Are you Struggling with Adjusting to the New, Isolated Way of Life Brought on by COVID-19?
Are you anxious, afraid, or stressed about your financial future or your children's educational futures?
Is social distancing causing more stress in your marriage or relationships with your children?
Are you finding it difficult to sleep?
Is the isolation contributing to sadness or depression?
Are you turning to drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy habits to deal with the boredom, lack of structure, fear, anxiety, and sadness?
Are you grieving the loss of your old life, or is this stirring up grief about other losses?
You May Have Questions about Online Therapy
We are all being impacted by the Coronavirus
You are not alone. Nobody is immune from the psychological impact this pandemic is having. Mental health professionals around the country and the world are seeing dramatic increases in every from of psychological problem: from depression and anxiety to substance abuse and addictions, to marital problems, to sex addictions. This is the most widespread and dramatic crisis to occur in most of our lives, and none of us were prepared for it psychologically or emotionally, even if we were prepared for it financially. The level of uncertainty and change we are all faced with is epic and can feel overwhelming and frightening even for those of us who don’t easily get overwhelmed or frightened.
The isolation we are all faced with causes and contributes to virtually every form of psychological issue people come to therapy for. Isolation causes and contributes to depression in all of us. Therapists have known for a long time that one of the key pieces in helping people feel happier is reducing isolation and increasing connection with other people. So for those who already struggled with depression, this crisis is bound to make it worse; and for many who’ve never experienced depression, they may be experiencing it now.
Addiction counselors like myself are very aware that being isolated and lonely is a recipe for all forms of addiction: drug addiction, alcoholism, sex addictions of all kinds, and gaming addictions. 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have long recognized loneliness as one of the feelings most likely to lead to relapse (along with hunger, anger, and tiredness). So this crisis is contributing to people in recovery experiencing higher rates of relapse and to more and more people developing new addictions.
Myself and other marriage counselors are starting to see the toll social distancing is taking on relationships. One of the keys to a healthy relationship is finding the right amount of time together and apart. Over the last 25 years of working with couples, I’ve noticed how couples that are together all the time generally struggle. It has been clear that having space and separation are critical to a healthy dynamic. Now, most of us don’t have much choice in this and are forced to be together all the time. So couples that had a hard time communicating, are now having an even harder time. Couples that had conflict over the division of labor in their marriage now have even more conflict. The isolation, lack of separation from one another, and added overall stress almost universally is negatively impacting couples’ sex lives. The dynamics caused by this pandemic are the perfect storm for marital problems.
Lack of structure
Along with isolation, the sudden lack of structure we are all faced with is also contributing to problems. Lack of structure is well known in the addiction field to fuel addictive behaviors and to contribute to relapse. I’m seeing this more and more in recent weeks. Depression, anxiety, and grief are also made worse by this lack of structure.
Kids of all ages are being impacted by this. Though they may not have liked going to school, it provided them with a very predictable structure to their days and weeks. That is now gone. With the high school and college students I work with, I’m seeing tremendous struggles. Spring Break has turned into weeks of being at home with an uncertain future and stressed parents. My college student clients are now home for the foreseeable future with graduation and summer internships on hold. I’m beginning to see more depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol experimentation in this group. This is cause for concern.
Fear and Uncertainty
Though some us deal with fear and uncertainty better than others, virtually none of us have dealt with something of this scale and impact. The only people I know who have any point of reference for something of this magnitude are those who lived through World War II. For some of us, it’s new to feel fear and uncertainty, and it doesn’t feel good. For those who fear and uncertainty are familiar to, the elevated levels of these feelings are extremely uncomfortable. I’m seeing spikes in every form of self-medicating that exists.
Online Therapy Can Help
Therapy is generally the go-to solution for all of the above. And though face-to-face therapy is not an option, online therapy is an easy and readily available solution. Online therapy, also knows as teletherapy or online counseling, has been around for years. Historically. I would provide this form of therapy to long-term clients who moved away from Austin. Now this is the only way I’m providing therapy, both for individuals and couples. I use Doxy.me, an established online therapy provider that is HIPAA compliant and totally confidential. No information is stored by the company and all data is encrypted.
Will my insurance cover online therapy?
Though this is an evolving issue as every therapist in the country has moved to online therapy in the last few weeks, everything I’ve read indicates that in reaction to the Coronavirus crisis, insurance companies are covering online therapy just as they would with face-to-face therapy. Federal and state legislation is being put in place to mandate this. If you are not sure if your insurance covers online therapy, I suggest calling them.
Do I need a special computer for online therapy?
No. It works with any computer that has a microphone and a camera or a computer that has a webcam. It also works with smartphones and tablets. I haven’t had a single client who doesn’t have a device that works for online counseling.
Does online therapy work?
Yes, it does. It isn’t quite the same as being in the same room, but it’s surprisingly good. My clients tell me that after the first few minutes, it starts to feel more like being in the same room and having a normal conversation.
Is online therapy private?
The technology of my online therapy platform, Doxy.me, is private and secure. All data is encrypted, your sessions are anonymous, and none of your information is stored. Doxy.me adheres to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) data privacy requirements.