Field Notes: COVID-19 and the Provision of Psychological Services
As we might expect, given increases in number of clients being served, those doing individual psychotherapy or group psychotherapy often reported increases in income. As one would also expect, some of our limited sample of organizational consultants reported a decrease in income. A nonfinancial challenge also faced some of our non-therapy respondents. Apparently, for those doing consulting and teaching/supervision, the nature of problems being presented by those availing themselves of their services shift in some instances as a result of the virus.
We turn finally to the critical question of effectiveness. Almost everyone in all four service areas indicated that they were no less effective. However, as in the case of shifts in the problem presented, we find a more dispersed response among the organizational consultants. Some of those providing these consultation services consider themselves less effective as a result of the virus. Would we find a similar decrease in effectiveness among a larger sample of consultants? Our fourth point of inquiry focuses on this question of perceived (and actual) effectiveness.
With regard to the future of psychological services beyond COVID-19, we see in a preliminary way, that anticipations regarding new strategies on the part of the organizational consultants (and to a lesser extent the trainer/teachers) were diffuse. It probably depends on the type of consulting they are doing and the type of client they are serving. The therapists were a bit more definitive. They are likely to introduce some shifts in strategies and in some instances, quite a bit of change in the way they engage in their work. Would these findings hold up with a larger sampling? We offer this question as our fifth point of inquiry regarding service area.
A second consideration about the future of psychological services concerned the use of technology. This consideration yielded the largest difference in responses as a function of service area. The individual therapist, group therapists and trainer/teachers often indicated some rather large shifts toward more use of digital technologies. Among those doing organizational consulting there was little anticipation of major change—this might either be because they are already making extensive use of technologies in their consulting work, or because they do not see technology as being an answer to the new challenges that they face in providing psychological services given the COVID-19 impact. Further study could yield clarity regarding this matter. A sixth point of inquiry can be engaged to address these potential differences in the post-COVID use of technologies.
The final issue to be addressed was the potential shifting of direction in the type of services being provided as a result of the virus. We find that most of the respondents to our survey are set in their ways, though some of our organizational consultants are considering a shift, and a few respondents doing individual therapy and training/teaching are contemplating some changes. None of those doing group therapy indicated that they are considering a shift in their practice. It will be value to do a longitudinal study that reveals if there are some post-virus shifts in practice among the four groups we surveyed. This study could be guided by a seventh point of inquiry regarding actual shifts in psychological services being rendered in nations and regions throughout the world.