Starting in March 2020 with the pandemic shutdown, many therapists shifted from providing traditional 50-minute office-based therapy sessions to online teletherapy sessions. The question is whether this approach benefits clients. According to studies conducted from both before and since the start of the pandemic, the answer is yes. It is important to be clear about what is being referred to as “traditional therapy,” which is a style of therapy where the process starts with an intake assessment that results in a diagnosis. Generally, sessions in traditional therapy are about an hour long and take place on a routine, scheduled basis. Finally, traditional therapy is more than just talking or coaching. Based on a relationship between the patient and the therapist, it uses a variety of techniques that have been found to be effective to reduce symptoms or increase an individual’s sense of well-being.

In the July 2020 journal for the American Psychological Association, an article titled “How well is telepsychology working?” gave a brief history of the use of telehealth prior to the pandemic. Using a phone to deliver care or do assessments started in the 1960s. Reaching certain populations has always been an issue. Rural areas have had a lower number of mental health therapists for a long time, but patients could be reached by phone. Other restricted locations, such as prisons, have also had a need for mental health providers. Sometimes the use of video conference psychiatry in the prison system was known as “the doc in the box.”

Margaret H. Swartz, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice with Yorlan Psychological Associates. She is a member of the Behavioral Health Task Force of Healthy Adams County.

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