Guidelines for the design of mental health technologies

(Coyle, et al, 2007), in the journal Interacting with Computers, provided an initial set of guidelines for the design of technologies to support talk-based mental health interventions. These guidelines were updated in my PhD thesis and are posted below:

Clinical Validity:

  • Design systems based on accepted theoretical models of mental health care.
  • Design systems in collaboration with mental health care professionals.
  • Target important aspects of therapeutic interventions e.g. client engagement, the client therapist relationship, personal stories, psychoeducation.
Therapist Considerations:

  • Design systems which take advantage of the existing skills and experience of therapists.
  • Design systems which integrate with therapists current working methods.
  • Do not place extra time pressure on already busy therapists.
Access and Engagement:

  • Choose technologies appropriate to a given client group.
  • Design for client engagement and reduced stigma.
  • Systems which help to establish, maintain or enhance client-therapist relationships are highly beneficial.
  • Design systems which encourage client self efficacy.
  • Offer clients flexibility in the delivery of therapeutic services.
  • Provide support to clients between therapeutic sessions.

  • Developing protocols for the use of a system should be a key aspect of the overall design process.
Practical Considerations:

  • Ensure the usability of systems by the target user groups
  • Ensure the security and perceived security of systems
Adaptability and Sustainability:

  • Design systems which can be adapted for use across a broad range theoretical approaches and disorders and with various demographic groups and individual clients
  • Design for sustainability by placing the ability to make adaptations in the hands of MHC professionals
Collaborative Design

  • Apply design approaches which support effective collaboration between multidisciplinary teams, e.g. HCI and MHC professionals.
Designing for Outcomes:

  • Increased access
  • Cost savings
  • Time savings
  • Increased flexibility in service delivery
  • Improved outcomes
  • Improved consistency
  • Increased client engagement
  • Improved client-therapist relationships
  • Increased dialogue between therapists and clients
  • Increased client self efficacy
  • Support outside of clinical sessions

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