Thoraiya Kanafani1*, Aqil Hassain1, Twinkle Darlene Correa1, Mercedes Sheen2 and Hajar Aman Key Yekani2

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an abrupt and immediate change to the way in which mental health services are delivered. To mitigate against lockdown protocols imposed on a global scale, many individuals seeking mental health services were obliged to use online mental health services in place of face-to-face services. The study reported here investigated the differences in individuals’ experiences of online psychotherapy sessions compared to in-person psychotherapy services using a cross-sectional, within groups design. Forty-nine clients from a mental health clinic in the UAE, who received psychotherapy in both modalities, completed self-report questionnaires measuring satisfaction with therapy and working alliance. Results indicate that clients’ satisfaction levels did not significantly differ between online and in-person therapy sessions. However, clients rated their perceived working alliance with their therapist for in-person therapy sessions significantly higher than for online therapy sessions. Implications for future research are discussed.

Keywords : Teletherapy, COVID-19, in-person therapy, therapeutic relationship, working alliance

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