Writing about mental health from a feminist counselling perspective
I’ve been offering video sessions for years now, and so when I made the move to mostly telehealth services this week, I knew I’d be in my comfort zone. I already know what wonderful connections can be made this way, and the deep work that can be done. As a somatic practitioner, I’ve been pleased to receive reminders about the ways we can work with the body. It feels like so much is possible. I know we wouldn’t have chosen the situation we’re in now, but given what’s going on, I’ve been thinking of a few of the benefits to telehealth services, and wanted to share what I came up with.
1. Accessibility: I’ve always thought that telehealth would be ideal for people who are otherwise unable to come into the office but still want to prioritize their mental health and access services. It could be transportation issues like you’re in a small Albertan town and the commute is just a bit too far, or you’re here in Edmonton winter and the roads are not worth driving on, or you don’t have access to a reliable vehicle but you still want to access services. I also think about accessibility in terms of chronic pain where sometimes it’s better not to leave the house because you’re more able to take care of yourself at home, and part of taking care of yourself is still having a session. Or maybe you’re sick and staying at home to take care of your health and the health of others, but you really still wanted to connect about that anxiety and depression you’re working through. Or, you’re taking care of young children and today you have no other childcare options. For me, this one is all about reducing barriers.
2. Comfort: Some people really like having the comforts of home around them – like an important animal, a blanket they can curl up with, and being in their most relaxed clothes. When our nervous system can begin from a more settled place, there’s already room for more of a shift to occur. When we’re done the session, you can stay in that comfort and continue to relax into it, rather than worry about dealing with traffic on your commute home.
3. Bravery: This one’s kind of interesting. Over video, sometimes people find themselves able to be a bit braver with what they share or are willing to try out. I’m not sitting in the room staring straight at you (okay, I try not to do that anyway), and sometimes that bit of distance allows people to feel like they can actually be more vulnerable. Also when I invite people to do something they feel silly about, they can move offscreen to do it. Tada!
4. Integration: Sometimes people feel like my office is a magical place where they can self-regulate and feel their boundaries and all sorts of good stuff, but have a hard time translating those skills to home. Doing a session from your home space may allow you to embody self-regulation and other skills into areas of your life that you’re most hoping to take them into.
In light of Alberta being in a declared state of public health emergency, I have made an update in my policies on seeing clients in person at this time. I am deeply confident that we all want to take care of each other at this time and in this spirit, I'm now moving to video as my preference for connecting with clients, with in-person appointments reserved only for those unable to find a private and secure space to connect from. I am also reserving a few spots for those actively engaged in EMDR, who desire to continue meeting in person. Please email me directly if you would like one of these spots to be reserved for you. I have been thoughtful in making this move. Given our current situation with COVID-19, I'm anticipating that this will be a long term solution rather than a short term fix. It looks like this will be our new normal for a few months at least.
I am happy to offer online sessions via Doxy, a confidential online telehealth platform. I often do online sessions for clients if a need arises, and believe I can confidently offer my support through these means.
I recognize that this may feel like a daunting time for some of you. I appreciated your understanding of the importance of collective effort.
There are a few things to keep in mind with any technology that I do want to remind everyone of:
• It is important to be in a quiet, private space that is free of distractions (including cell phone or other devices) during the session.
• It is important to use a secure internet connection rather than free/public WiFi.
• You may want to use earbuds/headphones to help with privacy and reduce feedback noise.
• Confidentiality still applies to online services, so no one is to record the session.
• It can help to make sure you're prepared ahead of time as much as possible by making sure you have a power cord, testing out your camera and microphone etc. At the same time, technology isn't perfect. Therefore, a telephone backup may need to be used, which can result in a temporary disruption to the session and some reduced effectiveness in communication.
To connect at our scheduled meeting time, simply login to my “waiting room” (I'll send you the link), type in your name, and wait for me to begin the session. It’s helpful if you’re able to arrive there 5-10 minutes in advance of the session in order to make sure that your audio/visual is working. If you’re connecting via a laptop, you won’t need to download anything, though if you’re using a tablet or mobile, you may need to download an app.
If Doxy is down, I will send you a Zoom link in order to connect. Zoom is also free to use, but it does require a download, so you may want to do this in advance.
If the case of all technology failure, I will call you. Please ensure that I have your current phone number on file.
What Our Office is Doing - A Note from Transcend and Blossom
In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 we are taking extra precautions at the office by:
• Disinfecting door knobs, chairs, desks, other touchable surfaces throughout the day in individual offices and common areas.
• The building is also taking extra disinfecting measures throughout the day including placing hand sanitizer dispensers at points of entry to the main building.
• Removing magazines / puzzle books from the waiting room. Until further notice please bring your own entertainment.
• Reducing the availability of beverages and snacks in the waiting area, so as to discourage common contact points.
To protect yourself and others, we encourage the following guidelines from Alberta Health Services:
• Use good hygiene practices such as frequent and thorough hand washing
• Cover coughs and sneezes
• Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill
If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please do not go to a health care facility. Instead, call Health Link 811 for assessment and testing.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or require further information. Thank you.
Currently, the risk level in Alberta is low for COVID-19. At this time, I can continue to provide therapeutic counselling in person if you are feeling healthy. I can also arrange for your sessions to be completed online using a secure video counselling platform called doxy.me. Phone appointments are also possible for those who would prefer this option.
I ask you to request sessions via online counselling if you have symptoms such as:
• Any signs of a cold or flu
Please also inform me and I can arrange online sessions if you have:
• Travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days
• Had contact with someone who was suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
If you’re unsure as to whether you should come in or not, it’s best to be cautious, stay home, and do online counselling. Voluntary social distancing may end up protecting other clients in the office with compromised immune systems.
I will inform you if there is a need to move all clients to an online counselling option.
My goal is to help everyone stay healthy and safe and for my clients to continue to receive uninterrupted psychological support, as much as is possible.
Please email Nicole@feministcounselloredmonton.com to arrange for online counselling or if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you.
Photo by Brene Brown.
Nicole Perry is a Registered Psychologist and writer with a private practice in Edmonton. Her approach is collaborative and feminist at its heart. She specializes in healing trauma, building shame resilience, and setting boundaries.
About the Blog
This space will provide information, stories, and answers to big questions about some of my favorite topics - boundaries, burnout, trauma, self compassion, and shame resilience - all from a feminist counselling perspective. It's also a space I'm exploring and refining new ideas.
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