What is E-Psychology? Applications and Examples

Software for Coaching

Across the industry, more and more healthcare disciplines are harnessing the Internet’s manifold capabilities to deliver high-caliber mental health solutions. Psychology is no exception, and the past two decades have seen rapid growth in the popularity of virtual and blended care e-psychology services.

This article takes a closer look at e-psychology, including what it involves and how it works in practice. Keep reading to discover the many ways that teletherapy, telepsychiatry, and e-therapy are shaping the future of e-mental health as we know it.

Before you read further, we think you’ll enjoy our $1 trial of Quenza’s e-psychology features. Our all-in-one blended care software will help you deliver professional online therapy, and give you all the tools you need to design and share customized e-psychology solutions with your clients today.

What Is E-Psychology?

E-psychology makes use of the Internet to develop and deliver psychological treatment programs for a range of use cases.

As with conventional treatment plans, e-psychology services can be used for[1]:

  • Interventions: Delivering talk therapy, CBT programs, personalized treatment plans, and specialized counseling
  • Psychological assessments: E.g. diagnosing conditions, assessing the severity of individual symptoms or their prevalence in a population
  • Orientation: Familiarizing clients with therapeutic interventions, delivering psychoeducational resources about disorders or diseases, or supporting patients throughout their treatment, and
  • Prevention: For example, through informational outreach programs or community initiatives.

What Does It Look Like?

The internet is a flexible, versatile medium for delivering services, so telemental healthcare makes use of a range of channels.

For instance, E-psychology solutions can take place over:

  • Voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) audio calls
  • E-mail – an example of clients and practitioners corresponding in asynchronous teletherapy
  • Instant messaging – which facilitates real-time therapeutic interactions
  • Discussion forums – a popular model in peer support groups
  • Videoconferencing – such as telehealth sessions and video therapy, and
  • In-app private messages – a feature of many HIPAA-compliant mental health apps and telecounseling software.

As well as using the Internet as a means to communicate directly with clients, e-psychology often involves making psychological tools more broadly available online. This might involve publishing self-report measures to raise wider public awareness, supporting between-session patient progress with online exercises, and even training practitioners through e-learning initiatives.

Blended care combines e-psychological solutions with conventional therapy to exploit the unique advantages of each.

How It Works in Blended Care

Blended care combines e-psychological solutions with conventional therapy to exploit the unique advantages of each.

Integrating both face-to-face and digital components in a model of “technology-supported care” allows practitioners to deliver different modalities in an optimal, personalized treatment that suits patients’ needs, capabilities, and interests.

E-psychology in Blended Care Programs

While there is no ‘ideal blend’ for every client, researchers have proposed some guidelines to maximize the potential of a blended care program:[2]

  1. e-psychology and face-to-face components should be integrated elements of a blended care treatment plan. In this respect, they should be interconnected, rather than standalone treatments.
  2. e-therapy and conventional modalities should contribute equally to the patient’s treatment, each having a substantive benefit and supportive role within the treatment process
  3. Telepsychology components should be carefully selected and adapted to the treatment plan and the client’s progress. Rather than aiming for an equal ratio of the two, however, this means that careful decision-making should inform how, when, and where each modality is applied, as well as how they support one another.
  4. Digital and conventional modalities should be flexible, dynamic, and based on the treatment plan. Further, where digital components have the potential to enhance engagement and patients can make use of them, they should be used to encourage more participation and interaction.
  5. There should be a solid rationale for selecting each component and modality, based on collaborative discussion between a practitioner and their patient. Practitioners should ensure e-psychology components are a good ‘fit’ for their client.

2 Examples

Putting these principles into practice, we can explore two examples for a closer look at e-psychology in blended care.

iCBT and Face-to-Face Therapy

A good deal of evidence supports the efficacy of e-therapy as a means of treating mood disorders such as depression; one of the most common digital interventions in these treatment plans is iCBT.[3]

A blended care treatment plan for a patient with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) might look a little bit like the following.

First, a client schedules a virtual consultation with an e-clinic telepsychiatrist. After the psychiatrist has diagnosed the patient, they collaborate on a CBT program.

The program itself might combine talk therapy with the psychiatrist and online self-delivered CBT, shown below, that the patient completes in weekly modules through the clinic’s mental health app.

Quenza CBT e-psychology Example
Therapist-guided iCBT is a common intervention in blended care and digital health treatments, and can be personalized to a client’s needs using e-psychology software such as Quenza.

