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  • Brittany Montes, Psy. D.

Is Telehealth as Good as Traditional Therapy?

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the field of therapy being forced to rapidly adapt to providing services via telehealth. Now that the public health emergency has come to a close, telehealth appears to remain in large demand by patients and providers alike. In fact, in a study, Clay (2022) found that approximately 96% of psychologists find telehealth-based therapy to be an effective treatment modality. Similarly, 97% of surveyed psychologists believe that telehealth-based therapy should remain post-pandemic. Furthermore, Watson (2020) found that approximately 75% of Americans felt that the pandemic has mad them more eager to try telehealth for psychotherapy treatment.


Telehealth therapy

However, it is often asked if telehealth is as effective as traditional therapy.


There are several disadvantages to telehealth-based therapy. Basavarajappa et al. (2022) note that, despite the popularity of telehealth and its necessity during the pandemic, many insurance companies offer only minimal coverage of telehealth services. Additionally, Gajarawala and Pelkowski (2021) note that many patients do not have access to a reliable internet connection and electronic devices capable of supporting telehealth services. Watson (2020) also identifies concerns regarding the ability of providers and patients to maintain the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI) on digital platforms.


Conversely, there are numerous advantages to the use of telehealth-based services in the field of psychology. Specifically, Watson (2020) notes that telehealth increases providers’ ability to provide services to people who experience mobility issues and/or live in rural areas. Basavarajappa et al. (2022) also found that telehealth has made therapeutic services more accessible and time-efficient for populations across the board. Furthermore, because telehealth allows individuals to remain in their own home, they may feel an increased sense of safety and privacy that an office cannot provide (Gajarwala & Pelkowski 2021). As a final note, Alvord et al. (2019) finds that telehealth sessions often allow for increased support by family members and a generalization of skills across settings.


Just like most options for treatment, telehealth comes with its advantages and disadvantages. However, overall, the advantages do seem to outweigh the disadvantages and offers individuals treatment options that otherwise would not have been available to them!



About the Author

Dr. Montes is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-owner of Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Chesapeake, VA.


References

Alvord, M., Shiffrin, N., & Cummings, C. (2019, March 19). Telemental Health: Benefits and potential pitfalls. https://chadd.org/attention-article/telemental-health-benefits-and-potential-pitfalls/


Basavarajappa C, Grover S, Dalal PK, Avasthi A, Kumar CN, Manjunatha N, Sahoo S, Saha G, Mehra A, Singh OP, Tripathi A, Gangadhar BN, Math SB. Perceived advantages and disadvantages of telepsychiatry - An online survey of psychiatrists in India. Indian J Psychiatry. 2022 Jan-Feb;64(1):93-97. doi: 10.4103/indianjpsychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_332_21. Epub 2022 Jan 21. Erratum in: Indian J Psychiatry. 2022 Mar-Apr;64(2):221. PMID: 35400742; PMCID: PMC8992744.



Gajarawala SN, Pelkowski JN. Telehealth Benefits and Barriers. J Nurse Pract.

2021 Feb;17(2):218-221. doi: 10.1016/j.nurpra.2020.09.013. Epub 2020 Oct 21.

PMID: 33106751; PMCID: PMC7577680.


Smith, A., & Rose, S. A. (2021, March 12). Research roundup: How Telehealth can be used to address population health disparities. Research roundup: How telehealth can be used to address population health disparities. https://www.apaservices.org/practice/ce/expert/telehealth-population-disparities#:~:text=Given%20the%20efficacy%20and%20convenience,will%20serve%20to%20increase%20their


Watson, S. (2020, October 12). Telehealth: The advantages and disadvantages. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/telehealth-the-advantages-and-disadvantages

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