COVID — A Catalyst for Counseling


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GoslingsTHERAPY CAN’T SOLVE A PANDEMIC. Right? So why seek counseling when our lifestyles are in chaos? The danger of contamination and illness is real. Some leaders focus on resuscitating the economy, some leaders are envisioning a universal health plan. Certainly, having a rigorous public health system that provides oodles of testing, tracking of those exposed to the virus, and investigating a vaccine is paramount. Psychotherapy definitely adds strength to the tapestry of health care. How?

Couples therapy is excellent for the stress activated from physical distancing. (I don’t believe in social distancing). In Boston many couples are crammed together. Without playgrounds, lacrosse leagues, and trips to the farm, daily frustrations build. The times are crazy, not people.

The virus has caused dread and grief. In 2020, across the land people have lost money, freedom, and physical embraces. Worse than the loss of physical touch is the loss of dreams. The pandemic need not produce more anxiety or hopelessness. Therapy can help 100% with stress, with loss and listlessness.

In counseling, a new crop of coping has emerged. Some clients are decluttering, some have decided to reduce their dependency on wine or on hookah. Gardens are emerging, fresh and colorful. I started a garden to attract pollinators behind a shed. People are looking to change bad habits. Here are tips to whet the appetite:

  • More self-care, not self-indulgence. Learn a new meditation practice. If you can’t take a physical break away from family, put on your favorite songs with some headphones. Customize yoga with your own sequence of moves. Learn a new breathing technique like Ocean Breath, Dragon Breath, or Sloooow breathing. My partner after doing yoga for 30 years learned a new move for their stomach called, Buffalo Plowing Field.
  • More relaxation or new hobbies. Recite new poetry, brew a different tea, find a favorite board game like backgammon online, when you want to send a ‘Get-Well-Card’ create one yourself. I saw someone who designed their own facemask with a gay rights and rainbow design.
  • Concrete help for others, increases well-being. Join a local neighborhood aid group, advocate for the disenfranchised, support Black-owned or Indigenous businesses or NGOs, plant trees.
  • More quantity time with your partner can lead to more quality time. I encourage couples to continue with a date night. Theo and Alex order out take-out sushi and make sure to sit on a pillow low to the floor with chopsticks. Another couple uses cinematography, with foreign movies like Tomboy after the baby goes to sleep.

I’m propelled to write this message. With all the emphasis I can muster, I say, “Don’t give up!”  I have seen amazing success in therapy with couples, single moms, even stranded students. Therapy during COVID is a win-win proposition.

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