The screengrab above shows how the therapist might go about designing a personalized iCBT intervention for their client using an e-psychology platform like Quenza.

During their bi-weekly face-to-face therapy sessions, the psychiatrist answers any questions to guide the patient through the iCBT program, providing support along the way. Depending on the therapeutic agreement the two parties have come to, they may also provide some between-session homework or answer questions:

ABC Analysis E-psychology Quenza Example
Blended care treatments might include between-session exercises, where clients complete homework or assessments through a therapy app (pictured: Quenza’s Patient Portal).

By providing homework or learning material for the client to complete between appointments, therapists can use HIPAA-compliant e-therapy tools to help patients progress. Our example is a snapshot from Quenza’s Patient Portal, showing how an iCBT Analysis, Behavior, Consequences activity would appear on our client’s smartphone.

Finally, at the end of each month, the patient completes a symptom self-assessment, also made available by the therapist through their online Patient Portal. The results are sent to the psychiatrist through the software and they are able to evaluate the patient’s progress.

Psychoeducational Outreach

E-psychology can take the form of awareness-building campaigns to deliver mental health programs on a societal scale.

For example:

  • A government agency might want to assess the prevalence of anxiety-related disorders in a certain community
  • They might conduct population-wide screenings by publishing self-report measures through local websites
  • An individual suffering from low mood and rumination then completes an online self-report measure published by an e-clinic, and their score suggests they might consider seeking treatment for moderate depression.
  • They are referred to other online resources the government has prepared, such as guided meditation MP3s, daily exercises, various self-help apps, and peer support groups; they are also informed about free in-person counseling services at the local clinic.

In both cases, different online and offline components are combined to form a mental health solution. While they address distinct goals, each includes elements of e-psychology for an accessible and bespoke treatment to promote better patient care.

4 e-Psychology Solutions

e-psychology solutions are digital interventions that deliver established, research-based therapies, such as CBT, exposure therapy, psychotherapy, ABA, or ACT.

At their core, e-psychology solutions are digital interventions that deliver established, research-based therapies. As well as the iCBT example outlined above, e-therapy might involve treatments such as exposure therapy, psychotherapy, Applied Behavior Analysis, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ABT).

A reliable, science-based mental health app is typically grounded in clinical theory and research and undergoes testing before it is released to the public, to ensure a safe and effective solution is being offered.[4]

Here are some great e-psychology solutions that fall into this category, and which practitioners might consider using as part of a blended care treatment plan.

Solution

Details

Moodfit e-psychologyMoodfit is an iCBT app designed for managing mood disorders such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Users can download the free app to their smartphones to access 200+ mood improvement activities, such as cognitive restructuring exercises and a daily journal.

The app gives good explanations of different therapeutic solutions for common mood disorders, such as potential interventions, e-therapy, and medications.

NameMoodfit
PriceFree
Good ForDepression, Anxiety, Stress, Mood Disorders, Mental Health Coaching
Websitehttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/moodfit-shape-up-your-mood/id1054458809?mt=8

Solution

Details

Self-help Anxiety Management e-PsychologyThe award-winning SAM app is designed by UWE, Bristol as a suite of tools to help individuals manage symptoms of anxiety on their own. It helps users understand common causes and triggers of anxious thoughts and symptoms, and provides tools such as mood and behavior monitoring over time.

As well as exercises, the SAM app has a social cloud feature with which users can share their experiences as an anonymous broadcast to the SAM community.

NameSelf-Help Anxiety Management
PriceFree
Good ForAnxiety, Stress, Panic Disorder, Social Phobias, Mental Health Coaching, Life Coaching
Websitehttps://sam-app.org.uk/

Solution

Details

Quenza e-Psychology SolutionTherapist app Quenza was specially developed by behavioral health specialists to help e-psychologists deliver their own services in an online setting. Unlike the other three e-psychology solutions, patients receive personalized treatments from their own practitioner, shared privately and securely through Quenza’s GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant platform.

Free for clients to download, therapists simply use the app’s drag-and-drop Activity Builders to create custom interventions using video, images, text, audio, and other multimedia based on their patient’s specific mental health plan.

These can be saved as templates and even assembled into Care Pathways for quicker customization and automated delivery. All results are shared with the therapist in real-time, allowing mental health professionals to respond personally, and make modifications for a full course of e-mental health treatment.

