Psychologists Relish Computer Opportunities, Survey Shows

The National Psychologist

July/August 1995

Larry D. Rosen,Ph.D.

A recent three-month study conducted by Michelle Weil, Ph.D. and myself randomly sampled more than 200 California psychologists to determine their use of office technology. The results provide useful data bout how practitioners are adjusting to and taking advantage of new opportunities. Here are our findings:

With nearly three-fourths of psychologists working with computers, how are they using them?

We also assessed attitudes toward technology and found some rather disappointing statistics.

Both these statistics match results found from research on other professional populations.

 

Using statistical prediction models, we found that four variables determine which Psychologists do and do not use technology:

1. Their age (older Psychologists are less likely to use technology).

2. Technophobia (those who are more technophobic are less likely to use it).

3. Their use of psychological assessments (those who use more assessment

instruments are more likely to use technology).

4. Their use of a voice-mail system (those who use voice mail are more

likely to use technology).

What does all this mean?

Psychologists appear to be more sophisticated than the rest of the American public in a technological sense. More of them are using computers (72% compared to estimates of 35% of the American public). More psychologists are surfing the net. Yet, they are not really taking advantage of the capabilities of their computers. Worse, they appear to be partitioned into technological "know" and "know-nots" as a function of their age, their comfort with technology, their use of advanced messaging systems and assessment instruments. Finally, many are uncomfortable around technology and/or prefer to avoid it all together.

What can Psychologists do? Read this column. Explore your options. It appears that psychologists already have the tool to take advantage of the technological revolution. They just need to do it!

Q: What is the World Wide Web that I keep hearing about and how can it help me?

A: Although in its infancy, the World Wide Web (WWW) is creating a stir in cyberspace. Technically, it is not an entity but provides the ability to effortlessly garner information from a variety of sources with the click of a button. The WWW features "Home Pages" on computers all around the world. Each Home Page has pointers that will take you to other Home Pages or to information stored in other computers. All you have to do is to point the arrow controlled by your mouse at highlighted words or pictures, click the button, and you are transported through cyberspace. Finding your way back is easy - you just click on a button labeled <--BACK. If you find interesting information along the way you can print it, save it, or leave a bookmark to return to later. Hundreds of new Web sites are being added daily!

Q: How do I get access to the WWW?

A: You have two options. Either sign up with an online service like America Online, Compuserve or Prodigy or sign up with an Internet Server. For WWW access the Internet Servers are a better deal. For example, PSI (800-827-7482) offers 29 hours a month for $29 ($1.50 each additional hour). Call them for a free seven-day trial.

Q: What is out there for therapists?

A: Lots! When you get on the WWW you can get to any site by specifying its address. WWW addresses (called URLs - Uniform Resource Locators) look like:

http://www.well.com/www/selfhelp

This one takes you to the Self Help Psychology Newsletter which contains short articles plus pointers to other mental health Web sites.

Here are other addresses (you only have to type them once and, when you get there, leave a bookmark; when you want to return, click on the bookmark and you will fly there).

http://www1.mhv.net/~grohol -- [note: the "tilda" ~ is required!] This Home Page has pointers to many mental health support resources!

http://www.apa.org --The APA's Home Page includes articles, materials, and links to lots more.

http://www.os.dhhs.gov:81/PPIP -- National Prevention Services tools for professionals.

Q: Several recent messages from readers asked: "Some of the Discussion Groups that you listed in your last article do not work. What's up?"

A: Unfortunately, Discussion Groups come and go. Here are good ones to try:

PsyNet -- Drs. John Roraback (PsyNetIL@aol.com) and Marlene Maheu (PsyNetCA@aol.com) have discussion groups for licensed psychologists only. Each list sends about 4-10 messages a day concerning political issues, practice management, treatment resources, economic issues job openings, etc. Send a mail message to either address. They will tell you what to do next.

IPN -- The monthly InterPsych Newsletter includes articles, lists of many discussion groups, current events and mental health resources on the Internet. To subscribe send a message to: LISTSERV@FRA.PSYCH.NEMC.ORG with a one-line message: SUBSCRIBE IPN

The key to success is to explore and play, play, play! Watch for the special computer supplement in the next issue of The National Psychologist. It will be filled with valuable information.

 

Copyright, 1995, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with permission. The National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper which may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway Blvd., Suite 303, Columbus, OH 43232; telephone: 614.861.1999 or fax with Visa or MC to 614.861.1996.