Book Review—Using Technology in Mental Health Practice

by Jeffrey Magnavita

Formerly merely a tool to enhance office and client management, technology in mental health practice has expanded to offer a breadth of clinical tools. In Using Technology in Mental Health Practice, Jeffrey Magnavita and contributors argue that technology has revolutionized communication, information gathering, and management of professional practice and development. They explore the role of technology as a catalyst for the advancement of clinical research, allowing clinicians to harness information and innovation, improve outcomes, and expand access to mental health treatment. In this text, Magnavita and contributors enumerate the applications of technology in mental health practice across three major domains: Enhancing Access to Care, Technology-Based Treatment, and Professional Development.

The authors assert that technology can enhance access to care by providing information on the current client-centered technology landscape, which contrasts with the former siloed technological landscape. Emerging technology has created a “quantified health” era, shifting this formula to improve access, efficiency, and quality of care by putting the client in the center of their care. This change imbues clients with a sense of empowerment over the clinical decision-making process while fostering a deeper sense of engagement in their own care, facilitating patient compliance. The implementation of technology in the field of mental health has created a shift in which clients are more readily able to contact their clinicians via secure communication apps and clinicians are able to conduct clinical practice more effectively as a result of access to the most up-to-date information instantaneously.

Beyond enhancing access and compliance to mental health care, technology can also contribute to the number and quality of treatments available, as elaborated by Magnavita and his collaborators. They provide an overview of emerging technology-based treatments, which include virtual reality psychotherapy, cranial electrotherapy stimulation, and neurofeedback. They also discuss how clinicians looking to expand their practice can implement these technologies into everyday practice to increase the depth of treatment options. Clinicians can implement these technologies to use real time client feedback to monitor client’s progress, supplement clinical support tools, and expedite and ease practical difficulties.

Furthermore, outside of direct patient benefit, the authors of this text consider how technology may be used to further professional development. For instance, technology has put the collective knowledge of the world at our fingertips via the internet, making research and information infinitely more accessible; this allows for professionals and clinicians alike to channel this information to better their psychotherapy practice and self-development. Such access can also ensure that practitioners are able to keep pace with emerging advances in the field.

As a whole, the authors of this text are committed to using technology ethically and legally to advance the field of mental health. They offer insight into how technology can help expand access to care, how clinicians can utilize technology-based treatments, and how technology can assist in continuing professional development. This text delves into illuminating how mental health professionals can use technology to better meet clinical needs and basic steps for incorporating technology-assisted deliberate practice into mental health practice.

The contributors also explore the potential ramifications of such technology in clinical practice, ultimately advocating for its judicious use. This text can serve as a reference for clinicians who are looking for ethical ways to implement technology to advance their practice, or those who already utilize technology in their personal and professional lives to develop their professional careers. It is also a great reference text for clinicians who are looking to start or expand a business. However, Magnavita warns that, given the ever-changing nature of technology, the information provided regarding technological advances in mental health may soon be outdated.

 

Magnavita, J. J. (Ed.) (2018). Using technology in mental health practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Reviewed by: Nina Davachi, NCC

The Professional Counselor

tpcjournal.nbcc.org

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