Hugo Minchin (MBACP), Director, co-founder and counsellor at Talk to the Rainbow, discusses how coronavirus has had a massive impact on therapeutic services and counselling available to vulnerable people
As therapists, we work typically on a face to face basis when working with clients; we are trained to deliver therapy in this manner. Certainly, the face to face element aids in developing a “working alliance” (relationship and trust) between therapist and client. However, as a direct result of Covid-19, our world in therapy is being turned upside down. This means we can no longer offer a safe place in which to work with clients. At a time in which our society is suffering from severe anxiety around Covid-19, this proves an enormous worry to us all in therapeutic services and counselling.
Face to face sessions
As this anxiety increases, therapeutic services are having to consider their options very carefully, with many moving their sessions on to Skype or Zoom in an attempt to ensure the safety of both their staff and clients. This is certainly what we are doing here at Talk to the Rainbow. The problem arises, however when a therapist cannot see their high-risk clients face to face. Many therapists are therefore having to make very difficult decisions on a daily basis.
The implications this has on those clients who may not have access to video facilities, to confidentiality, to those in crisis, to vulnerable adults or children who rely on therapy and mental health services are incredibly distressing to consider. However, like all industries, we need to flex with the current climate and find increasingly innovative ways of supporting our clients to ensure continuity of care as much as possible.
We are seeing that therapists are either shutting up shop or are moving onto digital forms of communication with clients, with both the BACP ad UKCP (our member bodies) providing guidance for their members as the situation progresses. A number of low-cost therapy centres are also working through this to deliver therapy to the most vulnerable within our society to ensure they are not penalised.
We are fortunate that we now live in a world where digital communication is possible and where therapy can work in the digital age. Certainly, it’s businesses who are able to react quickly and be nimble in their approach, who will ultimately fare best here.
As therapists, (like any health care or public service professional) we are trained to deal with the unknown. We are trained to think on our feet and accept that no one situation is the same. I think this is why we are perhaps well positioned to be able to react to these turbulent times; acting fast and thinking of our clients’ welfare at all times.
I think what really stands out to me though (technology and ways of working aside) is that some of the most vulnerable members of our society will ironically not see much change in their living environments during Covid-19. For them, its life as usual, stuck in their houses, bedrooms or flats. Too scared to go out, their anxiety eating into every minute of their days. That is the reality for some people we work with. I do wonder if those who have been forced into this position of self-isolation will soon be better equipped to be able to understand those vulnerable people after this has passed. We all hope for a silver lining out of all of this and I do hope sincerely that our society will see a step change when it comes to caring for others as we move forward.
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