The coronavirus was something that I never knew would happen in my lifetime. We all remember 911 and its devastating impact on our country
and humankind. That event was life changing in both positive and negative ways. Homeland security and the manner in which we conduct our everyday lives would never be the same.
However, it was a blessing to witness Americans banning together putting our differences aside. Random acts of kindness increased in this time period. I also recognized how precious life is and the importance of strengthening my faith in God.
The coronavirus pandemic sparked a similar reaction in us. In turn, it has significantly affected how clients cope with crisis and our therapeutic approach in treatment services. The first adjustment I remember when setting up my home office in March was how telehealth would affect my work as a mental health therapist. At this time, everyone was new to the coronavirus and how serious this pandemic would become in our daily lives. My clients were explaining their fears in great detail during these sessions. The biggest one, the fear of the unknown, was voiced as we were all just getting information about the virus and the safety measures to protect our health.
When the “at home” orders were put in place, I noticed a great increase in anxiety, depression, addiction, domestic violence, aggression and other mental health challenges. Simply put, being with loved ones 24/7 was taking a toll. The issues that existed before the pandemic were magnified. It was difficult for us to manage our fear in positive ways. My clients were gaining weight, self-medicating, and “taking it out” on their family.
I then noticed a turn of perspective from May into June when summer started this year. My treatment still focused on processing my client’s anxiety/fears and developing positive coping skills to avoid regression. It also deepened into a discussion about why this pandemic happened in the first place. Many Christian clients felt that it was God’s way of “slowing us down and making us re-prioritize our lives.” Others felt that it was “the end of the world” and a time for self-reflection.
Overall, my clients (and myself) began to self-evaluate. Clients were encouraged to put their energy into completing neglected household projects, re-discover their personal interests/talents, and create a sanctuary in their home to reduce stress. I was pleased to hear that people were also reconnecting with loved ones, recognizing that life is too short to hold grudges. In quarantine, families spent quality time together and regained a newfound appreciation for each other. I hope that telehealth is here to stay. Many clients enjoy the convenience of this mode of service.
As therapists, we have to be open to change to accommodate such events. Our self-care is important in being a healthy support to our clients. This also prevents compassionate fatigue. Personally, I am grateful for the community of therapists that surround me for encouragement and guidance. In my self-reflection, I have re-prioritized, deepening my appreciation for good health, loving relationships, and my faith in God. We must always remember that God will never leave or forsake us. Historically, tough times have brought out our strength. I am hopeful that this event will be no exception.
Learn about Jennifer Edmonds.