Therapy in a time of physical distance.

As I wind down from another week of doing e-therapy, I am reminded of how happy and grateful I am to be doing this work.  Though the coronavirus pandemic has taken some of what was familiar for myself and the people I treat – a private, quiet office and safe space in which to delve into personal feelings, thoughts and struggles – and turned it onto its head, it has also provided an opportunity for us to share and grow together in ways which may not have presented themselves otherwise and to clearly see what is still familiar and grounding and healing despite this turmoil: the therapeutic relationship.    

Transitioning to remote therapy sessions – whether on a telehealth video platform or on a telephone call – and in such a sudden, hurried manner caused initial upheaval, stress, curiosity, hope, sadness and fear for many of those involved. 

  • Will this telehealth platform work well?
  • Will I have privacy in the home for my sessions?
  • Will my therapist still be available to meet?
  • If I use insurance for therapy will it still pay for e-sessions?
  • Will therapy feel the same as when we meet together in-person? 

These were just some of the many questions going through the minds of patients and therapists alike as this unexpected and less-than-desirable process started.  

As the remote sessions began to take place, though, they also began to take shape and to create a new path forward and together.  Talking about what this new set-up is like; the myriad of feelings around both what is currently happening in the world and in one’s home and life; navigating technical differences or glitches and seeing how we may resolve them; and being together as before but now in this incredible time of uncertainty, distance, change, fear, love and loss all laid the groundwork for more connection, intimacy, feeling and healing.  

Personally, it has been so good to see the people I treat!  To be present and available to them as they navigate these uncertain and challenging waters, to help them figure out ways to create or ask for more privacy at home, to talk through any issues that arise because of this new format of meeting and to show the care and understanding that life is full of difficult times and unexpected obstacles and that none of it is insurmountable though it may sometimes feel that way.  These are the reasons I – and so very many therapists – do this work, and it’s a gift to be able to do it at a time when the uncertain is quite certain.  

Stay the course, everyone…it will get better!

Author:  Lesley Seeger, LCSW

The team at Erika’s Lighthouse knows how challenging and difficult this transition is on our teens, educators, parents and others. We are here to help and support our young people. We have launched an exciting new campaign that will provide meaningful, practical resources for teens, educators and parents.