COVID-19 has made exploring counseling options a unique and challenging experience. This has become especially challenging for patients concerned about their privacy, with unique challenges and barriers present for patients and for counselors alike.
Despite the challenges, counselors are still able to offer a wide variety of services just as if services were offered in person. There isn’t a need to sacrifice on quality of service due to the session being remote.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that different areas of the counseling experience have been affected by COVID-19, and how counselors have been able to adapt and overcome.
ETHICAL DILEMMAS WITH COVID-19
Being able to ensure patient confidentiality when the patient is living with family members can be difficult for both the counselor and for the patient. If a patient wants to talk about experiences with people they live with, it may be unsafe or impossible to do so given stay at home orders and the constant cohabitation of COVID-19.
In the same token, counselors may find themselves dealing with the same challenges – spouses or children in the home – and need to take extra precautions to ensure private patient information remains private.
To counteract some of these challenges, counselors are advising patients to find soundproof places to talk. In addition, white noise machines can be useful for the counselor to use while on calls with patients to ensure no one else in the home can hear. This may even be a valuable tip for the patient to try as well.
The methods taken to approach mental health concerns in the COVID-19 area are sometimes just as important as the actual sessions themselves. In part due to the virus, many counselors have begun expanding the ways in which they offer sessions. All of the following are ways that experienced counselors have been practicing telemental health.
- Video Conferencing
- Online chat
- Text messaging
- Phone call
All of these methods give counselors more freedom to break down some of the barriers that prevent people from considering mental health help. When a person may have been too nervous to consider an in-person visit, a text message or email may be less intimidating and more accessible.
More and more adult patients are considering the option of counseling due to growing amounts of stress and isolation experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Topics such as unemployment and trauma related to the deaths of loved ones are common themes, which can not only cause burnout in a counselor but lead to some stressful situations adult patients have never had to face before.
Individual counseling is one option available for adults who need to work through one-on-one situations with a licensed practitioner. These sorts of sessions allow for people to heal through their trauma and come to address unresolved conflicts in their life.
For many adults, another important option is couples counseling. This can be offered to either married or dating couples to help mediate conflict resolution and learn how two adults best communicate with each other.
Both of these therapy types are able to be offered virtually. For individual counseling appointments and for couple meetings, video conferencing software is an easy way for the counselor to provide the sort of office space that once existed in person.
It can be a bit trickier with child therapy in an online environment. For one, if a child has concerns about their family, it may be difficult for them to share if the family is close by. It can also be difficult if the child is struggling with things such as ADHD or Autism, as the technology itself can be one factor leading to their need for counseling.
Group therapy is one option that can be considered, as group calls are able to be done virtually. The same goes for family therapy sessions as those can take place with the family in one (or more) locations and the counselor calling in remotely.
Social skills and play therapy can be a bit harder to do virtually, but tools such as online games and interactive tools can help a counselor best provide services to a child needing specific assistance.
Social skills groups are peer-to-peer focused, so they work especially well in video calls. The goal is to let kids who struggle with connecting to their peers recognize some nonverbal signals of others and improve their impulse control, anger, and practice anxiety management.
Adolescents, like adult patients, are usually able to have a bit easier access to technology. This access, though, doesn’t mean all challenges are eliminated.
Individual and group therapy, as discussed, are able to be offered through video conferencing softwares. Group therapy may be especially effective for adolescents feeling isolated due to COVID-19. Family therapy again is possible since the counselor can call in to a family in one or more locations.
Substance abuse therapy is usually offered to adolescents struggling with these behaviors, but it can be especially difficult for these adolescents to open up about these issues virtually. However, it is possible with a skilled counselor.
READY FOR HELP?
At Lisa Rogers Counseling, I offer a wide range of therapy and mental health services for several areas. You are not alone in your struggle and neither are your loved ones. Reach out today to make an appointment.
Since 1993, I have been providing a combination of all my years of training tailoring specific treatments based on the individual needs and challenges of my patients, facilitating healing. I make every effort to accommodate the busy schedules of my patients by offering evenings, weekend appointments and Telemental Health (Online Counseling-Virtual/Video Conference and Phone Sessions) offered in the following states I am licensed in: New York, California, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, and Vermont.