Hybrid Working


During the pandemic, many of us had to embrace a new way of working. This emergency way of working included remote working and offering Zoom therapy. Having had to offer online therapy sessions for the length of time that we did, many practitioners, myself included, are now seeing the potential benefits of continuing to offer a hybrid way of working going forward. It seems like a hybrid of online and face to face work is going to be the new normal. But how does this work in practice and what does it mean for clients?

Hybrid Working

Essentially, offering a hybrid is going to mean offering some sessions online via Zoom, and some sessions face to face. For many practitioners, offering Zoom sessions has meant that geographic boundaries are no longer an issue. We don’t have to limit our availability to those who are local and we can extend our reach a lot further. It also means that for those clients who have perhaps moved house during or since the pandemic, we can continue to have sessions together online. In offering a blended approach there are ethical issues to consider too. I will be working over the coming weeks to address such points.

Scheduling and Flexibility

The reality of hybrid working means that scheduling may be affected. The room I currently use for Zoom sessions would also be the room in which I see clients face to face. I currently have a laptop set-up on a table and the room is set up in a way conducive to comfortable working with just myself in mind. The set-up is likely to need tweaking for face to face sessions. This means that it is necessary to consider scheduling so that it doesn’t entail room rearrangement through the day.

Any transition and change will be addressed on an individual basis. What works for one person may not work for another. I will recontract with clients one-to-one to find a way to work going forward.

Moving Forward

As we readjust to life beyond lockdown there are still other considerations to bear in mind. There is much to navigate and unforeseen changes may still lay ahead. An innate human ability to adapt and grow to accommodate different circumstances has certainly been evident. Undoubtedly this will continue with however the rest of 2021 pans out. With this there is also an opportunity to expand our toolkit that can meet the growing needs of our client base. I for one relish the potential to embrace what lays ahead.

Making the most of your therapy

The therapeutic relationship is unlike any other relationship. The unique structure and premise of the therapist and client relationship is different to our other real world connections. It is therefore often quite useful to have an idea of what you want to gain from having therapy from the outset. This will help ensure you are making the most of your therapy.

In therapy sessions the focus is on the client. We are both there for you. My job is to help you increase your understanding of yourself and your situation. I will support you to establish the resources you already have and to utilise them in a more effective way. I will also support you to develop new coping strategies. Psychotherapy sessions will quite often be challenging and engaging in therapy is not always easy but I offer a supportive, non-judgemental environment in which to work.

Initially it may be useful to have an idea about your expectations of therapy and of me, as your therapist. I will invite you to set objectives for sessions on a short term as well as a longer term basis. There may be times at which this is clearer to you than others. Together we can develop a clear and realistic sense of what you hope to gain from sessions and from the broad therapeutic process. You will get the most from therapy if you have an idea of how it works and what you can expect. An assessment session is an ideal opportunity to ask any questions about this.

Active Participation and Reflection

Transactional Analysis (TA) therapy involves active participation of both client and therapist. I will invite you to consider the meaning of what is going on for you and how thing impact on you. I will work with you to set goals and agendas for sessions. You will be encouraged to let me know what is working, as well as what isn’t working for you in sessions. There may also be weeks in which you are invited to focus in on a certain issue between sessions. Sessions are 50 mins each week which leaves a lot of other time during the week to reflect!

Above all, remember that your sessions need to work for you. This is your path of self-discovery and I will endeavour to optimise how I work with you every step of the way.

Your Mental Health During Lockdown

For the last few months, the majority of us have been living with new limitations. This has come with a wide range of complex challenges to our mental health. Freedom of movement has been restricted and ‘social distancing’ is now not only a standard part of lexicon but a new way of life. Mental health during lockdown has come under the spotlight.

It is no surprise that the current Corona pandemic is having just as much effect on people’s mental health as it is their physical health. Increased levels of stress and anxiety are being widely reported and there is already concern for the longer term implications of our lockdown.

So what is going on?

The Lockdown Effect

For those with pre-existing medical or mental health issues, there may be a spike in stress and anxiety as well as a more intense general level of emotional distress. To a certain extent, feeling anxious about what is going on in the world is normal. Under these very unusual circumstances it is actually expected that we may be experiencing stress and anxiety. After all, the world has changed in (and I’m going to say it…..) unprecedented ways.

But what happens to us when healthy levels of stress tip into the unhealthy?

The Stress Response

When we are under stress our body releases adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream and our body equips itself for a fight or flight response. Our heart rate picks up and our energy levels pique. Our body is preparing itself for a potentially threatening or dangerous situation. In periodic and short spurts, cortisol is useful to us as it boosts immunity by limiting inflammation. Cortisol also equips us to deal with the situation by limiting any non-essential functions. Once the threat subsides, hormone levels usually return to normal.

Sometimes, however, this doesn’t happen. We may be exposed to enduring higher levels of cortisol which can wreak havoc on a variety of body processes. We may also end up feeling quite wired and constantly on edge.

The important thing to be aware of is that this can have an emotional and a physical impact on us. To mitigate the impact, we need to be able to regulate our stress and anxiety levels. Stress is known to cause an excess of cortisol in the body and this can make feelings of depression more likely. Not only this, the synapses in our brain shrink as a result of a cortisol overload and we are less able to think clearly or be anything like our best selves. Too much adrenaline in our bodies can also have an adverse effect on our immune system. At a time when we are all seeking to be as healthy as possible, this would be a pretty unwanted result!

Currently we’ve lost control over so much we often take for granted. We cannot control when we go shopping, when we see our family or when go out for a drink with our best mate. It can be hard to acknowledge just how much we have lost control of. On the other hand, there’s a real chance to recognise where we can regain a sense of control in our lives. Essentially, we are reminding ourselves of what we have always, and continue to be in charge of.

One thing that can be really useful, is to stick to a timetable. Ordinarily, setting a time to have lunch may seem a relatively trite thing to do when our time is more our own, but maintaining a sense of structure and routine to our day is really important to general mental health during lockdown. It may have been great to see the time gained from not travelling into work as a lie-in opportunity, but going forward time structuring and a sense of security and stability is a basic human need.

Planning your own day is within your control. You can implement your own structure and routine. Pick a regular time to still have breakfast, get up in time to start your work-from-home day at the designated time. If you are not working you may find it useful to still get up at the same time as usual. Have lunch at the same time. Put time into your day for self-care. Go to that online Body Pump class and have a virtual coffee with your fitness buddy after.

Establishing and sticking to times we set for ourselves is within our control. Acknowledging this and reflecting on this can be very grounding and empowering. It can also be a useful tool in getting through a very challenging time!