Many self-employed psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors have immediately felt the economic impact of the crisis brought by Covid-19. As our clients began to either lose their jobs or face increasing economic uncertainty, many had to either put their sessions on hold or stop coming altogether. Many of us have either dropped our fees or continued seeing people with the uncertainty of getting paid. Unfortunately, some people have lost their support system when they need it the most.
Private Psychotherapy has always been enjoyed by many in the UK and around the world, as most national health services cannot offer the same level of professional service due to cost.
Psychotherapy practices have always offered a vital service to the community, whether through charities, low-cost services or full paying clinics. Psychotherapy is a place where people’s deepest mental anguishes have a place to exist, to unfold and to be healed.
The health and consequent economic crisis brought by Covid-19 is already affecting people’s mental health in several ways, some of which have not yet come to light. This is being felt and will continue to be felt for a while to come at all levels of society.
An Existential Crisis
Covid-19 has highlighted our main vulnerabilities as human beings. It has hit many people at a very fundamental existential level as many have lost their jobs and their livelihoods overnight. In addition to this, as more people become infected and die of Coronavirus, we have become much more aware of our mortality and that of those we love.
Living in a globalised world, the spread of the virus had happened so rapidly that we have not had the time to process and digest the changes which we have been required to make as a result of the restrictions imposed to keep the virus from spreading. Never could we have imagined that something which started in China a few months ago could spread and reach our doorstep so rapidly and dramatically. This further highlighted our lack of immunity to world events.
Impacts of Lockdown
With people being asked to stay at home to protect the NHS, schools and businesses closing and people being asked to work from home (if they still have work), suddenly the home has become office, school, gym, social hub and place of relaxation. Whilst some families are feeling more crowded as a result of these changes, some people living on their own have become more lonely, isolated and vulnerable.
Some families trying to make life work under lockdown are finding that their relationships are being put under more strain, whilst children of unhappy and even abusive families are being made to stay at home more.
Of course, there are also positive stories emerging as a result of families spending more time together and solidarity between people. In times such as this, we are seeing the best and the worst of human nature.
Why is Psychotherapy vital during these times?
To put it simply, in times of crisis psychotherapy helps us to hold onto our thinking. When our survival is threatened, our ‘reptilian brain’ takes over and we can act impulsively (panic buying for instance) often resulting in harm to self or others. Thinking makes us slow down and consider options. In times of crisis, we sometimes need to think quickly and make decisions. However, buying time to think enables us to put things into perspective and to make wise rather than impulsive decisions.
Because this is both a health and economic crisis, it is hitting many of us at our very core. The British attitude to “keep calm and carry on” works to a degree. Of course, we need to keep calm, but we also need a place to acknowledge and talk about our fears, losses, despair, sadness, anger, etc if we are going to survive this crisis in good mental health.
Sam Jahara is a Psychotherapist and Supervisor in private practice working with individuals and couples. She is also the co-founder of Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy, a multi-approach clinic, offering Psychotherapy, Psychology and Counselling to all client groups, both face-to-face and online.
Further reading by Sam Jahara