Before this pandemic, the answer to "Where are you from?" was a no brainer. Being raised in Dubai, an incredibly multicultural city where 85% of the population is composed of expatriates, that was the first question you would be asked. My answer had always been India. But after coming to the UK for my master's, I realised that saying I was from India didn't capture the reality that I had never lived there full-time. So I started saying I'm from Dubai and I'm Indian. Simple, right?
As an international student, it can be normal to look at your place of education as temporary, but that isn't always the case. Like most people, I didn't think this was going to be a 'pandemic'. I didn't think it would make me want to travel back until I started seeing other international and EU students book their flights back home. Unfortunately, I was too late on this realisation train, and all inbound and outbound passenger flights from Dubai airports had been suspended temporarily. I didn't want to travel to India because it didn't make much sense to me to build another new temporary life.
I was left wondering what place I could call home. Is home a place where the people closest to you live? Is it where you can find your favourite food? Is it a place where you hold nationality? Is it a place where you feel like you fit into the culture? Or is it just about familiarity? Personally, I don't know what 'home' is anymore and that's been hard. But it's made me realise that I'm not alone in this limbo.
Before I speak about how it has been for my clients, I need to preface this by saying that I'm a trainee psychotherapist who started seeing clients fairly recently. Most of my clients are either millennials or from generation Z. Contrary to popular belief, young people don't always embrace phone/online therapy with open arms. I have had clients who only want to resume sessions once face to face therapy can be offered.
I have found it much easier to transition to online therapy with a client I have had a few sessions with, trying to build a therapeutic relationship. It has been challenging to develop that connection with a new client through a screen or worse through a phone call. It can also be increasingly difficult for young people living with their caregivers to speak about things relating to attachment when their caregivers are present in the adjacent room. Being indoors has brought up some unpleasant past experiences attached to 'home' for some. In that sense, perhaps home isn't always a safe space, like the one we work to create in our therapy rooms. Overall, this experience has made me reflect on what 'home' means to my clients and me.
Guidance and resources for members
Sharing your experiences
Marking one year since the start of lockdown, we’re sharing your blogs about the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on you, your practice and your clients
Coronavirus: Advice for the public
Advice on seeing a therapist during the pandemic, plus tips, advice and coping strategies from our members to help you through these uncertain times
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.