Technology-Based Mental Health Treatment and the Impact on the Therapeutic Alliance

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019 Jul 8;21(8):76. doi: 10.1007/s11920-019-1055-7.


Purpose of review: Telemental health, which is treatment mediated by technology, is an increasingly common method of delivering mental health care. However, its impact on the therapeutic alliance is unclear. This review examines studies of telemental health and its impact on therapeutic alliance.

Recent findings: Findings indicate that a therapeutic alliance can be maintained through a variety of communication technologies, with some caveats. Considerations on maintaining a successful therapeutic alliance include using technology as an adjunct to treatment and ensuring patients and providers have back-up plans for continuing communication in the event of technical difficulties. Overall, the studies found that clinicians often have more concerns about alliance than patients do, suggesting that clinicians could make some changes to feel more comfortable. Recommendations are offered for implementing techniques into practice that will help clinicians increase their awareness of ways to support the therapeutic alliance when using telemental health.

Keywords: Technology-based mental health; Telemental health; Telepsychiatry; Therapeutic alliance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mental Health*
  • Psychotherapy
  • Telemedicine*
  • Therapeutic Alliance*