were affected by distance to their therapist. Furthermore, none of them expressed discomfort about the technological aspects of the procedure. "In fact, comments were more in favor of tele-therapy," says Dr. Guay. "It seems patients appreciate a certain distance from their therapist."

This research is just one of many that have studied tele-therapy. Northwestern University is reporting research done several years back indicating that telephone psychotherapy seems not only to be effective, it may be an even better treatment for psychological conditions than face to face meetings.

What is important to note is that just antidepressantsdo not work for certain conditions and that both medications and structured psychotherapy have been proven more effective, but less than one third of people with certain disorders receive counseling. This research could begin to change the way we look at counseling.