Lockdown has been a real game changer to the counselling world... my world and my perspective on safe spaces
I used to think that my therapy room was the only safe space for therapy to take place and to work with my clients. Counselling within my therapy rooms is all I had ever known and experienced until COVID-19.
I feel this was the case for a lot of counsellor's and for clients too as the "normal" has always been to go and see a counsellor within their location.
COVID-19 - This was a game changer for most of the world, as many things we used to experience daily had just stopped. It almost felt like the world had paused for a long period of time. I recall how lonely it felt out and about, as it became very rare to say "Hello" to one another as we pass on the streets. With the shops bare, and people loosing jobs, life got a little bit manic, and we all have had to become content with a new type of normal. One of the biggest changes being face masks and queuing to enter shops.
I recall, panicking how I was going to manage my clients as I was unable to see them face to face. How would this be for them? Would they still want to see a counsellor during these tough times? Could they afford their agreed weekly payments still? as many people are getting made redundant or simply loosing their jobs with no notice.
This is the only alterative, This was the only choice all counsellors had to stay inline with government guidelines. Ill be honest, I lost a couple of clients along the way as the change to virtual counselling has not been a smooth process for all.
Counselling face to face, allows a client to step out of there world into a mutual space where they can explore what is going on in their world for them. It allows a physical change to scenery, where as virtual counselling does not provide this as the client is in their own space within their world, and sometimes clients do not have a safe space to talk, so face to face counselling is great for creating a safe mutual space..
With virtual counselling there is a lot more for the client and counsellor to think about. Confidentiality, distractions and technical issues. Its about preparing for most possible scenarios as you are both within your own spaces.
I have reflected heavily on the differences between face to face counselling and virtual counselling, and equally they both can be a safe space for clients and can be just as effective as one another, when its right for the client. My therapy room is not the only safe space I can provide for my clients and this has only grown my business and developed me further as a counsellor.
Another type of therapy I have commenced offering is Walk & Talk therapy. Ill admit, my first session was brain overload. Everything was trial and error, but the more I have experimented with this type of therapy, the more I am seeing the benefits and how this can be a safe space for clients also. This type of therapy is perfect for clients who find the traditional way of counselling to be uncomfortable with the amount of eye contact and focus, sometimes having some scenery, and walking side by side is more relaxing and creates a comfortable space.
Other research and authors have supported the claims that talking side-by-side can facilitate open communication. Carolee Belkin Walker stated in an excerpt from the Washington Post, “I’ve noticed a significant reduction in symptoms in terms of intensity and duration when comparing my outdoor clients versus in office/video conference clients. Teenagers seem to have an easier time opening up in a more organic way being outdoors and moving as well.” We’ve found that this generalizes into our program in the treatment of young adults.
I think the biggest learning curve for me is, I am adaptable and I can create a safe space for clients not just in my therapy room.
I HAVE THE POWER!!!!