As the Covid-19 restrictions are beginning to lift and increased numbers of us in the United States are vaccinated we are all facing the question of how we will go forward. From a global perspective the pandemic is far from over. So much of what we took for granted before the shut-down as absolute and non-negotiable has been shaken up and transformed—how we go to school, how we meet with each other, where we go to do our work, how transactions are conducted, in many ways, even how we relate to each other. We’re constantly negotiating what will be kept as we meet the demands to return to “normal” life. As the Covid restrictions are lifting some of us are dancing for joy while some of us are trembling with re-entry anxiety. How will we safely resume relational life and begin to partake again of activities of social connection: a delightful chance encounter with a stranger, a face to face meeting with a colleague, attending family celebrations, sharing a meal with a friend.
One of the changes that has impacted me dramatically has been the expansion of telehealth. One day I was a psychotherapist with an office where I would meet in person sitting face to face with clients. And then the pandemic demanded an overnight change to virtual services or nothing. And so, we adjusted. I learned as quickly as I could how to make the shift to telehealth without losing the emotionally intimate connection that I see as essential and crucial to the art and science of psychotherapeutic treatment.
After over more than a year of having no other option, what began as an abrupt adjustment to an edict has now become for many a preferred mode. People can meet with a therapist from wherever they are. Geographic distance, bad weather, difficulties with mobility no longer present obstacles to receiving needed services. For the foreseeable future I will continue to provide all mental wellness services via telehealth.
I am deeply grateful for the technology and creativity that enabled me to continue doing this work that is as much what I do as who I am. I would have never guessed that my work would have evolved in this way and never would have predicted that the change could have happened so quickly and gone so smoothly.
My hope as we all begin to go forward to a post-Covid time is that we will use the hard lessons to make a positive difference. Resilience and capacity to engage courageously with uncertainty have been and will continue to be essential survival skills as the pandemic continues to have an impact on all aspects of our lives. Masks on, masks off, group gatherings okay or not—the rules keep changing as the information is gathered and the circumstances evolve. All of this uncertainty requires a capacity for flexibility and a radical acceptance of what we cannot control.
Many of us may feel an almost manic urge to get back to life, to travel again, to host and attend gatherings, to make up for the lost time of those many months of lonely and isolated shut down. My recommendation is to take a breath, slow down, savor a few small sips at a time of whatever makes life pleasurable and accept that we’re not completely through this challenge yet.
We’ve been through a trauma and we’ll all need time to recover. Take good care of yourself and find ways to connect with others who can help you heal. It may sound trite but the only way we’ll get through this is together. Wishing you and yours good health, safety and healing connections.