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  • How has mental health therapy changed over the past seven years?

    Written by MFC CEO and Therapist, Alison Pidgeon, LPC

    This month marks Move Forward Counseling’s seventh anniversary. In 2015, we had two providers, me and another therapist, in a single office in East Hempfield. A lot has changed since then! We now have over 35 therapists and multiple locations across Pennsylvania. 
     
    Now when I reflect on the last seven years of Move Forward Counseling providing mental health services, I think of time as two categories “pre-pandemic” and “pandemic.” From 2015 until the start of the pandemic in 2020, 99% of the services we provided were “in person” due to telehealth not being widely covered by insurance companies. Also, telehealth was largely not familiar to those seeking assistance, so it was not requested.
     
    The pandemic’s start in March 2020 dramatically changed the mental health industry. Telehealth became the only option, and we quickly had to pivot to provide our previously “in-person” services online with an entirely remote workforce. To say this was a challenge is an understatement as a business owner. What was amazing, however, was that my staff all pulled together and made it happen within two days, so we could conduct all our sessions without missing a beat.
     
    As a result, clients became familiar with and comfortable with telehealth services. Many also found that the convenience of online sessions helped them to attend more regularly. The therapists told me it gave them a new view of their clients – they got to meet pets and have a window into their home life as much as their client was comfortable sharing. Some clients also reported that being in their home environment made them more comfortable with being vulnerable in therapy sessions.
     
    I get asked if I think telehealth services are here to stay – and yes, I do. I believe mental health was already moving in this direction, and the pandemic forced it to speed up in a shorter amount of time than it would have ordinarily. But will we have brick-and-mortar locations anymore? Yes, I absolutely think there will always be a place for in-person services. Delivery of certain types of treatment or mental health issues doesn’t work for everyone via telehealth, and some clients prefer to be seen in person for various reasons. 
     
    While I would never have been able to predict living through a pandemic and heading up a mental health private practice, ultimately, it has been good for clients and therapists to utilize online therapy sessions and have insurances cover it. I have also seen the stigma of mental health lessen as there has been more awareness and talk among the public about the collective trauma we have experienced because of the pandemic. Even in the turmoil of a pandemic, there are silver linings.

    Read more about Alison Pidgeon, CEO, and owner of Move Forward Counseling, LLC.