Psychological Strategies to Address these Challenges: A Four Tier Model
Metaphor: People standing at the edge of a cliff
- Treatment: people fall to bottom of the cliff and need to be cured.
- Psychologists can help with the healing process through helping to reduce anxiety associated with fear of long-term disability and even death (Being Mortal)
- Psychologists can help with the healing process by encouraging compliance with the treatment plan
- COVID: help to address high levels of anxiety among those with the virus and those who have closely affiliated with those who have tested positive
- Amelioration: setting up net halfway down the cliff to catch people before they hit the bottom
- Encourage compliance with taking of prescribed medications
- Provide support for altered lifestyle to reduce chances of future illness
- COVID: provide follow up services for those who have tested positive with regard to lingering effects of the virus—especially as relates to shifts in their own life style and performance capacities
- Prevention: setting up barriers so that people don’t fall off the cliff
- Healthy habits: sleep, exercise, meditation
- Anxiety and stress reduction
- COVID: encourage compliance at a psychological level with the masking, social distancing and limited interaction requirements
- Empowerment: finding ways to help people move away from the cliff
- Focus on health rather than absence of illness and injury
- Public policy reform
- Healthier health care systems
- COVID: help formulate plans for effective and equitable distribution of vaccines once they are appropriately tested and available (this includes sensitivity to cultural attitudes about vaccinations).
- COVID: help formulate plans for more effectively addressing future pandemics
This is a TAPE (Treatment, Amelioration, Prevention, Empowerment) multi-tiered strategy for healing (“taping”) the wounded health care system and society in which we are now living. The wounds have been exposed by the virus. And we as psychologists can play new roles that engage our perspectives and practices in clinical psychology, organizational psychology, social psychology and even political psychology. Most importantly, the virus has produced a new appreciation for a sub-field of professional psychology that we can call HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY.
Whatever the domain of professional psychology that you wish to enter, it is a challenging time that offers many opportunities for new perspective and practices.