Field Notes: COVID-19 and the Provision of Psychological Services
We pose an important fourth point of inquiry regarding the self-perceptions and realities of our survey respondents regarding effectiveness. Are the Israelis actually more adaptive—or “agile” (a now popular term)—in responding to new challenges or are they simply more likely to be candid about (or distorting of) their newly acquired skill and expertise. Does the Asian tendency toward modesty win the day and are North American’s also inclined to be hesitant about declaring “victory” too soon?
We also studied the extent to which our respondents experienced their own anxiety as a result of the virus. All our Asian respondents indicating that anxiety was a concern in their own personal life, whereas the North American respondents often regarded their person concern about increased anxiety as nonexistent or minimal. The Israelis were even less inclined to view anxiety as a personal concern. Our fifth point of inquiry concerns the challenge of increased anxiety. Is it of concern for most Asian practitioners as they faced the COVID-19 challenge in their personal lives and less a concern for the North American and Israeli practitioners?
Things shift when our respondents rate the extent to which increased isolation and/or sense of loneliness becomes a concern. It is the Israeli respondents who frequently rate this as a concern, whereas the Asian and North American respondents were less likely to rate this as a concern. It should be noted that there was a split vote for the Israeli respondents. We find a similar split vote among Israeli when it comes to confusion about or loss of a sense of purpose regarding work in the field of psychology. This leads us to a sixth point of inquiry: Are there greater concerns on the part of Israeli practitioners about their own mental health than is the case with either the North Americans or Asians? As we already noted, is this a case of actual differences, or is it a case either of greater sensitivity among Israeli practitioners to mental health issues or more honesty on their part in reporting these issues as have a personal impact?
We found in analyzing the survey data that while some of the Israeli respondents identified major negative challenges in their life as a result of COVID, they also frequently indicated greater opportunities for growth and new directions than did our North American or Asian respondents. We can identify a seventh point of inquiry. Was the virus viewed in quite different ways by those who provide psychological services in each of these three regions of the world? Once again, we have already offered a cautionary note. If there are reported differences, do they result from the actual experiences with which each respondent had to deal in their own life or is it a matter of how these experiences are framed and engaged?
Some of the questions we asked in our survey concern potential changes in the type of psychological services being delivered or way in which these services are provided. We find the greater discrepancies between our three population when we asked them to consider the increased use of technology as a permanent alteration. Many of the Israeli identified major changes regarding the increased use of technologies, whereas the North American respondents were less likely to identify change in the use of technologies. Thus, while the technology-shifts are becoming a reality for many professionals providing psychological services in all three regions of the world, the shift seems to be most pronounced among the Israelis. An eight point of inquiry would center on a fundamental question: Are the Israeli practitioners more likely to make greater use of technology than were the North Americans or Asians as a result of the virus.