CBT-based online therapy (telehealth) for college students in the age of the coronavirus
If you are a college student, or the parent or loved one of a student, you know that class schedules and daily routines have been upended, but the need for mental healthcare remains. In an effort to manage the spread of the corona virus (COVID-19), several of California’s major universities have each closed their campus and moved all classes and student services online (e.g., USC, UC Berkeley, and Stanford). Predictably, smaller universities and community colleges followed suit (Marymount California University and El Camino College). However, where does this leave their students?
Many university college counseling centers are taking steps to transition to providing telehealth or online services. Unfortunately, many universities were already impacted before the current public health crisis. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, visits to college counseling centers increased by 30% to 40% between the years 2009 and 2015. College Counseling Centers have struggled to keep up with demands. According to the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors (AAUCCCD), one third of college counseling centers had wait-lists during the 2017-2018 school year.
The current COVID-19 pandemic can only further strain an already overwhelmed college counseling system. If college students already had limited access to counseling through their university, and a public health crisis has further strained the system, what can they do to get the mental healthcare they need? Online CBT therapy is an effective alternative to in-person therapy at a college counseling center.
CBT differentiates itself from other forms of talk therapy by focusing on problem-solving and skill-building with the intention of empowering individuals to use the skills they learn during meetings in their daily lives. CBT is also highly flexible and can be adapted to a variety of situations. For example, many students are stuck at home, or in another isolated area, and the freedoms they enjoyed while away at college are significantly limited. It would be very easy to engage in an unhelpful thinking style often referred to as “all or nothing thinking” in which situations are viewed as either completely good or completely bad, rather than more accurately seeing the situation as falling somewhere in between. Fortunately, by engaging in CBT, the therapist and the student could collaboratively examine the students thoughts in order to view the situation in a more helpful manner. Yes, the student is home with less freedom that normal. However, the student and the therapist could work together to determine what freedoms the student can still exercise. Maybe the student can still go for walks outside while practicing the CDC’s recommendation of staying a safe distance from others. Maybe the the student can participate in one of the many free exercise, art, or dance classes being offered through Instagram Live. CBT is a collaborative process that empowers individuals to examine their thoughts and behaviors and to take action in a way that allows them to adapt in health ways to unhealthy situations, even pandemics.
If you are interested in learning more about online CBT therapy, you can schedule a free phone or video consultation.
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Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and El Segundo.