Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (iCBT) was created to increase accessibility to an evidence-based practice proven to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Currently, there are lengthy wait-times across Canada to receive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) services. iCBT is a flexible, six-week online therapy program that enables adult outpatients attending the Scarborough Hospital’s Mental Health Department to access treatment for anxiety and depression wherever and whenever it is most convenient for them. The iCBT platform has adapted the same information found in individual CBT sessions for online use. Through this program, patients can access CBT services and have conversations with their therapist, from their own home.
Client feedback was directly use to improve the iCBT platform. The first version of iCBT, launched in 2014, had a 90% dropout rate. Feedback was sought, through questionnaires, from clients who dropped out in order to improve the platform. Patient’s requested greater flexibility in the model of care, a greater number of points of contact with the therapist, and more engaging modules with more examples. The second version of the platform launched in 2015, has managed to decrease drop-out rates to approximately 30%.
This program provides an alternative therapy option to face-to-face session and has helped improve wait times for traditional CBT services from 3 weeks to 1 week. iCBT has also improved efficiency and productivity by reducing the amount of time each therapist spends with one patient. Traditional face-to-face individual and group treatment sessions require 45-minute per session. However, with iCBT, the therapist only requires 25 minutes to review and respond to the patient.
The iCBT program is an exciting initiative at the Scarborough Hospital. It is the first of its kind to be implemented in a Canadian hospital, and this itself has empowered staff. The program has dedicated time allocated for e-therapists and as referrals grow, additional staff will be recruited. The leadership at the Scarborough Hospital is committed to the iCBT program, as it aligns well with the hospital’s strategic goal of innovation.
iCBT increases accessibility to CBT services for all individuals experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. By creating and implementing iCBT, The Scarborough Hospital’s Mental Health Department has significantly reduced wait-times and increased accessibility for individuals in need of CBT.
Title: Patient Care Director- Mental Heath
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