The day at the clinic starts with washing down everything…even though I know our cleaner had been through my office just hours before… and will be coming through the clinic again later in the day.
Once that ritual is complete, I notice how much more I understand my clients with OCD. My own anxiety is not abated just because I am Social Worker.
Again wipe down my desk phone and computer, scrub with just a little more strength, and use just a bit more disinfectant.
My soul is oddly comforted.
I get past this…and then realize I need to fill my water bottle before I begin to contact the clients for that day. I forgot to fill up my bottle before I left home and now must brave the communal water cooler. I get a paper towel to hold the button on the water cooler…am I crazy?
Breathe…just Breathe…I remind myself…” this too shall pass”- a phrase I use more often that I care to admit.
Opening my email, nothing new there…I only come into the clinic twice a week…. but have developed another obsessive habit…constantly checking my emails and WhatsApp to see if someone has sent something, if someone needs something from me…just a kind word, a few sentences of support. Just a virtual nod of “You are not alone”.
I move on to the client list for the day…families I have been working with for some time now…I don’t know any colleagues taking on new clients…. it’s the “regulars” that I am calling and working with.
At first it was so cold and unpersonal to do “therapy” on the phone, no video. This is the policy of our clinic. Little by little in our tele-therapy sessions…our voices have grown together…my regular’s and I…we learn to interrupt each other less…getting use to the “pause” that is silent and not visual.
Virtual connection somehow has replaced in person connection.
Basically, things I learned as Therapist become less relevant. I don’t need to be in the “same room” as my client to actually “be“ with them. As a Coach I have worked on the phone for many years. But Therapy…that was unchartered, sacred territory…. Therapists did not do Therapy on the phone.
But all that has changed, Corona has changed so many things. And maybe this is a good thing?
I notice they are less and less my clients and more and more my families.
So interesting how working on the phone we have become closer. I guess the visual and in person are just overrated. It really doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I am with them and they are with me.
Then I think…is this ok? Am I breaching client therapist boundaries? Getting too close…not holding the distance. And I say to myself…who cares…my people need me and in a bizarre way I need them.
Not sure what that is all about.
Their stories are tough and sad, good families with bad luck…loyal employees, now unemployed, vacation without pay, truncated hours, anxiety, illness, tragedy, special needs kids climbing the walls- with some families…literally!
I wonder how my families keep their cool with all this…and then realize they probably are not. And I feel their pain and frustration deeper.
I listen, I comfort, I offer up all the coping mechanisms I can muster. But the truth is not much is very helpful.
People are hurting, they are in pain, and they are scared. Period.
By the end of a long day I find myself overwhelmed with sadness and feelings of helplessness. What can I do? I can’t give them jobs, I can’t make them healthy, keep them safe, or even help them go grocery shopping. Let alone deal with their kids!
For myself I turn deep into mindful meditation to help me find that quiet peaceful place.
I am so desperate to find peace that I offer up a free Zoom workshop entitled, “Come Meditate with Me” so that I can teach mindfulness to others and feel less alone in my own meditation practice.
But meditation sadly does not help all my clients.
They are not “available” now… too much going on to ask them to take a “mindful pause” and all the other mindful goodies I share. Even though I know that now more than ever Mindfulness would help them, and their kids find just a few moments of peace.
But I don’t push these days.
These days I feel less like the “expert” and more like a “member” of my families.
By chance…I have a strange encounter with a client on Zoom… A young university student I have been working with for about 5 months. He is isolated, has health challenges anxiety and mild depressive episodes and this was before the Corona thing got started.
He is struggling.
On the Zoom call it is difficult to hear…the connection is not good.
“Poor internet connection” appears on my screen. I can’t hear my client clearly. We decide to mute ourselves and call on what’s app.
Where would I be without all this technology!?
I don’t see my phone.
I tell my client I will go into the other room and get it.
I think to myself… I must have left it in the kitchen.
Where else do I go these days?
Kitchen, home-office…. but it’s not there…I search frantically…all over.
Feeling very uncomfortable and completely unprofessional having left my client on the line…I come back thinking of all sorts of excuses- why I can’t find my phone.
I am and ADHD Coach on this call. So not finding my phone is not looking good for me!
I come back to my office, look my client in the face wondering how I will fess up to this.
Then I notice…my phone is right there next to my computer.
I begin to laugh inside. But can’t control this wonderful release of stress.
I decide to throw all professional caution to the wind…I share my foible with my client.
He bursts into laughter at me being so “ADHD”!
We sit and laugh…and laugh some more…so out of context that it becomes the context.
And that’s it.
That’s what I realize…I don’t have to come with the Trauma Protocol, or the Organizers guide to families in crisis, stress reduction techniques. or any other “tool”
Don’t get me wrong. These are all important.
But what I see now is that my therapy and coaching clients need sometimes Is just a good hearty real laugh with another real person….and that’s what I needed too…
So, for this moment…corony-balony- just laughing at you! And it feels good!