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

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

Impact on Services being Offered

As in the case of their client’s experiences, our respondents from the four populations did not differ much regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the services they render. However, there were some interesting differences when it comes to number of clients being seen, those providing group psychotherapy experienced large increases in number of groups being convened with 42% reporting “moderately” large increases and another 25% reporting “highly” increased number of groups being convened. For those providing individual psychotherapy there were also large increases in some instances. The ratings of increase were spread rather evenly across all four categories for the individual psychotherapy respondents. 23% reporting no increase, another 23% reporting mild increases and yet another 23% reporting moderately large increases. 32% reported high rates of increase. Respondents in the other service areas reported mostly no increases or a mild increase in number of clients seen.

When we shift our attention to deceases in number of clients seen, we find that a large decrease occurring in only one service area: organizational consulting. 11% reported “moderate” decreases, while 22% reported “high” levels of decrease. The percentages in these two highest rating levels were very low for the two therapy populations: 4% of those doing individual psychotherapy and none of those doing group psychotherapy reported high levels of decrease. Those doing training and teaching reported only 8% for “moderate” and 8% for “high” levels of decrease. It seems that group and individual psychotherapy thrived during the COVID-crisis, whereas organizational consulting took a major hit. This was to be expected given the impact of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and economic collapse on organizations throughout the world.

What about type of clients being seen? There were no major differences. There was only a small number of respondents (4%) providing teaching and training who reported “high” levels of change in type of client being served. None of the respondents in the other service areas checked the “highly” category. Respondents in these other service areas mainly reported no changes or “mild” changes, with only 8-11% (including those providing training and teaching) reporting “moderately” large changes. It seems that those responding to our survey tended to stick to what they already know, despite the challenges and frequently shift in challenges being faced by clients they serve.

It was a different matter when respondents in each service area were asked to report on the impact of COVID on their income. As we might expect, given increases in number of clients being served, those doing individual psychotherapy or group psychotherapy often reported large increases. Among those doing individual psychotherapy, 36% reported “moderate” increases and 9% reported increases at a “high” level. Even larger increases were reported by those doing group psychotherapy. 58% reported “moderately” large increases and 8% reported “high” increases in income. Somewhat lower levels of increased income were reported by those doing training and teaching, with 25% indicating “moderate” increases and 8% reporting “high” increases. Our organizational consultants did not fare so well. While 10% did report “high” levels of increase in income, 70% reported no increase and 20% reported “mild” increases.

As one would expect, 22% of our organizational consultants reported a “high” decrease in income—as compared to 4% of those doing individual psychotherapy and 8% of those doing group psychotherapy. Those doing teaching and training faired only slightly better than the organizational consultants, with 17% reporting “high” levels of decreased income as a result of the virus. Those reporting no decreases (53-67%) or only “mild” decreases (17-23%) in income were about the same for all of the service areas—except organization consulting (only 11% reporting in the “mild” category).  It seems that the virus disrupted those who had to engage with a group of people to offer something other than therapeutic services.


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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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