Psychology Went Remote with Telehealth (the Trend is Here to Stay)
The popularity of telehealth surged during the height of the global pandemic and continues as the pandemic recedes. Surveys of patients and practitioners, including psychologists, indicate this trend is something both groups support.
Many turned to telehealth for mental health services to help them cope with the isolation during pandemic-related lockdowns. Telehealth allowed therapy sessions without the one-on-one contact health officials warned people to avoid. The technology employed in telehealth ranged from video conferencing apps and FaceTime to simple voice phone calls.
The popularity of telehealth continues because of its effectiveness and convenience. Licensed Psychologists support it, as well. In a practitioner survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2021, 96 percent of psychologists said telehealth is valid therapeutically, and 97 percent said it should remain an option for patients post-pandemic.
What Is Telehealth?
The term “telehealth” encompasses any type of medical service, including mental health services, offered through technology. Whether delivered online or via phone, telehealth services eliminate the need for patients and psychologists to meet in person.
Telehealth includes various digital tools for different therapeutic sessions, including individual phone sessions, group therapies through virtual counseling, treatment through instant messaging or email, and apps developed specifically for telehealth, according to healthcare software company Vicert.
The idea is to make therapy sessions more convenient. And with practicing therapists saying that telehealth is effective, patients – and professionals earning a degree in psychology – should prepare for a future where telehealth plays a more prominent role than in the past.
Patients Want the Telehealth Option
Telehealth has always been a good option for older patients and those with limited mobility or few transportation options. It also allows rural residents living far from the nearest psychologist to benefit from therapeutic services. But because of the pandemic, more people than ever have been introduced to the convenience of telehealth. A survey by CVS Health found that 48 percent of respondents plan to use mental health services more when they can access them through telehealth.
Most experts agree there’s little chance of returning to how things operated previously. A recent paper published in the American Journal of Accountable Care remarked, “it is hard to imagine going back to a system where virtual health isn’t an option that patients can choose for many types of care.”
Benefits of Telehealth for Psychologists
In the APA study, psychologists said the primary benefit of telehealth is that it increases access to care. That proves beneficial at any time but is especially important as the demand for psychological services increases. The study found that 43 percent of psychologists reported an increase in the past year in their number of patients, while 68 percent reported longer waitlists for their practice.
The demand for psychologists is apparent in federal data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6 percent increase in psychologists by 2031. Pay also has increased, with the median salary for a psychologist reaching $81,040 in May 2021.
Telehealth – or telepsychology, as it is often called in the psychology field – also allows practitioners to work with patients over long distances. Even if a patient moves away from the state where the psychologist holds a license, a psychologist can still work with the patient through provisions of the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT). This interstate compact, now approved in 27 states, facilitates the practice of telepsychology across state boundaries.
The APA also advocates that insurance payers compensate psychologists at the same level for telepsychology as in-person sessions.
Touro University Worldwide Online Psychology Degrees
Touro University Worldwide offers online degree programs for a BA in Psychology and an MA in Psychology. Designed for working adults, these programs provide students the flexibility to earn a degree while continuing to work a full-time job.
TUW, a pioneer in online higher education, is a fully accredited university offering online degrees dedicated to providing students with a liberal arts education in a global-minded setting. TUW offers affordable degrees, a generous credit transfer policy, and is a military-friendly school.
Graduates from the TUW psychology programs are prepared to earn their licensure and practice in the field.