A recent article in the New York Times surveyed the current, rapidly-expanding, phenomenon of telepsychotherapy. Virtual-therapy-psychiatry-coronavirus.html We members of PTCNY, and other groups, are unexpectedly at the forefront of this movement which, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, took center stage in our practices.
Many of you had been using or considering teletherapy as another tool in your kit but it seems no one can ignore its presence any longer.
We invite you to share your comments/observations on any of the topics discussed in the article, including (but not restricted to) the following.
One teletherapy patient cited in the article writes how the interaction with his therapist has changed:
"There is a drop of social contact, not being able to always see his expression," said Mr. Raymos, 49.
"There's more of an intimacy level when you're one on one and that office door is closed. But there's a comfort level at home. I'll sit there in bed with my dog, Bug, on my lap, and that comfort allows me to talk about things I maybe wouldn't have in the office, because of how painful they are."
• If you've added teletherapy as an option, have your patients shared these — or similar observations?
• Are you patients generally accepting or resisting teletherapy?
• Has providing teletherapy presented any unusual or difficult technical or therapeutic challenges to you, the provider? Add your comments here.
The article goes on to say:
"In March, federal health officials loosened restrictions on practicing across state lines, and have begun to expand reimbursement."
• Have you found this to be true — especially you members who maintain practices spanning state lines? • Is reimbursement an issue?? Add your comments here.
"Overnight, everyone began practicing telepsychiatry, with physicians in New York, Texas, California, able to reach their patients, wherever they were," said Dr. John Torous, director of the digital psychiatry division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard affiliate.
"You're going to get a boost in access in care, for sure," he said. "And I suspect it's going to saturate the system pretty quickly."
• What do you think Dr. Torus means when he says "…it's going to saturate the system pretty quickly" and does your practice experience support this prediction? Add your comments here.
The article cites several studies that show no differences in improvement when telehealth is compared to face-to-face therapy. • Does your experience support this research or have you noticed dramatic differences? Add your comments here.
Finally, thinking ahead: • Do you see teletherapy as an instrument to expand your practice to clients or areas you may previously have ignored? Add your comments here.
To all the PTCNY members who take part in this discussion, the group offers its grateful appreciation.
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Judith Gringorten, LCSW, DCSW — Executive Director Robin Halpern, LCSW–R, DCSW — Assistant Director Special Projects Coordinator: Leslie Goldstein, LCSW, BCD Articles &... Editor: Robin Halpern, LCSW–R, DCSW