Take a patient who has a fundamental problem in maintaining intimate relationships and who can’t tolerate being alone without feeling bored or anxious — in other words, a patient with typical features of borderline personality disorder. Not surprisingly, such a patient would love instant access to a therapist whenever an uncomfortable feeling arises.
Recalibrating Therapy for Our Wired World
By RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN, M.D.
Published: October 8, 2012
Speed, instant gratification, accessibility — these are a few of the appealing hallmarks of digital technology. It’s no coincidence that we love our smart wireless devices: Humans are a notoriously impatient species, born with a preference for immediate rewards.
But the virtues of the digital age are not always aligned with those of psychotherapy. It takes time to change behavior and alleviate emotional pain, and for many patients constant access is more harmful than helpful. These days, as never before, therapists are struggling to recalibrate their approach to patients living in a wired world.
For some, the new technology is clearly a boon. Let’s say you have the common anxiety disorder social phobia. You avoid speaking up in class or at work, fearful you’ll embarrass yourself, and the prospect of going to a party inspires dread. You will do anything to avoid social interactions.