Therapy Tech

The Digital Transformation of Mental Healthcare

2021
Author:

Emma Bedor Hiland

A pointed look at the state of tech-based mental healthcare and what we must do to change it

Therapy Tech is the first book to give readers a large-scale analysis of mental health technologies and the cultural changes they have enabled. Both a sobering dissection of the current state of mental healthcare and a necessary warning of where things are headed, it makes an important assertion about how to help those in need of mental health services today.

Proponents of technology trumpet it as the solution to the massive increase in the mental distress that confronts our nation. They herald the arrival of algorithms, intelligent chatbots, smartphone applications, telemental healthcare services, and more—but are these technological fixes really as good as they seem? In Therapy Tech, Emma Bedor Hiland presents the first comprehensive study of how technology has transformed mental healthcare, showing that this revolution can’t deliver what it promises.

Far from providing a solution, technological mental healthcare perpetuates preexisting disparities while relying on the same failed focus on personal responsibility that has let us down before. Through vivid, in-depth case studies, Therapy Tech reveals these problems, covering issues including psychosurveillance on websites like Facebook and 7 Cups of Tea, shortcomings of popular AI “doctors on demand” like Woebot, Wysa, and Joy, and even the conscription of therapists into the gig economy.

Featuring a vital coda that brings Therapy Tech up to date for the Covid era, this book is the first to give readers a large-scale analysis of mental health technologies and the cultural changes they have enabled. Both a sobering dissection of the current state of mental healthcare and a necessary warning of where things are headed, Therapy Tech makes an important assertion about how to help those in need of mental health services today.

Emma Bedor Hiland is a lecturer in the Department of Communication


Studies at Texas Tech University. Her research has been published in Feminist Media Studies, Screen Bodies, and Sexuality and Culture.

Contents


Introduction: Pursuing a Technological Fix


1. Mental Wellness by Smartphone App


2. Psychosurveillance


3. Chatbots and Therapeutic AI


4. Telemental Healthcare


5. The Future of Mental Health Technologies


COVID Coda


Acknowledgments


Notes


Index