Psychotherapy Matters Virtual Clinic (PMVC): A client’s perspective

This is the second in a series of blogs that will introduce you to an innovative approach to mental health care pioneered by Psychotherapy Matters: the Psychotherapy Matters Virtual Clinic or PMVC.  

We hope to report regularly on the experiences of clients and therapists and what we are learning about the use of technology to promote collaborative care.  One of the first clients to receive care by a psychiatrist via PMVC talked to us about his experiences. He is a man in his mid-sixties battling recurrent severe depression. (PM):  Can you tell us how you were referred to Psychotherapy Matters Virtual Clinic?

A: It came about through some interesting series of events. I felt depressed during the summer and early fall. The medication that I was on worked very well the first few years but started losing its effect. The doctor gave me a psychiatrist’s name but he wasn’t able to see me.

The psychiatrist set me up with Psychotherapy Matters and we picked a therapist, Stuart, for me to talk to. Stuart explained that the psychiatrist would come in through something Skype-like.

After a few weeks of talking with Stuart, sometimes including my wife, Stuart arranged for the psychiatrist to come in through the screen.

PM: How did you find the entire Psychotherapy Matters Virtual Clinic experience?

A: The technology worked very well and there were no glitches. The psychiatrist could clearly be seen on the screen. It was almost like he was in the room… like he was on the couch with us. It was a large screen and the whole process felt very natural. I think this would work especially well for people in rural communities.

PM: How would you compare your experience with Psychotherapy Matters to any previous experiences you have had where you required services from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist?

A: I think it is about as good. Maybe it is not as good because it is always good when someone is there in person. However, this is easy to get used to. The human element is always nice but this is a very good system and I felt very comfortable with it.

It is as good as it can get professionally and emotionally, it is a very good system. I would continue with it. Sometimes I feel like maybe I would like to meet up in person with the psychiatrist but this is fine.

PM: How would you compare the length of time of the entire process traditionally versus through Psychotherapy Matters?

A: First time around, when I needed help, I had a full series of sessions with a psychiatrist but no psychiatrist was available when I got depressed this time. With the Psychotherapy Matters model it is both a full session with Stuart and a psychiatrist will come on board every once in a while and it ended up feeling very natural.

Stuart is fabulous. We have a natural connection. He asks a lot of the right questions. I do like the fact that a psychiatrist will come in and intervene. I think this is very important.

PM: Overall, can you comment on your experience with Psychotherapy Matters?

A: Overall it is a system that is good and works well. I would recommend it to other people in need of a psychiatrist. You quickly adapt to seeing the psychiatrist on screen.

The therapist that was chosen for me has been working really well with me. The whole setup is working very well. Most people would have similar results if they were with a therapist chosen with the help of Psychotherapy Matters. I connected with Stuart instantly… and since there is a range of therapists that are offered, you would probably connect with somebody within the first two or three people. I would have to say I recommend this.

The transcript of the interview has been edited for the purposes of clarity and to maintain the anonymity of the client. The client provided informed consent and gave final approval prior to posting.

Vicky Nguyen
Vicky Nguyen

Vicky is a psychiatrist and recent graduate from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). She completed her PhD and MD training at the University of Toronto. Her research interests are directed at promoting innovative practices and policies to address sub-optimal wait times, access, equity, and quality of health care services for disadvantaged populations in Ontario. She is certified to provide IPT and CBT. She is trained to provide other types of therapy including DBT, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

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