Navigating these unfamiliar waters

Navigating these unfamiliar waters

Dr. Janine Hubbard recently wrote a wonderfully candid article about living and working as a psychologist during the COVID-19 pandemic. That article inspired me to share my own reflections as I begin to re-open my office to in-person appointments.

If you’re like me, it’s been about 5 months since your life was dramatically changed by COVID-19. One of the biggest challenges many of us faced in our work life was adjusting to virtual sessions. Somehow I didn’t expect to experience challenges with resuming in-person sessions, but here I am. Some of my colleagues returned to in-person appointments weeks prior to me whereas others are still only offering virtual appointments. As I spoke to friends and colleagues and read provincial recommendations from the public health experts I found myself wrestling with the ongoing uncertainty and how best to navigate these unfamiliar waters. With this came the all too familiar comparisons, judgements, and self-doubt. (Didn’t I just go through those 5 months ago?!)

What’s been most helpful for me personally, is the reminder that although we’re all facing the COVID-19 pandemic, our individual situations and circumstances (personal and professional) vary considerably and, because of that, so too will our solutions. As we shared in a previous newsletter, a phrase that captures this beautifully is: “We’re all in the same storm, just in different boats.” I expect some might even say that our storms vary to some degree depending on our location (I’m sure my work plan would look very different if I lived in Florida). So as each of us navigate these unfamiliar waters in our own unique boat I encourage you to do so with kindness and compassion towards both ourselves and those around us.

It’s now been about 4 weeks since I’ve started inviting clients back to my office. At first I felt more like the COVID-19 police than a therapist and couldn’t help but feel like I was doing something “wrong” by inviting clients back to my office. (There’s that emotional reasoning popping up again!) At this point, I’m starting to feel more comfortable and I’m getting used to the COVID-19 screening, physical distance, clear barriers, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant. As for my clients, they too are finding their unique solutions for approaching therapy during a pandemic, and I’m honoured to be part of their journey, whether that be virtually or in-person.