Believe You Belong- During COVID-19
Updated: May 14, 2020
If you’re like me, counseling of any sort is sounding really good right now. Locked up in the house with three kids, trying to conserve food from calorie-sucking little monsters is about as difficult as saving money when I spend more than I make.
I GET IT. LIFE IS HARD RIGHT NOW.
But there is hope, and I would like to offer a small glimpse of it to you. Although I make jokes about my kids and my husband (regularly), I do enjoy many of the moments we’ve had after the first 7 days of locked up. I’m spending time with the 8-month old that hasn’t seen as much of me as he deserves. I’m taking the time in the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee that I’ve developed a new love for. I’m seeing people step up and become the leaders that I always knew they could be. In all of the good, I still experience glimpses of fear that I’m sure all of you can relate to.
Take that first step toward starting online counseling.
As a normal, fairly balanced person who handles stress pretty well, I’ve found myself questioning taking that first step and talking to someone online through a counseling platform. Not because I’m depressed, but because I’m feeling a sort of way that I don’t like. Not because I have an anxiety disorder, but because I’m having thoughts that are negative. I find myself jumping too far ahead and getting caught up in the world of “what ifs” and “worst cases,” and although I believe it’s smart to be prepared, I have previously vowed not to live my life in fear. I’ve caught myself tempted to make decisions based out of fear and I don’t like it. So I’ve been thinking about taking that first step.
Yes, therapists need to ask for help online now, too! But, where do you actually start looking for online counseling in Kentucky?
As a mental health provider myself, I like to think I have a little experience with online counseling, however, I’ve personally never participated under these circumstances, specifically COVID-19. To be completely transparent, it’s been about two years since I’ve actually seen a client for therapy. I’ve spent that time helping other counselors grow their clinical skills and creating a group practice that they could thrive in.
It was my goal to create an environment that my community could receive more quality help. Believe me, there's a difference between sitting on someone's couch talking about your week and sitting on someone's couch who is taking you through a set of treatment interventions and strategies.... big difference, and it was shocking to me to see how accepted it was to "sit and chat".
When I was still seeing clients I focused my skills and developed expertise in anxiety and panic disorders. Every client that sat on my couch was experiencing something of the sort. I love that work and had massive success with helping people eliminate panic attacks.
"Tell me about your past experience with therapy."
I asked every single client that came to me, one question. Tell me about your past experience with therapy. Not one person was ever able to tell me an actual program that a counselor took them through to address panic attacks, or was able to communicate anything that was done in therapy other than talking about their week (indefinitely).
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on "talking about the week," but really, that should be an opener or ice-breaker to a session. When therapy is done on the fly from week to week, there's a problem and that's what I was seeing. All of my clients had one thing in common besides experiencing anxiety.
Do you know what the non-anxiety issue was? Please guess...
They were still having symptoms, which meant the therapy they had previously was not successful. I took that personal and did my part to ensure every single person that sat before me, with the expectation they would do the work, would overcome anxiety.
In the nine years, I spent doing it, I think I only had one client that didn't eliminate their symptoms completely. Working with this population of folks day in and day out forced me to practice what I preached. I’m a big believer in authenticity and this COVID-19 has been a true test for me.
I’ve caught myself using the same strategies to recognize negative thought triggers and traps that I used to teach my own clients. I know how anxiety starts and I know the route it travels through your mind and body which can absolutely cripple you. Two nights ago I was up until 3am, when my normal bedtime is around 10pm. Do you think I was having productive thoughts at that point? No! Absolutely not. It was my rational, counseling voice literally fighting with my cognitive distortions just so that I could get to a place where I was at peace enough to shut my eyes and rest. Three hours later, I was back up, putting on a brave face for everyone in my life.
It’s not easy for me to publicly announce my weakness and share vulnerability, but here it is. I’m a trained, competent, and experienced mental health professional, and I’m sitting here in fear just like you are.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a neurosurgeon, the president of a bank, a CEO or a fast-food worker, we are all experiencing the same fears, doubts, and uncertainty. Just because our bank accounts may look different, or the degrees framed on our walls may be from a different set of educational bragability, we are all still the same.
Mental Health Matters, Even in Times of Crisis
Mental health matters to me, and it matters that everyone has access to it. It matters that the people you talk to care about you. It matters that you feel safe and connected. It matters that in a time of crisis, like the one we are currently living, that you know you are not alone. This is a time when people need people more than ever.
Even if that comes with an online platform, there’s very little you can do sit