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 as the situation evolves and focuses on counselling and mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Is counselling essential or non-essential contact?

At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, counselling contact in person will temporarily not be possible. Following the government guidelines, we ask everyone to stay at home. Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home). Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people. Wash your hands as soon as you get home

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. Being in a room together also allows us to pick up much more than just the words we are saying to each other. However at this moment in time health-safeguarding prevents physical meetings. Physical distancing has become mandatory. In this interim period we are able to offer phone or Zoom (a safer Skype equivalent) as alternatives where suitable.

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.

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

At this stage we are all asked to stay at home, to protect the NHS from COVID-case overload and save lives through physical distancing.

In addition, the government's advice for people with symptoms of a coronavirus infection (a new continuous cough and/or high temperature) is to stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone with a tested and confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) must remain at home until they are well. 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.

We can also learn from the experience of others. Residents of the Hubei region in China have been sharing their experiences of coping with isolation with the Guardian and some suggested keeping a diary.

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.

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

NHS website on coronavirus (COVID-19)