What Is Digital Therapy and How Does It Really Work?

Digital Therapy App

Digital therapy is more than just an innovative way to deliver treatment – it’s more accessible, affordable, and very often more engaging than face-to-face therapy.

As online demand grows for iCBT, self-help apps, and other e-mental health solutions, you as a practitioner may want to deliver your services online. This guide will help you choose the right digital therapy app for your practice and show you how to use it, so that you can treat others with your tried-and-true interventions easily and effectively.

Before you continue, we think you’ll enjoy Quenza’s 1-month for $1 trial for instant access to our cutting-edge digital therapy app.

Quenza will help you practice e-therapy effectively and efficiently, and contains all the tools you need to boost your professional impact and improve your clients’ mental health.

What is Digital Therapy & Why Is It Important?

Digital or digitally-enabled therapy is evidence-based therapy delivered using online channels.

As the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) defines it:[1]

Digital therapy is psychological therapy that is provided online or through mobile applications, with the support of a therapist.

There is a good amount of research showing that therapist-guided online treatments can have comparable results to conventional therapy, and it has successfully been used to help patients with a wide variety of mental health conditions.

A few studies have shown, for example, that digital cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective in the treatment of:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder[2]
  2. Panic Disorder[3]
  3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder[4], and
  4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder[5]

The all-important premise of digital therapy is that it enables patients to receive treatment for key mental health issues, using the same effective interventions that work in face-to-face treatment.

Where in-person therapy simply isn’t possible, solutions such as digital CBT provides clients with ways to manage symptoms, get proactive about their treatment, and ideally, function better in their daily lives with the ongoing support of a professional.

How Digital Therapy Works: A Guide

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to deliver therapy online, but digital treatments typically take one of two formats:

  • They can be entirely digital, where all patient-practitioner collaborations take place virtually, or
  • Digital therapy may be one component of a blended program. This combines some face-to-face treatment with e-resources such as internet-based interventions, psychoeducation, and online collaborations.

The range of ways that clients and therapists might interact throughout a digital therapy program is wide, with some treatments involving live virtual sessions and others relying mostly on e-resources like assessments or activities.

In a nutshell, however, such programs translate evidence-based psychology interventions into online structures. This allows patients to learn mostly through self-study, with the guidance and support of a professional to help them.

A very broad array of evidence-based frameworks adapt easily into online formats, meaning that clients can choose the type of therapy they feel most comfortable with.

Art therapy and digital group therapy are two great examples.

Art Therapy in the Digital Age

Digital art therapy has been practiced for at least 30 years, and has become even more popular recently with increasingly more art therapists using digital technologies to help clients remotely.[6]

Covering everything from digital photography to online animation, art-making apps, and collage-making, it combines psychological theory with creative self-expression techniques to help clients of any age who could benefit from a therapist’s support.

Art therapy interventions lend themselves beautifully to an online format, as clients can work easily in their own time on activities that are assigned to them by a therapist.

A Value Tattoo

To illustrate, Quenza’s A Value Tattoo uses digital art therapy to facilitate self-exploration:

Quenza Digital Art Therapy Example
Online art therapy interventions like Quenza’s A Value Tattoo combine art and psychological theory to help clients through creative processes.

With the goal of helping clients identify their personal values creatively, this Expansion activity challenges them to think of a tattoo or artwork.

Clients can work on their own meaningful designs to create a symbolic tattoo that embodies their values, which will also serve as a reminder of the things they care about deeply.

Digital Therapy For Groups

It’s also possible to run digital group therapy programs quite easily with the same evidence-based interventions that make face-to-face sessions effective.

While additional factors such as timing, format, and expectations for live sessions will require advance planning, online activities and exercises are straightforward to select and send.

Very often, a few modifications to your standard activities, tools, and exercises is all it takes to customize them for a group audience. For a full guide to delivering digital group therapy, check out 3 Activities and Games for Online Groups.

A Look at Digital Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Digital CBT, as we’ve seen, is by far one of the most popular and versatile remote therapy treatments being delivered online – primarily due to the ease with which it translates into a virtual format.

Essentially, applying iCBT programs involves:[7]

  1. Designing or deciding on your cognitive-behavioral treatment plan
  2. Implementing it using a HIPAA-compliant digital therapy app, and
  3. Guiding and supporting your client throughout its delivery.

Specialized digital therapy apps such as Quenza contain a wide range of innovative tools specifically designed for iCBT program design and delivery while helping you build and maintain patient engagement throughout their treatment.

Some examples include Quenza’s:

  • Activity Builder, for designing and personalizing your activities, homework, assessments, and psychoeducational interventions
  • Pathway Builder, which you can use to assemble your online CBT tools into treatment plans or programs
  • Expansion Library, a database of customizable templates including digital cognitive-behavioral therapy activities such as Moving From Cognitive Fusion To Cognitive Defusion and Cognitive Restructuring (shown below)
  • HIPAA-compliant Quenza Chat, for guiding, motivating, supporting, and checking in with clients, and
  • Live results tracking, a feature that automatically collects your clients’ results and responses so that can track their progress as your program unfolds.
Quenza Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy App
Quenza’s Expansion Library gives you modifiable exercise, assessment, and activity templates that you can personalize for your digital CBT programs.

