Field Notes: COVID-19 and the Provision of Psychological Services
Power and Lifelong Learning
We turn finally to a much broader issue on which some of our respondents commented. This issue concerned the shifting nature of power that took place in many societies resulting from the virus. In most cases, this shift was not viewed by our respondents in a positive manner. One of our respondents focused on the growing persuasive power of the media. This respondent learned to their dismay “that the people of the world can be easily manipulated by media and tv. Powerful people enjoy having control over the masses.” Other respondents expressed similar concern about the growing centralization of control by the media and by leaders of their society.
On the other hand, one of our respondents offered some hope regarding informed use of power: “Crisis opens the eyes of leaders who thought they knew it all.” Perhaps, there are lessons to be learned by all of us—including those who are “experts” and those who hold positions of leadership. Our virus might have invited people of power into its classroom and taught these people something about humility and the need to be lifelong learners in a VUCA-Plus world.
Summary of Lessons Learning during the COVID-19 Era
As Bergquist (2021) suggested, the virus has been a good teacher and several important lessons are offered by our participants. Two of the five themes that were presented above are identical to two of Silberberg’s themes in the 7T model: (1) The Covid experience and (2) The Technology (Silberberg, 2021). The third theme: (3) The importance of relationships and inner life, presents and integrates between two ideas. The importance of relationships and the importance of inner life. The first idea is very dominant in Silberberg’s 7T model. The lesson one of our participants offers: “There is no vaccine for loneliness”, reminds one of Silberberg’s citations: “Loneliness is more dangerous to us than the virus”.
However, the other idea in this theme: The importance of inner life, is an important addition to the 7T model and should be further researched in the future. This important addition aligns with Bergquist’s (2021) idea about the advantage introvert people might have in times like the Covid-19 era. The fourth theme: (4) Insights about continuity and change, partially overlaps the theme of: ‘Opportunities for patients and therapists’, in the 7T model, while emphasizing the notion of ‘change’ rather than the notion of ‘growth’. The last theme: (5) Power and Lifelong Learning, has some overlapping ideas with the 7T model, like: sensitivity to the biases of authorities and the horizon of hope.
As we seek to bring focus to our findings, 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 and four service areas. Therefore, I have framed the outcomes of our pilot study 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.
I have offered 9 points of inquiry in the section of this field report concerning national differences, and 7 points of inquiry in the section of this report that focuses on potential differences as a function of service area. In this final section, I have synthesized these 16 points of inquiry into a final set of 10 points that I hope can serve as guides to a much larger study of the COVID-19 impact.