In this video interview, Ray Barrett of the Telehealth Certification Institute sits down with internationally known cognitive-behavioral researcher and psychiatrist, Dr. Jesse Wright. During the interview, Dr. Wright shares how his decades of research experience have helped validate the clinical power of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT). Dr. Wright emphasizes that computer-assisted therapy is not about eliminating the person in the process, but “use computer programs to help build skills, teach some of the basic concepts, rehearse patients, help them do…homework or action plans, and do some of the routine things that cognitive therapists often have to do.”
Dr. Wright started researching the potential of using computer-assisted technology or multimedia as a hybrid therapy model in the 90s, so there are numerous articles and studies that point to the effectiveness of CCBT. In fact, Dr. Wright found that the remission rates were “more than double in people who received computer-assisted cognitive therapy” compared to treatment as usual.
Because of CCBT’s flexible delivery model, more treatment opportunities exist for clients who cannot access traditional counseling services. With where we currently stand with technology in 2022, Dr. Wright stresses that most people still get the most results from having a therapist and a computer program to get the best of both resources.
Dr. Wright also provides a wise word of caution for telehealth professionals interested in using technology-assisted therapeutic resources with their clients. Just because one app may be an evidence-based CBT approach backed up by empirical data, it does not mean that every other online CBT application will be as trustworthy. In fact, Dr. Wright shares that “the vast majority of apps” that have a mental health focus are written by people without a psychology background.
Another helpful tip shared by Dr. Wright in the video is that therapists themselves log into the online program and use client performance data to guide their sessions. This enables a lovely synthesis between the therapist and technology. Even though most clients approve of using technology, there are always exceptions; so, therapists are encouraged to check in with their clients to assess what treatment option is right for them.
Future research is needed to determine how artificial intelligence developments could replicate the emotional intelligence of a therapist, or how remote patient monitoring could help clinicians maintain contact with their patients’ concerns asynchronously between sessions. The Good Days Ahead app, an empirically tested software from Dr. Wright’s research group, is being used extensively in clinical care and research. The application is a computer program for psychotherapy that’s available via mobile phones, computers, or other select digital devices.
Jesse H, Wright, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor, Kolb Endowed Chair in Outpatient Psychiatry, and Director of the Depression Center at the University of Louisville. He is the principal author of eight medical or self-help books and the first multimedia computer program for the treatment of depression. Dr. Wright’s most recent self-help book, Breaking Free from Depression: Pathways to Wellness, was written with his daughter, Laura McCray, M.D. Dr. Wright was also the Founding President of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and the President of the Kentucky Psychiatric Association. He is a Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists. Dr. Wright has received the Distinguished Educator of the Year Award from the University of Louisville, among other awards.