Strengthening IDENTITY | Preserving INTEGRITY | Advocating PARITY
Dear CSWA Members,
I have been getting many requests from members for how to safely consider returning to their offices. I will be doing two webinars on this topic on June 11 and 13 (details to follow). But before we start thinking about the understandable wish to get back to our offices, I would like to offer some thoughts about what losing the ability to work there has meant for me.
We tell our patients, rightly, that the office is the safest place there is to look at what has caused the hurt/troubled/traumatized feelings they have. We see ourselves as the owner of this safe space and feel safe there ourselves. Pre-COVID, if my patient or I was sick, it was not the potentially life-threatening issue that it is now. Also pre-COVID, on the rare occasions that a patient or I was sick, I assessed how much of a risk there is for both of us if one of us gets a cold or the flu from the other. I had never thought that one or both of us might be putting our lives at risk by being in the same room.
Now I have those thoughts. Much as I want to return to my office, it feels like there might be a serious physical risk to one or both of us (or all patients I see). This feels like a dangerous situation. I don't know how to be sure that my office is a physically safe space at this point, It doesn't feel like keeping a 6-foot distance, having the right air treatment machines, wearing masks, or all the other adjustments that many are considering will bring back the precious emotional and physical safety that we have lost until we acknowledge that loss.
Painful as it is to lose this safe space for me and my patients, it is a reality. I have been trying to explore this in myself and with my patients. Patients have made many comments about the room I am using at home when we meet online, how it isn’t like the office we used to share and what it means to them. This often leads to some feeling of loss.
To be sure, some CSWA members are more sanguine about working by telephone or videoconferencing. Some had already been working in these ways and did not feel the shift to videoconferencing solely was that different. I support those of you who are doing well in this way of working and hope you understand that not everyone has the level of comfort with it that you do.
I will be offering members the multitude of issues to be considered when returning to our physical offices in the aforementioned webinars next month. In the meantime, please consider how much we have already lost. Let’s honestly look at how much we feel that we and our patients have to protect ourselves from each other in the office. In my view, we have to achieve that before we can actually reclaim making our offices a safe space again. Hopefully the loss of our offices won't be going on too much longer, but I am trying to accept the pain that losing it has already caused.
Hope you are all weathering this difficult time as well as possible.
PO Box 10Garrisonville, Virginia 22463