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

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

Demographics

Most of the responses came from those providing psychological services in North American (N=33), with a small number being provided by those providing psychological services in Israel (N=6), Asia (N=8) and elsewhere in the world (N=2). The preponderance of responses from North American is understandable since PSP operated exclusively in USA and Canada for many years. Furthermore, the survey was offered only in English, which was a second language for many members of our PSP Global Community who reside outside North America.

Fifty percent of our respondents indicate that they are providing individual psychology. Once again, this is understandable since PSP operated for many years with only clinical Masters and Doctoral programs. The more interesting demographic concerns the role played by respondents as teachers and trainers. This percent was high (52%). Respondents were allowed to check more than one category—so many might have been working in clinical fields, but also providing education and training in their community. These results speak to the senior status of virtually all members of the PSP Global Community. They tend to be highly respected and experienced members of their local psychological community—so are often asked to teach or train. Their status also seems relevant to this study. They are responding to our survey with considerable insight into the way the virus has impacted not only their own psychological practices but also those of their colleagues working in the same field.

Among the other ways in which our respondents provide psychological services, one third (33%) offer group psychotherapy (a degree specialization at PSP in recent years), while 29% offer organizational consulting services (a second specialization at PSP over the past two decades). Finally, we find that 6% offer psychologically based coaching (relates to certification and training programs that PSP has offered during the two decades).

Providing Psychological Services during the COVID-19 Era: The General Landscape

In our survey we asked four questions regarding the experiences of our respondents as they have met the challenges (and opportunities) of the virus. We asked about the impact of COVID-19 on clients they have served, on the nature of services they have provided, and on their own personal life and work. We also asked about how COVID-19 might be influencing their future work.

We begin by identifying areas of shared experience among our 49 respondents. This is a general rendering of the landscape in which our respondents have been working during the COVID era. We will then be turning to differences in the perspectives and practices of psychological services as a function of nationality and type of service provided. After offering these more focused portrait renderings, we share some of the personal comments made to the open-ended question regarding lessons learned. We conclude this essay with some reflections regarding implications of the survey results we obtained.

Impact of COVID-19 on Clients Being Served

Our survey respondents were asked to identify the psychological challenges that were most often exacerbated (Increased) among their clients.  The highest rated challenge was the experience of anxiety. 69% of the respondents indicated that anxiety often increased among their clients, and 9% indicated that anxiety was the predominant issue in their work. Only 18% indicated that increased anxiety was rarely an issue with their clients and 4% responded by indicating that anxiety was never an issue in their practice.

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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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