Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Counselling

The global coronavirus outbreak presents all of us with an unprecedented situation and rapidly changing news and advice. It is a time of much uncertainty but there is a lot we can all do to cope well enough with these circumstances. We are very aware that the relentless stream of news and information about COVID-19 can cause much stress and anxiety or even panic. Many of us may be worried about our health, our income and what’s going to happen.

It is important for all of us at this moment in time to be kind, considerate, supportive and flexible with each other - something that also extends to how we can safely continue to offer counselling support to our clients. The following information will be updated regularly and focuses on counselling and mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

What kind of counselling is available at the moment?

With COVID-lockdown measures easing, we are returning to face-to-face counselling on a case-by-case basis, depending on the health and risk status of both the client and the counsellor. Susanne sees individual clients by phone and Zoom as well as face-to-face, provided they are neither vulnerable nor shielding or under the obligation of quarantine. Lisa sees individuals and couples only online via Zoom at the moment. We are constantly reviewing the situation in line with government guidelines and the recommendations of our professional body, the BACP.

Check out if remote counselling by Zoom or phone is for you.

Do I have to wear a face mask in counselling sessions?

The Department for Health and Social Care have advised that, for their own protection and the protection of therapists, clients/service users should wear face coverings during in-person therapy in non COVID-secure settings. This relates primarily to social distance and to the potential viral load in the counselling room. We have conducted a thorough risk assessment and concluded that our Worthing studio offers a reasonably COVID-secure setting, and wearing a face mask is not required. Your counsellor will not wear a face mask or visor. However, if you feel safer wearing a face mask or visor in your counselling session, you are of course free to do so.

What we do to keep our clients safe in face-to-face sessions

We carry out continuous COVID-19 risk assessments in line with government guidelines and will ensure that all our cleaning, hand sanitising and hygiene procedures are in line with best practice guidelines and current government advice.  Surfaces touched by a client will be cleaned before the next arrives. We will take all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance between client and therapist. Chairs have been positioned appropriately so they are at least 2 m apart. We allow airflow by opening windows, where confidentiality allows and air out the room after each session. We also use an air purifier with UV-light that, according to manufacturer information, kills viruses and bacteria. We provide hand sanitiser. We will notify you if your therapist has any symptoms that could be COVID-19 related and either move your appointment online or reschedule. We will also notify you if your therapist has been contacted by the government’s track and trace team.

What happens to counselling if face-to-face meetings are impossible?

Face to face counselling in the counselling room has the benefit of uninterrupted privacy and confidentiality that some may find difficult to arrange in their home. Under certain COVID-related health-safeguarding conditions these physical meetings may not be possible. If counsellor or client become unwell, have to self-isolate, are under quarantine or belong to the group of vulnerable or shielding citizens, we won't be able to see you face-to-face. In those cases we are able to offer phone or Zoom counselling (safer than Skype or facetime) as alternatives where suitable.

When to stay at home and how to cope with isolation and health anxiety?

Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has any of the following:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

You also will need to quarantine for two weeks if you return from a trip abroad or if you have been contacted by the government's track and trace team because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The NHS also advises that if you live with someone who has symptoms, you will need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms. We can offer telephone or video counselling during these periods as and where appropriate.

Going into self-isolation can be challenging and the BACP is offering some helpful tips on how to cope with this situation. Some of us may feel anxious about their health or the health of family members and loved ones. Anxiety about the virus can easily have an impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing and the BACP has published some helpful tips on how to cope if you’re feeling anxious about the outbreak.

How to reduce the risk of Corona-infection with soap

Antibacterial wipes and sanitisers are less effective in preventing a virus infection than ordinary soap. Here is why the Coronavirus and viruses in general don't like soap: a virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer which holds the virus together. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart and becomes inactive. That's why the government and the NHS recommend regular and thorough handwashing. And remember: do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Keep up to date with government and NHS advice about COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

NHS website on coronavirus (COVID-19)