With the outbreak of the coronavirus, much of mental health service delivery shifted online. Regulations regarding payment and confidentiality were scaled back in an effort to deal with the unprecedented circumstances, allowing clinicians and their clients to meet virtually in order to reduce the spread of the illness.
But is teletherapy helpful?
Listening to discussions among therapists on social media, the assessment is decidedly mixed. Almost all are grateful for the opportunity online platforms provide to meet with clients. On the other hand, many question its effectiveness relative to in person services. At a minimum, challenges exist.
So, what does the research indicate?
Drum roll please …
no difference in outcome for adults, adolescents and children being treated for the most common concerns addressed in psychotherapy (e.g., depression, anxiety, trauma, eating problems, substance abuse). What’s more, online services are associated with greater utilization of and less dropout from mental health care.
That said, challenges are evident. For most clinicians and clients, teletherapy is an entirely new enterprise requiring a period of learning and adjustment. Critically, the sensory input clinicians rely upon to make clinical judgments is also restricted — all the more reason to make “Feedback-Informed Treatment (FIT) a routine part of the services you provide. Even if you’re regularly seeking feedback from clients using standardized measures like the Outcome and Session Rating Scales, doing so virtually will be new for most.
It’s why many of my posts since mid-March have provided detailed information using the measures online (read them by clicking: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Below you’ll finds links to all the “how-to” videos FIT Certified Trainers created over the last four months. No need to re-invent the wheel –and, no, if you’ve downloaded paper and pencil copies, digitizing the measures is not allowed — but there’s really no need. Three authorized systems are available that administer, score, and most importantly, provide access to real time feedback and a series of evidence-based metrics for assessing your performance and developing deliberate practice objectives.
Until next time,
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.