What Covid-19 means for therapists and healers
If you’re a therapist or wellness practitioner of any kind, you’ve most likely been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the world is under varying degrees of social distancing or ‘lockdown’ measures, with the inevitable effect that hands-on treatments, group classes and in-person sessions just aren’t possible at the moment. For practitioners, it’s a stressful time, with income disappearing almost overnight for many, and no clear sense of what’s going to happen in the weeks ahead.
I know you’re wondering how you’re going to get through this, and when you’ll be able to get back to business as usual. I’ve put together this blog post to help you plan for the year ahead – please share it with other therapists and practitioners who might find it helpful, too.
Your first step
If you’re still reeling (understandably) from the effects of this on every aspect of your life…if you haven’t yet had a chance to take any actions in your practice apart from closing your doors and cancelling sessions and classes, then pause here. You’re going to make a plan going forward, but first you need to do two things.
One Work out exactly what you need in the short-term, so you can get through this first phase.
Two Take the time to reach out to your clients today. See this blog post for more on the first steps.
Looking at the year ahead
Let’s face it, the more you watch the news, the less clear the future looks. Nobody can tell us exactly how long social distancing measures will be in place, or what kinds of hands-on or group sessions will be possible in the near future. However, we can look at a couple of possible future scenarios for the year ahead, and use them to sensibly plan and adapt. This is what every practitioner and yoga teacher should be doing now, because this is how you’re going to get through the crisis.
Possible future scenarios
Here are a few diagrams I drew using the Notes app on my iPhone – they’re pretty simple but hopefully they illustrate the ideas…
If the current social distancing measures are successful, then in a few months time cases of coronavirus will hopefully have peaked and started to decrease significantly. You can start to think about re-opening your practice doors and holding some sessions or classes, albeit with strict hygiene measures in place – such as limited numbers and large gaps between participants in a class, careful disinfection procedures in your treatment space, and screening of clients to check for symptoms and their possible exposure to the virus. This is the best case scenario, and definitely something to plan for on the one hand.
As in the first scenario, social distancing measures are successful enough that you are able to return to your work in some form, possibly by early or midsummer in the UK. But after a couple of months or more of re-starting (and rebuilding) your therapy practice, the arrival of the winter 2020/21 cold and flu season means another wave of coronavirus infections. This would likely mean that social distancing measures are put back in place again, so we could be in a situation similar to the present for another few months until Spring 2021. This is a scenario where we see ‘pulses’ on the graph when there are periods of increased cases, and during those periods we’re not able to work as usual. This isn’t great, for either our therapy practices or the economy, but you will be way ahead of the curve if you are expecting this and can prepare for it.
The is the least good of the three scenarios, as you can probably guess. It looks at the possibility that even with the social distancing measures in place, infection rates will rise and then dip, but not be under control enough that social distancing restrictions can be lifted in the medium term. This will especially impact those of us who work in close physical contact with our clients. The specific restrictions will vary depending on where you live, but in the UK it could potentially mean some major limitations on in-person / hands-on therapy and healing for the foreseeable future, until Spring 2021, or until a vaccine is widely available.
We can’t predict what will happen – but looking at the possibilities can help us make the best choices going forward.
You can adapt your healing practice for a different world
Don’t assume you have to switch careers! – although having some different work on the side for some of this coming year might be part of your overall plan. It’s a natural human reaction to panic. But fear and high stress levels won’t help you to get clear and make a plan.
Pause, and take a few deep breaths. If you’re informed about the possibilities over the year ahead, you can start adapting now.
You can plan for both the best and the worst case scenarios. You can find ways to transition from lockdown to back-out-in-the-world, and you can be ready for the changes.
You might be surprised at what’s possible, even if you’re not able to leave your home. And this is where technology comes in.
It’s time to get creative – you can do this!
For many people, your first thoughts might sound a bit like this:
“I don’t get on with technology, I’d never be able to manage it”
“But what I do can’t be transferred to an online format – I have to physically touch people!”
“I don’t want to be on camera, that’s not my thing”
“I don’t think there would be a real connection online”
“My clients wouldn’t want online sessions.”
