I just finished reading an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about telehealth and children. I thought I would summarize a few of the points.
The main idea of the article is how therapy with children over video is seeing many benefits. Since many children have grown up using computers building rapport over a screen does not feel weird to them. Many therapists have found that children are comfortable talking to a professional in their own home using familiar toys as props, helps them express their thoughts and feelings. In addition the therapists are provided a window into the child’s home environment.
Dr. Khan the co-chair of the telepsychiatry committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said “Many studies have shown that telehealth is as good as in-person visits and in some cases, is better.” It seems that the genie is out of the bottle and it is not going back in. The goal of telehealth is not to replace in-person care but to complement and supplement it.
The article reported on a young girl that suffered from selective mutism. After the pandemic hit the parents decided to go to telehealth sessions to continue her therapy. They learned that telehealth has its “ups and downs”. In the first 3 Zoom sessions their daughter did not speak much, even though the therapist was the same she had seen in person. By the 4th session though she was laughing and playing games that encouraged her to talk. Once the girl felt comfortable the therapist brought in another adult and now she is comfortable talking with all 3.
Her therapist decided to bring her into a group video session with other children. The first session went well until it was time for show and tell and the young girl could not talk. At the present time they are continuing to work on sharing in group sessions. The ultimate goal according to the parents is to get her talking to people in person and telehealth is helping her move closer to that goal. They look forward to the day when they can visit the therapist in person again.
Telehealth can be an important form of therapy in addition to in person sessions. The skill of the therapist in creating connection and therapeutic interventions is critical for success. If you would like to see a video from our director about telehealth please click on the link.