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Schema therapy online mental health tool launched

Health & Medical

A clinical psychologist and an IT specialist from Adelaide, South Australia, have combined forces to design what they claim is the first digital tool to help people change negative life patterns.

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After three years of development, husband and wife team Sally and Joseph Skewes have launched Secure Nest, an online tool to help patients and therapists follow the intensive schema therapy regime.

Schema therapy was developed to help individuals with personality disorders and those who had experienced limited success with other treatments. It assists them to find relief by identifying emotional triggers and resulting behavioural patterns.

Joseph Skewes, who has a background in IT, said the idea stemmed from watching Sally having to hand out bundles of documents to her patients to record their responses to everyday events, which is part of the therapy.

“It didn’t seem very practical at all,” said Joseph. “Our system allows them 24/7 access to all of it on their phones.”

He said the portal also ensured patients and therapists had a platform to help increase the frequency of therapy and provide a backup between sessions.

“This particular therapy is typically long-term therapy so it can go for 12 months or more but most people would only have 10 sessions available to them through their medical insurance.

“Evidence based therapy would require one therapy session a week right through a year. And the most vulnerable people don’t have the money to pay for therapy resources themselves so we are looking at ways to try and bridge that gap.”

Sally Skewes said the digital platform allowed clients to access therapy tools between sessions and provided schema therapists an online framework.

“Secure Nest can be used to support individual schema therapy, group schema therapy and as a self-help tool,” she said.

“With schema therapy in high demand, the waiting period can be up to 12 months. Because our program can be used straight away by clients who are waiting to be treated, it can reduce the learning curve when therapy begins.”

The Secure Nest portal and app offers secure storage of a diary and forms that allow the client to log information about their progress and charts to illustrate progress. It also has a group workspace, for clients receiving group schema therapy, and a three-week schema therapy self-education program for individuals (not requiring a therapist).

There is a free trial period and then pricing starts at A$29 a month for individuals and there are package deals for longer periods and for therapists.

Joseph said that with personality disorders estimated at 10-14 per cent of the adult population, there was potentially up to 2 million Australians who could use their service.

“The number of international therapists in the global society has grown from 700 to more than 1300 over the past several years,” he said.

Joseph said the portal was GDPR compliant and schema therapist and field innovator Michiel van Vreeswijk from the Netherlands is an advisor, so they are ready to expand internationally.

He said they were able to develop Secure Nest after winning a $50,000 grant as part of the University of South Australia’s Venture Catalyst program last year and that they had benefited from many of the other startup incubator programs offered in South Australia.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story. Copied to Clipboard

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