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Online Therapy Effectiveness

Since the introduction of the Internet, many people have begun to develop platforms for therapeutic and educational purposes, previously only provided in person. Data about the effectiveness of online therapy has begun to be published and several important studies are summarized here.

Psychotherapy via internet as good as if not better than face-to-face consultations University of Zurich | July 2013

Does psychotherapy via the Internet work? For the first time, clinical researchers from the University of Zurich have studied whether online psychotherapy and conventional face-to-face therapy are equally effective in an experiment. Based on earlier studies, the Zurich team assumed that the two forms of therapy were on a par. Not only was their theory confirmed, the results for online therapy even exceeded their expectations.

Outcomes of 98,609 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Patients Enrolled in Telemental Health Services, 2006–2010 Psychiatric Services | April 2012

This four-year study, the first large-scale assessment of telemental health services, found that after initiation of online couples therapy, patients' hospitalization utilization decreased by an average of approximately 25%. (Psychiatric Services 63:383–385, 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100206)

Randomized Controlled Trial Shows Telepsychiatry Is As Effective As In-person Treatment  American Psychiatric Association | June 2007

“Psychiatric consultation and follow-up delivered by telepsychiatry produced clinical outcomes that were equivalent to those achieved when the service was provided face to face. Patients in the two groups expressed similar levels of satisfaction with service. An analysis limited to the cost of providing the clinical service indicated that telepsychiatry was at least 10% less expensive per patient than service provided face to face.”

The Effectiveness of Telemental Health Applications: A Review  Canadian Journal of Psychiatry | Nov 2008

A review of the literature identified 32 publications on telemental health (TMH) that were judged to be of high or good quality. There was evidence of success with TMH in the areas of child psychiatry, depression, dementia, schizophrenia, suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress, panic disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and smoking prevention.

Specific Conditions

Internet-based PTSD Therapy May Help Overcome Barriers to Care 
National Institute of Mental Health | November 2007

“NIMH-funded researchers recently completed a pilot study showing that an Internet-based, self-managed cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, with effects that last after treatment has ended.”

Online Behavioral Therapy Found Effective in Depression 
The Lancet | August 2009

Researchers from the University of Bristol compared the effectiveness of 10 online sessions with a therapist to treatment by a general practitioner. 42% of the participants treated through online therapy recovered from depression versus 26% with in-person care.

The Web: Online Psychotherapy Effective 
British Journal of Psychiatry | November 2005

“Therapy for mildly depressed patients delivered over the Internet can be as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy …”