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Supporting Therapeutic Relationships and Communication about Mental Health

David Coyle, Gavin Doherty, Supporting Therapeutic Relationships and Communication about Mental Health. Workshop on Patient-Clinician Communication at ACM CHI 2013. April 2013. PDF, 151 Kbytes. External information


Effective communication and strong therapeutic relationships are critical to successful mental health interventions. For example, in 1957 Carl Rogers, a pioneer of person-centred therapy, proposed that an empowering relationship could, in and of itself, create a??the necessary and sufficient conditionsa?? for positive therapeutic outcomes [1]. Whilst modern psychological theories no longer favour an exclusive focus on relationships, positive relationships and the dynamics of client-therapist communication remain cornerstones of mental health intervention theories. A more recent meta-review concluded that across all interventions models, irrespective of the theoretical approach, the quality of the relationship between therapists and clients is the second leading determinant of successful clinical outcomes [2]. Over the past ten years we (David Coyle and Gavin Doherty) have designed and evaluated a wide range to systems that provide support for psychological (or talk-based) mental health interventions [3]. Here we briefly consider two recent examples. In each case our aim was to enhance communication and reshape clinical practice in a manner that empowers patients. gNats Island is a computer game that supports face-to-face interventions for adolescents [4]. MindBalance is an online treatment programme for adults experiencing difficulties with depression [5].

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