Begin with an open mind…
This isn’t about ‘starting an online business’, though by all means think of it in those terms if it helps. This is about how you can use simple resources to maintain connection with your clients, and to effortlessly shift the way you work between online and offline, depending on what’s happening in the world.
It’s true that not every single therapist is going to switch to an online version of their work. But many, many of you will be able to. Be curious and open-minded first, questioning or doubtful second. How you decide to approach this now could shape everything. There’s not a lot we can be certain of at the moment, but I’m sure of these two things. Firstly, your work is needed in the world – now more than ever! Secondly…
the practitioners who thrive going forward will be the ones who stay positive, open-minded, flexible and connected.
With that in mind, let’s break down those myths.
Myth 1 ‘I don’t get on with technology, I’d never be able to manage it’
It has never been easier to create an online video call in a professional way. There are plenty of options, but they’re not all equal. I recommend Zoom, which you may have been hearing a lot about lately. Click here for my post on how to get started with Zoom for online video calls. Zoom works brilliantly, and the only things you and your clients need is a decent internet connection, and a device (computer, laptop, ipad/tablet or even phone) with a camera. That’s it.
Myth 2 ‘But what I do can’t be transferred to an online format’.
It may not work for everyone, but you can also adapt how you help your clients. If you’re a massage therapist who helps people recover from injuries, pain and mobility issues, you could offer consultations online and demonstrate exercises, stretches, and self-help techniques, not to mention the ongoing support you provide – your clients want to feel better, and if you can help them, they won’t mind how it happens at this point! For talking therapists, it’s definitely possible, and this also applies to Naturopaths, Nutritional Therapists, Herbalists, Homeopaths, Wellness Coaches, and more, if your session would usually include sitting and talking together for an hour. If you’re a yoga teacher, you could offer one-to-one sessions tailored to specific issues your yoga students or clients have, or you might offer guided breathwork classes for stress and anxiety. The options are truly endless. Get even more specific and think about how your clients needs are changing in this pandemic season. As a nutritional therapist, could you offer consultations to support immune health through diet, especially if people aren’t able to get hold of their usual supplements?
Myth 3 ‘I don’t want to be on camera, I could never do that’.
This is a normal first reaction. Once you’ve practiced a couple of times, it will be a lot less scary. Really. The only way to get over your fear of something like this, is to do it, and in my blog post about setting up Zoom I recommend testing it with a friend or family member on the call first to get comfortable. You’ll feel uncomfortable the first time, less uncomfortable the second time, and then you’ll be amazed at how normal it starts to feel. You get to choose the space in your home that’s visible, the lighting, and how you look, but what matters most of all is the service you provide and that you help someone. You don’t need to look perfect and your home space doesn’t need to be a professional studio – just professional enough. This might be the difference in continuing to make a living with your healing practice – be brave. You can do it!
Myth 4 ‘I don’t think there would be a real connection online’
We have moved far past the days when online video calls were grainy, interrupted by interference, and difficult to use. More to the point, it’s just not true that there isn’t a real connection online. Think about how it feels when you share a Facetime call with your family members who you can’t see in person due to the lockdown, or how you respond emotionally when you’re watching a film. We are connecting beings, and we connect through eye contact, voice, body language and communication and story. The connection comes from your intention and your humanity. You make the connection happen.
Myth 5 ‘My clients wouldn’t want online sessions’
You don’t know that. It may not appeal to some, but others will so appreciate being able to have your support at such a precarious time. Some may not want to try an online session because they think it will be difficult or they don’t know what technology is involved – it’s up to you to reassure them and create a simple, clear set of steps to work with you in this way. You know your clients better than anyone, but these are unprecedented times – at least offer your clients the chance to keep working with you, and explain to them how it can help.
Even if you’ve just closed your doors, you still have a practice
This is not the time to lose hope! Your clients are going to need you more than ever – and you can adapt to meet their needs, and a different world. Trust in your own strength and resourcefulness.
Other helpful resources:
Read my blog post on how to get started with Zoom for online sessions.
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