As a Psychologist, the word isolation has a particularly concerning meaning for me. Isolated people can become depressed, lonely and anxious. Social support is critical to mental health and now South Africa is in Lockdown. Many people are isolated, without access to a variety of social support and with little access to normal coping mechanisms, for example going for a run, walking the dog, meeting a friend, smoking, using alcohol – coping mechanisms aren’t always healthy, but when they are SUDDENLY taken away, the result can be devastating. The implications for mental health are serious. To add to this, many current and prospective clients had other, pre-existing stressors or problems, which haven’t gone away just because Lockdown or Social Distancing prevents them from coming accessing psychotherapy. Far from it, it is possible that anxiety and fear around the Coronavirus could exacerbate the initial issues.
It is therefore important to that we are able to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in and to find a way to continue psychotherapy sessions during this time. Consistency and continuity between our ”old lives” and our ”new lives” will be key in staying healthy through this challenging time. Over the last few weeks I have done some research on online counselling, and have conducted a fair amount of online sessions. I therefore feel well equipped and confident to provide you with an online counselling service whilst we are unable to meet face to face. I know that any change is disconcerting so I acknowledge that this is not ideal. At the same time, I believe that there are steps that both you and I can put in place in order to maximise the effectiveness of your online counselling experience.
If you are not sure whether or not online psychotherapy is for you, I would like to invite you to a FREE 15 minute, trial, consultation with me via an application called Zoom. During this consultation, we will not discuss anything other than online counselling and coronavirus. We will use this time to address any concerns you may have about pursuing sessions online, as well as fears or anxieties you have about coronavirus and the implications on your life, love and work. Do not worry about the practicalities of how to set this up – I will take control of issuing you with all the relevant information to ensure that you know exactly what to do. Zoom is currently the preferred platform to use as it is encrypted and therefore concerns around confidentiality are addressed. It is also free and so it is accessible to anyone with a device and data. If you feel comfortable after this session, we can then proceed with online counselling. If you do not feel comfortable, we can either try to find a way to solve whatever problem is preventing you from feeling comfortable or as a last resource, we can suspend psychotherapy until life has returned to normal.