COVID-19

Please participate in our ongoing survey concerning the current use of online consultation technology by psychologists and other mental healthcare professionals in the context of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Based on the survey, the first FAQ (and answers) have been published here

Slides from the webinar from 29 April 2020 can now be found in the section on previous symposia.

The Standing Committee on Psychology & Health and the Project Group on eHealth wish to emphasize the added value of online contact during this period of (self) quarantine.

Online consultations, particularly via video chat, provide a feasible, online alternative to deliver psychological care and therapy. Most psychologists still prefer face-to-face contact with their clients or patients who seek help or support.

However, to safeguard not only your own health, but also that of those seeking your assistance and the society as a whole, alternatives should be explored as much as possible. Research shows that effectiveness of such teleconsultations are slightly less optimal, yet often manage to obtain similar effects to conventional care.

Guidelines for ethical and effective practice have already been in place for quite some time (e.g. from the American Psychological Association). Some essential points we wish to highlight for short-term implementation are:

  1. Discuss the option with your client (preferable over the phone), explaining the rationale and emphasizing the importance of relying on online consultations for now. Ideally, only do this with clients or patients with whom you have already met face-to-face, so you know how to optimally intervene in the real world as well, in case of any emergencies, e.g. risks for self-harm or suicide.
  2. Make sure both you and your client are in a private space and cannot be disturbed.
  3. Assure sufficient time for technical troubleshooting.
  4. Rely on professional videoconferencing tools tailored for teleconsultation. Do not rely on programs like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype or Telegram. In case of any doubt, contact your member association or national authority for suitable tools (e.g., Skype for Business is allowed in Norway, Zoom in Sweden), or consult relevant regulations.
  5. Do not make use of a public computer, log off after a session and keep your operating system and/or apps up to date.
  6. In case you notice a security breach on your computer, inform your patients, inform the police and seek help from an IT security professional.