All digitally delivered iCBT programs will look different, and tools such as Quenzas give you complete control over how you’d like to structure your solutions.

They make it much simpler and more efficient to deliver your iCBT solutions professionally – even automate their delivery – while ensuring you adhere to best practice guidelines on patient privacy and data security in teletherapy.

Best Digital Therapy App For Psychologists

It’s also possible to deliver therapy online without specialized software, it just requires a lot more coordination and planning to manage your programs.

You’ll need to collect your completed therapy forms, assessment results, session notes, and client responses manually, while designing, personalizing, delivering, and managing your therapy programs using separate specialized tools for different tasks.

To adhere to the APA’s recommended guidelines for e-therapy, you’ll also be required to use HIPAA-compliant tools for all your interactions, while storing all your confidential patient data under the right conditions.

Digital therapy apps are a far more efficient, effective way to deliver your solutions professionally, and free up your time for the tasks that matter.

With Quenza, you not only have the time to create custom interventions such as therapy worksheets, homework, learning materials, and more, but you also have the right digital tools.

4 Ways You Can Use Quenza in Therapy

Quenza gives you a unique degree of flexibility when it comes down to the why, how, and what of your digital therapy programs, but in a nutshell:

  1. It gives you the tools you need for designing personalized, custom interventions for your clients
  2. It helps you deliver them securely, either on their own or as series of pre-scheduled steps
  3. Quenza gives you digital therapy templates to adapt and share, reducing your workload without compromising the quality of your solutions, and
  4. It helps you build client engagement so that you can bring your patients even better results from digital therapy.

Sending Games To Clients

If you’re ready to deliver therapy and looking for ideas for your programs, here are just a few examples.

These interactive Quenza Expansion activities make beautiful digital therapy games that can inspire, motivate, and engage the clients you help:

  • Your Last Day On Earth: This values exploration activity puts a fun spin on self-reflection. By imagining their last day on earth, clients can use this exercise to consider the kind of person they aspire to be and how they want to act.
  • Extracting Strengths From Problems: A strengths-based exercise, this therapy game invites clients to consider a current life problem from a different angle – by looking at what strengths they are using too much or too little of.
  • Before-You-Die Bucket List: Here’s an exercise that helps clients create a meaningful bucket list for their life, with step-by-step prompts that they can use to identify their personal values.

Final Thoughts

Just as with face-to-face therapy, good results in e-therapy rely on full commitment and engagement from both you and your clients.

The right digital therapy app should help you be more effective in all aspects of your work so that you can focus on what matters – the best way to support your patients. If you’re looking for some great ways to use Quenza, check out our bumper resource of digital therapy worksheets.

We hope this guide was helpful. Don’t forget to start your $1 Quenza trial for a month of unlimited access to Quenza’s digital therapy app.

If you want to guide and support your clients with professional online therapy, our 30-day practitioner trial will give you everything you need to help them with personalized, evidence-based digital tools of your own.

References

  1. ^ NHS.co.uk. (2021). Digital Therapy Selection. Retrieved from https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/adults/iapt/digital-therapy-selection/
  2. ^ Ahern, E., Kinsella, S., & Semkovska, M. (2018). Clinical efficacy and economic evaluation of online cognitive-behavioral therapy for major depressive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, 18(1), 25-41.
  3. ^ Hedman, E., Ljótsson, B., Rück, C., Bergström, J., Andersson, G., Kaldo, V., & Lindefors, N. (2013). Effectiveness of Internet‐based cognitive-behaviour therapy for panic disorder in routine psychiatric care. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 128(6), 457-467.
  4. ^ Carl, J. R., Miller, C. B., Henry, A. L., Davis, M. L., Stott, R., Smits, J. A., ... & Espie, C. A. (2020). Efficacy of digital cognitive behavioral therapy for moderate‐to‐severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, 37(12), 1168-1178.
  5. ^ Knaevelsrud, C., & Maercker, A. (2007). Internet-based treatment for PTSD reduces distress and facilitates the development of a strong therapeutic alliance: a randomized controlled clinical trial. BMC Psychiatry, 7(1), 1-10.
  6. ^ Miller, G., & McDonald, A. (2020). Online art therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Art Therapy, 25(4), 159-160.
  7. ^ Kumar, V., Sattar, Y., Bseiso, A., Khan, S., & Rutkofsky, I. H. (2017). The effectiveness of internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy in treatment of psychiatric disorders. Cureus, 9(8), e1626.

About the author

Catherine specializes in Organizational and Positive Psychology, helping entrepreneurs, clinical psychologists and OD specialists grow their businesses by simplifying their digital journeys.

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