An expert reveals what the future of therapy will look like

As states across the country begin to open up following the recent coronavirus crisis, it’s becoming clear that the future of many institutions will look vastly different than than they did before the pandemic in the months and years to come.

Jen Hartstein, Yahoo Life Mental Health Contributor and practicing psychologist, spoke to Yahoo Life and revealed what she feels is in store for the future of therapy and mental health.

Hartstein says that one of the biggest leaps forward in the mental health field during the coronavirus crisis has been how therapists serve their clients.

“Mental health has so many different branches and so many different areas of specialization, just like the medical field, and each one is growing and developing and changing over time,” says Hartstein.

But she adds, “The one thing that hasn’t really changed is how it’s delivered. The service has always been a real, in-person, interpersonal kind of thing, and what we’re learning is that we can provide that same kind of connection and same attunement to our clients over a computer screen.”

Hartstein says that she and other therapists are finding that teletherapy can actually give them new and deeper insights into their clients’ personal lives that they couldn’t have gotten in a traditional office session.

“I see their house, I see their room, I see a family member walk by—any of those things—so it’s opening up doors, I think, that a lot of therapists didn’t know existed,” she says.

Hartstein also shares her hopes for the future of mental health and therapy, and says she’s looking forward to a time when people openly talk about their mental health without the fear of judgment or stigma.

“My hopes for the future of mental health and therapy is that mental health becomes as normal to talk about and as natural for us to be dealing with as physical health, so going to your therapist is as ‘who cares’ as going to your medical doctor,” says Hartstein.

She continues, “When we all realize how important our mental health, is we make it more accessible, we make it more achievable, we allow for the same kinds of benefits as we do for physical ailments, and we really allow people to work on their mental health, because our mental health and our physical health are so intertwined.”

Video Transcript

According to the Census Bureau, since the rise of the pandemic, reported symptoms of anxiety and depression has risen almost a third to a half among those people assessed. So today, we're going to talk about the future of mental health and therapy.

Mental health has so many different branches and so many different areas of specialization, just like the medical fields. And each one is growing and developing and changing over time. The one thing that hasn't really changed is how it's delivered.

The service has always been a real in-person intrapersonal kind of a thing. And what we're learning is we can provide that same connection and that same attunement to our clients over a computer screen. And that's been scary for many because we feel like we're going to lose the personal connection. And I think what we as therapists, and certainly I as a therapist am learning is, I'm not losing that.

In fact, maybe I'm gaining it in a slightly different way because I can see into someone's life in a way that I don't get to see in their office. I see their house. I see their room. I see a family member walk by, any of those things.

So it's opening up doors, I think, that a lot of therapists didn't know existed. The future of therapy is going to be very interesting. One of the things we really rely on in therapy is facial expression. So having sessions with masks on isn't really in anybody's best interest.

So going back to an office that you can't socially distance in may not happen right away. And luckily, we can do teletherapy and be on Zoom or other platforms that really allow us to interact in it as best away as possible. The therapy is portable. And you can kind of take it anywhere and use it as you need.

My hopes for the future of mental health and therapy is that mental health becomes as normal to talk about and as natural for us to be dealing with as physical health. So going to your therapist is as "who cares" as going to your medical doctor. And that's really my hope, is that out of this, when we all realize how important our mental health is, we make it more accessible, we make it more achievable, we allow for the same kinds of benefits as we do for physical ailments, and we really allow people to work on their mental health because our mental health and our physical health are so intertwined.

I really believe that the future of mental health is exciting and bright and only going to help all of us. We have, for too long, ignored the fact that how we feel impacts everything we do. And the more we can focus on how we feel, and how we think, and how we approach our lives, the more fulfilled we can be in our lives, which makes us more physically healthy, makes our relationships more healthy, makes us more satisfied in our jobs. So I really think that if we can keep mental health in the forefront, everything can really be better.

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