Credit: Tobi Goldfus
Q: This has been a tough year for my young clients. How do I help them stay centered and connected to therapy, even as most of what they do—and we do—is now online?
A: When I first started doing teletherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic, I worried my young clients would find our virtual interactions awkward, but that was a reflection of my discomfort, not theirs. Having spent a good deal of their life online, they were relaxed during video sessions and delighted to share their safe place, usually their bedroom, with me. They’d point to pictures on the wall or put meaningful objects in front of the webcam for me to see, as if this show-and-tell were the most natural thing in the world. Sharing their space in this way sparked a kind of implicit trust almost immediately.
With Amy, a senior in high school, whose prom had been canceled at the start of the pandemic, I laughed as she grabbed a stuffed animal from her bed and said how Pooh Bear was now more important to her than ever. Her humor was infectious, a sweet release in an anxious time. Our young clients can teach us a lot about adapting and connecting online, but they still need our real-life wisdom about connecting with their core inner selves, especially as they face life’s challenges, whether they unfold virtually or in person.