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Online CBT is increasing availability

The different obsessive-compulsive disorders are treated with various forms of CBT as a first step. This is a treatment that requires guidance from psychologists or psychiatrists trained in CBT, a scarcity in the healthcare sector.

Image of blond woman in front of a computer screen.

Within a large number of areas studies have shown that online CBT works as well or almost as well as traditional face to face CBT. Patients receive instructions online, and communicate with a supervisor via email and chat.

The online version of CBT is currently being studied in relation to the different types of OCD.

“There are multiple advantages. Patients don’t need to book an appointment and adapt to when a psychologist is available, but can instead get help in the evenings, on weekends, at night, or whenever it suits them. This means that the patient avoids the whole conundrum related to finding the time and/or taking time off from work. It’s also significantly more efficient for the person providing the treatment. And it doesn’t matter where in Sweden you live, you will still receive equivalent care,” says Christian Rück.

No referral is needed

The patient only needs to access the website internetpsykiatri.se and sign up, regardless of where they live, no referral is needed.

“No, we know that step excludes an enormous number of patients from treatment. Instead, patients will either be called to a face to face or a video appointment in order to be assessed and diagnosed, and then the treatment begins,” says Christian Rück.

But online treatment can also have a lot of advantages. For example, it is common for patients to relapse into OCD behaviour and if they do, online care can be a quick and simple boost. For patients with hoarding disorder, the standard treatment is usually too short for the patients to clear away their things. With body dysmorphic disorder keeping appointments can be tricky as they get stuck in front of the mirror.

The most important thing is to give each patient what they need.

“If online CBT isn’t working there’s always the option of traditional face to face treatment”, says Lorena Frenández de la Cruz.

Text: Fredrik Hedlund, first published in the magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap no. 1/2020.