I have been thinking about how we communicate with our clients and how those methods of communication are changing. Like many of you, I have switched from face-to-face to telephone and online counselling. I was at first reluctant – I had no experience of working remotely, and no training. BACP resources helped me to assess my competences and gave me some confidence in my capabilities. But the doubts lingered.
I still have doubts, but they are no longer so intrusive or incapacitating. They are, I suppose, the usual doubts of any counsellor. I have also found an unexpected upside to telephone and online counselling – and it is intimacy.
Online counselling gives me the opportunity to see the faces of my clients in remarkable close-up. I am also allowed into their homes, which fosters the feeling of intimacy. Telephone counselling can also be an intimate experience. Of course, I can’t see my clients’ faces, but I get a close-up of their voice, instead. I have also learned to listen more intently, because I can’t rely on some of the usual pointers and cues. The intensity of the sessions again promotes a feeling of intimacy.
Who would have thought that an unfamiliar way of communicating – and a remote one at that – could help to cultivate an intimate connection with a client?
Dr Peter Lovatt explains how we communicate and make connections with each other through dance and movement – and some of those connections are intimate, too. Peter has spent many years studying the psychology of dance and believes fervently in its power to change the way we think, feel and behave. If you need something to lift your spirits in these difficult times, I recommend you read this article. Or, better still, dance!
Many people find it difficult to talk about their feelings, whether on the dance floor, on the phone or online. It seems to be particularly hard for male construction workers, who are often too ashamed to reveal their mental health difficulties. Yasuhiro Kotera explores the link between shame and poor mental health and highlights the importance of self-compassion.
Poor mental health is also linked to admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), with many patients suffering psychological difficulties as a result of their experience. The coronavirus pandemic has, of course, increased the number of admissions to ICUs – and that could lead to a rise in the number of people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hannah Murray, Nick Grey, Jennifer Wild, Emma Warnock-Parkes, Alice Kerr, David M Clark and Anke Ehlers explain why we should anticipate a rise in PTSD cases. They also offer a treatment model.
Philip Stokoe discusses the form of communication that is projective identification, when one person’s feelings are projected into another, in a sort of emotional exchange. Philip explains how he has incorporated personal and professional development groups, which explore projections and their meaning, into the training of mental health nurses.
So, we communicate with each other in all sorts of ways. We are also using new and different forms of communication as a result of the pandemic. I am also changing the way I communicate with you, the readers, as the journal is now freely available to members online. I hope it will serve to strengthen the connection between us, as we continue to work together to look after ourselves and each other.