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In contemporary society, technology is influencing every aspect of individuals’ lives; it directly impacts people’s perception and interactions with the world and also changes professional practice. The traditional approach where physical face-to-face communication was commonly replaced with virtual communication; hence, it affects the approaches to professional practice. In the psychology profession, psychotherapies have incorporated technology; gradually digital psychotherapy is acceptable in practice; research methods have also shifted to incorporate technology in how data is gathered, analyzed and interpreted. Due to the myriad effects of technology on individuals in the psychology profession, the paper highlights the emerging issues, challenges and opportunities that affect psychologist and the population served.
Technology has changed the application of psychological principles in the various settings where it is meant to be applied. According to Fairburn and Patel (2017), the adoption of digital treatment using tools such as computers, smartphones, and mobile apps have impacted clinical practice and how psychological treatments are disseminated. The conventional face-to-face psychological treatments are replaced with the blended approach characterized by supported digital intervention, in which both online and conventional face-to-face contacts are simultaneously used to intervene in a psychological situation. However, as the digital divide continues to narrow, clinical practice utilizes digital interventions. Secondly, the use of technology particularly the internet in diagnosing psychological conditions raises validity issues. For instance, during online diagnosis, certain behaviors, facial expressions, and mannerisms may not be observed. Consequently, it may result in misdiagnosis that results in aggravation of the psychological condition.
The use of technology such as the adoption of telephone-delivered psychotherapy is beneficial to patients because of increased flexibility in timing the appointments and convenient regarding location (Brenes, Ingram & Danhauer, 2011). In this regard, patients without access to psychiatrist or professional psychologists can be accessed by increasing access to technology in remote areas or minority groups. In psychological research, the research topics have widened to include how to incorporate technology in therapeutic interventions of psychological disorders best.
The utilization of digital clinics in the treatment of psychological conditions poses problems that should be solved to accelerate their effective use. Among the challenges posed by digital clinics on psychological practice is the negative attitude by patients towards digital intervention. According to Anderson and Titov (2014), the differences in the levels of education, culture, and disparities in access to internet affects the perception of the proliferation of digital clinics. Negative attitude impacts the acceptance of the interventions leading to aggravation of psychological problems.
Furthermore, different countries have different rules that guide the use of technology; therefore, full dependence on technology may be hindered by unpredictable government actions that may require the cessation of some technologies. For instance, the government might close down the internet. In this regard, digital interventions or research are hampered in such situations.
Technology has advantages that are beneficial in psychological practice and research. However, systemic reviews and empirical studies reveal that it should be used as a complement rather than a replacement of conventional face-to-face therapies or for research. Generally, the convenience and flexibility enabled by technology bring positive patient outcomes. However, there should be appropriate regulations so that the safety of clients is protected. Notably, the use of technology should suit the gravity of the psychological condition. For instance, online therapy is never suitable for serious psychiatric illnesses unless it is used together with a conventional approach.
Anderson, G & Titov, N (2014). Advantages and Limitations of Internet-based Interventions for Common Mental Disorders. World Psychiatry, 13(1), pp. 4-11. Doi: 10.1002/wps.20083 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Brenes, G. A., Ingram, C. W & Danhauer, S. C (2011). Benefits and Challenges of Conducting Psychotherapy by Telephone. Prof Psychol Res Pr. 42(6), pp. 543- 549. Doi: 10.1037/a0026135 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Fairburn, C. G & Patel, V (2017). The Impact of Digital Technology on Psychological Treatments and their Dissemination. Therapy, 88, pp. 19-25.