Adjusting to Virtual Therapy During COVID-19

Even prior to COVID-19, which has rapidly increased the shift toward virtual healthcare, the practice was on the rise. A 2020 survey of 842 physicians revealed that close to half of all physicians (48%) are currently treating patients through telemedicine. It’s projected that by 2040, a large portion of healthcare services will be delivered virtually.

In September, the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) surveyed 1,000 Americans finding that only 21% of respondents reported feeling comfortable receiving virtual therapy or counseling.

This post discusses virtual healthcare in more detail and offers a printable list of questions to help people feel more comfortable with receiving virtual mental health services.

Benefits of Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare can also improve services to various patient groups, such as those suffering from mental health issues, seeking primary care, or even needing physical therapy.

Benefits of virtual healthcare include: 

  • Reduced number of appointments needed due to more efficient healthcare services
  • Increased convenience and access to healthcare providers and services
  • Ability to more closely and conveniently manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Reduced need for traveling when sick
  • Ability to bring healthcare providers together, for example by having primary providers and specialists together in a single virtual visit

Comfortability with Virtual Mental Health Services

Despite the rise of virtual healthcare, Americans do not appear to be comfortable receiving virtual mental health services, particularly virtual therapy or counseling, as USAHS survey results demonstrate. This is particularly concerning given the increase in mental health issues as a result of the pandemic. A CDC survey from late June found that U.S. adults reported much higher adverse mental health conditions. In fact, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with anxiety and depression, symptoms related to trauma or substance abuse, and/or suicidal ideation.

It’s vital to improve the perception of virtual therapy in order to ensure that Americans are comfortable receiving the mental healthcare they need. Helping people fully understand both the logistics and benefits of seeing a therapist or counselor virtually could aid them in feeling more comfortable with the process.

In order to facilitate people shifting to virtual mental health treatment, USAHS created a printable list of useful questions that people can ask before starting treatment in order to ensure they have all of the information they need.

These questions pertain to the logistics of virtual treatment, such as if you have the proper technology, vetting a potential provider, for example looking at their general approach to therapy, and questions to ask yourself, such as what a successful therapy experience might look like to you, so that you will get the most out of the experience. 

You can download the questions below.

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