Internet-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (ICBT)

For people who are suffering for any reason, the internet can offer ready-made support. Those with OCD, for example, can visit blogs, forums, mental health sites, and individual health care provider sites dedicated to their disorder. Now it seems things are going one step further. A recent pilot study of the effectiveness of ICBT shows promising results.  Twenty-three patients underwent a fifteen week ICBT program “with therapist support consisting of psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring and exposure with response prevention.  At post-treatment, 61% of participants had a clinically significant improvement and 43% no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of OCD. The treatment also resulted in statistically significant improvements in self-rated OCD symptoms, general functioning and depression.”

While more studies need to be conducted, the results sure sound promising. I’m curious as to how the therapy was delivered, and the abstract does not give us these details. Was there a written instructional program with therapist support as needed? Was there emailing and instant messaging?  Was it face to face contact using Skype? And how is this therapy better or worse than using one of the many self-help books out there?

While it may not be everybody’s first choice, I foresee a host of benefits to ICBT.  Sure, it’s not as personal as physically meeting with a therapist, but maybe for some OCD sufferers that could be a good thing. For those who live in rural areas, have limited financial resources, or want complete privacy, ICBT could be a good choice. And for those with OCD so severe they cannot leave their homes, this option could be a lifesaver.

Of course, once ICBT becomes more well-known and widespread, it is likely that sites promising great results will pop up all over the internet. As you would do with any professional you’d see in person,  it is of the utmost importance to check out the credentials of the therapist you will be dealing with. The IOCDF is always a good place to start.

So what do you think? Would you try ICBT, or not? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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2 Responses to Internet-based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (ICBT)

  1. David says:

    The best studied program of this type is probably OCFighter by Isaac Marks in the UK. I believe they are using it in the British National Health Service. England is very advanced in this area as they also use FearFighter in the NHS for anxiety including panic and phobia as well as RESTORE for insomnia.

  2. ocdtalk says:

    Thank you so much for this information! This is new territory for me and I will definitely look into OCFighter.

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