Our world is in a unique shared space. During this time of COVID, there are no differences or preferences. The diversity within us actually has merged into a realm that is equal to all humankind. During this time of isolation, this arena can be even more exacerbated for Supported Individuals. Few things to consider are the following: remote support, expansion of consent in counselling, mindfulness and appropriate psycho-education; limits and considerations.
Isolation can be alleviated through different modes of therapy. Utilizing platforms such as the telephone, on line or even texting are different ways enabling Individuals to remain independent and connected to the Counsellor. Mental health is considered an essential service and adaptations to frequency and duration are in place to immediately meet specific needs. At times, this is required to stave off escalating crisis or as a preventative measure to potential triggers that could lead to more acute interventions. Typical therapy session requires consent and confidentiality. During this time of COVID where there is no face to face communication, an expansion of consent may be necessary. At times, the support worker or family member may be needed to assist the Individual in communicating and relaying their feelings to the Counsellor. In such cases the Counsellor will gain verbal consent from the Individual if there seems to be a need to communicate further. At times, it may be necessary for both support worker or family member to be present so that the messages are unified with clarity. This may ease in navigating difficult feelings, situations or even behaviours that could arise. Mindfulness is necessary to help with areas of sadness, grief, anger, depression and anxiety. Simple breathing techniques, focusing on positives and scheduling activities within the setting to pass the time are areas to work on. An example of a mindfulness activity is to have the Individual focus on their five senses: What do they see, hear, taste, smell, touch. How does this make them feel? What do they notice in the moment? This will help with the feelings of uncertainty while helping the individual to stay in the present. Lastly, is keeping the Individuals appropriately informed. This means providing current updates and limiting exposure to the information. Constant barrage of information may increase fears and anxieties. Providing tangible ways to understand COVID such as pictures, encouraging stories and simple statistical data will keep the situation realistic, encouraging and can assist with keeping anxieties at bay. Lastly, whether you are a support worker or family member, it is important that you maintain your self-care by practicing the above techniques for yourself. Rely on your professional supports and recognize that this is a shared experience that enables us all to fully empathize with one another.
For more information please refer to the following resource: World Health Organization Disability Consideration During the COVID-19 Outbreak
WHO reference number: WHO/2019-nCoVDisability/2020./