Studies Show Video Therapy and Telepsychiatry Work
Studies support the effectiveness of video sessions of psychotherapy.
Posted September 11, 2020
Are telepsychiatry and video/virtual psychotherapy helpful?
Reviews of telepsychiatry studies, including a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry in 2016, have consistently found that telepsychiatry works. It leads to positive participant satisfaction, improved and reliable results, and can be a productive way to get help. It may even be more cost-effective than traditional face-to-face meetings. Telepsychiatry has been useful and effective in settings ranging from in-home video psychotherapy sessions to emergency department psychiatric consultations to nursing homes for the elderly.
Telepsychiatry and virtual psychotherapy offer significant support to participants and provide benefits including:
- better access to mental health care and providers
- positive treatment results and participant satisfaction
- less delay to getting care
- greater efficiency with time for both participants and providers, increasing productivity of both
- less need to take time off for work or childcare services to get to and attend appointments
- less transportation delays and difficulties that may get in the way of making appointments
- less stigma to receiving care
- greater ability to access expert or specialized consultations and follow-up care that might not be available otherwise
In some states, medical licensure requirements for offering health care have been modified during the pandemic (laws vary state-to-state), so people may also be able to seek help from professionals outside their city or state of residence. This is important especially for rural areas or states with less availability of local providers of mental health care or specialized consultations. Some health insurance plans may even be able to reimburse individuals for sessions with clinicians who are out-of-state (every plan and state is different, so contact your individual insurance health plans to find out more).
Some studies of telepsychiatry conducted before the pandemic found that clinicians have been more concerned than participants themselves about using remote therapy, including concerns remote sessions would make it harder to establish rapport. But many psychotherapists are finding that psychotherapy and telepsychiatry have been very important and helpful ways to offer support, especially during a time when face-to-face meetings are not possible.
Furthermore, studies have shown that participants find video therapy and telepsychiatry useful and effective. In a study of school-based telepsychiatry, students felt very satisfied with telepsychiatry, and students, teachers, and clinicians felt it was an efficient use of their time. In a study of telepsychiatry for depression, people felt more satisfied with therapy over time, as the number of video-based sessions increased. In a study of older veterans, 90 percent of them enjoyed video therapy — preferring it even over in-person, despite the process being new to them.
As the pandemic continues to increase mental health care needs, video psychotherapy and telepsychiatry are helpful and highly effective solutions to expand access to care.
To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.