Jobs of the Future: “Cybertherapist”

Future Jobs

Wikistrat recently concluded a geostrategic simulation titled “Jobs of the Future”. This crowdsourced simulation outlined the jobs of tomorrow by building the case — step by step — for their logical emergence in response to socio-economic trends and/or technological advances. The purpose here was to capture and analyze a shifting job landscape.

One particularly intriguing job of the future was that of Cybertherapist.

With the advancement of cyber technologies in competing industries, virtual reality clinical techniques will be introduced to the therapeutic practice. Two therapy-related careers will be launched: Cybertherapy and Cyberpsychology.

Cybertherapy will offer patients psychotherapy and aspects of physical therapy via the Internet. Therapists provide their expert service to patients on specialized websites using virtual reality-based clinical techniques.

Cyberpsychology is related to the different methods individuals are affected by technology (particularly computer technology) and mediated interactions between individuals. Cyberpsychology studies and treats behavior online, but it also researches the broader effects of cyber-technology in online-only interactions that are unique to the virtual world.

Cybertherapy is a rapidly growing field due to the integration of telehealth technologies with the Internet and virtual reality, videophone, audio and video chat, email, SMS and new Instant Messaging. These technologies have been used successfully in a variety of healthcare matters such as assessment, rehabilitation and therapy in clinical psychology and neuroscience.

Using this technology, Cybertherapists will also deal with virtual reality disorders that mostly stem from Internet addiction. The most problematic types of online disorders include addictions to Cybersex, Cyber-relationships, addiction to online games or gambling, cyber-bullying, Cyber-abuse and cyber-stalking. Therapy strategies include cognitive-behavioral methods, marital and family therapy, social skills training and sexual offender therapy. In addition, and depending on the case of each patient, Cybertherapists might initiate cyber-support groups and virtual-recovery programs specializing in the treatment of Internet disorders and addictions.

The innovative applications of these technologies produce many advantages over old-fashioned treatments, and the shortcomings that accompanied the first stages of implementation of Cybertherapy are quickly addressed and reduced. Cybertherapy applications not only improve the quality of health care but also lead to considerable cost savings in the healthcare field.

Cybertherapists will help in cases where patients are not able to travel to hospitals for service, live in rural areas and need care for issues and/or disorders from their own offices, from the comfort of home or from the office if the therapist lives in the same area as the clinic. Using cyber technology, in psychiatry, physical therapy and rehabilitation, a Cybertherapist will have a two-way video conferencing system to visit with the patient and provide him/her with a unique emergency therapy consultation 24 hours a day/7 days a week. This type of technology is becoming more readily used as the number of Cybertherapists is increasing in many areas. Cybertherapists will provide therapy services to a wider range of people and places including routine clinic care and urgent evaluations for mobile crisis (such as those occurring in residential units, jails, schools, shelters and community health centers, as well as hospital emergency departments) and even emergency consultation for cruise ships.

Military Cybertherapists will be intimately plugged in to first world militaries’ communication systems to increase their ability to treat PTSD and permit units to remain in the field longer.

The position will entail initiating, monitoring and completing treatment of patients with cybertherapy issues under the care of a doctor. Cybertherapists will note significant events on patients’ medical charts.

Due to its virtual nature, cybertherapy will not be limited by geographic borders. This type of therapy may be attractive to people who might not feel comfortable seeking help in person.

Along his/her educational background in psychology, Cybertherapists should be able to use communication and information technologies to improve therapeutic processes. He/she also needs to have experience in using nontraditional devices and interface components such as spatial input de­vices (trackers), 3D pointing devices and whole-hand devices allowing gestural input as well as know about three-dimensional, multisensory output technologies (such as stereoscopic projection displays), spatial audio systems, head-mounted displays (HMDs) and haptic devices.

However, the stress will be more on the cybertherapists psychological background since he/she will be treating traditional disorders with advanced techniques.

As long as there are psychological disorders in the real and virtual worlds, this line of work will remain. An exception would be if technological innovations allow for the creation of computerized (not human) cybertherapists to deal with cyber and natural-based disorders.

Wikistrat Analysts Suzane Mneimneh, Dr. Rebecca Molloy, Daniel Moore and T. Michael Lutas contributed to this scenario.

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