Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

A Review of the Risks and Benefits Associated with Mobile Phone Applications for Psychological Interventions

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

A Review of the Risks and Benefits Associated with Mobile Phone Applications for Psychological Interventions

Article excerpt

The rapid expansion of mobile phone applications is increasingly relevant to the field of professional psychology. This article highlights the ethical challenges related to the development and integration of mobile phone technologies into clinical practice with clients who suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, with an emphasis on the relevant ethical principles included in the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists. The benefits and risks associated with mobile phone application interventions are reviewed, to provide psychologists with the information necessary to guide ethical decision-making. Preliminary guidelines for the ethical practice of mobile technology in psychology are proposed throughout the article (e.g., mobile applications that deliver treatment should be used to support an evidence-based intervention facilitated by a mental health professional), and areas for future research are recommended.

Keywords: professional practice, ethics, technology, decision-making, mobile phone applications


L'expansion rapide des applications de téléphonie mobile con- cerne de plus en plus le domaine de la psychologie professionnelle. Cet article met en relief les défis éthiques reliés à l'expansion et à l'intégration des technologies du téléphone cellulaire dans la pra- tique clinique avec des clients présentant des troubles de santé mentale diagnosticables, en particulier les principes de déontologie qui sont inclus dans le Code canadien de déontologie profession- nelle des psychologues. Les avantages et les risques associés aux interventions réalisées au moyen d'applications de téléphonie mo- bile sont présentés afin de fournir aux psychologues de l'information qui les guidera dans la prise de décisions éthiques. Au fil de l'article sont proposées des lignes directrices prélimi- naires pour l'utilisation éthique de la technologie mobile en psy- chologie, par ex., les applications pour le traitement devraient être utilisées en appui à une intervention fondée sur des données probantes mise en oeuvre par un professionnel de la santé mentale. L'article propose divers domaines pouvant faire l'objet d'études futures.

Mots-clés : pratique professionnelle, déontologie, technologie, prise de décision, applications pour téléphone mobile.

There are a myriad of technologies available in the Western world, and their presence is ubiquitous. Technologies like the World Wide Web, smart mobile phones, computers, and smaller personal computing tablets such as the iPad are increasingly pop- ular. The advent of technological advances has revolutionized the ways in which people interact with one another. For example, personal communications can occur through cyberspace, and meet- ings that once required face-to-face contact are increasingly being conducted as virtual meetings, with people connecting through a Web-based platform, but from various physical locations.

Advances in technology are progressively more relevant to the clinical practice of psychology and mental health services gener- ally. The rapid advances in technologies have profoundly influ- enced the mediums and methods of the delivery of mental health services. Psychology has incorporated new technologies to meet the demand for effective low-cost alternatives to traditional or face-to-face therapy. From early experience with telephone thera- pies (Mohr et al., 2012), online therapy is now available for individuals to seek treatment for a variety of ailments and disor- ders in the comfort of their homes, albeit these programs are currently limited in Canada (Andersson, Carlbring, Ljótsson, & Hedman, 2013). Recent developments in computer bandwidth, and the widespread availability of such computer applications as Skype, FaceTime and qq, now permit the easy transmission ofbotli voice and live video across space and time zones.

In addition to telephone and online therapy, psychologists must now consider the impact of smart mobile phone technology on psychological assessment and intervention. …

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