When a pandemic forced CJFS to suspend face-to-face counseling, Robbie Rosenbaum’s CJFS counselor asked him if he’d like to continue his sessions via phone or videoconference. At first, he had reservations. As a rule, he dislikes videoconferencing apps, and he suspected that if he and his counselor couldn’t read each other’s facial expressions, they’d struggle to interpret each other’s comments. And yet, he’d been making progress toward the life goals he’d been pursuing with the help of his CJFS counselor, Cyndi Bryant, LICSW.
“The first time we tried it, it worked pretty well, which motivated me to say, ‘Hey, I’ll do this,’ ” he recalled. “There are awkward moments when we talk over each other, which wouldn’t happen in person. But none of that really gets in the way of my making progress on the trajectory that my life needs to move in,” he said.
Some counseling clients who were at first reluctant to meet virtually have found that they like the convenience, Cyndi said. “For a virtual or phone meeting, no one has to travel, and for some people, that is a real plus,” she said. Cyndi’s CJFS colleague, Gail Schuster, LICSW, said the isolation of the past few months has taken an emotional toll on some of her clients, making regular counseling sessions even more important to the clients’ mental health. “In some cases, I help them brainstorm actions they can take to help them cope during this especially challenging time,” she said. “Connecting with a trusted therapist, even by phone, can significantly increase their overall sense of well-being and connectedness,” she said, “and it is so important for all of us to maintain our important connections in this time of extreme isolation.”
As for Robbie, he said he’s glad he didn’t suspend his counseling for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. “We don’t know when it’s going to be over, so if someone feels they need counseling but is waiting, I would say they should try virtual. It works.”
For more information about phone or virtual counseling from CJFS, contact Clinical Director Marcy Morgenbesser, firstname.lastname@example.org or 205.879.3438.