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Harmon Leon

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Will Smartphones Replace the Therapist's Couch?

Posted: 09/30/11 12:38 PM ET

As mentioned on Know Your Cell, tapping into the Skype app on your phone can soon replace a visit to the therapist. I'm not saying using Skype is very therapeutic; it's becoming increasingly popular to video chat therapy sessions via the smartphone. Face-to-face appointments are becoming a thing of the past. Forget about awkward visits to the doctor's office.

Cell phone app technology has opened the doors to having therapy session at the beach, in the park and at the mall. You can now literally carry around your psychiatrist in your pocket.

Sites like CaliforniaLiveVisit.com and Breakthrough.com have made their practice accessible to those who know how to work an app and shun office treatment. In the past two years, Breakthrough has signed up over 900 psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and coaches.

It's therapy on the fly, with quick 20-minute sessions that can be had at any locale to a doctor in any part of the country. The perks are apparent. Some therapists charge less for sessions; they can do it from home, save money on gas or not have to rent out an office -- with the savings passed on to their patients. Weather and business trips are no longer factors to cancel appointments. Think of it: If your therapist moves, you can move right along with them!

But there are drawbacks to technology-based therapy. If your therapist is merely an app away, it could create a culture that's overly shrink-needy. Johanna Herwitz, a Manhattan psychologist, questioned the merits of Skype therapy: "It creates this perverse lower version of intimacy," she said. "Skype doesn't therapeutically disinhibit patients so that they let down their guard and take emotional risks. I've decided not to do it anymore."

Read the rest of the story by clicking to Know Your Cell.

 

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