Barriers for Mental Health Professionals to Adopt Telehealth

Whereas mental health professionals who do not offer telehealth services (non-adopters) say “lack of training” is the major barrier, those who have already utilized telehealth (adopters) say “administrative barriers” bother them the most.

Top Barriers for Non-Adopters

In a survey of 159 mental health professionals, researchers find that “lack of training” is the largest barrier to utilizing telehealth. The most frequently endorsed barriers include:

  • lack of training (50.5%)

  • preference for in‐person appointments (44.4%)

  • administrative burden for appointments (35.4%)

  • fear of increased workload (15.2%)

  • lack of supervisor support (11.1%)

This corroborates other researches in the pre-COVID-19 era, when, in many cases, clinical leaders had not acknowledged telepsychotherapy as a priority. Some therapists also reported little interest in conducting telepsychotherapy, and many were unprepared for the effort necessary.

Non-Adopters’ Misconceptions

When comparing responses from mental health professionals who have used telehealth (adopters), researchers say that non-adopters may have some misconceptions:

  • Lack of patient knowledge about technology. Non-adopters are unsure if patients are competent in the technologies required for video chats. Researchers point out that there have been related surveys in which majority of respondents (specifically, Veterans) say they are comfortable with the technologies.

  • Technology problems. Non-adopters are concerned if the audio and video quality will be good, and if there are disruptions due to technology. Researchers say that in surveys of mental health professionals who adopt telehealth, technology problem is not endorsed as an issue or a barrier.

  • Building rapport with patients. Non-adopters wonder if they can have the same level of rapport that they have with in-person patients. Researchers say about half of the “adopters” surveyed felt they had the same level of rapport (54.3%).

Barriers That Adopters Face

For mental health professionals that have already utilized telehealth (adopters), they are not without their own issues. Among adopters surveyed, the most frequently endorsed barrier is “administrative barrier” (63.6%), the second is personal preference for in‐person care (38.6%).

In one study, researchers identified “administrative barriers” as inadequate staffing, delays in staff credentialing, poor communication from clinical leaders about priorities and workload, patient recruitment problems, and staff changes.


Sources consulted:

Kristen Perry, Sari Gold and Erika M. Shearer. 2020. “Identifying and addressing mental health providers’ perceived barriers to clinical video telehealth utilization.”
 Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76: 1125–1134.

Geri Adler, et al. 2014. “A Pilot Project to Improve Access to Telepsychotherapy at Rural Clinics.” Telemedicine and e-Health, 20(1, January).