Welcome to the disrupted, surreal world of pandemic. The mental health community and its stakeholders have been stepping up to enable continuity of services in the wake of social distancing and self-quarantining. Like many leaders in the field, our trainings and conference presentations got cancelled, so we developed webinars. Like many therapy providers, we have moved a lot of our treatment to web-based video-conference platforms. Government agencies have begun to mandate that insurance companies routinely cover tele-medicine for the time being; at this writing we’re still waiting on provisions enabling licensed therapists to follow their displaced clients to other states via video-conferencing treatment sessions. In short, thanks to ingenuity, determination, and the internet, life in our field goes on.
In times of crisis I find comfort in community. My purpose in this blog post is to share some of the comfort I have found, by sharing some of my friends’ posts, below.
Robin Shapiro, trauma therapist, trainer, and author extraordinaire (specialty: ego state work), wrote a blog post called Teletherapy In the Time of Coronavirus. Excerpts:
My experience of “tele-healthcare” is that it’s a lot like regular therapy sessions. We meet, we greet, the clients speak their minds, and we get down to the task at hand… The clients and I both say that it’s not the same, and we’d prefer to be in the same room. We also both say that we still feel connected, and the work works, and it’s better than not doing it.
Jamie Marich, another trauma therapist, trainer, and author extraordinare (specialty: mindfulness, addictions), wrote a blog post called What I Wish People Understood About Risk and Contamination. Excerpt:
While I appreciate the arguments I’ve read about mitigating risk and slowing the spread of the potentially deadly virus, my mixed emotions about everything are boiling over, prompting me to write this piece and share something I want to scream from the rooftops. Why don’t you care this much about risk and contamination when it comes to trauma?
Finally, Mara Stein, yes, yet another trauma therapist, trainer, and author extraordinaire (specialty: perinatal trauma) has been cranking out poems. Here’s an excerpt from Echoes:
For you who have had family members struggle to breathe.
For you who know what it’s like to listen to the thump of a ventilator, the rise and fall of a loved one’s chest as they struggle to take in enough air, you who are seasoned watchers of monitors and counters of breaths…
Please know that I know how much the stories about what this virus can do can evoke so much fear and anticipated loss.
It’s not hypothetical when you know the layout of an ICU; when you know how to read the monitors and blood gases.
Even when you forget the details, the body remembers.
Yes, we are all facing uncertainty. However. Right here, right now, look around.
Dig your heels into the ground. Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out.
Listen to your kids shrieking in the background (shrieking means they can breathe). Fantastic.
Text your parents. Call your grandparents. Remind them to wash their hands.
Listen to them complain. Complaining means they can breathe. Outstanding.
Talk to your spouse or partner. Bicker, even. Yep. Breathing! Magnificent. Breathing.
When the body gets confused, remind it – we are in the year 2020. We are here and now, not back then when we would have done anything to breathe for the one who couldn’t breathe on their own.
We are doing everything we can NOW to prevent what couldn’t have been prevented back then in the (N)ICU. Anything to not need that ventilator. Anything to breathe. (Yes, we. I’m talking to myself, too.)
Here, now. Today. Be present.
Thanks for sharing this heart touching compilation of writings.
You’re welcome and thanks for saying so.
Thank you for sharing Dr, Greenwald. This provides the hope and the reassurance that I am not in this alone, trying to do my part here in St. Lucia.
Nice to hear from you :^) and that’s how I felt, too, when I read those other posts. I hope all goes well in St. Lucia.
Telehealth is almost the same as being together in the treatment room because — relationships. Because — the therapeutic alliance. Because — introjects. If there is a good relationship, we each have the other in our psyche. If we’re newly school-aged children, we *can* leave a parent (what a big deal!) and go to school. It’s the same reason why people in loving family relationships or best friends can have satisfying phone calls.
The research on video-conference psychotherapy has two main findings: 1. It’s about as effective as in-person therapy; and 2. Therapists who read these results don’t believe them :^)