Couples Therapists’ Attitudes Toward Online Therapy During the COVID-19 Crisis

Reut Machluf, Michal Abba Daleski, Ben Shahar, Ofra Kula, Eran Bar-Kalifa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The measures adopted by governments around the world to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus (e.g., social distancing) have propelled a rapid transition from face-to-face to online therapy. Studies on online individual therapy indicate that therapists often have favorable attitudes toward this modality. To date, there is scant work on couples therapists’ attitudes, despite the fact that the provision of online couples’ therapy poses unique challenges (e.g., dealing with escalating conflict remotely). To provide a snapshot, in real time, as to how therapists experience the transition to online therapy, we surveyed 166 Israeli couples’ therapists during April 2020, when lockdown orders prevented therapists from seeing couples face-to-face. A few weeks later, when the stay-at-home policy was lifted, a subsample (N = 60) of these therapists completed a follow-up assessment. The results suggest that couples therapists had limited experience using the online modality prior to COVID. The therapists reported experiencing online couples’ therapy as somewhat successful and that their experience of providing therapy during the COVID-19 crisis had an overall positive impact on their attitudes toward online work. Establishing a strong therapeutic bond with both partners, dealing with escalating conflict, and treatment dropout were identified as the issues of most concern when conducting online couples therapy. The perceived difficulties with online therapy prospectively predicted lower usage of online couples’ therapy, as well as less intention to continue online treatment once the crisis is over.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Process
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • COVID-19
  • Couples Therapy
  • Online Therapy

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