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  • Mary Katherine L

"Debate Club:" Therapy Apps

Among therapists, Therapy Apps are controversial. Whereas some say to embrace them, others say to avoid them.

In this "Debate Club" post, I briefly summarize both sides' arguments. I also share my own 'verdict' at the end.

The argument: Embrace them!

Access to mental healthcare is a serious problem, and apps remove some of the barriers people face. It makes therapy more affordable and convenient as well as less intimidating. Also, apps make therapy accessible to everyone, including those who may be in rural areas where few therapists are available or those who don't have transportation to attend in-person sessions.

The argument: Avoid them!

Access to mental healthcare is a problem, but these apps are not the solution. The system is broken, and these apps shift the burden of responsibility for fixing the system away from legislators and policymakers. And, they don't even shift any power to fix the situation to therapists or clients; they just shift the power to the app developers.

More importantly, the apps present ethical issues. Because the client-therapist relationship is mediated and controlled by the app, there are significant limitations. If a client becomes a danger to themselves or others, the therapist may be unable to contact appropriate resources such as emergency contacts and services. Additionally, the app can terminate communication between the client and therapist without either's consent, request, or advanced knowledge. Because the therapeutic relationship is so important, that kind of abrupt end can be harmful to the work of therapy as well as the wellbeing of the client.

My verdict? Avoid them.


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