Therapy… it’s that one word that can mean so many different things to so many different people. To some, it stands for that one hour a week where they can reclaim their lives and work to become the people that they truly want to be. For others, it takes on an almost mysterious aura, representing an experience that they don’t quite understand, but would love to try.
Whatever therapy might mean to you or what you might think it entails, the one thing that many people should be able to agree on is that the popular attitude toward it is changing. While the processes and routines have surely remained pretty much the same for decades, a resurgence has definitely begun. Therapy is no longer something experienced in secret, with a stigma of shame or uncertainty attached to it. With celebrities like anyone from the British royal family to Lady Gaga becoming champions for mental health, it is no longer something discussed in a whisper amongst only the closest of friends.
So, with more and more people embracing therapy and other mental health programs, therapists are finding that they need to find ways to see more patients in a day and to become more efficient in their practices. They must also ensure that once new patients take the leap and begin therapy, that they stay engaged and continue to experience gratification in their sessions.
Let’s look at three changes that therapy is undergoing to accommodate both its patients and its providers.
Now that some of the stigma often associated with mental health disorders has lifted due to raising awareness, therapists may find that there is a rise in patients who have never experienced a therapeutic setting before. But now that these patients are finally receiving the therapy that they need, it is even more important than ever before to ensure that they, as well as long-time therapy patients, stay engaged in between their office visits.
This is where new technology steps in and offers patient engagement solutions. A patient can download an app to their smartphone or tablet, allowing them to track their anxiety, depression or other disorder through a variety of sliding scales and surveys. This information is then sent directly to the therapist, who can process this to determine a course of action for their next visit. This is a win-win for both the patient and the clinician, as that the patient is reminded of their therapy in between visits, and the therapist is provided with additional information to assist them in providing even better, more informed care.
As more and more people begin mental health treatment, therapists are finding that running their practice like a well-oiled machine is not only ideal, but an absolute necessity. And if they can find a way to fit in just one more patient each day, they are definitely doing their part in providing mental healthcare to the people who may need it the most.
However, there are only so many hours in a day, right? How can therapists possibly carve out enough time to see one additional patient?
Once again, technology arrives to save the day. Therapists can learn to take better therapy notes with software and use scheduling calendars for their appointments. And while it may have seemed like something from the future a few years ago, they can now also utilize video sessions, so that a patient never has to miss an appointment.
When a patient arrives in the office, they must also complete their intake, which can take quite a few minutes of administrative time. But patients may now complete their intake from a kiosk or a tablet in the office, as well as use mental health assessment tools to monitor their therapy or screen for other mental health triggers.
Integrated care is when two healthcare options work together to provide an even higher level of care for patients. The two most commonly recognized are physical and mental healthcare. As you can imagine, this healthcare model is growing popularity, and it continues to provide more positive outcomes than traditional healthcare models.
Imagine that there is a patient in need of mental healthcare, but they have not been screened by a healthcare provider to even know that they are suffering. Or what is there is no available therapist in the area, due to either a long waiting list or geographical restraints? Sadly, in the past, these patients may have gone without treatment. However, as integrated care is introduced to more communities, and more primary care physicians set up successful integrated care, the number of patients who do not have access to mental healthcare will decrease.
Finally, the time has come when therapy is being embraced by a culture that has realized its importance. In the days ahead, it will be exciting to see how more new technological advances and an even heightened sense of awareness will alter therapy as we know it today. If we hold on for the ride and embrace new ideas that can be both more efficient and beneficial, we will have the opportunity to provide BETTER mental healthcare to even MORE patients than ever before. Can we really ask for a more positive outcome?