5 Ways to Help Your Counseling Patients Cope with Isolation Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Limit Exposure to the Media
- Maintain Social Connections from a Distance
- Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Stress
- Offer Telehealth Therapy Visits
- Set Up a Routine That Includes Self-care
People with mental health conditions need ongoing care, and these are five ways that therapists can help their counseling patients during coronavirus social distancing. A person who is unable to maintain their usual routines may quickly develop new or worse depression, substance abuse, anxiety, fear, and stress. Although counselors may not be able to offer in-person therapy sessions during social distancing mandates, there are ways they can continue caring for their patients.
Related resource: Ranking Top 30 Graduate Degree Programs in Marriage and Family Therapy
1. Limit Exposure to the Media
Constant exposure to bad news and frightening information adds to the stress, fear, anxiety, and depression of a counseling patient. Counselors should help people set reasonable limits on their exposure to the media. They can also help people choose reputable sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic in their community as well as in the United States and around the world.
2. Maintain Social Connections from a Distance
Maintaining social connections is critical to mental health. When these interactions cannot take place in person, a counseling patient might not know what to do. Counselors can offer tips on other ways people can connect with each other. Video calls, texts or simply talking to a neighbor from at least six feet away can help.
3. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Stress
Counselors can help patients develop healthy mechanisms for coping with the stress from social distancing. Extroverts may display the most stress from not being able to meet in person with their friends, coworkers, and family. They thrive on human interactions. People whose love language is touch may also suffer from not being able to hug, shake hands or interact in other physical ways. Even introverts may experience stress from a lack of socializing. Introverts often go to the same place and meet with one or two of their friends, such as meeting for coffee or a book store. They may become even more isolated, and talking with the counselor may help create coping strategies.
4. Offer Telehealth Therapy Visits
According to the American Psychological Association, therapists and counselors can offer telehealth visits to their patients. This can be done through a secure app set up by the provider’s business or through other online meetings. Video calls through paid or subscription services also offer an opportunity for therapy services without an in-person meeting. During these therapy sessions, a counselor can help their patients by identifying current issues that are worrying them and working through healthy ways to deal with those problems.
5. Set Up a Routine That Includes Self-care
Counselors can assist patients with setting up a routine that includes self-care. For a person who now has to work from home for social distancing, this might include waking up, eating breakfast, going on a walk alone, starting the workday, taking a break and finishing the workday. The evening might include a video call with a friend and 15 minutes reading the news. The self-care plan could include daily showering and grooming, getting dressed, preparing healthy food and a few minutes of meditation, prayer or relaxation.
Counselors continue to play an important role in helping people get through stress. The social distancing imposed by local, state and national governments is a new and unexpected demand that few people have ever had to experience. Each of these ways that professionals can help their counseling patients during coronavirus social distancing can lessen the burden of this pandemic.