About e-couch

e-couch is an interactive self-help program with sub-programs for social anxiety, generalised anxiety, depression, divorce & separation and loss & bereavement. The program provides evidence-based information and teaches strategies to manage difficult times and better ways of thinking and interacting with people.

Each sub-program begins with an ‘armchair’ which provides information about symptoms, diagnosis, getting help and treatments. Users read through the armchair information and then proceed to the ‘couch’ where they can choose from a range of self-help toolkits. The toolkits draw on a range of therapies including CBT and Interpersonal Psychotherapy, physical activity, and arousal reduction techniques such as mindfulness and relaxation.

Who is e-couch for?

The e-couch scenarios relate to a wide range of adult users, and acceptability has also been demonstrated with adolescents.

Is there a cost to use e-couch?


How to access e-couch's services

Users may read brief mental health information without registration.

The full e-couch program (including interactive self-help toolkits) requires registration with username, password, age category, gender, country, rural/remote, education, and referral status (e.g. referred by psychologist, GP, etc.). As part of registration on e-couch, users agree to the terms of use, including that their data may be used for research purposes.

e-couch Research and Evaluation

The e-couch Depression, Anxiety & Worry, and Social Anxiety programs have been evaluated in a number of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) conducted by ANU, collaborating institutions, and independent researchers.

e-couch Depression program:

A 2012 RCT showed that the e-couch Depression program yielded a greater reduction in depressive symptoms immediately post-test than an attention control, with the combination of e-couch and an online support group showing longer term positive outcomes for participants.

The e-couch CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and IPT (Interpersonal Psychotherapy) depression toolkits have also been shown to be as effective as MoodGYM in a 2013 equivalence trial undertaken among spontaneous community users. All groups showed moderate to large within-groups effect sizes for reduction in depression symptoms.

The e-couch Depression program has also been demonstrated effective in the reduction of depressive symptoms in people aged 45 years or more with a history of, or risks for, cardiovascular disease, compared to an attention placebo control.

e-couch Anxiety and Worry program:

The e-couch Anxiety and Worry program has recently been trialled as a preventive program for young people in the community (the iChill trial). This study found that when combined with email reminders, e-couch significantly decreased sensitivity to anxiety and ‘number of days out of role’ for participants, at least 12 months after using the program.

The e-couch Anxiety and Worry program is also currently being evaluated in a clustered randomised controlled trial as a preventive program in Australian schools.

e-couch Social Anxiety program:

The e-couch Social Anxiety program has been demonstrated effective by an independent UK group. The 2012 study showed that the e-couch Social Anxiety program significantly reduced levels of social anxiety and depression in participants with high social anxiety.

Research citations:

e-couch Depression Program

  • Crisp, D., Griffiths, K., Mackinnon, A., Bennett, K., & Christensen, H. (2014). An online intervention for reducing depressive symptoms: secondary benefits for self-esteem, empowerment and quality of life. Psychiatry Research, 216(1), 60-66.
  • Donker, T., Bennett, K., Bennett, A., Mackinnon, A., van Straten, A., Cuijpers, P., Christensen, H., Griffiths, M. K. (2013). Internet-delivered interpersonal psychotherapy versus internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for adults with depressive symptoms: randomized controlled noninferiority trial. Journal of Medical Internet research, 15(5), e82.
  • Donkin, L., Hickie, I. B., Christensen, H., Naismith, S. L., Neal, B., Cockayne, N. L., & Glozier, N. (2013). Rethinking the dose-response relationship between usage and outcome in an online intervention for depression: randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(10), e231.
  • Glozier, N., Christensen, H., Naismith, S., Cockayne, N., Donkin, L., Neal, B., Mackinnon, A., Hickie, I. (2013). Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy for adults with mild to moderate depression and high cardiovascular disease risks: a randomised attention-controlled trial. PLOS One, 8(3), e59139.
  • Griffiths, K.M., Mackinnon, A.J., Crisp, D.A., Christensen, H., Bennett, K., Farrer, L. (2012). The effectiveness of an online support group for members of the community with depression: a randomised controlled trial. PLOS One, 7(12): e53244.
  • Cockayne, N.L., Glozier, N., Naismith, S.L., Christensen, H., Neal, B., & Hickie, I.B. (2011). Internet-based treatment for older adults with depression and co-morbid cardiovascular disease: protocol for a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 11(10).

e-couch Anxiety and Worry program

  • Christensen, H., Batterham, P., Mackinnon, A., Griffiths, K. M., Kalia Hehir, K., Kenardy, J., Gosling, J., Bennett, K. (2014). Prevention of generalized anxiety disorder using a web intervention, ichill: randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(9), e199.
  • Calear, A. L., Christensen, H., Griffiths, K. M., & Mackinnon, A. (2013). The Y-Worri project: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 14.
  • Christensen, H., Griffiths, K. M., Mackinnon, A., Kalia, K., Batterham, P. J., Kenardy, J., Bennett, K. (2010). Protocol for a randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of an online e health application for the prevention of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 10.
  • Christensen, H., Guastella, A. J., Mackinnon, A. J., Griffiths, K. M., Eagleson, C., Batterham, P. J., Hickie, I.B. (2010). Protocol for a randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of an online e-health application compared to attention placebo or sertraline in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder. Trials, 11.

e-couch Social Anxiety program

  • Bowler, J.O., Mackintosh, B., Dunn, B.D., Mathews, A., Dalgleish, T., & Hoppitt, L. A. (2012). A comparison of cognitive bias modification for interpretation and computerized cognitive behavior therapy: effects on anxiety, depression, attentional control, and interpretive bias. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(6), 1021-1033.