Telehealth is Here to Stay Say MFTs

By Communications

In the first half of 2022, AAMFT conducted an industry workforce study to examine the shifts related to COVID-19, their short- and longer-term impacts, and what challenges and opportunities are facing the field. In each issue of Family Therap-eNews, we examine a data point from this report.

To download the full report, visit

The widespread use of telehealth is perhaps the largest shift in the profession coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-pandemic, telehealth was practiced by a very limited number of therapists. Many considered telehealth as “second rate” or lacking substance.

A 2020 survey conducted by AAMFT indicated pre-pandemic, 58% of respondents were not using telehealth at all in their practices and only 4% were using it moderately or exclusively in their work.
In the 2022 workforce survey, nearly half (47%) of LMFTs reported seeing patients primarily (entirely or mostly) through telehealth. Over the next three years, a smaller percentage of LMFTs (39%) anticipate using telehealth as their primary format; however, nearly all (96%) plan to continue telehealth in some capacity.

This shift has some major implications for the industry. While most MFTs are now well-versed in its use, the rapid nature of the telehealth roll-out and the extensive use of now expired emergency orders as the guiding legal standards, indicate there is likely a need for all to develop a greater understanding of the laws, ethics, and best practices related to the practice. AAMFT is currently updating its telehealth best practice guidelines (anticipated publication date in 2023) as well as engaging in the preliminary stages of revising the AAMFT Code of Ethics.

There are also business implications for individual MFTs. Operating a hybrid practice of both in-person and telehealth clients while likely increasing access to care, requires the therapist to maintain business expenses related to both a physical office and a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. With younger professionals citing the financial burdens of low starting salaries and high student loan debt, it will be vital that cost effective ways are found to navigate this expanded business model.

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