Isaac Hahn MA Psychologist (Candidate Registered) and Deborah Bird M.Sc., Registered Psychologist
COVID has certainly shaken up our lives in many ways, over the last few years. It has forced us to be more cautious and aware of virus transmission. It has introduced masking and social distancing, and has led people to be more mindful of how they respond to health issues.
There have also been some positives amidst the pandemic. People had the opportunity to slow down their pace of life, notice what matters most to them, and we have seen new methods to access healthcare become widespread. Among those methods is telepsychology.
Telepsychology is a relatively new way to access mental health services. Clinical research has shown strong support for telepsychology (online therapy by videoconferencing, or telephone therapy) as an effective method of delivering mental health services. Recent evidence suggests that online therapy, telephone therapy and in-person therapy are equally effective for several types of mental health difficulties. These include depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, certain eating disorders, panic disorder and gambling problems.
From a practical framework, the introduction of telepsychology has made it easier for many clients to attend therapy, as they can do it in their own home. It allows people to take less time off of work, since they do not need to commute to their appointments. Telepsychology also allows mental health services to become more accessible to people living in rural communities.
Among the benefits, it’s important to note that there can be downsides to telepsychology. Clinicians no longer have control over the environment in which therapy is conducted. There may be glitches in the internet connection, and therapy can get interrupted during important therapeutic moments. Telephone sessions may offer more reliable connections, if internet problems occur in video sessions, however.
Future research on telepsychology will help us better understand what other sorts of client issues telepsychology is well-suited for, and how we can improve it. Telepsychology is a promising pathway to providing more accessible care, and increasingly robust evidence supports it as effective for many of the difficulties traditionally addressed by in-person therapy. If you have questions about telepsychology, or aren’t sure what type of therapy might be right for you, consider talking to a psychologist. This can be one of us here at Bird & Associates Psychological Services, or another registered (or candidate registered) psychologist in your province. At Bird & Associates, we are licensed to provide telepsychology services to people across Nova Scotia.
Clients living in the other Atlantic provinces are generally eligible as well.
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