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‘We’re in a trauma together’: Americans need therapy – but psychologists are booked

At a time when it feels like the world’s perpetually on fire, we all need a therapist – but trying to find one in the USA is difficult.

A study from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 6 in 10 psychologists “no longer have openings for new patients” in America. The shortage comes as demand for therapy soars: since the beginning of the pandemic, about three-quarters of practitioners have seen their waiting lists expand. In the same period, almost 80% of practitioners report an increase in patients with anxiety disorders and 66% have seen an increase in those needing treatment for depression.

“I started my private practice just before Covid hit, and it was certainly filling up then,” says Dr Jennifer Reid, a psychiatrist, writer and podcast host in Philadelphia. “But the numbers have exponentially risen since that time.”

Reid focuses on anxiety and insomnia, which have been “major players” in the pandemic. Early on, people with anxiety, phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder related to germs had particular trouble, she says. Then there was the isolation and the doomscrolling. And now, she says, people are struggling to re-enter the world. “People are finding they’re having anxiety trying to re-engage in social settings in situations that were previously not as safe” at Covid’s peak, she says. 

Often, she says, people may need to return to their primary care doctor for a period of time, “or they just end up going without and waiting on waitlists, unfortunately”. The APA study found that the average psychologist reported being contacted by 15 potential patients every month; Reid, who combines therapy and medical approaches, says she generally has space for about one new patient every few weeks.

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Source: The Guardian, 21 November 2022


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