Psychology treatment, which is often called counselling or therapy, was usually done face-to-face in the past. In the last five to ten years, therapists have increasingly used “telehealth” – using the phone, or videoconferencing, to have meetings with their patients when they are not together in person. This became very popular during the COVID pandemic, when people could still have appointments without the risk of infection.
There are many issues that can happen when having treatment over the phone or computer that would not happen when you are seen in person. Professional psychology researchers have written about how to do telehealth treatment without having these problems. We want to look at the evidence to see what everyone thinks are the best ways to do telehealth for psychology. Next, we want to look at whether telehealth therapy is as effective as in-person therapy and when it should be used.
We will perform a rapid review to search, filter, and synthesize the literature about the efficacy of telehealth treatment for patients with psychological injuries. Our research question is: how effective is telepsychology (compared to its in-person or face-to-face counterpart), and is there any evidence to suggest that one modality (e.g., video) should be used preferentially over another (e.g., phone) or that it is more or less effective for different treatment types (e.g., eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT))?
We consider that our proposed project is of high practical importance because psychological health in the workplace has become a matter of national and international focus, leading to united efforts by stakeholders to preserve and enhance the mental health of workers. We find it likely that even with lifted COVID restrictions, the use of telepsychology approaches may remain one of the therapeutic delivery methods commonly utilized in Alberta. Therefore, it will be important to understand the best ways to make use of these technologies and treatment modalities over the longer term.
Dr. Sebastian Straube