Therapy is mostly about meeting people wherever they are. Thanks to the pandemic, in this brave new world, therapy is now about meeting participants from the comfort of your own home. We have begun to let go of the expectations of what normal once meant. We are grateful to still have employment and, of course, good health.
In adapting to teletherapy there were many things the agency had put in place that made for a smooth and easy transition. We have the same participants, use the same electronic health record, and the same coping strategies and boundaries.
The difference is that now we are physically distancing and missing some of the nuances that happen when we are face to face. Nonverbal communication might indicate fear and anxiety and that might be missed without seeing someone in person.
Mental health requires attention and participation and that can still happen and it does. Many of us are still taking new participants which can be tricky, but it's comforting in this time of chaos to have a person interested in helping us to manage the anxiety about the fall out of the corona virus.
Lots of experts are giving mental health advice in the time of COVID about setting routines and building resilience. Some of the ways that you can do this are: taking walks, regular exercise, making meals, cleaning out clutter, taking bubble baths or long showers, journaling and, most of all, embracing the moment.
Here are a few key things we want to share with you as a therapeutic team:
- It is normal to experience anxiety in the face of so much uncertainty.
- Significant changes to our routines can cause irritability and feelings of being overwhelmed so establishing routines can counteract that.
- It will be important to maintain mental wellbeing so do not overlook the need for both a social connection and spiritual practice.
- Be gentle with yourself and have gratitude and engage in activities that bring you joy.
Many of us are often asked how can we give advice about anxiety when we find ourselves as anxious as the people that we are working with?
Individually, we are refraining from excessive television exposure. We are meditating, sending out funny memes, gardening, cutting our own hair, learning to do manicures and pedicures, spinning on our Peloton bikes, taking walks and runs, and reading and connecting with family and friends.
As a clinical team, we are having weekly Zoom calls and discussing the challenges of our participants. It is something we look forward to as it can be isolating to work from home. While on these calls, we are also meeting each other’s pets and children in ways we would not have in the clinic.
As we attempt to carve out our new therapeutic roadmap for dealing with this collective trauma, we are reminded that we are alone together. We are hopeful that along with our participants we will learn a new appreciation for each other and the freedoms we once shared.
If you or someone you know could benefit from talking with a clinician, please call 914-613-0700 x7104.
Written by Camille Banks-Lee, LCSW-R, CASAC, MS Ed. Ms. Banks-Lee is one of the members of our TGCW clinical staff.
Pictured above: a ZOOM clinical staff meeting.