ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 141-156.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00141

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Telepsychology: Applications, advantages, and challenges

JIN Yuchang1, ZHANG Zheng1, ZHENG Peixuan2, AN Junxiu3()   

  1. 1College of Psychology, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610066, China
    2Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
    3College of Software Engineering, Chengdu University of Information Technology, Chengdu 610225, China
  • Received:2020-11-06 Online:2022-01-15 Published:2021-11-25


Telepsychology service can allow experienced psychological service providers to quickly shift their attention to the places that need them most at any time. As an example, for the mental health problems during the current COVID-19 pandemic, telepsychology service enables psychiatrists to offer immediate help, and to improve the efficiency of psychological service. China's telepsychology service has been in its early times until the COVID-19 pandemic that enforces self-quarantine for the majority of the population. In this process, two key problems have also been exposed: first, without standard norms, there is only some consensus in the industry put forward by the psychological community to refer to, which has limited authority and binding force; Second, most of the telepsychology providers in China are not professionally trained, and the traditional face-to-face intervention technology obviously cannot be conducted to provides distance service. After combing the previous telepsychology service research, we found that counselors, treatment methods and remote service methodologies are the three most important factors in the development of telepsychology service. We then creatively established a visitor-centered telepsychology service application model, which emphasizes the comprehensive role of counselors, treatment methods and remote service methodologies in telepsychology service. When visitors request telepsychology services, the interaction between factors and the interaction between factors and visitors affect the therapeutic effect of telepsychology services. Artificial intelligence also plays an important role in improving telepsychology service. It can be utilized in providing remote mental health assistance, participating in face-to-face treatment, assisting counselors in remote intervention, etc. All applied artificial intelligence techniques are combined with different telepsychology service situations, to continuously optimize the psychological service process and improve the quality of psychological service. At present, the advantages of telepsychology service are reflected in three aspects: effectiveness, convenience, and economy. Firstly, the intervention of telepsychology service on mental health problems is practical and effective, and the treatment quality is equivalent to the traditional face-to-face mental health service. For psychological practitioners who live in remote areas and engage in psychological counseling, the convenience of telepsychology services has brought solutions to their concerns of counseling and visiting relationship. Compared with traditional face-to-face psychological counseling, it is easier for visitors, psychological service staff and psychological counselors in telepsychology service to coordinate. When formulating the psychological counseling program, the place and time that visitors can make an appointment are more flexible, which can improve the efficiency of psychological counseling and reduce the waiting time. However, there are still challenges in three aspects: acceptance, privacy, and adaptability. Psychological service providers' acceptance of telepsychology service depends on their understanding of its effectiveness, flexibility and convenience and their expectation of service quality. At the same time, privacy security is also a concern that telepsychology services need to pay attention to. Consulting institutions need to establish protection protocols for customers’ privacy and remind them to pay attention to their privacy in an eye-catching position on the home page of the institutions’ website. With the gradual promotion of 5G technology, the key methodology of mental health care in the future are likely to include video conferencing, intelligent mobile devices, cloud computing, etc. This emerging technology provides unlimited development prospects for limited mental health services.

Key words: telepsychology service, mental health, online psychological counseling.

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