Teletherapy is finally here to stay

Starting around late March, Mary Alvord stopped seeing patients in person. The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown orders meant that she, like lots of psychologists, had to figure out how to keep their practices going when office appointments were impossible.

Alvord, who has a private practice in the suburbs of Washington, DC, had a leg up on many other psychologists: She’s been treating patients remotely for nearly a decade. “I would say 10-15% of our practice was already telehealth,” she says. “But we had to quickly pivot to it being 100% of those willing.” Her practice already had a digital platform compliant with health-related privacy laws and patient release forms that included a clause about telehealth. Many of her existing patients were able to quickly make the jump online.

She initially became interested in telehealth in part because she believes it allows more patients access to mental health services. And since mid-March, Alvord has used her experience to educate an estimated 10,000 mental health practitioners in how to maintain care from a distance.

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