When you go to the doctor for a test or have an operation, you expect the latest in modern technology to be a part of your procedure. When you deal with anything emotional, you still expect to lay down on a couch, bare your deepest, darkest secrets, blame your mother for everything, and receive a diagnoses based on something to do with Freud. Psychology today involves more technology than you might expect from a profession thought to be anything but high-tech.
Measuring Mental States with Sensors
Electronic stress assistants, such as sensors used to monitor your stress levels at different times, are being used to help pinpoint stress triggers. The idea is that if you’re aware of when stress levels spike, you can determine what it is that’s causing your stress and do something to eliminate or reduce certain trigger points. This also helps doctors realize what your normal stress level is, rather than going by charts and stats that dictate what a normal stress level should be. Once you and your doctor know your stress points, treatments can be suggested or medication can be administered in a more accurate dosage. This takes some of the guesswork out of figuring out what’s going on with you on an emotional level.
Using Software to Track Emotional Health
There’s already software that tracks everything from how much you spend to how many calories you burn, so why not have a program that can track your moods? Optimism, developed in 2009, prompts you to track what affects your mood throughout the day. Think of it as a mental status update. You are then presented with charts that track your mood and the events that triggered that mood. The goal is to use this information to determine what causes you to feel a certain way. It’s a similar concept used by Weight Watchers to track eating habits. The idea is to make you more aware of what’s causing you to act and feel the way you do at any given point and make adjustments to cope with stress triggers.
How Technology Defines Us Emotionally
In an era when we’re more connected than ever, it’s hard to separate the face your present to the world from who you are on a personal level. Social networks urge you to display your status based on your mood at any given point. Even some of the games you play allow you to create an artificial version of yourself. According to an article in New Scientist Tech magazine, people are linking their personal success with how many people “like” them on Facebook, how many emails they receive, and how many followers they have on Twitter. It’s becoming harder to separate the two. It’s a connection that has already attracted the attention of some colleges and universities such as MIT, currently offering courses exploring the link between psychology and technology. Students earning a degree in psychology or seeking certification in counseling can use their penchant for technology to better treat patients.
Technology can be a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t replace the human element of psychology. Even programs such as Weight Watchers tend to be more effective with counseling and support. The same is true with psychology. Technology by itself is nothing more than a list of stats. It’s how this information is interpreted that makes a difference when it comes to finding the right treatment. While tracking your emotions can be beneficial, there is still something to be said for human interaction. It’s really about finding a balance.
Claire Decker writes full-time for education blogs nationwide. She writes for www.wfu.edu where you can find out more about their masters degree in school counseling -> counseling.online.wfu.edu.