Each minute spent outside of a therapy session is a minute your client is experiencing life. When your client walks into a session, they anticipate spending time reflecting and discussing what has happened over the course of the last week. However, it’s not always easy to convey the exact emotions and feelings that they associate with those moments, as people naturally remember what happened yesterday more clearly than a week ago. In addition, recapping the last week takes up a lot of time. Often, clients will not bring up what is really bothering them or the cause of their feelings until the last five minutes of the session.
Modernizing therapy, it’s time! Let’s consider how technology can be leveraged to fill in that gap while improving engagement.
According to Pew Research, 95 percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind – with 77 percent owning smartphones. A study by Dscout found that the average user interacts with their phone 2,617 times a day, and engages in 76 separate phone sessions. With this change in consumer behavior, therapists must consider how to embrace technological advancements and leverage smartphone fixation to motivate clients to do their homework in new ways and optimize their sessions by spending less time recapping their week.
Here are three ways that therapists can leverage technology to ensure their clients stay on track and help modernizing therapy:
1. Digital Journaling
Unlike talking or thinking, the process of journaling offers clients an opportunity to slow down, examine and reframe their thoughts. It can be a very personal and intimate process that can be done in a variety of different ways. It is proven to help clients make progress towards their goals and is an effective method for getting your clients to open up and become more self-aware. Journaling can also be easier for clients who generally have a hard time with trust and privacy to record their thoughts rather than share them with another human being. A lot can be revealed in a journal entry from the content’s sentiment to trending keywords.
With the access and availability of mobile devices, clients no longer need to carry a journal around with them everywhere they go. Instead, they are able to pull out their phones or tablets and jot down what’s on their mind. In turn, this enables therapists to have quicker access to what’s happening between their sessions. Take Therachat for instance. A secure, online platform where therapists can customize journaling prompts for clients, which they will get on their smartphone.
2. AI-Driven Chatbots
Journaling does not have to be one-sided. The way chatbots have modernized service-oriented industries (i.e. retail, travel and hospitality) leaves little surprise that it has become highly applicable to healthcare and personalizing patient communication and engagement.
As these technologies advance, look out for opportunities to empower your client with the necessary tools to engage directly with a chatbot that can converse, prompt questions and even offer valuable insights back to you in a consolidated report. Highly interactive chatbots will make the journaling process for your clients feel much more personalized and natural – any time of day.
3. Push Notifications and Alerts
Setting boundaries is important when working with therapy clients. To progress, your clients must develop the skills that enable them to cope with their feelings on their own, while receiving the right guidance and support along the way. Clients need to stay engaged throughout the week in order to reach therapy goals and not revert back to old habits. While journaling and self-examination are proven exercises for your clients to apply what was learned in each session, they are only as effective as your client’s willingness to participate.
Take advantage of the advancements in technology and the plethora of telehealth communication tools available today to encourage your clients to stay on track without crossing the line. Whether it is through push notifications, a mid-weekly newsletter or alerts hidden behind a chatbot, it is important to ensure your clients receive reminders to do their assignments and follow the plan set forth from the get-go. It is easy for a client to lose track, forget or even come up with an excuse as to why they did not complete an exercise. Each touchpoint is a reminder of their end goal and why you are in their life, and allows progress towards the steps needed to move forward.
Dedicating time to promote activities that will help your clients progress and also provide you with insight into what’s happening outside of your sessions will only help increase the bond and translate to a healthy long-term relationship.
About the Author
As CEO and co-founder, Kouris Kalligas leads the strategic and operational direction of Therachat. Kouris has a rich history of working on innovative products in health and wellness and helping companies grow and scale. Previously, Kouris co-founded Addapp and spent over six years at Sappi Fine Paper as a supply chain service manager and lead business development manager overseeing innovation projects. He received his B.A. in International Economics & Development from Democritus University of Thrace, completed the ERASMUS program in International Business at the University of Gavle and earned his M.A. in International Relations from the University of Warwick.
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Find out how therapist Vivien is modernizing therapy and benefiting/incorporating technology in her private practice. Read the full interview here.