Special Issue: The Digital Therapeutic Alliance

JMIR Mental Health is inviting submissions for a special issue of the journal that will be dedicated to the Digital Therapeutic Alliance.

Source: https://digitalta2019.com/

Source: https://digitalta2019.com/


The therapeutic alliance, the relationship that develops between a therapist and a patient, is a significant factor in the outcome of psychological therapy. As mental healthcare starts to increasingly adopt digital technologies and offer therapeutic interventions that may not involve human therapists, the notion of the therapeutic alliance in digital mental healthcare requires exploration.

Recent work has examined the nature and role of the therapeutic alliance in digital mental health solutions (Lederman et al. 2019), what tools can be used to measure therapeutic alliance with an app (Berry et al. 2018), and suggested the importance of the quality of psychological treatment remaining high and consistent if these digital alternatives are to prove valuable (Henson et al. 2019). Previous work asks how technology can facilitate and augment therapeutic relationships and what is the role of virtual clinics (Torous and Hsin, 2018).

This call for papers seeks to further examine the nature and role of the therapeutic alliance in digital mental health solutions. Does the traditional notion of a quality relationship between client and therapist hold true in the digital environment? Do aspects of the traditional therapeutic alliance have digital analogues and what novel aspects emerge in the digital realm? This special edition is interested in these and a broad range of questions on the theme of the digital therapeutic alliance. We are also interested in the various ways this theme can be explored, such as:

            • The standard patient-therapist alliance in the case of telehealth therapy sessions.
            • The relationship between a mental health app and its user.
            • The relationship between users and their smartphones.
            • The nature of the therapeutic alliance in AI-driven interventions, including chatbots and virtual human therapists (Alexios 2019).

Original research submissions on the above topics or other themes relevant to the Digital Therapeutic alliance are welcome.


Authors are requested to submit a full-length manuscript of up to 7500 words by November 30, 2020.

Submitted papers should report new and original results that are not published elsewhere. Please prepare your manuscript file with the template file and guidelines found at http://www.jmir.org/about/submissions#authorGuidelines.

Submissions should be sent through the online system at http://mental.jmir.org/author and select “Theme issue 2019: The Digital Therapeutic Alliance” under Journal Section in step 1 of the submission process.

Final decisions on acceptance will be made by December 31, 2020.

As an open journal, JMIR Mental Health will charge an Article Processing Fee (APF). Articles in this special Issue will receive 20% discount off this APF.



Reeva Lederman

Simon D’Alfonso

Associate Professor Reeva Lederman is a member of the School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne, where she leads the Digital Ethics research group and provides the public face for health information systems research as chair of the People and Organizations research theme area. She has published in leading journals such as the European Journal of Information Systems, ACM Transactions on Human Computer Interaction and JMIR Research Protocols.

Dr Simon D’Alfonso is a lecturer and research fellow in the School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. He also serves as tech lead at eOrygen, the digital mental health division Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. Via this affiliation, he leads the Digital Technology and Artificial Intelligence for Mental Health research project in the School of Computing and Information Systems


Alexios B. Psychotherpay in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Homo Vitualis. 2019;2(1):68-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.12681/homvir.20197

Berry K, Salter A, Morris R, James S, Bucci, S. Assessing Therapeutic Alliance in the Context of Mhealth Interventions for Mentlal Health Problems: Development of the Mobile Agnew Relationship Measure (Marm) Questionnaire. J Med Internet Res. 2018;20(4):12. PMID: 29674307

Henson P, Wisniewski H, Hollis C, Keshavan M, Torous J. Digital Mental Health Apps and the Therapeutic Alliance: Initial Review. BJPsych Open. 2019;5(1):e15. PMID: 30762511

Lederman R, Gleeson J, Wadley G, D'Alfonso S, Rice S, Santesteban-Echarri O, Alvarez-Jimenez M. Support for Carers of Young People with Mental Illness: Design and Trial of a Technology Mediated Therapy. ACM Trans Comput Hum Interact (TOCHI). 2019;26(1):33.

Torous J, Hsin H. Empowering the digital therapeutic relationship: virtual clinics for digital health interventions. NPJ Digit Med. 2018;1(1):Article 16. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-018-0028-2