Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Thank you for calling the Therapy Hotline..."

What do you think when you read a story about psychotherapy delivered over the phone? A room full of customer service representatives in small cubicles staring at monitors and helping callers with their problems? "You say you had a dream about your high school math teacher, a dragon, and a small dark room? Hold on while I access that information..." It's not necessarily like that. Some companies operate virtual call centers with high priced financial advisors or M.D.s working from their own offices, delivering professional advice while building relationships with the callers.

The history of automated therapy goes back to Weizenbaum's Eliza program in 1965. If phone service therapy catches on it won't be long before someone tries to save a little money by implementing an IVR to take the routine therapy questions. "For dream interpretation, press 1. For a pep talk, press 2. All other calls, press zero or remain on the line." Better yet, therapists could set up shop in Second Life so they could meet their clients "face to face."

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