The impact of technology on therapeutic alliance and engagement in psychotherapy: The therapist’s perspective

Penelope Richards, Susan Simpson, Tarun Bastiampillai, Giada Pietrabissa, Gianluca Castelnuovo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: In this article, we investigate therapist views on their experiences using a technological adjunct (goACT) to traditional, face-to-face psychotherapy. goACT is a web-based mobile interactive software application that facilitates an interactive platform, allowing therapists to connect with their clients between face-to-face psychotherapy sessions. Method: Participants were six provisional psychologists and seven patients. Data were collected at two post-therapy focus groups in order to qualitatively understand therapist experience of goACT as a therapy adjunct. Data were analysed utilising thematic analysis. Results: Four main themes emerged: (1) “discretional use of goACT” linked to therapist preferences and client suitability; (2) “therapist concerns” linked to boundaries, workload, technological glitches, and therapeutic risks; (3) “goACT expands the parameters of therapy” through increased opportunities to provide care and connection with patients and increased access to the process of therapy; and (4) “goACT enhances therapy” through reciprocal responsibility and guided empowerment. Therapists in this study were more open to the use of technology in therapy than has been reported in previous research and did not find that it affected their workload. Conclusion: Therapists indicated that when aligned to the specific needs of individual patients, an advanced mobile and web-based interactive software application (goACT) has the potential to enhance engagement, rapport, and patient empowerment in face-to-face psychotherapy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-181
    Number of pages11
    JournalClinical Psychologist
    Issue number2
    Early online date2016
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


    • adjunct technology
    • e-mental health
    • engagement
    • online therapy
    • therapeutic relationship
    • therapist experience


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