Posted by: Kay in Gtown | 2009/09/24

Online CBT?


(Hope I' m not meandering too much here, it' s that lazy, public holiday feeling!)

Have you ever seen the MoodGYM website? It offers free online CBT. I' m no CBT therapist, so I wouldn' t have a clue how to evaluate it, but I am working through the exercises and I' m impressed by how approachable the whole program is, as well as interactive and - dare I say it - fun! And oh, how well it reads all your negative and self-defeatist thinking. :) Oh dear, oh dear, no wonder we' re so miserable. If we treated our friends this way, we wouldn' t have any friends left!

No, I don' t have shares in them! It sounds like I am selling something. I' d just be very interested in what you think about it, and whether it is a viable option if you don' t live near a CBT therapist? Or even if you do, but the therapy is expensive, or somehow not available to you. Or even if you' re just interested. The address is moodgym dot anu dot edu dot au .

I' m currently participating in a clinical trial run by the Uni of Melbourne, Australia, evaluating an online, self-help program for BP called Moodswings. It' s based on a face-to-face program they' ve developed and they want to see how well it will work online. Well, a PhD student wants to see.

What do you think of the whole idea of online self-help, support, even therapy (as with MoodGYM?) I had a discussion once with a psychologist who thought it was terrible and at best useless, because.... people would be more likely to lie online! (Hello? I would think the opposite was true?)

I might not be seeing the whole picture, but it seems to me like a GREAT idea - you can do it anytime, at your own pace, go back and re-read things, make notes - what' s not to like?

PLUS, you can do it in your pyjamas! :)

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Our expert says:
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I've heard and seen good things about Moodgym, and it comes from a good academic department at a good university. There have been a number of academic papers published in the last few years assessing the value of such online offerings, and most seem to show real benefits. Little of what I've seen is currently available free online, which makes Moodgym special. There are some British programs which look useful, but charge for their use or for their availability on DVD. I keep my eyes open for such programs, to see if we can persuade some of them to make them more readily available, free, in SA and on H24.
I was once offered a good job at the University of Melbourne, but for a number of good reasons at the time, didn't accept it. Good department there !
I wonder where the psychologist you disussed this with, got his ideas. I agree, that though there's not much good evidence on the point of honesty online ( and we know via dating sites, etc, some people do indeed tell whoppers online ) there's no evidence that they are especially likely to lie in online therapy ( after all, like all liars in therap, they can cheat nobody but themselves ) --- and what made him think his patients don't lie to him face to face, or to assume that he was inerring in recognizing when they did so ?
Doing it in one's pajamas may indeed be an advantage. Funny Analysts, apart from being stunningly ineffective, tended to want you to lie on their couch during a session ( though I think it was actually copying Freud who didn't like patients to look at him ) --- but not in pajamas. Other early analysts were happy for you to sit up normally, one commenting that otherwise he tended to fall asleep.
I think the main delay in making CBT and related therapies widely available free online, is cost --- it costs a lot to develop and test an effective program, and only some academic departments can afford to develop and ofer such materials.

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