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Client Contact in Self-Help Therapy for Anxiety and Depression: Necessary But Can Take a Variety of Forms Beside Therapist Contact

  • France Talbot (a1)

Self-administered therapies (SATs) have been promoted as a way to increase access to evidence-based mental health services. Recent meta-analyses and literature reviews suggest that SATs with clinical guidance are more effective than SATs with no contact for the treatment of anxiety and depression. However, little attention has been paid to the role of nonguidance contact, contact that does not involve the provision of assistance in the application of specific therapy techniques such as emails to encourage treatment adherence. The present article examines the impact of nonguidance contact on the outcomes of SATs for anxiety and depression. Electronic databases were searched to identify studies conducted over the past two decades by independent research teams that have tested cognitive-behavioural SATs over multiple trials. Findings suggest that the involvement or guidance of a therapist is not essential for SATs to produce significant benefits as long as nonguidance contact is provided. It is suggested that even very minimal levels of nonguidance contact increase SAT's outcomes by motivating treatment engagement and improving adherence. The benefit of SATs that can be accessed directly by large numbers of individuals and that do not require therapist involvement to ensure efficacy can potentially significantly increase the cost effectiveness and quality of mental health service delivery.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: France Talbot, École de psychologie, Université de Moncton, Moncton, NB, Canada, E1A 3E9. Email:
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