Whether we like it or not, with the Stay-at-home orders in place nationwide we have been forced into isolation and quarantine. We are forced to do all of our socializing virtually or have conversations a safe six feet away. The country is getting creative and some are finding ways to get their needs met. There are zoom happy hours popping up and virtual coffee dates happening. I have been hearing about grandparents watching their grandkids on Facetime and others playing games online. What we are not seeing is people using counseling services or getting help with their relationships. One online source showed the significant drop off in google searches for the terms “counseling near me” across the US starting in March.
You would think that people would need support more than ever now so I began wondering why the search is way down and why people are not using the therapy support available. Clients have given me some clues and I have 2 guesses. One is that people don’t know it’s available and two they don’t think it will be useful. I want to offer some information to anyone struggling now who is in either of these camps.
First, if you didn’t know that help is available. Some of the terms people are searching are “telehealth” or “online therapy”. I specialize in relationship counseling or marriage therapy, but you could still find services looking for the above terms. Some people might call it virtual therapy or distance therapy as well. Either way, the help is available. Most of my colleagues are offering this service too. Telehealth is videoconferencing, like Skype, except it uses a HIPAA compliant platform to ensure confidentiality. At my practice when a couple schedules, I send a meeting invitation to a partner’s email or cell phone. They just click on the link, and I will be on the other end, ready to see them. It is similar to us meeting in person.
A second possibility for some resisting this kind of help is that they question its effectiveness. I had one couple say they debated the service because they were not sure it will be as helpful. I want to first say I do understand the hesitation. We don’t like change! Heck, none of us want to be stuck at home at all.
While, it makes sense that we question new things, I want to share my experience with telehealth. I actually started using when I was seeking out relationship therapy for myself. My partner and I wanted to find a professional who had the same training and expertise I do, but there is not a clinician within a 2 hour drive who uses the developmental model (an awesome way to help couples btw). I contacted my mentor and found a woman who could provide distance therapy. She is one of the best in the world. Her practice is in the UK. And so I know that distance therapy works because I have tried it and found that it was just as good for me as in person therapy. I have been offering telehealth or web-based couples counseling for a few years so I have some experience.
Another third reason that makes sense right now is that a lot of people are struggling to get by financially. So someone might ask, “what should I do if I can’t afford help?”. This is a fair question. We are all struggling, but if we look at what is essential we might need to find a way. For me, some of my top priorities are my family, my health, and my spiritual connection. Isn’t it important that I find a way to take care of my home and my relationship rather? I wrote in a previous article that the divorce rate spiked in China due to the pandemic. The average cost of divorce in this country is $15, 000. If you can’t afford help, there are some free resources and some therapists who can help despite your financial situation. People are still in relationship and in tight quarters. It makes sense that your relationship could be strained.
If you are hurting, struggling in your relationship or wanting help, you don’t have to wait until this all blows over. I encourage you to try telehealth. You may find that you had contempt for something you didn’t think would help. Click here to schedule now.