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Counseling Amidst the Coronavirus

Why I look forward to treating my patients face-to-face once again.

Image by Grief Recovery Center from Pixabay
Source: Image by Grief Recovery Center from Pixabay

After nearly two months of being locked down and tucked away in my home office, I finally saw my first client in-person this week. While some clients are more cautious and have no issues with teletherapy, others have been asking if they could see me in-person.

So with a few safety adjustments to my office (ensuring six feet of distance between us, requiring hand-washing of clients, etc.), I re-opened. Although the shift to teletherapy has been key, and I'm grateful for the technology to do so, I still felt especially energized and rejuvenated from those first face-to-face sessions.

I think part of this has to do with humanity's need for real human interaction. A phone or screen can only go so far, but the energy between people is real and palpable in-person.

I'm not discrediting the advantages of video sessions for therapy, as it does offer a connection to clients in isolation, depression, or anxiety during these times. But in-person sessions offer the shared space of being physically present with a therapist.

Call me old-school, in an office (or another therapeutic setting), I can see you. I can see all of you. The nuanced facial gestures such as the pursing of your clips. The slouching of your body, or at times, the need to lay prostrate on the couch due to feeling emotionally immobilized. In return, I as the therapist can offer my own body language to reciprocate a show of empathy, attunement, or synchronicity. I can lean in, I can bow my head, or I can just give you the look that you know you are understood and cared for, where no words are needed on my part.

By comparison, in some cases video sessions leave little time to pause, gaze, cry, or just be. The video sessions sometimes can't "hold" you the way a traditional counseling space can. Sometimes, it cannot give you the container to truly be present with your counselor because you may be connecting from your home, your work office, or within your own vehicle. These environments can contain distractions, such as kids, dogs, and work, not to mention the annoyance of having to repeat yourself due to technological hiccups like a lost connection or momentary freezing of audio/video transmissions.

Although teletherapy has been critical during this crisis, it has also shown that the human-to-human, face-to-face, in-vivo moments of our lives do matter.

To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.