COVID-19 has quickly changed our world over these past few weeks. Many of us have lost, at least temporarily, some of the daily rituals we rely on in our lives. Everything from going into the office to buying groceries has all changed in a matter of weeks. Even your weekly therapy session has been affected. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, Associate, our field prides itself as being reliable source of dependability in our clients ever changing worlds, and especially so during crisis.
The pandemic has tested mental health professionals. So, how do we provide quality, consistent, client care when we cannot be in the same room? For many therapists the answer has been transitioning to telehealth, a remote service to conduct therapy sessions via video or phone. Having transitioned to virtual sessions last week, it honestly hasn’t been as seamless of a transition as I would of hoped. In my experience, the first 5 minutes of the session feels a little impersonal and awkward. Seeing each other through a screen instead of in person can be strange for both the client and the therapist. Something about a virtual session seems to initially take a little of the air out of the therapeutic connection we so easily had while working together just two weeks ago in the office. Even certain treatment methods we had access to in the office, may not be available virtually.
So with these potential barriers, should you continue seeing your therapist or start therapy for the first time, through telehealth? While therapy definitely looks different through a screen, I say it is worth investing in. We are, after all, in the midst of a global crisis. With the potential stressors, fears, and mental/ emotional/ and physical health risks that could occur during this season, it feels like therapy is an especially great option for a lot of our population right now. I am the first to admit it is not ideal and I don’t know many other therapists who would argue with me there, but it is still therapy after all. As a client myself (yes, therapists often love to see therapists themselves), I adore my therapist, but found myself contemplating if there were enough pros of continuing to see her during this time. After walking through this list, I ended up scheduling a virtual session.
- Therapy will give some sense of normalcy during quartine. So much of your daily life has been changed, this is something you have the option to maintain, so why not keep it.
- Is it actually a good idea to discontinue therapy during a global pandemic? It’s on the news, it’s in your home, fear is everywhere right now. I don’t know many of us who are not feeling some form of anxiety due to all of this change. Even if we are healthy, we are worried about loved ones, our jobs, and/or how to keep the kids entertained. Seeing a therapist right now could provide one source of sacred space just for you in this otherwise overwhelming setting.
- The initial transition to telehealth feels less strange with time. After the first 5 minutes or so it seems we are able to get back into the swing of things and forget that this isn’t how we’ve always been doing therapy.
- You won’t have to update your therapist on everything that has happened between now and when the quarantine is over. Let’s be honest, we’re not quite clear on how long this could go. Based on all of the current projections, it is going to be a while. Life is still going to be happening, even in quarentine. There will be a lot to update your therapist on by the time you can meet in person again. Even if you decide to meet every 2 weeks during the pandemic, it’s a nice way to check in with your therapist and explore and process everything that has been happening during this time.
- Therapy in you PJ’s/ comfort of your own home- Instead of rushing to your therapists office on your lunch break or waiting through traffic after work, you can hang out in the comfort of your own home. This may be my personal favorite “pro.”
This whole process of adapting to the quarantine has really highlighted our society’s ability to adapt. I am so proud to be a part of the mental health community that also reflected this resiliency and adaptability in these unforeseen times. I do definitely look forward to seeing clients in the comfort of my office again, but I am so grateful for our access to telehealth and the ability to serve clients during this unprecedented time.
If you are contemplating starting therapy, click here.