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Increased demand for psychologists strains both practitioners and patients



Bismarck, North Dakota – Psychologists are finding it difficult to schedule meetings with their patients.

More than half of the psychologists polled by the American Psychological Association in 2023 reported that their patients’ problems were worse than they had been in prior years.

Roughly 40% reported that their patient base has grown as well.

The APA is particularly concerned that patients who are seeking to visit a psychologist may have to wait longer due to a combination of increasing symptoms and an increase in patients.

Approximately 60% of those surveyed stated they were unable to accept new patients.

Essentia Health psychologist Dr. Alexandra Kohlhase reported that she has observed a rise in patient appointments accompanied by increasingly severe symptoms.

“One of the things that has become much more prevalent is suicidality period, especially in young people. We’re hearing of that happening more and more with kids and teenagers. I think there’s a huge kind of compassion fatigue element to that where that can be hard to leave at work,” Dr. Kohlhase said.

Dr. Kohlhase stated that students who intended to become psychologists were probably deterred from doing so by the pandemic’s financial hardships.

“The biggest problem is that people might lose motivation. When they’re dealing with depression, they might have a day where they feel like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going to schedule an appointment.’ They really have probably been procrastinating for a while, and now they want to strike while the iron’s hot, but they find out it’s going to be a couple of months, and they might lose momentum,” said Rebecca Woolsey, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Archway Mental Health Services.

Being tenacious in securing an appointment is one of the best things patients can do, according to Woolsey. According to her, she receives cancellations from patients almost daily, and those slots can be filled.

Finding alternative mental health services, such as counseling, can also be a wise move, according to Dr. Kohlhase. She claimed that a lot of counselors are skilled and have years of expertise.