Date of Award

8-15-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Derek R. Hatfield, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Laurie Roehrich, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John A. Mills, Ph.D.

Abstract

The use of internet-mediated technology to provide mental health services is a burgeoning area of service delivery, with an increasing number of organizations and clinicians offering psychotherapy via videoconferencing technology. Research to date, however, has produced mixed results as to whether an effective therapeutic alliance can be established in these technology-mediated settings. The current study utilized a sample of 64 college students to examine the potential impact of the provision of telemental health services (i.e., an interview conducted through videoconferencing) on several aspects of the therapeutic alliance. Primary results indicated that completing an interview using videoconferencing, rather than meeting face-to-face, did not significantly impact participants' overall ratings of the session, as measured by the Session Evaluation Questionnaire, or participants' ratings of the interviewer's level of empathy and warmth, as measured by the Empathy and Warmth Subscales of the Truax Relationship Questionnaire. No statistically significant differences were found between conditions on the combined dependent variables, nor did a separate examination of the impact of videoconferencing on each of the dependent measures reveal significant differences. Participants' comfort with technology and videoconferencing, as well as time spent using videoconferencing and social media sites, also did not significantly influence overall ratings of the session. These results suggest that conducting an initial interview through videoconferencing does not impact the overall session ratings or the specific alliance factors examined in this study. In addition, these results contradict research suggesting that increased experience with videoconferencing subsequently increases participant willingness to use this technology in the future; participants across conditions overwhelmingly endorsed a preference to receive future therapy services face-to-face rather than via videoconferencing. Findings suggest the need to further evaluate participant beliefs about what constitutes the "best" therapy, as well as beliefs contributing to this hesitancy to receive therapy services through videoconferencing technology. The need for future research is discussed.

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