From face to face, to face to screen: The Evolution of Therapists’ Attitudes Towards Telehealth
By Anna Conners
Along with the unprecedented rise of the COVID-19 Pandemic, also came the need for a very sudden transition in health and therapy, from normal practices to adjusting to life in a digital world. As humans are very social creatures, this shift in healthcare has been a very challenging one for all affected. The ability for a clinician or therapist to have a connection to their patient, goes beyond the screen, and has been difficult to measure without that same physical aspect.
This being said, as humans we also have the amazing ability to adapt, even under the toughest circumstances, and adapt we have. Nowadays, teletherapy and the use of online platforms to conduct business has not only become the norm, but has grown into a necessity. In further understanding how ideas about telehealth have changed, a comparison of attitudes from before the pandemic to now will show exactly that.
Prior to the pandemic, many professionals were uncomfortable with the use of technology to conduct therapy, especially as there is normally a physical function needed to assess clients. Some were likely even unaware of the fact that therapy existed in the online realm, leaving many therapists unprepared and overwhelmed by the pandemic’s unrelenting push towards a new way of life and business.
Yet in speaking to Pediatric Therapy Associate’s Taylor Kahn, a youth Behavioral Interventionist from Orange County, an encouraging story of adaptation and hope for a better future in therapy can be seen. Like many others prior to the pandemic, Taylor viewed telehealth as a last resort and had never heard about it’s uses in her niche therapy. She worried how she would be able to keep her children focused and truly benefit them from across a screen. And in being fully reliant on the child and parent through telehealth, it became clear that many former aspects of therapy for her would have to change drastically.
Instead Taylor chose to focus on the positives that came out of the move to conducting therapy through an online platform, such as the way it “allowed her to see the actual home environment” of the client’s family. She recounts her new ability to get a different perspective of actually seeing the parent in action with their child, a real plus to a deeper observation and therapeutic analysis. Additionally, she was able to see a new side of parents, within their motivation to provide the best services to their children, flexibility in adapting to new therapy methods, and devotion to the health and happiness of the child.
She began to see the beneficial nature of her online therapy platform, Ready Set Connect, and its ability to provide continuity and assurance to children, parents, and the therapists they worked with. Taylor utilized her newfound technological resources, and found that she could teach more effectively through live video, screen sharing capabilities, and white boards functions than she thought was possible. And in having an optimistic approach to an uncomfortable situation, she not only became a more versatile therapist, but made the lives of many distressed parents much easier to manage.
In some final thoughts shared with me, Taylor believes that though the need for teletherapy will continue for quite some time, the incorporation of it within the health community will gradually subside. As her profession in behavioral intervention is very physical, she does not see teletherapy as a permanent replacement for this type of service, and hopes for a collective path back to the way things were.
Though the transition was abrupt and stressful, she is happy to see people embracing their fear of technology and the unknown, and working together to create a brighter, better, and healthier future for us all. There will always be factors in life out of our control, yet the attitude and determination we bring to finding a solution will always be ours to choose.
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