Field Notes: COVID-19 and the Provision of Psychological Services

Field Notes: COVID-19 and the Provision of Psychological Services

Summary and Implications

As we seek to bring focus to our findings from the survey of national differences, it is important to remain cautious about the very preliminary results we obtained given not only the small sample size and biased sampling of only graduates from our graduate school, but also the uneven distribution of responses from our three national populations. We have chosen to frame our outcomes as points of inquiry rather than conclusions or even formal hypotheses. Some interesting and potentially informative questions arise from our study that we hope will inspire and direct future research about the impact of COVID-19 (and other future pandemic viruses) on the offering of psychological services. Before offering our points of inquiry, we provide an additional cautionary note. The respondents from North America were not only the largest of the three populations. They were also somewhat more diverse with regarding to the psychological services being offered.  Our sample of respondents from Israel were primarily those providing clinical services.

While the nature of services being provided does make a difference, we found that similar issues were being reported in most cases by all three national populations regarding the challenges faced by their clients. Anxiety was elevated for clients in all three nations as a result of the COVID-19 challenge. By contrast, fear among clients about becoming infected or infecting other people revealed some interesting differences There were rather high ratings among the Asian and Israeli respondents, while lower ratings were offered by the North American respondents. We would identify this as the first point of inquiry to be further explored: Is fear of infection a greater concern for those Asians and Israelis seeking psychological services than for those seeking these services in North America?

There were several intriguing differences between our three populations regarding COVID-related challenges for clients that were less tangible that those concerning health. Increased confusion among their clients about or loss of life purpose was more often identified among North American and Asian respondents than among Israel respondents. Conversely, when it comes to issues associated with control and authority, Israeli respondents were more likely than North American or Asians to indicate that this is a challenge for their clients. A second point of inquiry is warranted: Are there significant national or cultural differences regarding the extent to which life purpose and control/authority are threatened by pandemic viruses?

On the more positive side, we found that both the Israeli and Asian respondents indicated that their clients are likely to have found the virus to offer an opportunity for their own growth and/or movement in new directions. By contrast, a much smaller percent of the North American respondents rated growth as being engaged. The North American and Asian populations, however, indicated that many of their clients have found hope, empowerment and/or new vision of the future in the midst of COVID-19 challenges. Our third point of inquiry emerges from these interesting differences: Are there significant differences across nations and cultures as to the opportunities for growth, hope, empowerment and vision of the future among those clients facing the COVID-19 challenge?

When we turn to the impact of the virus on the psychological practices being offered by our survey respondents, we find that some of the North American and Israeli respondents report seeing more clients, whereas very few of the Asian respondents reported an increase. The perceived impact of the virus on our respondents’ effectiveness yielded several interesting differences. The Asian respondents were not quite as confident regarding their effectiveness as were the North Americans and Israelis. The Asian ratings were quite dispersed. By contrast, many of the Israeli respondents indicated that they have become more effective. Ratings of the North Americans resided somewhere between the Israelis and Asian.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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