We’re going into a phase of this pandemic process where people’s jobs are being divided into “essential” and otherwise. Most locales with an order to stay home have published a list of what is “essential.” It invariably includes “health care/medical workers.”

Therapists across the country are unsure if that includes us — especially since we’re all doing telehealth now, anyways. So I did an FB live talking about some of the issues around that question. Hint: I think it does include us, but that may or may not mean you should stay home.

View this video on our Facebook page

A Summary of the Points

1) Your services are extremely important right now:

  • Suicidality is already rising and will continue to rise.
  • SUD treatment and support is even more vital than usual.
  • Sheltering in place puts many people in psychologically — and physically — dangerous territory.

The governor of New York called on people to stay home and get therapy. I think he realized early on how important our work will be in getting people through this whole process as safely as possible.

Medical pros are tackling the virus (among other things.) They are extremely important. We therapists are needed to tackle the myriad other issues that arise when we all work together to fight the virus.

2) Everything is about risk management right now.

  • We need to think systemically and in terms of risk-benefit analysis.
  • If you can deliver the standard of care for telehealth from home, you should probably stay home. Some professionals are in a position to do that, and some are not.
  • This judgement call can be difficult, because a huge portion of us are just now learning about telehealth. So the standard of care is not yet clear to everyone.

3) “Essential Services” covers a pretty broad range of services

  • All the lists of “essential services” I’ve seen include restaurants and maintenance workers. It doesn’t seem that the term is meant to mean, “essential to fighting the virus.” Instead, it seems to mean, “essential to keeping society running.”
  • Therapists are essential to keeping society running, and I’m certain that the various authorities see it that way, too.

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