The Future of School Psychology: Post Pandemic Teletherapy in Schools
With the disruptions caused by COVID-19 almost behind us, the use of teletherapy will remain a critical service delivery model for providing school psychology services. Learn more in our article written by School Psychologist Dr. Pedro Olvera.
Effective School Psychology Services through Telepractice
More than a year has passed since the COVID-19 virus was declared a global pandemic and the world, if for a brief period, was forced to shut down. Many industries were forced to transition to a myriad of remote work and hybrid modalities to accommodate this global disruption. School districts across the country adjusted by offering multimodal learning options like online, distance, and hybrid, while some remained in-person. School psychologists have not been immune to these changes. Historically, the delivery of mental health and assessment-related services have been, for the most part, delivered face-to-face. However, with many schools only offering remote learning, school psychologists have turned to video conferencing and clinical platforms to maintain consistent contact with their students. Since the pandemic began, there has been an increase in the availability of remote platforms, which has facilitated the delivery of mental health services and have proven to be just as effective as those provided in person.
Continued Demand for Teletherapy Services
The pandemic and consequent school closures did not catch VocoVision by surprise. This past year has been business as usual for us. We have continued to provide high-quality teletherapy across disciplines by partnering with school districts and ensuring that children could access their academic curriculum using our innovative platform and our highly qualified teletherapists. As we look forward to future school years and the return of schools to a pre-pandemic baseline, teletherapy will continue to be in demand and the norm in many respects. The following factors will contribute to this demand:
Research continues to demonstrate that teletherapy is just as effective as in-person.
Research on mental health outcomes using teletherapy/virtual modalities has been very positive. A recent meta-analysis looked at 20 years of research in teletherapy and found positive results in terms of treatment outcomes, client satisfaction, and high levels of the therapeutic alliance (Wade et al., 2020). VocoVision providers are trained in the latest technology and therapy methods that lead to successful mental health outcomes.
There is growing acceptance and promotion of using technology in consultations and service delivery in schools in the school psychology profession (Doll et al., 2020).
This acceptance and promotion have normalized teletherapy at schools and a growing number of universities offer specialized training in this area. VocoVision clinical leaders keep abreast of the latest trends in the profession and contribute to the professional knowledge base by conducting training for practicing teletherapists.
Technology has proven to increase efficiency and service delivery.
School psychologists have reported that teletherapy services can significantly reduce their morning and afternoon commute time and traveling between schools during the day (Schultz et al., 2018). Several hours are lost while traveling between schools, attending meetings, and attending various assessments. Teletherapy can replace the lost hours with direct services to students, parents, and teachers.
There is a nationwide shortage of school psychologists leaving many positions unfilled.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), there is a critical shortage of school psychologists nationwide (NASP, n.d.) This shortage can have a detrimental impact on the availability of mental health services for children who need it most. Teletherapy can provide access to a pool of candidates not available locally to help meet the needs of children with mental health needs in schools.
Many platforms are now available that facilitate assessment and mental health services.
With the increased awareness of the interdependent relationship between academic outcomes and social-emotional learning, the connection between educational providers and students is vital. School districts have turned to online platforms to provide mental health support for children remotely (Fleming, 2020). The Vocovision Toolkit is an example of one such platform. This innovative platform provides school psychologists and related providers with the ability to make face-to-face connections with students while maximizing students’ academic and social-emotional learning outcomes.
Teletherapy Facilitating Connections for Years to Come
While the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is almost behind us, the use of teletherapy will continue to serve as an alternative modality for the delivery of school psychology services. The forced transition to teletherapy across the country demonstrated that this delivery method is just as effective as in-person. More importantly, teletherapy was foundational for keeping children connected with the school psychologist and other related providers when the world was isolated and distanced from one another.