Reopening After COVID-19
The last 4 months have been trying ones for many of us; uncertainty, anxiety and for many people, loss, have been present, sometimes chronically (all the time) and sometimes catching us by surprise. Throughout this time, some people have reassessed their priorities, taken on new perspectives, and feel ready to race back to ‘normal’. For others, pre-existing and managed conditions have recurred, new issues have arisen and stresses have become overwhelming. The lockdown has been experienced very differently by different people, and re-opening is unlikely to be straightforward for everyone. I am pleased to have kept my practice running throughout this time, and continued to offer support to those that have been able to access it online.
I am now beginning the process of a slow reopening. This reopening is deliberately slow; this allows me to make sure that reopening is safe and sensible. It may be frustrating to feel you have to wait, but I also know there are some people who do not wish to return to face to face working, or even therapy; I respect this too. This blog post is here to help you understand what ‘face to face’ reopening will look like and mean for you.
There are number of changes that have been made to help reduce the risk of COVID transmission in the work I do. Here is a short list of some of these adaptations;
- The room has been rearranged, to allow greater distance between you and the therapist.
- In line with government guidelines, your therapist will now wear a clear visor whilst working with you. A spare visor is available if you want one, but these are not mandatory for clients.
- The room will be regularly cleaned, and surfaces disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer is available.
- A full risk assessment has been done to protect you and your therapist; if you would like a copy you can request one.
What do you need to do?
- Do not attend your session if you or anyone in your household has any COVID symptoms. You will not be charged if you cancel a session because of this. An online alternative will be offered, so you needn’t miss a session.
- If you are a pre-existing client, you will be contacted in the next few weeks with a possible start date.
- Decide if returning to therapy face to face is necessary. There is a section on this in this post.
How will boundaries be different?
There are a few necessary boundary changes too. These are below;
- If your therapist tests positive for COVID-19 they are likely to be ‘contact traced’. This would mean handing over your details to Public Health England if you have had a face-to-face session. Online sessions will be unaffected.
- COVID-19 can re-emerge, both nationally and locally. If this happens it may be necessary to shut down face-to-face working quickly. If this happens your sessions will be cancelled, possibly at short notice. You will be offered an online session as an alternative.
- I will not be charging for late cancellations.
- If you become unwell in a session, you may be asked to leave.
How do I decide if I want to return to Face-to-Face Therapy?
This is an incredibly personal question. Everybody has their own unique risk level, concerns and tolerance for changes. I am happy to talk this through with you. It is important to know that sessions online will continue to be offered; I have no intention of stopping delivering online sessions. You will need to decide;
- Is a face to face session worth the risk of transporting to the office, and contact with my therapist?
- Would an online session be more appropriate?
- Would any of the changes to therapy or the boundaries affect my ability to engage with the therapist?
I understand that for some clients, the idea of returning to face to face working is overwhelming. This is fine; online sessions are still available. I also know that some people will feel they no longer need therapy. This is OK. The last 4 months will have led to some reflection, changes of priority, and changes of circumstance. Some people may want to wait a little longer before deciding. Whatever decision you make, I am happy to respect. If you need more information, or want to talk through your options, I am available for you to do this.
The ‘New Normal’
‘New Normal’ is a phrase we hear a lot now. Many things have changed, and our expectations and boundaries will have been challenged hugely through this. When it comes to therapy, you do not need to rush back to a ‘New Normal’. There are many aspects of your life that are changing, and perhaps you need time to figure this out. What I need you to know is that I am here if you need to talk through the decision to return, and I will respect whatever choice you make about returning to therapy. It has been a challenging few months for all of us, and I wish you all the best as the lockdown lifts.