I recently attended an on-line workshop via COSRT for working online, both parts 1 and 2. In the most recent one, about 40 practitioners attended, some I knew – others not and we were posed the question ‘How has living with COVID-19 been for you?’ It’s an important question, perhaps not so much if we contracted the virus ourselves but more in the context of self-care and management and how these impact on our work both with clients and supervisees.
This led me to think of all our students who have had to embrace the teaching, learning and of course the technology. We all grapple with the vagaries of the technology, poor WiFi connections, adjusting therapeutic interventions, recognising that some of what we may offer in service to the clients has to be shelved until and when we are back in the room.
The question of how we translate our work to a virtual platform is one that exercises us all. We have moved from a place of resistance to inclusion. We have to grapple with seeing ourselves on the screen, and for those with shyness, body image issues, and timidity at being seen in this very different way potentially sends us into having to confront these if we wish to continue working. There is and was some anxiety around the use of technology for practical reasons as well as what could be seen as an unnerving form of exposure.
The question arises – were we ever taught to work in this way and equally did our clients expect that they would meet and work with a therapist who they may never ‘meet’ other than on a screen?
We also considered aspects of disinhibition, we have, I guess, all seen clients in different settings and clothing, eating, drinking, pets in the room, children singing in the background – what does this do to our contractual agreements? Do we become disinhibited by unconscious invitation? What happens to the relationship if we assert boundaries or choose not to?
We have blogged previously about the challenges of on-line work and how this was, for many, not the preferred way of working and yet here we are a year later where some practitioners are saying they will not return to face to face work. Perhaps this is a testament to the flexibility and creativity of psychotherapists and indeed the clients we work with? Perhaps this reflects where the work has required us and them to take on different skills, a changed and adjusted mindset and a recognition that virtual work is as valuable as any other.
We await the outcome in 2021 as we progress through the year, vaccines given, and need to be constantly vigilant to the changes, the professional requirements and recommendations.
Judi Keshet-Orr Founder and Course Director LDPRT
The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts are held by the author(s) and are for general interest in the field. These blog entries do not attempt give advice to the reader, they are for educational and information purposes only.