Therapeutic Relationship of Telepsychiatry and Telebehavioral Health: Ideas from Research on Telepresence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
The exponential growth of technology is both exciting – making new things possible, faster, easier and accessible – and overwhelming in terms of communication, entertainment, and health
care.1 In health care, the therapeutic relationship, engagement and communication of participants is key for effective treatment. This is particularly the case for in-person mental or behavioral health,
as well as via telepsychiatry, telebehavioral health (TBH) and other technologies. Compared to in-person care, TP and TBH appear equal or better.
The interface between technology and the participants is of great interest in psychiatry, psychology and other behavioral sciences. Technology may change the nature of interaction for participants, who may be an individual/group, people/ patients and virtual characters. Technology may affect communication, usually defined as an exchange of information, thoughts and feelings among people using speech or other means, with clarity, responsiveness and comfort.
Stories are subjective in nature and the meaning is determined by the psychological relationship between participants. Intersubjectivity – a term used in philosophy, psychology, sociology,
anthropology, and psychoanalysis – suggests that agreement or a shared understanding on a given set of meanings is key for clinical care.
Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment that facilitates therapeutic engagement and emotional wellbeing for all parties. A TP competency framework proposed clinical skills, teaching methods, and faculty development. The patient’s requests, needs and preferences are the clinician’s
first priority. If technology is used, reflection can help determine how it affects care and when it may be useful.
Psychol Cogn Sci Open J. 2019; 5(1): 14-29. doi: 10.17140/PCSOJ-5-145