Needs in the time of Corona
This week, we counsellors have been doing three things: addressing our clients’ heightened anxiety in the face of the Corona virus, processing our own concerns with colleagues and supervisors, and working to move our practice online. (For technologically unconfident people like me, the latter task presents a bit of a challenge). It is in these times of crisis that our shared human need for certainty and reassurance become apparent, and our ontological insecurity is exposed.
Most of us dislike recognising our needs. We prefer to think of ourselves as capable adults who have everything under control. Yet during therapy, there are always other parts of us, hitherto unacknowledged, that come to the fore. These parts of us might be furious or vulnerable or frightened or a million other things, largely because our needs were not sufficiently met at the time when they should have been, by the people we were hoping would meet them.
My neighbour, Stephen, is a retired anthropologist in his mid 70s, and this evening I popped over to ask him if he needed anything before I went for a run. He said he was fine. The lecture he was due to give next week would have to be delivered online, so he was learning how to do this. His positive attitude towards using new technology was not lost on me. “Isn’t it interesting,” he added, “how in the midst of the global storm that is Corona, we have found a quiet eddy in which to have a chat.”
The world needs counselling more than ever. We need a quiet eddy in which to find human connection, to identify what we need and why, and to soothe our storm-battered souls. We need each other in the face of all the unknowns. Of course, counsellors are subject to the same human frailties as everyone else, but we are extensively trained to identify and process our own needs so that we can work in the service of our clients without becoming overwhelmed. Most of us are in therapy ourselves, and rely on its ability to re-centre us, and lift us back onto high ground.
And what about the picture of flowers that accompanies this text? When I got back from my run, the flowers were on the doorstep. Stephen left them there for me.