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Virtual group therapy: Evidence summary for child and youth mental health service providers (2020)

Posted on:
August 20, 2021

Overview

"The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre) has reviewed the latest evidence on the implementation and effectiveness of virtual group therapy for children and young people. Here, we share the specific questions and search strategy that guided this review and present a summary of our findings, practice considerations and areas for future work."

Findings

"In a recent evaluation of the sector’s transition to delivering virtual care, young people and families reported that their experiences were positive overall (Danseco et al., 2020). In many cases, young people and families found that virtual services were more convenient to access than in-person services, since they no longer had to plan for childcare or travel to and from appointments. This finding is consistent with other studies showing that virtual care can reduce barriers for in-person services (for example, Banbury et al., 2018; Gentry et al., 2019)...

Organizations in Ontario’s community-based child and youth mental health sector are excited by the opportunities offered by virtual group therapy. However, several barriers prevent widespread
uptake. According to anecdotal evidence, counsellors lack knowledge about how to conduct virtual group therapy and are less comfortable using virtual platforms for group sessions. At the broader organizational level, barriers to virtual care include:

  • a lack of access to stable internet connections.
  • concerns related to privacy and confidentiality.
  • challenges with building relationships with children, young people and families.
  • difficulties engaging with younger children.

To encourage agencies to move toward offering virtual care as an option, more guidance and support are required to address some of these barriers."

Areas of guidance and support in the report:

Evidence on how to deliver virtual group therapy for children and young people with mental health challenges

  • In-person group therapy for children and young people
  • Effectiveness of virtual group therapy
  • Adapting in-person group therapy to virtual formats
  • Strategies for delivering virtual care

Dealing with common challenges when delivering virtual group therapy

  • Accessibility and equity
  • Privacy, confidentiality and safety
  • Creating a therapeutic environment
Evidence summary for child and youth mental health service providers (2021)

Summary

The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre) has reviewed the latest evidence on the implementation and effectiveness of virtual group therapy for children and young people. Here, we share the specific questions and search strategy that guided this review and present a summary of our findings, practice considerations and areas for future work.
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