TeleHealth: Telephone & Virtual Sessions During Coronavirus Pandemic
None of us know what our society’s new normal might be post-pandemic. Previous posts on this site highlight the myriad of anxieties and emotions experienced when constantly reminded about safety protocols while “sheltering in place.” Risks are at the forefront of our decision-making and the actions that follow. Movement outside the home understandably provokes questions and concerns regarding health and safety. Daily hygiene and cleaning procedures within the home also highlight atypical vigilance. This focus on health, safety, and disinfectant protocols inside and outside the home apply when living alone or with others. Like it or not, we all have a relationship with this pandemic.
As we begin to shift toward a “soft opening” of non-essential businesses and public spaces here in California, and as people begin to know what their financial situations truly are despite Coronavirus / COVID-19, I want to take a moment to note that virtual and/or telephone sessions may support good decision-making processes. Good decision-making processes ensure better emotional balance during these challenging times.
My focus on doing good work on behalf of individuals, couples and their families has always been imperative. A global pandemic simply mandates flexibility about how good work gets done. Isolation, loneliness, close quarters, and limited options can make for quarantine fatigue. The many unknown variables and constantly evolving narratives place pressure on our minds, emotions, physical bodies and relationships in tremendous ways. Good self-care is always important, all the more so during and post-pandemic.
Research* indicates that therapy – whether in-person, online, or via telephone – can help mitigate stressors and ameliorate symptoms equally well. Feedback, surveys, and preliminary studies highlight satisfaction and success despite the medium. That said, National Geographic published a recent article referencing research and current pandemic reports of “Zoom fatigue,” highlighting how “virtual interactions can be extremely hard on the brain” (retrieved April 24, 2020). This is to be noted and identified to prevent a decline in therapeutic experience, personal satisfaction, and treatment outcomes.
Remaining in Therapy
Current clients or patients of my practice indicate their surprise about how effective our calls have been for ensuring their health and well-being through the course of this pandemic. Many wondered if remaining in therapy would really work, deciding to take time off before returning, while others shifted into alternative options without delay. Across the board, individuals and couples have enjoyed these options, some giving both virtual and telephone a try for good measure. Regardless of whether or not virtual sessions are equal to in-person, they are a beneficial alternative. It is my professional opinion that communications about the therapeutic frame be included for sessions of any type. This becomes all the more important when applied to sessions conducted by virtual platform or by phone.
HIPAA-compliant calls and virtual sessions ensure clients, patients, and analysands can maintain their desired pace even when schedules (or pandemics) prevent meeting in the office. Recognition of sensory input limitations, potential technological glitches, and possible sound quality issues are additional layers of consideration to ensure accuracy of communication, ameliorative techniques, and therapeutic outcomes. While most members of my practice will return to in-person sessions after “sheltering in place” protocols have been lifted, others have found (voice-only) telesessions and virtual sessions to be their personal preference. After all, the safe and convenient TeleHealth options diversify access to therapy, no matter what our individualized new normals might be today, tomorrow, or going forward.
Contact me anytime with questions or concerns in order to set up a consultation.