Changing times require adaptation

By John Grohol, Psy.D.
September 18th, 2023

Changing times require flexibility and resilience in clinical practice. The old ways of doing things are not always going to be keeping with the times and the needs of clients.

Take, for instance, the rising expectations of patients to be able to communicate with you in-between sessions, whether it is through texting, a messaging app, Facetime, or email.

Psychologists are taught that such between-session communications are generally frowned upon. Yet increasingly, more and more patients expect them. Rather than an outright ban, there may be a middle road that a professional can take to set clear boundaries around such communications.

At one time, most psychologists accepted many different health insurance plans. But times have changed, as professionals face stagnant reimbursement rates, rising inflation, illegal gatekeeping by insurance providers, and increased paperwork demands.

Many psychologists are ditching the acceptance of insurance as soon as they are financially able to do so, leaving many clients scrambling to find therapists who accept their insurance provider.

The pandemic demonstrated the viability and usefulness of telehealth services. Therapists continued seeing patients over video conferencing, and for many patients, it worked just fine.

But insurance providers and states are arguing over whether such services are the same as in-person sessions. (In every way that is meaningful, they are). Psychologists are left trying to piece together a clinical strategy that works best for their practice moving forward, but also one that is reimbursable.

Mobile phone apps have also impacted the therapeutic landscape. Most people have more than one app on their phone tied to self-improvement, relaxation, or stress reduction.

Some go even further and get psychoeducation or even therapy through an app. How these apps interact and impact in-person clinical services is an evolving story, and there is currently little research that examines this intersection.

Psychologists are left improvising strategies that can incorporate (or at least, not ignore) usage of these apps in patients’ lives.

These things remind us that the best way forward is to adapt to changes using your best professional judgment and learning what others are doing in the field.

Being flexible while keeping rooted in psychological science is what so many people are looking for in a good psychologist.

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