Ways to Keep the Conversation Productive about the Coronavirus

Therapists and clients agree: be curious, be genuine, and be brave.

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With hearing the recent news of local businesses, colleges, and even events shutting down in my town, the mind can wander as to what might be next. In my line of work as a mental health therapist, we’re constantly helping clients navigate through what’s going on in the news—whether national or local. I feel as if it’s a rite of passage when clients are brave and have the openness to talk about politics, religion, and even pandemics such as the coronavirus.

Our team has discussed appropriate protocol regarding precautionary measures we have to take for ourselves and in tandem with better supporting our clients due to the crises that is plaguing every news source. Many of us have attempted to contact our clients over the phones before they even leave their homes to check in with them about how they are doing with what’s going on, and highlighting if they are generally feeling sick that it’s okay to miss today or perform an over the phone session. Just as therapists attempt to highlight the emotional temperature gauge in the room to make sure clients are still there with them, we’re doing the same about the coronavirus, one day at a time.

A helpful tip that’s been keeping the conversation going for not only staff, but for my clients as well, is showing appreciation for everyone’s bravery in coming in every new day. The staff I work with have already shown me they are ready to be in the trenches as we feel we will probably be supporting clients throughout this identified pandemic by keeping our doors open to the public—so I try to thank members of my team for sticking it through this together.

Furthermore, as soon as I get the phone call from the front desk saying my client is here I tend to be more excited than usual. As I pull them back to my office I attempt to show them even more appreciation for coming in today. I’ll say something like, “I appreciate you coming in today, I’m told it hasn’t been easy for a lot of people to travel across town recently.” I’m noticing that many of my clients are eager to talk about their thoughts and feelings of what’s happening and this statement of appreciation seems to be helping. Once they are able to straighten out how they are experiencing the coronavirus, we continue business as usual.

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