Blog: Skype Therapy with Elderly Homebound Adults

Using the internet to treat clients is a relatively new idea. Most professions do not have statues about it and insurance companies will not reimburse for it.

Hopefully with new research this will change.

A recent article by Tim Green on the University of Austin Texas, website chronicles the story of a social worker with Meals on Wheels recently set up a pilot study to test her theory that therapy via Skype could effectively help a population that was not being reached. Those adults 65 and older who are home bound.
During contact with clients a screening tool was administered for depression. Later 65 of these home bound depressed adults were provided with dell laptops preloaded with Skype.

Licensed therapists utilized a short term cognitive based therapy called PST. This therapy aims to help understand their emotions, develop new coping skills and do set a plan in motion to help them move forward with new problem solving skills. This was simply delivered in six sessions via Skype with 6 follow up phones sessions.

The agencies that license professionals warn against internet therapy for fear it is ineffective, technology is unreliable, or somehow the confidentiality of the sessions are less secure. They have been slow to move forward on adopting guidelines or doing research on the effectiveness of it.

However, this study suggests that those clients that received internet therapy had results on par with those who have face to face therapy. Clients who received only phone consults without the visual components did not show the same improvement.

People who are depressed and anxious are often unable to physically come to an office for therapy. They may be too frightened or impaired by their anxiety, or they may lack the physical energy to do so. Internet therapy is a viable option for this group, and this and other studies are beginning to show its effectiveness.
The participants did not describe any trouble with the technology and seemed excited to have the opportunity to receive help for this crippling disease.

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