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Published on December 15, 2022

From Psychedelics to Digital Advancements — 3 Trends Illuminate the Future of Therapy

The percentage of adults getting mental health treatment increased from 19.2% in 2019 to 21.6% in 2021, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the subject of mental health and wellness becoming more normalized, it’s important to understand that there are a variety of advancements that are working to transform treatment for the better. From the popularization of online therapy trends to the technology that could one day revolutionize therapy, here’s what you should know.

The use of psychedelics

The use of psychedelics in therapeutic settings is nothing new, and has been used in indigenous communities for centuries, such is the case with microdose mushrooms. However, Healthline states that psychedelic therapy is relatively new in Western clinical settings and is becoming more popular with increased legalization of certain psychedelic substances. While Healthline mentions that MDMA, LSD, and Psilocybin are being researched for therapeutic purposes, it’s noted that ketamine is the most-studied psychedelic drug for mental health therapy — in low doses, ketamine has shown to be “beneficial in numerous trials exploring its potential to treat depression, but its effects are short-lived.”

It’s important to note that ketamine treatment is generally used for individuals who are experiencing “serious mental illness who have tried other medications with little or not relief,” according to the Washington Post, which further notes that it has been most widely studied in those with treatment-resistant depression and acute suicidality. However, it’s further noted that the use of ketamine in mental health treatment may also benefit those with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety, to name just a few.

Exploring online therapy trends

Today, online therapy offers a range of benefits for patients who are looking for mental health care, and was particularly helpful for many in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-2020, 33% of clinicians were providing therapy virtually, though the number grew to 50% by 2021, according to APA estimates. While this highlights the exponential growth of virtual therapy in recent years, being able to receive care in the comfort of one’s home is just one of the many benefits that online therapy has to offer, though the internet can bring various other services to the table for those seeking mental health resources.

The use of online tools is another trend through which one can find a reputable therapist to help them deal with mental health issues. Such tools not only take out the guesswork and make getting quality therapy services even more convenient, but can help greatly in finding a mental health professional that’s local to a specific area. One Forbes article that explores the top five healthcare trends of 2023 points out that remote healthcare in the form of virtual hospitals, healthcare communities, and telehealth are additional trends worth noting. Online communities, for instance, serve as an online space where users can share help and advice on subjects like their treatment and recovery.

AI and mental health

When it comes to the future of mental wellness and therapy trends, advancements in artificial intelligence technologies could work to improve the future of therapy sessions and mental health diagnoses. For instance, Psych Central explains that according to research published in December 2021, artificial intelligence (AI) motion sensors can actually be used to detect anxiety symptoms. While it’s further noted that experts say that the technology is unlikely to replace traditional mental health services with human beings, it could become a useful tool. One Forbes article highlights several ways that AI can be used to revolutionize mental healthcare, from accessible chatbots/apps that provide 24/7 access, to the potential for flagging early warning signs of serious trouble — for example, the post cites one study where algorithms using language analysis were 100% accurate at identifying teens who were likely to develop psychosis.

With therapy becoming more and more normalized, it’s important to recognize the advancements and current trends that are revolutionizing the field. From the research and benefits of psychedelics to the developments in online therapy — and what the future could hold, there are a variety of advancements to look forward to.

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