NameQuenza
Price$1+ monthly
Good ForAnxiety, Stress, Depression, Panic Disorder, Social Phobias, Mental Health Coaching, Life Coaching, e-Therapy, Telecounseling
Websitehttps://quenza.com/

Solution

Details

Depression CBT Self-Help Guide e-PsychologyDepression CBT Self-Help Guide integrates psychoeducation with practical activities that users can complete from their smartphones.

Free to download and developed specifically to help manage symptoms of depression, it includes a mood screening test, psychoeducational articles on depression and CBT, audio guides, a Thought Diary, and other training resources such as relaxation MP3s. It’s a good option for users looking to understand the root causes of depression symptoms, manage stress, and practice better self-care.

NameDepression CBT Self-Help Guide
PriceFree
Good ForDepression, Anxiety, Stress, Mood Disorders, Mental Health Coaching
Websitehttps://www.amazon.com/Excel-At-Life-Depression-Self-Help/dp/B007ILDP42

Is It Effective? 3 Research Findings

Technology-supported care, or e-psychology, has been studied by researchers interested in its efficacy for at least a decade.

Technology-supported care, or e-psychology, has been studied by researchers interested in its efficacy for at least a decade.

On the whole, studies find good evidence to support the effectiveness of internet-delivered therapies for:

  • Reducing the severity of depression-related symptoms: E.g. in randomized controlled trials, iCBT was found in some cases to be more effective than face-to-face therapy[5]
  • Decreasing anxiety-related symptoms: In adolescents, as well as the general population[6], and
  • Helping reduce social phobia symptoms and maintaining treatment: For example, in pediatric populations[7]

Various other studies have examined the efficacy of e-psychology interventions in the treatment of other mental health conditions; our in-depth article What is Teletherapy? explores these in greater detail.

As most practitioners will know, no silver bullet treatment exists for different conditions, and the type, modality, and techniques of a treatment plan will need to meet your patient’s particular needs.

However, randomized clinical trials remain the industry gold standard for assessing whether a particular e-psychology intervention might be valuable for those we treat and can be a solid starting point when you’re building your online treatment plan.

Final Thoughts

e-Psychology is a very broad field, and dynamic. New interventions, modalities, and approaches are in continuous development, offering myriad treatment possibilities for patients and practitioners in kind.

But along with therapies and interventions, e-psychology has huge potential as a tool for reshaping the healthcare sector globally, as it makes mental healthcare more accessible, cost-effective, and ideally, more engaging. As new technologies emerge, we can reasonably expect even more professionals to embrace this growing field in their blended care practice.

If you’re ready to start delivering professional, customized e-therapy yourself, don’t forget to try Quenza’s e-psychology features for one month with our $1 plan.

Quenza’s digital health tools include everything you need as a practitioner to help your patients feel better, manage their health, and achieve their wellbeing goals for an enhanced quality of life.

References

  1. ^ Drigas, A., Koukianakis, L., & Papagerasimou, Y. (2008). Psychology in the ICT era: Electronic psychology. In World Summit on Knowledge Society (pp. 88-95). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  2. ^ Wentzel, J., van der Vaart, R., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & van Gemert-Pijnen, J. E. (2016). Mixing online and face-to-face therapy: how to benefit from blended care in mental health care. JMIR Mental Health, 3(1), e9.
  3. ^ Postel, M. G., de Haan, H. A., & De Jong, C. A. (2008). E-therapy for mental health problems: a systematic review. Telemedicine and e-Health, 14(7), 707.
  4. ^ Bennion, M., Hardy, G., Moore, R., Kellett, S., & Millings, A. (2019). e-Therapies in England for stress, anxiety or depression: how are apps developed? A survey of NHS e-therapy developers. BMJ health & care informatics. British Medical Journal, 26, e100027.
  5. ^ Luo, C., Sanger, N., Singhal, N., Pattrick, K., Shams, I., Shahid, H.,& Puckering, M. (2020). A comparison of electronically-delivered and face to face cognitive behavioral therapies in depressive disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. EClinicalMedicine, 24, 100442.
  6. ^ Stjerneklar, S., Hougaard, E., McLellan, L. F., & Thastum, M. (2019). A randomized controlled trial examining the efficacy of an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program for adolescents with anxiety disorders. PloS one, 14(9), e0222485.
  7. ^ Farrell, L. J., Oar, E. L., Waters, A. M., McConnell, H., Tiralongo, E., Garbharran, V., & Ollendick, T. (2016). Brief intensive CBT for pediatric OCD with E-therapy maintenance. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 42, 85.

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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