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

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

What about the type of client being served? Was this impacted by the virus? In most cases, the answer was “no”. 52% of the respondents indicated no change and 35% indicated slight change. Only 2% noted that their client population had changed in a major way. The story was a bit different when it came to indicating the type of problem(s) being presented by their clients. Here we find major discrepancies. Only 23% of the respondents indicating no changes in the problems being presented, while 38% indicated some changes and 28% indicated moderately large changes, 11% indicated major changes. We will have to see if these discrepancies concern the domain (personal, group, organizations, teaching and training, coaching) in which the services are being provided or national setting in which these problems are being addressed. The major finding, however, is that the person providing psychological services might be doing the same kind of work during the era of the virus, but the type of problems they are addressing during this era might have changed.

Finally, we asked a difficult question: did the effectiveness of the respondent’s services increase or decrease during the COVID-19 era? This might be particularly important for those respondents who are addressing new problems being presented by their clients. We found very few respondents indicating that they were less effective. 78% indicating that they were not at all less effective, while 11% indicated that they were mildly less effective. At the other end of the spectrum, only 7% indicated that they were moderately less effective and 4% indicated that they would rate their decline in effectiveness as “high”. We appreciate the candid assessment made by these last two sets of respondents, but also wonder about their own “mental health” in finding it difficult to deal with some of their client’s problems.

What about the upside? There were still not many changes in effectiveness—just a slight shift in the positive direction. 48% indicated no change in becoming more effective, while 30% indicated that they were “mildly” more effective, and 7% indicated that they were “moderately” more effective. 9% rated the improvement in their effectiveness as “high”. Hopefully, these successful practitioners are also among those who are teaching and training. The lessons they have learned could be of great value to others in the field. We will see later if there is a relationship between effectiveness and one’s role as teacher/trainer.

Personal Impact of COVID-19 on those Providing the Psychological Services

We were interested not only in the personal impact of COVID-19 on the clients being served, but also those who are providing these services. Those members of the PSP Global Community who completed our survey indicated that they were not immune to the psychological impact of the virus, though this impact was not as great as found among clients they were serving. As in the case of their clients, our respondents are most likely to identify increased anxiety as the main culprit (31% indicating “often”), though fear of becoming inflected or infecting other people was almost as prevalent (28% indicating “often”). While increased isolation and/or sense of loneliness was more frequently rated as “often” (32%) than anxiety and infection, it was much more likely to be rated as “never” or “rarely” that these other two impacts. All these frequencies were lower than those for the clients. For example, anxiety was rated as “never” (18%) or “rarely” (49%) by most of the respondents. Similarly, increased depression was rated as either “never” (34%) or “rarely” (40%) by most of the respondents.


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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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