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Psychology and Technology: Current Trends Shaping Our World

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Published on: 06/12/2024
Last Updated: 06/12/2024
5 minute read

From antibiotics to apps, biotech and data science advances have revolutionized how healthcare professionals diagnose illnesses, administer treatments, and provide continued care for thousands of patients.  

Psychology is no exception to the latest wave of tech impacts—from teletherapy to AI-driven therapeutic devices, integrating digital tools into behavioral science, psychological research, and practice offers invaluable insights and exciting prospects for expanding care.

To that end, let’s dive into the technological trends impacting psychology today, and explore how digital technology use can benefit patients and change mental health care systems for years to come.

Interested in a Psychology Degree?

4 Technological Trends Impacting Psychology

Emerging trends in technology are fast-developing and far-reaching, and they’re being adopted in hospitals and homes alike. Technology not only enhances clinical practice but also broadens the range of clinical psychology research topics by facilitating complex data analysis and virtual experiment environments

Four top trends currently shaping psychology today include:

1. Teletherapy and Online Counseling

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, teletherapy has expanded exponentially.1 Now, there are platforms that exclusively offer talk therapy services, and private practitioners are increasing care options to include video conferencing with services like Google Meet or Zoom.

By 2023, 67% of psychologists were practicing hybrid models of both in-person and remote mental health care.2 Studies show teletherapy is often just as effective in treating mental health concerns, like anxiety and depression, as in-person therapy.3 In fact, teletherapy might be more comfortable for patients, too.

Opting for therapeutic services in familiar environments like the comfort of home can ease apprehension and make the therapeutic process more approachable. Additionally, fewer limitations on accessing remote care and the vast number of online therapy services to choose from address the stigma of seeking mental health services and make teletherapy attainable to broader populations.

2. Mobile Health Apps and Wearables

Mobile health apps and wearable technology offer accessible and practical ways to monitor and improve mental health. In fact, they can serve as effective self-directed tools between therapy sessions by:4

  • Encouraging cognitive improvement
  • Building behavioral skills
  • Offering social support

While each application is unique, many feature calming templates with in-app trackers that monitor symptoms and motivate users with daily healthy habit reminders. Users can also opt into activities that prompt mental replenishment, like taking a short walk or meditating.

Wearable tech offers similar benefits to mobile mental health apps with the added perk of on-body access. For instance, smartwatches and fitness trackers can monitor a handful of health metrics such as heart rate, activity levels, and sleep quality. With information readily available to patients and practitioners, wearables can:

  • Improve how patients report symptoms 
  • Help psychologists personalize treatment plans

3. AI-driven Therapeutic Tools

In the context of human psychology, artificial intelligence (AI) is being integrated to optimize patient experience, create therapeutic tools, and even facilitate interventions for vulnerable populations like children or the elderly.5

For instance, in both private practice and clinical settings, chatbots and virtual agents can:6

  • Streamline administrative tasks related to onboarding
  • Assist in identifying symptoms and initial diagnoses
  • Deliver treatment options and recommendations

Despite these benefits, the use of AI in psychological practice can pose some challenges. 
Namely, AI collects and synthesizes mass amounts of data, so secure AI-driven tools are essential to protecting personal information and maintaining a patient’s privacy.

Additionally, any learned bias can result in inappropriate or harmful therapy and affect patient autonomy through unintentional influence.

Finally, artificial intelligence can’t serve as a replacement for the empathy and personal touch that a human therapist can provide. For these reasons, the mindful and strategic use of AI in psychological practice is vital to maintaining positive patient outcomes.

4. Behavioral Analytics for Psychological Insights

Applying data science techniques to psychological practice can offer invaluable insights into mental health and educational psychology and support emerging trends in psychological treatment.

By collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data from various sources—such as doctor’s notes, clinical trials, internet activity, and wearable devices—behavioral analytics can:7

  • Predict overarching mental health trends
  • Optimize early detection and emergency planning in specific segments of the population
  • Formulate treatment plans for common mental health concerns

Still, patient-reported experience and treatment feedback are integral to psychological practice, and large data sets don’t always consider the nuances that one-on-one psychological and therapeutic sessions offer.

Additionally, data leaks from insecure systems can compromise sensitive data, impacting client-patient confidentiality.

Preparing for the Future: Psychology Education and Technology

At Alliant International University, our innovative approach to psychology and technology can prepare you to integrate cutting-edge tools into your practice. How?

Our PsyD and PhD programs encourage students to build on their existing skills by training them in digital mental health, the ethics of AI in therapy, and the use of technology in psychological research. For those interested in applying cutting-edge technologies in a clinical setting, learning how to get a PsyD or PhD can be the first step towards specializing in such innovative practices.

How You Can Shape the Future of Psychology and Technology

Digital technology use is affecting nearly all areas of the human experience at top speed, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

Psychology is just one sector impacted by the latest technological trends. Advances have been made in expanding care, collecting and optimizing data, and even offering hands-on tools for patients to participate in their mental health progress.

By incorporating technology-focused courses and training into continued education, Alliant can help you stay ahead of the curve and transform the patient experience for the better.


Sources:

  1. Julia Shaver, “The State of Telehealth Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic,” National Library of Medicine, December 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9035352/
  2. “Telehealth and telepsychology,” American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/practice/telehealth-telepsychology#:~:text=In%20202….. Accessed April 18, 2024
  3. Dawn M Bellanti, DNP, MSN, Marija S Kelber, PhD, Don E Workman, PhD, Erin H Beech, MA,  Brad E Belsher, PhD, “Rapid Review on the Effectiveness of Telehealth Interventions for the Treatment of Behavioral Health Disorders,” Military Medicine, August 8, 2021. https://academic.oup.com/milmed/article/187/5-6/e577/6345927
  4. Pooja Chandrashekar, “Do mental health mobile apps work: evidence and recommendations for designing high-efficacy mental health mobile apps,” National Library of Medicine, March 23, 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5897664/
  5. Zara Abrams, “AI is changing every aspect of psychology. Here’s what to watch for,” American Psychological Association, July 1, 2023, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2023/07/psychology-embracing-ai
  6. Abrams, “AI is changing every”
  7. Priyanka Sharma, “Revolutionizing Mental Health with AI and Big Data,” SCIP, December 14 2023, https://www.scip.org/news/660475/Revolutionizing-Mental-Health-with-AI-…

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