Therapy during a pandemic
We've almost reached the one year anniversary of the day when I transitioned to 100% telehealth video sessions due to the pandemic. Thankfully I had already set up video sessions for my practice, so it was pretty seamless as far as the technology. I decided to keep my physical office location in Littleton in order to keep some separation of home and work. It's been wonderful to have my cozy therapy space to provide video sessions.
When the lockdown happened, both my clients and I had to switch gears immediately. They handled it like champs. I was pleasantly surprised by how well virtual therapy works too. I hadn't ever planned to do teletherapy full time. There have been occasional technical glitches, but for the most part we've been successful connecting by video in real time. Foremost, the benefit of virtual therapy is that it's allowed both me and my clients to feel comfortable and physically safe from the virus. For some people, getting to my office was challenging well before the pandemic due to anxiety and stress that it brought up. Some had physical limitations which made it hard to get here, even though we have an accessible space.
Many clients are now able to relax more and open up more easily at home. They get to interact with pets during sessions & proudly show off aspects of their lives that they don't usually get to share. Clients show me their pets, artwork, instruments, projects, and backyard spots sheltered by tall shade trees. We both enjoyed the sounds of birds and breezes. Weather and traffic aren't obstacles for getting to the office any more. On snowy days, I've done sessions from a private space at home and baked muffins for my family after the work day was done. I think both me and my clients were delighted when my kitty decided to join the sessions from my lap on a few of those days. Most importantly, we have been able to continue our work together in a way that feels natural and beneficial. The pandemic began to feel like a backdrop for continuing therapy rather than the primary focus it was at the beginning. All the therapeutic work, like recovering from abuse or coping with transitions, took place as usual. Big breakthroughs as well as small insights moved my clients' lives forward, just as they had before the pandemic. For now, we've settled into a rhythm. I've welcomed new clients and said goodbye to those who were ready.
Thankfully, our state legislature passed emergency guidelines for insurance companies to cover telehealth sessions the same way they covered therapy in person. I sincerely hope that will be the beginning of long lasting change in the way mental health services are covered. Virtual sessions remove location as a potential barrier. Clients from the Western slope can see me just as easily as someone here in Littleton. I'm optimistic that the good work of therapy will continue, no matter what comes our way.