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Agents of change: Understanding the therapeutic processes associated with the helpfulness of therapy for mental health problems with relational agent MYLO

Authors
  • Gaffney, Hannah
  • Mansell, Warren
  • Tai, Sara
Type
Published Article
Journal
Digital Health
Publisher
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Mar 16, 2020
Volume
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/2055207620911580
PMID: 32206331
PMCID: PMC7079311
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Objective To understand the therapeutic processes associated with the helpfulness of an online relational agent intervention, Manage Your Life Online (MYLO). Methods Fifteen participants experiencing a mental health related problem used Manage Your Life Online for 2 weeks. At follow-up, the participants each identified two helpful and two unhelpful questions posed by Manage Your Life Online within a single intervention session. Qualitative interviews were conducted and analyzed using thematic and content analysis to gain insight into the process of therapy with Manage Your Life Online. Results MYLO appeared acceptable to participants with a range of presenting problems. Questions enabling free expression, increased awareness, and new insights were key to a helpful intervention. The findings were consistent with the core processes of therapeutic change, according to Perceptual Control Theory, a unifying theory of psychological distress. Questions that elicited intense emotions, were repetitive, confusing, or inappropriate were identified as unhelpful and were associated with disengagement or loss of faith in Manage Your Life Online. Conclusions The findings provide insight into the likely core therapy processes experienced as helpful or hindering and outlines further ways to optimize acceptability of Manage Your Life Online.

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