I had been volunteering at hospitals for admitted patients for many years. I saw the value in doing so when I was only in my second year in college, and we were tasked to offer our free mental health services at the university hospital on weekends. That was the only time I realized how much people needed emotional or mental help, but they could not always get that. Because of that, even when I graduated and got all my licenses and clinics, I kept on volunteering at least an hour of my time every day before seeing my paying clients. I would often extend my free services to the patients’ families since I knew that they must be dealing with emotional turmoil as they watch their loved ones suffer at the hospital.
How The COVID-19 Affected My Counseling Profession In 2020
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, I naturally had to stop offering counseling. A few nurses at the university hospital that I grew close with over the years told me that some of my regular counseling patients were sad due to my absence. I was also sad, of course, but there was nothing I could do at the time. I kept on thinking about how I could provide counseling without putting myself at risk of contracting COVID. Then, one day, I thought of online group counseling.
Innovating With Helping Hand
Since I had counseling contacts at the hospital, I asked them to talk to some of the COVID-19 patients and ask them if they wanted to join a group counseling session during their stay or after getting discharged. Many COVID people answered positively, so I began allocating two hours of my day to talk to them via Skype. The counseling topics were never set in stone, considering my clients had different worries every day. Sometimes, we would chat about how COVID virus altered their lives; other times, I would help them realize that there’s a way out of their situation.
Unfortunetaly, Some People In My Life Cannot Understand My Counseling Career Decision
The thing that bothered me the most was the reaction of my friends who were not in the mental counseling industry. While my colleagues and the medical staff at the hospital were commending me for my contribution to society, my friends were calling me the modern martyr. “Why are you even doing something that you cannot make money from? You are just wasting your time,” they often said.
I could tell that the reason behind it was that I always declined to meet my friends since I always had an online group counseling session to facilitate after my actual working hours. However, even without that, I would still say no. Gathering at such a crucial time seemed to defeat the purpose of social distancing and lockdowns, after all. Somehow, they could not understand that, no matter how much I tried to explain it to them. They eventually moved on to complaining about my social services getting in the way of my social life.
In case you are also wondering why COVID-19 patients need counseling, allow me to spell it out for you.
Why I Did Not Stop Providing Counseling During COVID To My Clients
They Experience Discrimination
COVID-19 patients are not far from getting discriminated against. I have already given my friends’ reactions as an example of that above. On other occasions, some of my clients have been called names or blamed for contracting coronavirus.
Instead of making the patients feel better, though, such harsh words only feed their anxiety. That results in a longer recovery time for them, given that they need to nurse their health and their broken heart.
People Assume That They’re Okay After Having No COVID
People are quick to assume that someone is okay as soon as they test possible. However, the reality is that they may still feel weak after weeks of being ill.
The key idea here is that you should never jump to a conclusion regarding a COVID-19 patient. They may seem fine on the outside, but they may still be reeling from everything that has happened to them. And more often than not, that’s when they need your support the most.
Having COVID-19 Can Be Traumatizing
Yes, testing positive for COVID-19 can be traumatizing for many reasons. For one, the swab test is quite painful. Then, you need to stay in an isolated room for weeks, not just days. And if you get the severe symptoms, you may actually feel closer to death than ever.
Even when the COVID ordeal is over, you may develop anxiety and paranoia afterward, considering you may keep on worrying about catching the COVID virus again. Hence, when you need a counselor to help you during anxiety or panic attacks, it’s time to start learning some coping mechanisms through COVID counseling.
Final Thoughts Regarding Getting Counseling During COVID
Life will undoubtedly get better when you get counseling for COVID. Still, it will not hurt to get in touch with a COVID counselor as you try to process everything and return to society.