ICBT was shown to be effective in reducing clinical perfectionism, symptoms of an eating disorder, excessive exercising, anxiety, and depression.
In modern science, the number of research investigating online-based treatment approaches has increased. Due to unavailability of traditional face-to-face therapy, overpricing and exposing avoidance among patients, scientists came to the idea of using advanced technologies to help those in need. Despite appearing as a quick and available solution, the effectiveness of Internet-based approaches still remains unclear and thus warrants more research to provide evidence for its future recommendation.
One of the most widely spread approaches for treating various psychiatric (and non-psychiatric) conditions is the cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT). Recently a new approach has become popular, named internet (or internet-based/internet-delivered) cognitive behavioral treatment (iCBT). Researchers from the Curtin University in Perth, Australia, demonstrated that this type of treatment is effective in reducing clinical perfectionism, as well as symptoms of the eating disorder and excessive exercising. These effects remained six months after the treatment. Likewise, iCBT was shown to be effective for treating anxiety and depression in youth.
A strong argument that exists against iCBT is the lack of a therapeutic alliance, defined as a bond between therapist and a client. Nevertheless, it was shown that iCBT exhibited high therapeutic alliance when applied to individuals with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Moreover, Andersson and his colleagues collected all studies that compared internet-based and face-to-face CBT and showed that both approaches produced equivalent effects in psychiatric and somatic disorders. However, more research is needed to support this statement of evidence.
Limitations of iCBT
Scientists at the California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology noted some limitations of iCBT that need to be taken into a consideration. First, therapists should be trained before conducting iCBT and their role needs to be further explored. Second, apps and web pages need to be constructed with adequate security in order to protect personal patient information. Finally, there are ethical, social, and cultural aspects to take care of alongside the potential short- and long-term side-effects that could follow internet cognitive behavioral treatment.