Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Peter Vanable


counseling;online therapy;psychology;videoconferencing

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Abstract Objective: There is clear evidence that rates of mental health disorders among college students are increasing, and many students experiencing mental health difficulties do not engage in treatment. Some evidence suggests that telehealth may be a way to increase access to care. Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggests that students generally favor in-person treatment over online treatment, but little data has been collected following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to clarify if this trend persists. The proposed research sought to understand how treatment perceptions may have shifted following the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Data was collected from 350 college students from a large, Northeastern, private university. Participants completed measures on treatment preference, intentions, and attitudes, as well as stigma and psychological distress. Results: Results indicated that students generally prefer face-to-face treatment over online treatment on multiple measures. Mediation analyses identified an indirect association of public stigma on both online and face-to-face treatment intentions by way of help-seeking self-stigma and treatment attitudes. Additionally, results confirmed indirect associations of psychological distress on both online and face-to-face treatment intentions by way of help-seeking self-stigma. Subgroup analyses indicated that for sexual minority students, greater public stigma was associated with a preference for online treatment. Conclusion: Results confirm that face-to-face treatment is still viewed more favorably than online treatment. Collectively, findings provide support for the complex role of stigma in shaping perceptions of treatment. Findings suggest that stigma has a negative effect on treatment attitudes and intentions for both online and face-to-face treatment.


Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons