By: Ken Barrett, MSW, LCSW
I have thought painstakingly about how therapists can manage the Covid-19 Pandemic. First of all, during the course of the therapeutic hour it’s a safe assumption the topic of Covid-19 will come up in discussion. I think it’s ok to be open about how you experience Covid-19 in terms of your own challenges as a human being. The depth and breadth of your sharing is probably worth exploring. In the event you’ve had moderate to severely painful experiences with Covid-19 as it relates to family and friends this is pause for thought. I think sharing generalizations about your experience with Covid-19 is warranted in therapy with your clients. On the other hand, if the experiences you’ve had with Covid-19 are emotionally charged you may need to modify to a great extent how much you share with clients. Lastly, when sharing with clients who are highly anxious and prone to panic it’s a good idea to limit sharing in general unless they are really doing well in managing their symptoms.
Countertransference is a concept I want to briefly touch on in this blog. The concept I speak of is when you become emotionally entangled with your clients. I believe as therapists we will invariably suppress our own pain some of the time in order to make a clear mental path for our client’s therapeutic process. If you are having an excess of countertransference in sessions about Covid-19 it would be good to process this with your supervisor in order to reach clarity about it. We are not machines, and it’s essential we reach out for help when feeling flooded, burned out and under unusually high stress.
The last part I want to share revolves around working as much as possible to gain a sense of taking control of your life. Obviously, monetary gain, satisfaction of helping people and reinforcing job security have direct benefit to a therapist. Beware of burying yourself in work to avoid or not cope with your own life. We get one life to live and balance is of the utmost importance as a therapist. Take time out to do things you like such as exercise, reading, extra rest and quality time with your friends, partner and children.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!