COVID-19 Tips for Therapists: In light of the recent events that have taken place in the world, tending to our health (both physically and mentally) is more important than ever. As mental health professionals, we have the responsibility of assisting our patients through this crisis while simultaneously navigating our own personal handling of it. This bodes to be a challenging time, but also one that we can move through effectively by keeping some helpful tips in mind:
Be mindful of the pressure you are putting on yourself:
Most of us put enough pressure on ourselves already. It is important to check in with your expectations of yourself at this time. You are not expected to eradicate the fear resulting from a worldwide pandemic. Continue to be present and supportive with your patients and feel free to normalize the uncertainty of this time. You do not have to have all of the answers!
Trust your judgment and use your discretion with how much you talk about COVID-19 in session: Some patients may benefit from venting about stress/anxiety related to recent events in the world, however conversation around COVID-19 may exacerbate the stress/anxiety of other patients. The latter patients will benefit from redirection and/or an approach that invites them to utilize coping skills that have been discussed in session to address their increase in symptoms.
Assist patients with detangling themselves from unhelpful automatic thoughts in response to COVID-19. Ways in which you can do this include:
CBT - Utilizing a thought record for automatic thoughts.
CBT - Noticing and naming cognitive distortions.
ACT - Rewording predictive, assumptive, and judgmental statements (“I’m going to get coronavirus”, “Something bad is going to happen”, etc) to “I’m having a thought that…” statements.
Mindfulness/ACT - Teaching patients to notice, name and normalize the thoughts that they are having.
Validate the emotions that arise, but do not give credence to intrusive/unhelpful automatic thoughts.
Encourage patients to utilize their spare time to begin incorporating coping skills/new structure into their daily routines (See Tips for Patients).
Encourage patients to imagine they are looking back on this time 5 years from now and prompt them to identify how they would like to remember themselves responding.
Encourage them to do those things (barring any unhelpful/destructive behaviors).
Engage in your own self-care!
Being the entity that takes on all of the stress and worry of your patients may have your own personal stress/anxiety increase. Be sure to take a page out of your own therapist handbook and do the things you need to do to take good care of yourself.
Please remember that you have Jamron Counseling’s unflinching support at this time. Please keep in close contact with your supervisor, clinical director and/or president to address any issues that arise.
- Brittany Butts Clinical Director, LMHC