You’re likely still on a couch, just not in your therapist’s office.
As a result of the pandemic, therapy and counseling sessions across the world have moved, like most things, to a mainly virtual experience. Though it existed as an option pre-pandemic, it wasn’t necessarily a common practice. This was a large shift in the counseling experience, and perhaps one that was needed to make it more accessible.
CivicScience has tracked the spike in adoption of telemedicine at large (virtual doctor visits) since the pandemic started. For the purpose of this study, however, surveys were launched specific to teletherapy, where an individual can receive therapy or counseling services remotely.
The topline numbers are telling. According to poll results from more than 4,600 respondents, twenty-three percent of U.S. adults familiar with teletherapy (which is about three-fourths of all adults) have experience with teletherapy. Another 14% intend to try it.
It is worth noting that though overall adoption (“I’ve tried it”) is high, nearly half of those who did try it didn’t like the experience.
In terms of the quality of care compared to non-virtual visits, it is up to the individual to rate. When looking at just U.S. adults who have experience with teletherapy, 40% say the quality is just about the same as an in-person therapy appointment, and 7% even say the quality of care they received is higher.
As we found recently in a similar study about virtual doctor visits, it’s important to note that more than half of those who have experienced teletherapy say the quality of their visits is lower than those in-person.
This is evidenced further when looking at cross-tabulated experience and quality of care. Seventy-seven percent of those who tried and like teletherapy say the quality is higher or the same. On the flip-side, eighty-one percent of those who tried and didn’t like it say the quality was lower.
It’s clear that the specific quality of the teletherapy session or counselor drives the overall sentiment about the practice at large.
Overall, women are more interested in (and happy with) teletherapy visits than men are, but really only slightly so.
The data show that life stage is undoubtedly a factor in a huge way. The youngest American adults (those 18-24) have the highest intent to try teletherapy, but also are the most likely to have tried it already and not been keen on the experience. The 25-44-year-old age group is the most likely to have already tried it and been pleased with the experience.
To the surprise of exactly nobody right now amid figuring out plans for fall schooling (and everything else), parents are more likely to have either tried teletherapy already or plan to try it compared to their non-parent counterparts.
Job Impact + Mental Health
The economic impact of COVID-19 comes into play. Those who are out of work as a result of the pandemic are the most likely to report having tried teletherapy and liking it. Interestingly, those who are still working at some cadence have the highest intent to try it.
What’s more, those who plan to try it have the highest level of stress lately compared to those who have already tried it, or are not interested in teletherapy.
This, of course, correlates with an individual’s reported happiness, too. Those who have tried and like teletherapy report the highest levels of happiness compared with the other groups. The highest unhappiness is reported among those who plan to try teletherapy.
Teletherapy, even beyond the pandemic, will likely be the norm for many practitioners and clients. CivicScience will check in on the adoption of (and experience with) teletherapy on an ongoing basis.