Internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (iCBT) is an innovative and highly effective approach in the treatment of a wide range of mental health disorders. In contrast to traditional psychotherapies, it offers many benefits such as immediate availability, possibility of anonymity for clients who do not want to be in contact with therapists, reduction of travel time, as well as costs reduction and waiting-time reduction. For several years, it has its firm place in the recommendations for mental health care of the global and European health associations such as APA, NICE, etc. In the treatment of mental health disorders, it is as effective as traditional face-to-face cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
iCBT uses the same theoretical and practical principles as the traditional face-to-face CBT. In iCBT, specially designed computer programs provide the same therapeutic information and skills as in conventional CBT. The role of a therapist is rather indicative and supportive, in the way that therapists accompany their patients either via e-mail or by telephone as patients gradually work through treatment modules of the iCBT program.
A typical iCBT online program for anxiety disorders includes modules with focus on psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, various behavioral experiments and exposure. Furthermore, it provides patients with problem-solving and lifestyle-adjusting techniques, as well as motivational and relapse prevention strategies. Interactive elements such as video clips or audio files are usually included in the program as well. Participants can join an online discussion forum about the current state of their mental health. Newer generations of iCBT programs work well as stand-alone formats without the need for therapeutic guidance, as they are based on clinical protocols evaluated in a large number of clinical studies. For instance, the newest iCBT programs include initial diagnostic screenings, monitoring of patients´ status, as well as interaction with patients through automated reports.
In Slovakia, it is currently not possible to enter an iCBT treatment. This treatment approach has yet to be included in the guidelines for mental health care of the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic and the necessary treatment programs have yet to be designed and created.