THE NORDIC PSYCHIATRIST
An interview with Monica Eggert and Jouni Wilska
2021 m. birželio 2 d.
On 11 March 2020 The World Health Organization characterized covid-19 as a pandemic. Around the same time the incidence numbers in Finland were on the rise and on 16 March 2020 The Finnish Government announced a state of emergency. On the next day The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), that provides access and financial support to rehabilitative and intensive medical rehabilitation psychotherapies, recommended teleworking for psychotherapies. I asked two psychotherapists about their experience and thoughts of doing psychotherapy remotely.
Most likely, remote psychotherapy will continue to exist, at least to some extent, even after the pandemic.
Monica Eggert is a 61-year-old psychiatrist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who works as a part-time medical adviser in Kela and as a part-time psychotherapist. Jouni Wilska, a 34-year-old integrative psychotherapist and a soon-to-be psychiatrist, also splits his time between practicing psychotherapy and working in Helsinki University Hospital.
Before the pandemic Wilska had had a short experience in a telemedicine service that piloted in Finland a few years back. He describes the experience as interesting, since at the time telemedicine was not as common as it is today. Wilska says that even before the pandemic he could have considered doing psychiatric telemedicine due to certain benefits, which will be discussed later. Eggert, on the other hand, had no previous experience with telemedicine and had not considered it as a form of work for herself. Both Eggert and Wilska emphasize that psychotherapy works better and is most likely more effective face-to-face, but when there are no other options, it is an adequate alternative that eventually turned out to work better than they first expected.
Both Eggert and Wilska have mostly used video communication services when working remotely. They only had a minority of patients that preferred phone calls over video connection. Reasons for this varied from difficulties with technology to suspicion towards communication platforms’ confidentiality. None of their patients quit therapy because of working remotely. Eggert points out that because all of her psychotherapy patients were already familiar to her, working remotely was not as big of a change as one could have anticipated.