In May 2020, APNS asked its membership how they were being affected by the pandemic. Below is a brief survey of our findings. The full results were published in the Nova Scotia Psychologist Fall 2020, pages 12-16.
APNS is now conducting another COVID survey, COVID-19 Where are we now? Out goal is to compare how things have changed for psychologists in a year.
- The survey was sent to 500 APNS full and student members. 158 or 32.6% responded.
- Over 65% of the respondents were from HRM. 35% from all other regions in Nova Scotia.
- 11% from the Valley and over 6% from Cape Breton. Over 7% from the South Shore and South West Nova.
- 61% in private practice, 39% in various public sectors (over 15% in hospitals and over 11% in schools).
- In Private Practice (PP) 45% reported taking new and existing clients. 9% reported existing clients.
- 6% of PP reported that they were temporarily closed. 1% reported they were permanently closed.
- 37% in the public sector reported they continued to work but work conditions or tasks changed.
- 38% reported that appointments declined significantly; 20% reported they decreased some; 36% reported they stayed same or increased.
- 89% reported using telepsychology; only 6% reported they had a very difficult transition and the rest reported they had no issues or had adapted quickly.
- 51% reported they preferred on-line; remainder reported it depended on client.
The response rate was lower than was expected but given the disruption that COVID-19 caused, not unexpected. A good representative balance of urban and rural/regional considering the number of psychologists in the regions. A greater percentage of private practices responded than public sector, which is higher that the membership estimated ratio of private to public. This may relate to the fact that many psychologists work in both public and private sectors and chose to answer as private rather than public.
Although private practices were affected significantly, many adjusted by adapting to telepsychology. This may have resulted in the fact that a majority of those who responded continued to serve clients. Only a few closed their private practice temporarily and a very small number closed temporarily and most of those appeared to be close to retirement. The remainder who responded as public said they continued to work, albeit differently, using telepsychology for clients, meetings and administration.
Appointments did decrease some or substantially for a significant number, but began to increase fairly soon. Again, this may be due to switching to telepsychology, which in spite of initial difficulties, most psychologists adapted fairly quickly. Note that almost 50% used Zoom Regulated platform.
Psychologists adapted fairly quickly to the pandemic situation as the above suggests. For example, most had no problem working at home. Psychologists adapted well to telepsychology and except in the case of assessment and some specific disorders (e.g., PTSD) they found it a good fit for many clients and will undoubtedly continue to use it. Many Psychologists shared positive outcomes including the shift to telepsychology, new awareness of work-life balance and what is important, more time with family, and shining a light on things that need improvement.
However, that does not tell the whole story because the large number of personal comments showed a medium to high level of stress, dealing with all of the unexpected and difficult circumstances. This showed in their personal lives especially for the those whose practices were almost entirely assessment-based or those unable to adjust to telepsychology who were usually in one-person practices.
In response to questions relating to personal and client impact, (broken down as maintaining personal and job relationships, psychological health, and self-care) by far the most common response was slightly negative. Psychologists were primarily concerned for their families and for their clients.