Purpose of Review
We reviewed research on computer-assisted cognitive-behavior therapy (CCBT) and mobile applications with the goals of assessing the effectiveness of these newer methods of delivering or augmenting treatment and making recommendations on the clinical use of computer tools in psychotherapy of depression and anxiety.
Research on CCBT has found solid evidence for efficacy when the use of a therapeutic computer program is supported by a clinician or other helping professionals. Lower levels of efficacy or ineffectiveness typically have been found when computer programs are used as stand-alone treatments. A large number of mobile apps have been created that claim to be useful for depression and/or anxiety. However, considerable caution is warranted in evaluating mobile apps and recommending them to patients. Research on mobile apps is still in an early stage of development.
A number of well-established CCBT programs have been studied in multiple randomized, controlled trials and have been found to be effective. Such programs appear to have adequate quality, security, and efficacy to be used in clinical practice. Mobile apps offer easy portability and immediate access to coping strategies and may be useful for augmenting treatment. But clinicians need to select apps with integrity and reliable content for clinical use.