We have commenced our clinical program and welcomed a new group of trainees. It is time to reflect upon the ways in which our work has been transformed.
I am following the Pesikta deRav Kahana, and the section of last Shabbos is about transformations. We have gone from consolation through restoration to transformation. The theme is opposites, how what seems negative creates positive transformation – if we can see it. Just one example, the Destruction of the First Temple was necessary for the presence of even greater Tsadiskim, like Daniel, Mordechai and Ezra, according to the Midrash (in the name of Rabbi Yochanan).
What transformations can this Corona period yield? I can suggest three, and welcome our readers to think of more. And you are welcome to contribute your thoughts here.
First, life with Corona forces us to relinquish old habits and assumptions. The deck of our lives has been shuffled. Our clients will find that the ways in which relationships were carried out is no longer a given. Changes in schedules, in income, in social relations force them to recast the ways in which they manage unfinished business. Families that had achieved a barely sustainable equilibrium will come unbalanced. This will open the opportunity for deeper reconsideration of relationships and may lead to transformations that were not possible while things stayed glued together as usual. Of course, these situations involve a great deal of pain and anxiety. But as we help calm fears we will keep our eyes open to notice possibilities for change, – the transformation that transcends restoration.
Second, Corona has been a great leveller. We as therapists are not in any way immune to the shuffling of our own decks. To that extent, we and our clients are undergoing similar changes and facing similar challenges. This in its own right levels the field, as we face a common threat.In addition, therapy often involves a fantasy of a suffering client and a therapist who has everything worked out. This could be the fantasy of the client, of the therapist or of both. This fantasy now gives way to a clear reality in which we are all struggling with one common issue, Corona. Clients may well wonder how we are doing, and it would be fruitlessly cold to adopt the usual “non-transparency” – in whatever range a given therapist is accustomed. Our clients “know” something deep about us – that we are coping with Corona.That makes us more “transparent” than we might usually choose to be. We and our clients will be co-creating a new form of transparency, we will be sharing in different ways.
And third, the field of supervision is somewhat levelled as well. It would be nice to imagine that our supervisors and teachers are thoroughly experienced in providing remote therapy and supervision. But, of course, they are not. Far from it. As a result, supervision will also require an element of more conspicuous co-creation, as we all learn together how to make the most of remote contacts. We need to be constantly questioning together how we are doing, what would make the remote work more robust and immediate, what we can supplement. Those of you who attended the orientations had the experience of creating these experiences with us and it is crucial for us to hear how you felt it worked.
We could spend this coming year bemoaning the loss of personal contact and waiting for its restoration. I suggest we learn from the Midrash and focus on enabling transformation together.