The future of talking treatments

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Background: Talking treatments receive increased public interest and political support (e.g., see the current British £ 170 million investment for new treatment sites or the recent comprehensive coverage of psychotherapy by German health insurances). Otherwise expenses for pharmacotherapy ascended heavily in the past years. And in addition, more and more talking treatment is provided without a talking therapist: e.g., by bibliotherapy, computerized cognitive behavioral therapy, internet-based therapy, and mobile phone-based psychotherapy. Will the combination of pharmacotherapy and fully automated psychotherapy with “do-it-yourself” instructions be the dominant future treatment scenario for mental health problems, without the participation of any talking professional?

Aims: The lecture will provide an overview on recent developments in the field of automated psychotherapy without verbal patient-therapist interaction, will analyze the reasons for such trends and the pros and cons. It is speculated that classical patient-therapist verbal interactions will only survive for motivational and educational purposes, and that more and more cognitive and behavioral change oriented interventions will be delivered without any personal therapist talking involvement.


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Professor Dr Gerhard Buehringer