Does This Unicorn Onesie Ruin My Professional Credibility?

Okay, so we’re all slowly crawling out of what for many is week two of Pandemic Life, though for many of us it’s been varying degrees of “longer”. People who aren’t used to the enforced stillness and introversion of being trapped at home for extended periods, extroverts especially, have already started climbing the walls. Even introverts, suddenly faced with having to spend ALL THIS TIME with their families under the same roof, in the same rooms, even in the same conversations, are struggling.

And frankly, if the data models are to be believed, we’re still only just getting started. It took FIVE MONTHS for China to start seeing declines in the daily new case reports, and they were way ahead of North America when it comes to trying to lock down the exposure vectors. So buckle in folks… we’re in this for the long haul.

Many of you who are clients of therapy have already had the conversation with your therapist about moving to phone or video platforms to continue work. I grew up working in IT so the occasional stint of working from home (WFH) doesn’t phase me, and Webex (phone/video) conferencing is a legitimate way of life for techfolk. But for those of you new to this level of disconnect in your connection channels, it’s going to add a level of strain to work that may already be hard to do for any number of reasons. Trust me when I say, however, that your very-human therapists might be struggling to adapt to the necessity of the times as much as you are.

We’re all trying to find humour and silver linings in a time when so much feels beyond our control, or lost to uncertain, distant end dates (the American President’s staunch insistence that this somehow magically will all be over by Easter notwithstanding). SO I thought I’d share some things that are making things a little lighter from OUR side of the video conferences, just to help keep things in perspective, and assure everyone that we’re all in this together.

It’s a really cool thing to see these slim slices of people’s home lives. I’m learning about my colleagues’ and clients’ pets and children, and which ones will shamelessly fart in front of cameras (the pets and children, NOT the colleagues and clients… so far).

Sometimes your working-from-home therapist’s head is going to look suspiciously like a cat’s head. Possibly like a cat’s butt. This is not an optical illusion.

It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to suspect that your therapist may not be wearing pants in a video session. It might be a tad declass? to ask, though.

Your therapist isn’t ACTUALLY doing therapy from San Fransisco or the bridge of the Enterprise, he just accidentally turned on the backgrounds feature in Zoom Mobile and can’t figure out how to turn it off again.

Why yes, we DO sometimes wear a unicorn onesie to work, why do you ask?

You can mostly trust that’s just coffee. Mostly.

No-one can tell if your therapist wears the same ensemble to work three days in a row. Or four. Or five. We might also have to stop and think about whether we’ve showered today or not.

Therapists with kids at home themselves are going to be SO VERY HAPPY TO SEE YOU AND TALK WITH YOU, ONE ADULT TO ANOTHER. Cut them some slack. They’re in the same boat as many of their parenting-at-home clients, right down to interrupting sessions to tell small people not to set each other, themselves, or the dog on fire.

By the end of next week, some of us might have forgotten how to drive to work. On the upside, in between client sessions and naps, some of us are busy reacquainting ourselves with kitchen and household appliances we didn’t even know we owned.

Naps are totally a thing for adults. Who knew?? (Well, clearly not the adults with children at home, I suspect. Sorry…[not really].) The only thing better than napping on the office sofa is napping in my own bed.

In some ways, the virus is only one side of the social upheaval we’re going to have to manage, and the one therapists are least trained to deal with. It’s helping people observe and mitigate how we react when trapped either in isolation, or together with others in close quarters for indefinite periods of time, getting on each others’ nerves, and lacking the usual recourses and escape mechanisms to cope–THAT’s something we’re already on the alert to catch and mitigate as tempers and tolerances shorten.

We’re doing our best to keep up with the rising challenges of social lockdown and massive life disruptions. Please remember, however, that most of us aren’t trained for this kind of live-rolling, global-level-disruptive crisis, so we’re on a learning curve right alongside our clients. We’re doing our best to provide as much continuity of care to you as we can, so take the technical glitches and challenges in stride and be patient as we all figure out how best to weather what’s happening. Remember that we’re all human, we’re all fallible, we’re all facing fear/uncertainty/doubt in spades, and we’re all probably already feeling some degree of the strain. (Massive shout-out to the medical workers and emergency-response folks on the very front lines of this, BTW. I see you.) So remember to be gentle with yourselves, each other, and us as this situation unfolds.

We’ll take care of each other as best we can, all right?

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