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2020 Coronavirus implications on mental health professional interns and licensed clinicians
Imagine you wake up one morning only to find yourself in a twilight zone movie! That's what it is has felt like to many people over the past few months of 2020; hitting a peak in March in the US. Given the uncertainties and lethalness of the coronavirus, the majority of the population is essentially on lockdown to potentially reduce (flat the curve) the number of cases and deaths. So how does this affect you as a mental health professional? Well, of course, this affects you on multiple levels that's personal and professional. Though you may not find yourself on the front lines like the first responders, your/our duty is essential to many people's well-being. Thankfully the Nation has recognized the need for mental health services to continue as many essential rules, laws, and protocols have been lifted to assure everyone has an opportunity to continue their mental health services or begin in such desperate, uncertain times.
Though we do not find ourselves in the middle of a war zone, not having to duck under beds or go into basements for safety many American and people worldwide find themselves worried, scared, alone, with anxiety and frustration of not know what is happening, how this could be happening in a time that the world is supposedly so developed in science, technology, and resources, and are they next statistic or worse to die. With many heightened emotions, you are needed, perhaps more than ever. If you are an intern, your site most probably has guided you to the best of their ability in such short notice how to provide telehealth. Note, though many typical restrictions have been waived, best practices must be still assured in attempting to deliver appropriate and effective therapeutic services.
Even though you weren't prepared for working in such conditions, of crisis mode, or using telehealth, you can get through this. Consult of course with your assigned supervisors to assure you receive the support and resources you may need. Do not try to figure out what to do or not on your own just because you are working remotely. As you transition to this new way of working, get organized, set your self a space you feel comfortable and private to provide services, speak to your loved ones about needing some time to help others, and discuss what that means and may look like to be successful. Remember to use headphones. A great suggestion I heard from one of my interns he used a portable fan to place outside of his room while working with clients so his family couldn't potentially hear his sessions. You have to figure out what schedule will work for you and your clients given your own home circumstances, that may mean shorter sessions. Some sites are allowing their clinicians and interns do phone calls, emails, and text. Make sure your state is allowing such methods though again, you wouldn't want to practice any unethical or unlawful ways. Be prepared to be empathic and flexible as you work with many adjust ing to their new lifestyle, which has had many drastic implications. Some will lose their jobs, loved ones, routines, relationships, healthy outlets, and even vices. Though many of the problems, symptoms may be overall common issues you have work on in theory, there is something unique about them given the context they are occurring. Try to stay grounded in your principles and theories, slow sessions down to make sure you are actively listening, don't get too caught up on content pay attention to what the client needs in the present. Some of you may find your self adapting to using new strategies given the limitations of telehealth. Do you research practice, EBP, and seek consultation (supervision).
As for self-care, you too have a family of your own, and mental, emotional, and medical-being needs to be attended to, so don't forget to take time to figure out what you are going to do to ensure you don't breakdown. There is a need to slow down and be mindful more than ever as it appears it can cost someone's life. Dramatic, you may think? Well, not really when we see so many dying, and perhaps it could have been prevented. So, how do you care for yourself, can you provide services to others if you are filled with anxiety? Some may have mixed emotions at this point, and it's only the beginning, so many other emotions will rise and fall as we ride out the pandemic. You may feel helpless at times perhaps a foreign feeling as you usually "treat" others for this but not you; don't get me wrong I recognize we like anyone else can and have mental health conditions, but let's face it many that found themselves "strong" are feeling feelings that haven't which they have to find a way to cope and the strength, will, and ability to keep working.
Wishing all to be safe! If I can be of any service feel free to contact me @ 1-888-995-3675
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