“People, Computers, and Psychotherapy,” is a workshop preceding BCS HCI 2012 Birmingham, UK on 10th September 2012.

There is an urgent and identified need for technology-led interventions for common mental health problems. The successful delivery of such technology has huge potential to impact the health and wellbeing of millions of people in the UK alone. However, the design of technology to facilitate and deliver psychotherapy is a complex multidisciplinary challenge, requiring expertise from fields such as HCI, software design, psychology, and clinical and primary care. There are significant and unique challenges involved in understanding how to bring these disciplines together to create a coherent, engaging and useful programme of therapy. This workshop is intended to bring together a diverse cross-disciplinary community of basic and applied researchers, to share existing knowledge, define new opportunities and set an agenda for future research in this field. We will explore issues that are of importance to interaction design, those important in clinical practice, and will identify the opportunities and challenges inherent in drawing these together.

All psychotherapy requires ubiquitous engagement on the part of the participant. This is true regardless of the type of therapeutic approach underlying therapy, from the highly structured approach of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, to more narrative, humanist, or mindfulness-influenced approaches. Therapy does not just happen during the one hour per week consultation with a therapist, but continues throughout the week through exercises and activities that the participant must undertake. Interestingly, many of the features of modern mobile and social technology appear ideal to support this ongoing process. Modern technology allows for the pervasive sensing of participant behaviour, from the monitoring of mood and other biological indicators, to the measuring and logging of observed social behaviours. It also allows for the real-time, automated analysis of this data and the delivery of feedback to the participant. There is a great deal of potential in this technology to support and deliver interventions for common psychological problems.