Therapy in the times of COVID 19
Since the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, life has changed in so many ways that it is hard to imagine it going back to what we considered normal before this crisis.
I wonder if any of us thought we could last more than a day at home or more than a month without travelling, and yet somehow, we learned to adapt to what we needed to do to survive.
As a therapist, I always treasured the honour of the one of one, human connection in this profession, to sit with my clients and help them heal and watch them walk out feeling better.
When health authorities suggested social isolation, I knew I would continue to help clients, but I was apprehensive about providing therapy virtually. After all, we often see clients experience their raw emotions during our sessions and show them we are there for them, with our body language, tone of our voice and, of course, handing them the box of tissues. I worried that virtual sessions would lack the therapeutic intimacy and emotional substance. But we had to make this work since not providing mental health care was definitely not an option.
I also thought about what it would be like for my clients to see me in my home office. Therapists’ lives often are kept a mystery from clients and doing online therapy from my home office could distract clients from their sessions.
Preparing for my first e-therapy sessions, I had a look at my home office from the clients’ view; chose a video-friendly corner of the room with lots of light, ensured it was private and plugged in a noise-cancelling machine outside the room, but I also allowed myself to maintain some aspects of myself in the area that my clients would see. I left my running medal rack in the space, kept my favourite teapot filled with warm tea at my desk throughout the day, and if clients heard my neighbours’ children play in my alleyway, I simply explained what it was and moved on with the sessions.
It has been six weeks now since I started doing e-therapy from my home office, and some of my clients love it so much, that they say they never want to go back to commuting to the office for therapy. For me, it has been a beautiful journey of healing and self-discovery while helping clients. I have learned that I can treat clients in-person or virtually and that compassion and competence work in either environment, but I also know that I like to have both options, as there are times that distance maybe too much and that clients need the human connection in the same space. When the time comes, I will be there for them.