Rhetorical Analysis: “Depressed? Look For Help From A Human, Not A Computer”

Ruth Lucas-Online Psychotherapy and Counseling Services

In KQED News article written on November 12, 2015, Lynne Shallcross argues in “Depressed? Look For Help From A Human, Not A Computer” that online-program therapy is not effective. Shallcross first explains that although people do prefer these programs for different reasons — low-cost and efficient — people tend to not engage or stick with it. She then brings up a study that shows there was no improvement in depression levels for those who were using computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. The only way this is will work is if people have mild symptoms and are open to seek help from a computer. With that said, Shallcross believes that a computer doesn’t help battle the isolation you feel inside, but a human does.

Shallcross’ article has a very strong argument that computerized therapy instead of human therapy isn’t as effective as it sounds using many quotes and studies as her sources. What makes this article bland by stating fact after face as well as lacks emotional connection to the audience, which can be used to draw in the reader. Using personal stories and experiences would have made her argument stronger. Although Shallcross lacks in emotional connection to reel in her audience, she strongly builds her credibility through her resources — quotes and studies — and hyperlinks.

To persuade the reader, Shallcross uses a study using those who had a severe case of depression. Researchers found that “after four months, the patients using the computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) programs, or cCBT, had no improvement in depression levels over the patients who were only getting usual care from their doctors” (Shallcross 6). This quote provides support for her argument showing that the online programs are not as effective as people would like to believe. People have different ways of seeking for help — professional therapy, online therapy, or human interaction — because not everyone functions the same way. Since this is a study, Shallcross quotes Christopher Dorowick — professor of primary medical care at the University of Liverpool — who says, “that do-it-yourself treatments like cCBT can still be effective. But they’re more likely to succeed when people have relatively mild symptoms of depression or are in a recovery stage” (Shallcross 9). Using this quote keeps her credibility strong and effective.

The use of hyperlinks also helps build the credibility of Shallcross to strengthen her argument. For example, Shallcross states “the study, which was published in The BMJ on Wednesday, looked at computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy and found that it was no more effective in treating depression than the usual care patients receive from a primary care doctor” (Shallcross 3). As you can see, there is a hyperlink provided on the word study, which then takes you to the study itself. Hyperlinks help to prove that she was not stating what she thinks about computerized therapy, but also what researchers have found through studies. Throughout the article there are similar hyperlinks that will lead to different credible sources.

Not all articles need emotion, but an emotional connection does help the article to be more interesting to read as well as builds credibility. Stating fact after fact can lose the readers’ interest and may have them start questioning how would this person know what they’re talking about if they have no experience with it, or interviewed someone who has experience with computerized therapy. Fortunately, although she lacks the emotional side of her argument, it still remains strong and effective.

This article has altered my perception on articles needing pathos in the article to persuade the author, but I have realized that credibility can be just as strong and effective without it.

Works Cited

Shallcross, Lynne. “Depressed? Look For Help From A Human, Not A Computer.” NPR. NPR, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2016.

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