Tell us a little about yourself and your background in working with psychological issues.
I am Chief Psychologist and clinical psychologist at Alex Therapeutics. I am leading the crucial work of designing and creating the various treatments we provide to our patients at Alex. I have years of experience in working clinically with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and I’ve spent much of the past decade at the forefront of digital psychotherapy innovation, being amongst the first to work with integrating dCBT into the Swedish health care system.
What is CBT, in your own words?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most evidence based form of psychotherapy and it can treat and a spectrum of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, addictions and eating disorders for example. CBT is an umbrella term that includes many forms of therapy, all based on the idea that how we think (cognition), how we feel (emotion) and how we act (behavior) all interact together. CBT is an active form of therapy where the patient analyzes one’s own behaviors and thinking patterns and tries new ways of behaving and coping with difficult thoughts and emotions.
How have you seen CBT be successful, and in what conditions?
I have seen CBT have a massive positive impact for people with depression, anxiety disorders, stress, sleep disorders, eating disorders, somatic disorders like IBS, addictions, sexual problems, relational problems. And this aligns with decades of research showing CBT’s effect on a wide spectrum of mental health issues. CBT is much about facing fears and difficult emotions instead of trying to fight them or run away from them, and in that way be able to put more focus on what makes life important and less focus on disturbing thoughts and feelings.
How is CBT different from dCBT?
It’s actually not that different! Much of what I would say to a patient in a room face to face, is the content that we ensure is delivered digitally. For the patient of course, they need to work more independently with the treatment, but in face-to-face CBT it’s much like that too. The effect of CBT is not so much based on what happens in the therapy room as it is what the patient actually does between sessions, trying out new coping strategies in their every day life.
How can we ensure older, non-technical people, will benefit from dCBT?
Recent meta analyses actually show that elderly populations (65+) could benefit as much as any other age group from dCBT. The design of our products is done with specific patient populations in mind to ensure that treatment is easy to interact with. We do that through testing and gather feedback from early in on in the design process and throughout the whole development process. While there are of course challenges with providing good usability for patients less used to engaging with technology, we believe that dCBT has additional benefits compared to face-to-face therapy; for instance: lower thresholds to get started, 24/7 availability and the possibility to work at your own pace. Elderly, and patients with reduced mobility, are especially supported by these benefits.