Online psychological intervention: A feasible measure to reduce barriers to treatment
People with mental disorders often find it hard to access psychological treatment. Common barriers to treatment include limited accessibility, unable to afford treatment, fear of what others might think or say, and not knowing where to go for help (Olfson et. al., 2000). Among these barriers, fear of what others might think or say is particularly prominent for people with social anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety disorder are often ashamed of their symptoms, and those symptoms embarrassed them to seek treatment. With the increasing popularity and accessibility of the internet, mental health professionals are gradually considering using online psychological interventions as an alternative treatment (Lauder, Chester, & Berk, 2007). There are a fast growing number of studies regarding online psychological interventions. Study by Hedman et. al. (2011) supports that online psychological treatment can improve clinical outcomes significantly; however, there are many problems and limitations of this type of treatment.
Barriers to treatment for social anxiety disorder
Olfson et. al. (2000) evaluated barriers that prevent adults with social anxiety disorder from seeking treatment. A total of 203 participants completed a screening questionnaires with about sociodemographic characteristics, key psychiatric symptoms in the past month, mental health treatment history, and functional impairment. Participants who had never been treated for anxiety also completed a checklist of common barriers to treatment. Olfson et. al. (2000) compared the responses of participants with and without social anxiety disorder. The most common barriers to treatment as indicated by participants with social anxiety symptoms are uncertainty over where to go for treatment (39%), inability to afford treatment (24.5%), fear of what others might think or say (19.7%), and lack of insurance (16.6%). Fear of what others might think or say is a unique barrier to treatment for social anxiety disorder as it is reported by a significantly higher percentage of people with social anxiety symptoms (19.7%) than those without social anxiety symptoms (6.0%). The internet serves as a highly accessible tool to provide information about the disorder and the type of treatment available. It may even be used to deliver treatment, especially for people with society anxiety disorder who are afraid of discussing their symptoms with others.
Benefits of online psychological intervention
Lauder, Chester, and Berk (2007) discussed the feasibility of conducting online psychological intervention to reduce barriers to treatment. Recently, mental health professionals begin to use Internet as a tool to provide information and to deliver psychological assessment and treatment. The internet reduces barriers to treatment by reducing cost, and increasing accessibility and anonymity. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...