The popularity of telehealth and teletherapy services increased during the pandemic, mostly out of necessity. As stay-at-home orders closed nonessential businesses, many healthcare providers, including therapists and counselors, moved their appointments online to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and comply with government mandates. As the threat of the pandemic fades away, and life returns to normal, some people are still opting for telemental health services instead of seeing their therapists in person. What is the reason behind this preference for teletherapy? Learn some answers, as well as information about the benefits of telemental health services, here.
The Increasing Popularity of Teletherapy
There is no doubt that the use of teletherapy services increased during the pandemic. However, as medical offices and clinics have opened back up, teletherapy still remains more popular than it was prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. In fact, a recent study of family therapists revealed just how popular teletherapy has become. The study, which included over 600 therapists in an online survey, found that just 7.92% of clinical work was performed via teletherapy prior to the pandemic. During the pandemic, this figure rose to 88.17%, and therapists predicted that after the pandemic, they would still complete 36.57% of their clinical work via teletherapy.
According to a January 2022 report from the American Psychological Association, 97% of U.S. psychologists feel that telehealth should continue to be an option in the aftermath of the pandemic, and as of 2021, 50% of clinicians were using telehealth with at least some patients. Based on available data, it is pretty clear that teletherapy is here to stay, even if in-person appointments are possible.
Patient Preference for Teletherapy
While some patients have returned to receiving in-person mental health care, and others have opted to continue teletherapy services in the aftermath of the pandemic. During the pandemic, patients and practitioners alike learned that teletherapy came with benefits, even if it was a deviation from the usual way of providing mental health services. A study of over 3,000 patients revealed that 82.2% of them found teletherapy services to be either “excellent” or “good” when delivered via video, and 63.6 % felt that teletherapy was just as effective as in-person mental health treatment. Finally, 64.2% of patients reported they would consider using teletherapy services in the future.
As the pandemic winds down, patients may prefer telemental health services for the following reasons:
- Convenience: There is no need to commute to an office for an appointment, and there is more flexibility in scheduling appointments.
- Accessibility: Patients have reported that teletherapy services are easy to use and access.
- Privacy: Some patients may feel more comfortable seeking mental health care from the privacy of their home using teletherapy services, especially if stigma is a barrier to seeking treatment.
While some patients may prefer the convenience and privacy of teletherapy, others may find that in-person treatment is a better option. For instance, some patients report that they do not feel as connected to their therapists when they participate in virtual therapy services.
The bottom line is that some people may fare better with in-person treatment, but those who choose to continue with teletherapy may do so because it is simply more convenient to work with a therapist from home. This can be especially true for those who have busy schedules, live in rural areas with few treatment options, or struggle with locating childcare so they can attend appointments in-person.
Does Teletherapy Work?
Remote mental health services were a necessity during the pandemic, and some people may have felt these services were simply a temporary alternative to in-person treatment. While some patients may fare better with face-to-face services, the reality is that teletherapy can be quite effective. For example, the body of research shows that teletherapy is generally just as effective as in-person treatment is for alleviating symptoms of depression. Ultimately, choosing teletherapy vs. in-person treatment is a matter of patient preference, with telemental health services being one effective option among all the available mental health resources.
Bridge to Balance Inc, a New Jersey-based mental health provider, offers teletherapy services to meet the needs of those who prefer this treatment modality. We also have locations in Piscataway, Voorhees, and Hamilton for those seeking in-person treatment. Reach out today to schedule an appointment.