Interview with Dr. Djalila Rahali about Therapy and Digital Technology
– What other technological tools does a psychologist currently have?
Before the era of the democratization of tablets and especially Smartphone, the psychologist was content to have a website and worked through his personal computer in his office or elsewhere to be in contact with his patient. With the advent of tablets, this platform was favored because it gave a little more flexibility in mobility for both, psychologist and patient. They could still be in contact even when moving out of their usual workplaces. As a result, this mobility has opened the door to behavioral therapies, those using in vivo exposure or systematic desensitization in the case of CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) techniques as in the case of aircraft phobia, spider phobia, claustrophobia etc. With the spread of
Smartphones, therapies have also evolved, especially with this great flexibility in applications and audio, video and chat devices. Psychologists were delighted to be able to use multiple connection platforms between them and their patients. Also, psychologists find themselves more and more challenged via the internet and are able to take care of several patients, at the same time , and more easily since they can alternate between written e-consultations.
The Future of Mental Health Technology
– What are the advantages and disadvantages of using psychotherapy through virtual reality?
Virtual reality has opened big doors in psychotherapy specially that it allows in vivo exposure and systematic desensitization when using CBT techniques (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies) in therapy. Thanks to virtual reality, the psychotherapist is no longer obliged to look for therapeutic situations elsewhere or devices to help him as main therapy tools ( i.e for some phobias like snakes phobia, spiders phobia, planes phobia , without virtual reality, the psychotherapist was generally obliged to choose as therapy tools pictures, videos and sometimes even to bring his patient in a real situation such as accompanying him to the airport and follow him throughout the flight to block his avoidance reactions (leakage behavior, loss of consciousness, etc.) as well as his psycho-physiological reactions such as shouting, tremors due to high stress and so forth. The immersion in the virtual reality makes it possible to reproduce, in details, movements, sounds and even sensations related to the situation the patient fears. The psychologist accompany the patient to desensitize him/her or to immerse him/her until extinction of the anxiety. Everything depends on the therapy chosen after consent and commitment of the patient (psychological contract). This type of therapy was a great success first in Canada with the creation of the first cyber-psychology laboratory that offered patients this second state of being able to move and feel in a cyberspace like the patient does in reality.
Virtual Reality Used To Treat Mental Health Problems
– When is it convenient to use online psychology? and when virtual reality?
Online psychology, from counseling to psychotherapy, can be used for everyone. E-consultation and e-orientation being the strongest services in terms of importance and frequency. While psychotherapy via virtual reality, it is more effective when it comes to changing behaviors such as cases of phobias (agoraphobia, social phobia, claustrophobia, phobia of insects or animals or others), or to teach new behaviors to patients by making them passing through interaction situations (professional or social or familial) that they did not respond to adequately. But, in the case of virtual reality , we cannot use it all cases (i.e for people who have pathologies such as heart problems, hypertension or those who lose consciousness after exposure to the subject of their phobia or anxiety. At this level, psychotherapy using virtual reality is not suitable and we return to therapy via internet (cybertherapy) or to conventional psychotherapy (face-to-face). Thus, the clinical psychologist is the only one who decides about the methods and tools he should use to have good results. That’s why, the psychologist is led to be very vigilant , doing deep interviews face to face or via the internet before exposing his patient to psychotherapy via virtual reality.
Dr. Djalila Rahali
Clinical Psychologist specialized in CyberPsychology
Ex- minister advisor in e-communication
Researcher in cyberbehaviors of cyberdelinquents and cybercriminels
Université d’Oran 2 – Mohamed Ben Ahmed- Oran – Algeria
From here my thanks to Dr. Djalila RAHALI for having brought us closer to the Therapy and Digital Technology