Enhancing empathic interactions in mental health care: opportunities offered through social interaction technologies

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Abstract

Therapeutic rapport and empathy are essential parts of the relationship between mental health care professionals and their clients and are considered key elements of good therapeutic outcome. There are various social interaction technologies that have proven to be beneficial to current psychotherapeutic practice. Despite their proven efficacy, the adoption of these technologies among therapists is still relatively low. A prominent reason for this is the perception that mediated communication does not allow for satisfying empathic interactions. However, new technological developments offer opportunities that could help overcome this barrier and possibly even enhance the empathic interaction. The current paper explores these novel technologies in a systematic way by mapping them to the three components of empathy (cognition, affect, behavior). By identifying these opportunities, we hope to encourage a new way of thinking about technology, emphasizing its potential added value to the quality of psychological treatment, and eventually aiming to broaden the array of available treatment possibilities for mental healthcare professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalAnnual Review of Cybertherapy and Telemedicine
Volume16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Empathy
  • Mental healthcare
  • Social interaction technologies
  • Therapeutic rapport

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