Lessons from the Transition to Relational Teletherapy During COVID-19

Nancy Burgoyne*, Aaron Samuel Cohn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


When the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, clinicians were challenged to maintain continuity of care. Teletherapy became the primary means of service delivery for many who had never or only sparingly used it. The Family Institute at Northwestern University, in response to encouraging findings with respect to the effectiveness of teletherapy and recognizing advantages with respect to access to care, launched our teletherapy services in 2018. As a relationship-based organization, we were keen to exploit the opportunity that teletherapy provides to integrate additional members of the client system into the treatment. Over these two plus years, we have learned a great deal. Our learning was greatly accelerated by our transition to a 100% teletherapy practice in the wake of the pandemic. Teletherapy is a different context. Intentionally managing the context’s constraints and exploiting its strengths is key to providing high-quality couple and family therapy. This step is often overlooked or resisted when teletherapy is an occasional add-on to a face-to-face practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-988
Number of pages15
JournalFamily process
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Conjoint Therapy
  • Couple Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Health Care Delivery
  • Online Therapy
  • Organizational Change
  • Private Practice
  • Telemedicine
  • Telepsychology
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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