Computer-assisted Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

Jesse H. Wright, M.D., Ph.D. – Principal Investigator Tracy Eells, Ph.D. and Joyce Spurgeon, M.D. – Co-investigators

The computer-assisted cognitive-behavior therapy (CCBT) research program at the University of Louisville developed the first multimedia program for CCBT and has been engaged in on-going studies of the efficacy of this novel form of treatment. Collaborators include Aaron T. Beck, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania, Andrew S. Wright, M.D., from the University of Washington, Michael E. Thase, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania, and Drs. Tracy Eells and Joyce Spurgeon from the University of Louisville. Research on CCBT has been supported by grants from NIH, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Norton Foundation, and the Foundation for Cognitive Therapy and Research.

In a randomized, controlled trial of CCBT for depression, Dr. Wright and associates found that drug-free patients with depression had substantial relief of symptoms even though the amount of time spent with a clinician was reduced to 4 hours or less for the entire course of treatment. There were no differences found between standard cognitive therapy, requiring about double the amount of therapist time, and CCBT in this study. The computer-assisted form of treatment appeared to have advantages over standard CBT in helping patients change dysfunctional attitudes and in learning CBT skills. Other research by this group found excellent patient acceptance of the computer-assisted therapy method.

The overall aims of the research program on CCBT are to develop, test, and disseminate computer tools that can increase the efficiency of psychotherapy and improve access to evidence-based treatment. Current work on CCBT includes production of new and enhanced software, testing of this software in patients with major depressive disorder, and implementation of virtual reality therapies for anxiety and addictive disorders.