We are officially a year into the pandemic and I am hopeful things will be turning around soon. I can’t help think though how this year affected myself, my team of therapists and all therapists worldwide. I always knew my job was draining in a different way than others could grasp. On our way out to dinner with my husband getting a call from a client who was suicidal. Being late to dinner since I spent time assessing them and making sure they were admitted to the hospital. Or having a tearful meeting with parents about their 14 year old daughter needing to be hospitalized for her eating disorder and coming home in a sad mood based on what transpired for the day as I cook dinner and look at my own kids wondering what the future holds for them. Being at my child’s soccer game and knowing the father on the opposite team was having an affair with my client. Receiving a message that a client’s friend committed suicide. Hearing that a cousin overdosed. A grandparent dying. Hearing that a client plucked out every single eyelash.
The heaviness of my job has always been there. The nights staying up late worrying about someones well-being or showering in the morning hoping that the call you made the night before will save this child from the abuse. We practice as therapists self-care and for ourselves to be in a place of peace, calm and non stress to be open to help our clients. We have to be emotionally resilient. What about when that is turned upside down. When you are in essence experiencing the exact same thing your client is. You are stressed out, may have a spouse who lost their job, virtual schooling your kids, socially isolated and worried about your family while still experiencing family members pass away along during a pandemic. You better believe to get your counter transference in check. Having to dig deeper than you ever imagined possible to help your clients and be the sounding board and nonjudgemental therapist they need. Having to sit on doxy or zooms with adolescent clients whose school refusal was prevalent and now they wouldn’t turn the screen on for you. As you sit there trying your best to have a therapy session with a black screen not able to read their body language. Not to mention contracted Covid yourself.
In this past year I have done counseling sessions in the most unique places. I have done them in my bathroom locked in so my kids couldn’t enter, on walks, outside, in my car. My clients as well had sessions with me in their garage or closets or bathroom using the toilet as a chair for privacy. All therapists learn about boundaries. Yep the B word. Normally we set boundaries with clients not knowing too much about us personally or setting up protocol for our time. Oh and one more thing most of us entered this field for a reason….so whether that be experiencing our own trauma, substance use, disordered eating, anxiety or depression try keeping that all in check while having the pandemic set us back as well emotionally. It is a hard ass job holding a sacred space for others while not having a regression yourself. On top of the collective grief and trauma that is so real.
I would imagine many have left the field. I would also imagine many who were on the brink of leaving the field were reinvigorated to stay to help. The option of tele-health allowed them now to travel or take care of an elderly parent and not give up their business. Or they no longer needed to pay for office space. Or they finally had a full caseload after trying for years based on the amount of calls coming into their office.
So how are you doing? Really therapists. How are You? Drained beyond belief. Anxious for our field changing as tele-health has evolved or brick and mortar offices remain but offer different options now. Relieved to go back to your office. Happy you choose this field still or not. Whenever you are with it all. Is ok. It is ok to be exactly where you are at.
I have come out of this a completely different therapist. For better or worse. I am sure you have as well. So how are you doing therapists? I see you. I see you with your emotional battle armor on. I see you holding it together while all you wanted was to fall apart yourself. I see you helping the world. I see you saving the lives of those who almost did it. I see you saving marriages. I see you helping yourself.
As we prepare for what is next-I see YOU in a completely different light than I ever did before.
Sending much love and light….XO