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COVID-19 and the Transition of Rural Mental Health Providers to Telebehavioral Health

Ethan Dahl1,*, Canyon Hardesty2, Riley Hoogerwerf3, Matt Gray3

1University of North Dakota, Department of Education, Health, & Behavior Studies, Grand Forks, North Dakota

2University of Wyoming, Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, Laramie, Wyoming

3University of Wyoming, Department of Psychology, Laramie, Wyoming

Received Date: February 13, 2023

Publication Date: March 16, 2023

*Corresponding Author: Ethan Dahl, University of North Dakota, 231 Centennial Dr Stop 7189, Grand Forks, ND 58202-7189. Email: [email protected]

Citation: Dahl E, et al. (2023). COVID-19 and the Transition of Rural Mental Health Providers to Telebehavioral Health. Clin Res. 4(1):4.


The present investigation was designed to evaluate mental health practitioners’ rapid transition to telehealth utilization that was precipitated by the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic (COVID-19). Though prior research has described providers’ adoption of distance technologies to support clinical care and client engagement efforts, these processes are typically gradual and planful. The coronavirus pandemic was comparatively unique in necessitating rapid adoption and utilization of telehealth modalities with variable guidance, formal training, and minimal resources. We surveyed 39 mental health professionals recruited from statewide mental health organizations and networks in Wyoming. Participants completed a survey regarding their telehealth usage and transition as well as measures of their knowledge of established telebehavioral health competencies. Contrary to hypotheses, providers who reported that the pandemic caused them to begin using telehealth in their practice reported greater knowledge of and confidence in telebehavioral health competencies relative to those providers who had already been using telehealth prior to the pandemic. Because those who transitioned to telehealth rapidly did not access greater telehealth training or informational resources and were not more knowledgeable about established telehealth competencies, they may be overestimating their proficiency and preparedness. Implications such as the need for additional training for these providers and concerns regarding the quality of telebehavioral health practice are presented and discussed.

Keywords: Telehealth, Telebehavioral Health Competencies, COVID-19, Provider confidence 

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