The percent increase of telemental health appointments in the VA Health Care System from January to April of 2020. Although this level has likely fallen off as in-person appointments become more available, it’s clear that telemental health will be a much larger part of mental health care than it has been. In a recent study consumer openness to telehealth jumped from 11% pre-COIVD to 76% post-COVID.
It has now been over a year since the majority of behavioral health providers have moved to predominantly or exclusively providing therapy via telehealth. This week’s blog will examine several publications sharing initial findings about the experience of online couples therapy by providers and patients as well as some lessons learned over the past year.
After 14 sessions of an evidence-based psychotherapy (EBP) for PTSD, my patient’s improvement was undeniable. His score on the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) had decreased from 62 at baseline to 18 at our final session. He described that his trauma memories no longer had a hold over him, they were fading away in a healthy way. When I looked at his final PCL-5, I was pleased to see he had rated all of the items 0 or 1, except for item #20 (trouble falling or staying asleep), which he rated 4. I had hoped this symptom would have improved as treatment progressed, yet no matter how well our work was going, it hardly budged.
One of the courses that I teach frequently for the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) is “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression: Working with Service Members & Veterans” (CBT-D). At CDP, we update all of our courses regularly to ensure that they’re current and fresh. With the current CBT-D workshop updates, I’m excited to be able to incorporate information from Dr. Judith Beck’s newly released third edition of Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond.
Many of you reading this now will likely agree with me that we’re looking forward to this new year. 2020 was certainly a year of upheaval, disconnection, distress, and for many people, significant loss. Indeed, all of us have experienced loss to one degree or another, whether that is loss of a loved one, income, ease of movement, or peace. Added to that is significant political discord, struggle for social justice, unjustified death and suffering, and disagreement on basic truth. It is easy to point to multiple examples of things we won’t miss about 2020