Online therapy?! Reflections from Psychodynamic, Psychotherapy and Ethical Issues

Auditory Storck, FOD Werkgelegenheid, Arbeid en Sociaal Overleg, Ernest Blerotstraat 1, 1070 Brussels

23 February 2018

The second eMEN event in Belgium took place on February 23th in Brussels in one of the nice conference rooms of the federal government. This event, hosted by Pulso Europe and Thomas More University of Applied Sciences and welcomed more than 70 people under the theme "Therapy Online?! Reflections from psychodynamic psychotherapy & ethical issues”.

After an introduction by Hilde Vandenhout, MD (Thomas More), three keynote lectures looked at challenges and opportunities when implementing technological applications in mental health care. More particularly, the focus of the seminar was inspired by the fact that not all mental health professionals and clients are aware of the opportunities offered by technological applications. They have questions about the product quality, ethics and deontology, but also about the conceptualization of different forms of therapy to online applications.

Frank Robben, (Belgian eHealth Platform), presented the current state of art in eHealth and its anticipated evolution in Belgium. Following his talk, Prof. dr. Chris Gastmans (KU Leuven) discussed ethics in the development and use of e-mental health applications, emphasizing - amongst other things - the need for face to face contact as an important precondition for therapeutic success. Prof. dr. Patrick Luyten (KU Leuven, University College London & Yale School of Medicine) subsequently made a plea for psychodynamic psychotherapy, focused on the importance of considering personal characteristics of participants in e-mental health programs and how the concept of 'epistemic trust' was an important concept from theory concerning attachment to keep in mind when treating patients online. Finally, Bert Bonroy (Mobilab, Thomas More) and Lore Van den Broeck from (Applied Psychology, Thomas More) took the stage to provide participants with a first glimpse of a large-scale Belgian implementation study that will be run together with Pulso Europe and is scheduled to take place in the fall of 2018. They provide some insights on how the online Moodbuster application will be used as an addition to treatment as usual for depression, with a particular focus on organizational, professional and patient uptake. The moderator was Tom Van Daele (Applied Psychology, Thomas More) who guided the audience through the program and the interactive Q&As.

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