Psychotherapist experiences with telepsychotherapy: Pre COVID-19 lessons for a post COVID-19 world

Karen MacMullin, Paul Jerry, Karen Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Psychotherapists accelerated their adoption of telepsychotherapy during the COVID-19 outbreak to accommodate preventative isolation and social distancing. Lessons from psychotherapist experiences with technology prior to the outbreak can offer recommendations for practitioners and professional regulators. In this study, psychotherapists were interviewed about their use of technology in practice and interviews were analyzed for consistency with current literature on usual practice and professional regulations. The researchers used actor-network theory to map and explore the links and themes that emerged from the research. We found that technology use was more integrated with psychotherapy practice and psychotherapists were more confident and comfortable with telepsychotherapy than the literature predicted. Key themes arising from the interviews were psychotherapist responsibility and trust that included expanded psychotherapist responsibility, client trust, psychotherapists' self-trust, and trust of information sources. Telepsychotherapy can be enhanced by reflective, intentional practice, making space to examine routine behaviors, and developing strategies to counteract the unreliability of technology. Further, professional and regulatory bodies can support effective practice by developing clear and achievable technological competence responsibilities and by integrating technology training with mandatory psychotherapy education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-264
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2020


  • Actor-network theory
  • Intentionality
  • Psychotherapy
  • Technology
  • Telepsychotherapy


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