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Evaluation of the quality of collaboration between the client and the therapist in phobia treatments

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A growing number of empirical studies evaluate the influence of Mental Health (MH) technology on the clinical effectiveness, the therapeutic relationship (i.e., therapeutic alliance), and usability issues. However, to the authors' knowledge, no studies have yet been performed regarding the influence of technology on the therapeutic process in terms of collaboration. This study evaluates the quality of collaboration between the client and therapist in Augmented Reality Exposure Therapy (ARET) context and the traditional, In Vivo Exposure Therapy (IVET) context with the Therapeutic Collaborative Scale (TCS). Twenty participants received an intensive session of cognitive behavioral therapy in either a technology-mediated therapeutic context or in a traditional therapeutic context. The results indicate that both therapeutic conditions show high collaboration scores. However, the asymmetry of roles between the therapist and the client under both conditions were detected. Also, a greater level of distraction was observed for therapists in ARET, which affected the quality of the therapists' involvement in the therapeutic session. The implications of these results are discussed.

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