Mental disorders cause a substantial and growing burden of suffering in Switzerland and worldwide, but access to the most effective therapies is often limited due to a lack of trained therapists as well as insufficient coverage in many public health plans. Our goal at Digital Psychotherapy Lab Fribourg is therefore to develop and evaluate innovative therapeutic tools using novel technologies, enabling therapists to provide affordable and flexible state-of-the-art care to a larger number of affected persons. Our developments are rooted in fundamental research, comprehensively examining the benefits and difficulties in the use of each new therapeutic approach.
Treatment interventions based on Virtual Reality allow patients to confront feared situations or explore maladaptive schemas in lifelike and controlled environments under the guidance of an experienced clinician. Online platforms give patients the chance to work through tested programs at their own pace while ensuring a therapist’s approachability when direct contact is preferred. Patients can furthermore make use of chatbots to self-directedly train coping strategies in the closing phase of a therapeutic program where treatment focusses on transfer to everyday life.