eTherapy in the Land Down Under

Posted by: Dawn Schell on December 5, 2011 3:53 pm

[humming the ‘80s Men at Work song quietly to myself as I write this] 

My research on post-secondary institutions that offer online counselling Ied me to the eTherapy Research Unit at Swinburne University. This group is responsible for developing, evaluating and delivering eTherapy programs and other types of online mental health interventions.  Their definition of  eTherapy is  “delivery of structured early intervention/treatment programs for clinical disorders/symptoms via the internet with or without human support.”[1]

Currently they offer Anxiety Online – “an internet-based treatment clinic for people with anxiety problems”. [2]  It is comprised of information, assessment and self-help or therapist-assisted treatment programs. 

A recently published article about the ‘fully automated’ (aka ‘self-help’) Anxiety Online program gives a clear idea of the extensiveness of their research and how creatively they use the media available.[3]   The fully automated treatment program, based on CBT principles, includes audio, video, downloadable pdfs, online activities and interactive graphics. 

The eTherapy Resarch Unit reports the results indicate this is a  “promising and effective treatment method” (i.e. clients experiencing reductions in their levels of anxiety) and that clients appeared to be satisfied with the program.  And, of course, more research is needed. This program is available to the international public at no cost.  The therapist-assisted version is only available in Australia.  Which brings up some intriguing questions about jurisdiction [but more on that another time].

They are continuing to research and develop new e-therapy treatment programs and will be rolling out a new platform called Mental Health Online.  This will include treatment programs for more than anxiety disorders.  They say they will be adding programs for “..depression, bulimia, insomnia, multidisorder… problem gambling, drugs and alcohol, hoarding..”.3  They are also “integrating other communication modalities into the therapist-assisted programs (ie, instant messaging, audio-only chat, video chat) and the use of 3-dimensional virtual reality platforms and collaborative work spaces.”3

I also ought to mention that we do have a similar program in Canada.  The University of Regina’s Online Therapy Unit for Service, Education and Research.[4] .  For residents of Saskatchewan they offer therapist-assisted Online CBT for depression, generalized anxiety disorder and panic.  Their treatment programs make use of the work done by Swinburne’s eTherapy Research Unit.  The website is ready for client use and they are training professionals and students on how to use Online CBT.

Cool, eh? [spoken like a true Canadian]

The opinions expressed in this blogpost are personal. 

Dawn Schell, MA, CCC is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.



[3] Klein B, Meyer D, Austin DW, Kyrios M (2011).  Anxiety Online—A Virtual Clinic: Preliminary Outcomes Following Completion of Five Fully Automated Treatment Programs for Anxiety Disorders and Symptoms.  Journal of  Medical Internet Research,13(4):e89


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

1 comment on “eTherapy in the Land Down Under”

  1. Jan Jeffrey says:

    Thanks for your very interesting article, It’s answered a few questions for my friends and I and pointed us to look at things from a different perspective

    Keep up the good work


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