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Returning to In Person Practice or Remaining Online

Was it the change in weather, a trapped nerve or a good old fashioned migraine that was dealt to me after months of insomnia, an intense full client schedule and teaching an eight week course? Was it the stress of lockdown, or emerging from lockdown? So many questions and all of them lead to the same place… many of us are feeling overwhelmed

For many of us this is physical whilst others are feeling more anxious as restaurants open up and doctors start seeing patients in person. Some of us may be dreading the question from clients:

“Can ​I see you in person yet?”

Some situations may lead to this question earlier than others. A client may live in a household with flatmates, a partner or children. It may not be possible to find privacy and solid wifi in their home. They may have tried going on a walk if you have been adventurous in your distance therapy, but it is understandable that many will crave the safety of their therapy space.

For those of us who have given up our therapy rooms, we may need to start considering how we process that with clients. Will we wait until they bring it up, or be proactive in discussion?

This unique situation means many clients will not have a chance to say goodbye to our therapy rooms. Rooms where they were welcomed and learned to trust, where they settled on a favourite seat, or felt cosy and protected.

For many years, my therapists office was the place I visualised in meditations guiding me to a “safe space”. When he closed that office and moved, I certainly reacted with grief of some sort.

His acknowledgment and the shared importance of the space was meaningful. I intend to do that for my clients too.​

I usually send practice updates via a mailing list to clients, but for most changes during the last few months I have taken time to write to my clients individually or discuss in session.

It has felt like a time for individual attention and rather than mail out my holiday dates as an administrative update, we have explored how this may impact each person.

For those of us returning to our office spaces, we may be looking forward to seeing our clients In Person again and be planning measures to keep us both safe. Depending on your risk assessment and safety measures, you may be considering a bigger room, a change of furniture, perspex screens and masks. Some may be moving their therapy space outside, changing ventilation systems, rearranging scheduling and trying to figure out how to open doors for clients without getting too close.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these aspects, and those that are specific to your local area. This step, as we emerge, is the crucial one. Not just the practicality, but the inner world of our clients. How is therapy changing for them? How much do they have to adapt and how will it be different? Will the space feel different for them?

For all of our clients, whether we are giving up our rooms or returning with safety measures, their therapy space will be different. They may mourn the room they once had, and their relationship with it. They may tentatively settle back into the cushions and find a new painting to gravitate towards.

​They may come forth and retreat, just as we all negotiate interactions again.

This is not purely practical of course.

The microcosm of our therapy space, against virtual or in person, is a safe space for our clients to process their reaction to their individual and global crises. In our own supervision and therapy, we can prepare for this by practising how we share the news with them, considering our own feelings and being clear in our practice updates.

For those of you staying online, and wanting an idea of how to write to clients about it, here is a suggested wording:

Dear [Insert Client name],

 

I am writing to let you know that I will be remaining an exclusively online and telephone [therapist/practitioner] for the foreseeable future due to [insert reason e.g. personal reasons, personal health reasons, family situation, relocation, enjoying working online etc].

 

I understand that this may be more convenient and more comfortable for you, or you may feel disappointed. I welcome discussion on this change and look forward to processing together.

 

Some of my colleagues will be returning to their practices/clinics in person and so if you decide you would prefer to visit a clinic in person, I will be happy to make recommendations and support you through the transition to a new practitioner in order to maintain continuity of care. If you have any concerns or questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Best wishes, 

[Insert Practitioner Name & Signature] ​

For those returning to physical workspaces, remember to:

  • ​Check that your insurance is in place for In Person Therapy
  • Complete a risk assessment specific to your location and client group
  • ​Share your updated safety measures with clients
  • Consider having them sign the document as an acknowledgement

Our Post-Lockdown Policies pack has been reviewed by lawyers and is available with a 50% discount for the month of July. 

At an introductory Sale price of £49, the risk assessment and client acknowledgement template cost the same as the average one hour therapy session in the UK (according to Therapy Today). We are keeping costs as low as possible whilst trying to recoup legal fees. 

Wishing you well, whether you remain online, give up your offices or start to consider returning in person. 

Thanks for joining me.

Tamara