What changes in the world of therapy have you seen during the pandemic?

Did you notice any changes to the way people 'did therapy' during the pandemic? 

At the peak, did you find lots of people needing discounted therapy? Or did you find that most clients seemed to have more time and disposable income? 

What about the fact that most therapists had to change from face to face and go online? Did you see a drop off of clients, or did yours stick with the therapy throughout? 

How did topics brought to the sessions change? 

Mostly, my clients reported having a bit more disposable income given that they were not having to pay for travel to and from work. The pressure was taken off financially in a lot of the cases I saw because there were no shops to go to, no restaurants open, no pubs or events on. People seemed to be able to save money for the first time in a long time, in most cases.

I noticed that most people kept up with their therapy throughout lockdown. In the very early stages of the pandemic there was a slight pause for some clients where they were unsure of what was going to happen - a kind of fear based reaction. But soon, after the first few weeks my clients began to return back to me, especially when they discovered I was working via zoom. 

Continuing to work with my clients throughout the pandemic was immensely important, not only to them, but for me also. 

It meant I had structure to my working day. I got up in the morning with a purpose, got smartly dressed and 'went to work' in the same way as before. The only change that happened for me was the fact that instead of seeing clients face to face in my office setting, I had to deal with being online and getting use to working in a different way. Technology at first was a bit of a challenge, but as we all realised this was not just a temporary thing, we all got more use to using online platforms for work. 

At first, there was a lot of resistance from fellow therapists to working online. Many a conversation was had surrounding the effectiveness of online vs face to face sessions. I kept out of the discussion mainly, and focused on doing the best I could given the circumstances. 

I helped my supervisees to adapt to working online and overall I think it was partly my positive mindset that enabled clients to feel comfortable working in new ways, too. We explored the whole 'newness' of the situation together, and we maintained the rapport and continued to work with the transference that we established between us. 

Those clients I started and finished throughout the pandemic reported back that they had some pretty amazing results. I saw some incredible transformations in clients, both hypnotherapy and psychotherapy ones, so any worry I might have had would have proved to be unfounded anyway. 

Supervisees came to their sessions as frequently as they had pre-pandemic, mainly because they found themselves to be much busier. As they adapted to working online, this meant that they could work with a much wider client pool because they could work across the UK, and even outside of the UK, rather than just in their direct local areas. 

The topics of discussion with clients definitely changed throughout lockdown. I saw a wave of similar thought processes in my clients which resulted in issues coming along in clusters. 

To begin, clients felt worried about their home-life situations. There was a lot of talk about the stress of working from home, technology not working, not having the same kind of privacy as before. 

Then came the home schooling which put a lot of pressure on already stressed or worried parents. The topics began to shift from privacy and home schooling to relationships and parenting in general. This phase was unsettling for some clients because a lot of them had not looked at their parenting styles or relationships, or even at their own selves in any great depth for many years! Being 'stuck' in the same situations for many was a spotlight that showed cracks or highlighted fears in some way within their lives. 

People changed jobs mid-pandemic, they changed relationships, and for some, relationships strengthened. People realised what they did want in their lives and what they no longer wanted. Some obtained a much better sense of community (even if only temporarily) a lot spoke of how they had met their neigbours fully for the first time. Some sadly lost loved ones, dealing with the grief of not being able to be there in the final moments. Some clients dealt with the disappointment of not being able to celebrate weddings, birthdays or graduations. 

A lot were impacted by fears and phobias. Some realised how much pressure the wider family put upon them, some that they were too busy for family pre-pandemic.  Almost all experienced some forms of anxiety, even at subtle levels. I say almost all, because some clients I worked with had far less anxiety. 

Eventually there seemed to be a great re-evaluation happen in the people I spoke to and most realised for the first time in their adult lives that they were very happy to step off of the hamster wheel that had been their reality up until that point. The pandemic seemed to be a catalyst for a mass-change of mindset and a re-setting of personal values and goals. 

Not one client I spoke to throughout lockdown said their life had not changed in some form or another. No matter how subtle, changes were made to the way people thought and behaved.  Every one of the clients I saw expressed gratitude at being able to talk to someone like me, outside of their direct family or friendship circle, about whatever they were feeling. 

The most encouraging thing to come out of this pandemic for me as a therapist has been that I've noticed people really begin to consider what they do want in their lives. For a lot of people the pandemic brought time and space to re-evaluate, recalibrate and move on in far more healthy and constructive ways. 

Of course, the situation is not yet quite over, but, like always we will adapt and thrive in a changing environment, because that's what we do, and of course, there will always be people like me and the thousands of other therapists out there who are willing to help. 

Emma Evans

Director APHP & NRPC



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