This is a worrying time for all of us as the situation with Coronavirus unfolds. Having shut the door to Lifeways this week, we are mindful of the many people who would normally come through it each day for a range of therapies. Many of these are elderly or isolated and are attending groups to stay connected or are people with counselling appointments to help them tackle existing high levels of anxiety or issues arising from trauma. The therapists who make up our community are a dedicated bunch who spend their days helping people from young to old and all walks of life. From a fervent desire to help their clients, either current or new, weather the storm of social distancing and self-isolation, our therapists are coming up with creative ways to do so.
You might expect that counsellors will provide support over the phone; it is more unusual for acupuncturists to do so. Ally Purchon, acupuncturist, is a long-serving team member at Lifeways. Wishing to continue support for her client base, she is offering support and advice by phone. Ally has committed to making a weekly phone call to all her regular patients, offering support and advice. To facilitate this, she has retained her professional insurance cover and has the backing of the British Acupuncture Council.
“During this unprecedented health crisis in our country, when we are all asked to stay at home to protect not only ourselves but also our NHS and the most vulnerable in our society, many people are completely alone, anxious and unsure.” commented Ally. “Anyone who has had treatment from me and who wishes to speak to me is warmly invited to call me for support on 07717 103115.”
Counselling support online or by phone
Most of our counsellors are offering online sessions. Whilst this is not the same as a face-to-face appointment, it is a valuable and even vital service to help people deal with ongoing issues or anxiety triggered by the current situation.
Diane Pulley of TLC Partners is an experienced counsellor, psychotherapist and coach who regularly works through video calls alongside face-to-face sessions. She explains that some clients are apprehensive about starting online counselling, but that once a session is under way they overcome any initial concerns and find the sessions to be valuable. “All of my video counselling sessions to date have been very productive and enriching. Even clients who are concerned about other family members hearing their conversations have addressed it by sitting in their cars or gardens to take the session.”
Diane uses Zoom as recommended by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BCAP).
Heather Shipley, CBT/Emotional Therapeutic Counsellor, is also experienced at seeing clients via video link. “I ensure that I am in a room that is secure where I will not be interrupted, in a hotspot for a good WiFi connection and that my laptop is charged fully,” she explains. “To start off with, sessions can feel strange and I talk with my clients to make sure they are comfortable. I find these type of sessions work really well if the client feels safe to undertake them. The sessions can seem intense at first, as you are looking at each other through the screen rather than in a therapy room.
“It can be difficult to use creative therapies online and I ask clients to take photos of the work they produce during our sessions and send them to me via email so that we can talk about it.
“All in all, these type of sessions can work well. I usually suggest that a shorter session, around 30 minutes, is tried first to see if the client is happy working with this medium.”
How do I find a therapist offering "remote" sessions?
See our therapies page for details of individual practitioners who normally work from Lifeways. If you are a new client, contact your therapist of choice to ask if they are providing services online or by phone – most are. You can ask they which apps or websites they are using and see if that will work for you.