It has been a wild two months, and COVID-19 has sure shown us how resilient we are together. In mid-March our practice quickly shifted to phone and video counselling, and we met with you in new online support groups. You have found creative ways to meet with us, using your homes and outside spaces for video and phone counselling, making use of lunch or nap-times, and even “walk n talking” with us from your neighbourhood. Supported by recent analyses about the equal effectiveness of tele-counselling, we saw for ourselves that connecting by phone and video can be as effective as in-person counselling.
The premier’s announcement last Wednesday was an exciting day for Peak. The government’s multi-phase reopening plan states that in-person counselling can restart in mid-May. We have missed you so much, and wish we could go back to normal and be in the office with you. While many of you continue counselling virtually, some of you understandably want to wait until in-person counselling becomes available.
Following the announcement, our team met (virtually!) and asked ourselves the same question we initially asked in March; how can we provide high-quality therapy and avoid transmission of COVID-19? Our conclusion is that currently there are too many unknown factors for us to re-open mid-May. Our intention is to reopen our physical space as soon our team feels confident we have all the information to safely do so, a concrete plan complying with WorkSafe BC recommendations, and a broader safety plan from our office building. This will involve our own internal reopening phase, starting with a hybrid model that offers both virtual and in-person sessions, depending on the needs of clients, counsellors and support staff.
Here are some of the issues we need to address before reopening for in-person sessions:
- Preventing asymptomatic transmission
- HVAC requirements for office spaces
- Shared bathroom cleaning and use protocols
- The impacts of commuting and possible transmission in surrounding areas
- The logistical impacts of implementing the four levels of protection such as necessary physical barriers and/or PPE access as outlined by Worksafe BC
While all counsellors in BC are navigating similar issues right now, we must all make important discretionary decisions that make sense to our individual contexts. While we hope to reopen our physical office in a limited capacity soon, each counsellor will use their discretion to assess their unique situation and not every counsellor will be able to provide in-person therapy.
Here are some solutions we've been brainstorming to ensure that we can support as many people as possible. If you’ve been unable to attend counselling by phone or video, please talk to your counsellor about the following options:
- Discussing barriers to virtual sessions – we have learned so much from our community of clients around creative ways to find confidential spaces and access to WiFi. Once we begin partial reopening, connecting to a counsellor available for in-person sessions, as needed (if your regular counsellor is not)
- Coming to the Peak Resilience office to use our technology and space for your virtual counselling session
- Potential for outdoor, socially distanced sessions
- What do you want to propose? Please let us know your ideas!
If you need support but haven't reached out because you're concerned about virtual counselling, please contact us to discuss it. We have such rich experience to draw on from the last two months, and we’d love to talk with you about your needs.