The future is bright. The future is REMOTE.
The world as we know it is changing, but that doesn’t mean that services should any less accessible. I have been asked a lot of questions recently about how therapy sessions, assessments, and consultations will continue to work given the social distancing guidance which is currently in place. The future is bright. The future is remote.
I will tell you how… TECHNOLOGY. The power of technology has never been more important than it is right now and is likely to be one of the safest ways to work with clients and this is just one of the reasons why the future is bright.
Even though some people crave social connection and work better face to face, it is useful that this is being given as an option to people, especially those who may struggle with social anxiety or agoraphobia but still want to be able to access the help.
According to the BPS (British Psychological Society), there is guidance in place to about how psychological assessments can be done remotely.
COVID 19 Regualtions
‘These guidelines apply to UK practitioner psychologists conducting psychological assessments of individuals under the specific restrictions in practice which are in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. We acknowledge that remote assessment is already a recognised practice in some circumstances.
However, during the pandemic, many psychologists who would not routinely undertake remote assessments are considering doing so due to the restrictions in place.
The challenges of Covid-19 may affect the assessment process in many ways. Restrictions include limits on face-to-face meetings, the need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and limited or no opportunities for psychologists and clients to handle materials. In addition, the way Covid-19 affects everyday life will change the way clients feel and behave.
This does not necessarily mean that assessment cannot be done but services and psychologists may face the choice of whether to undertake an assessment remotely, face-to-face, or not at all and will need to carefully consider the risks of each alternative. (BPS, May 2020).
So how can Remote Assessments help support people moving forwards through the pandemic? How will this benefit individuals?
Why the future is bright.
Here are some things we do know about remote assessments.
- It will allow psychologists and therapists to be accessible so that treatment can continue. Everybody should be able to access support regardless of their condition. This will be ideal for people who may struggle with mobility or a diagnosed medical or psychological condition such as social anxiety. This allows professionals to be responsive to individuals. For people who may find to talk in person, this offers another option via telephone or video call. However, for people who would prefer to talk in person, this can be more difficult. There are options for video calling such as Zoom or other video platforms.
- It supports the continuity of assessments during the pandemic so that people who are not already known to services, have the opportunity to do so. There will be plenty of people who are on the waiting lists to be seen by a psychological professional before lockdown. That is not to mention, those who may have developed symptoms during the pandemic period.
- The use of technology may alter the assessment process, so careful consideration needs to be taken regarding threats to the validity of the assessment taking place. Although the use of technology is useful in terms of accessibility, it could make it harder to explore certain topics with that person and fully gauge body language and social cues. This can impact how realistic the assessment could be and is not something that can be easily dismissed.
- The ‘referral to assessment to treatment’ process may take less time than expected. Through the remote model, the timeframe between referral and assessment may be significantly reduced, offering clients more immediate access to therapeutic support. However, the assessment may take longer than expected, especially if there is a lot of information to consider. Psychological assessments can take time to complete and this is to ensure the psychologist or therapist will be able to offer you the correct support.
- It may feel more or less comfortable depending on the individual. It may feel unusual to some to have a session remotely as opposed to face to face and this could go either way for some people. Some people may find it more safe and secure to be in their home setting when the session takes place; others, however, may prefer being away from the home environment (factors such as having children at home can cause distractions or individuals may feel safer out of the home if domestic abuse is prevalent) and may seek safety in the office of the therapist. Being aware of an individual’s situation will be crucial to ensure that any risks are managed appropriately so it allows them to be open during the sessions.
- PPE will not be required for remote assessments. Remote assessments will not be compromised by the use of PPE such as face masks. If there will be guidance in place that requires face masks to worn during a session or an assessment, this will make it difficult to observe cues that are heavily relied upon during assessment. However, with that in mind, although technology would allow for these remote sessions to take place, they may also be compromised if the video or audio is of poor quality.
- It may allow more flexibility and gives individuals the ability to choose the method they prefer. Being able to work remotely might mean that people are able to work more flexibly in regards to appointments. Giving clients an enhanced level of choice and control, whilst offering referrers a more cost-effective and timely method of accessing the best therapy for their client.
Essentially, it comes down to the individual and their safety.
Considerations still need to be taken and reviewed as this process continues. Psychological professionals have things that need to be considered to ensure the safety and confidentiality of their clients.
If you have any questions about remote assessments and therapy and want to know how this could impact your support, get in touch with us. We want to ensure that all of our clients and potential clients are supported in the best way possible to get the most out of the services that we provide.
‘Psychological assessment undertaken remotely’ (2020). [online] Available at: https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/Policy/Policy%20-%20Files/Psychological%20assessment%20undertaken%20remotely.pdf
[Accessed 24 July 2020].
Theotpractice.co.uk. 2020. Services For Case Managers – The OT Practice. [online] Available at: https://www.theotpractice.co.uk/coronavirus/ot-practice-online/case-managers[Accessed 24 July 2020].