WHY NOT FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS YET...
Here at Maray Counselling, Marianne and I have been receiving emails and calls about booking face-to-face appointments since Ford announced last week that face-to-face counselling was part of Stage 1 of reopening Ontario. He also added: “Businesses should open only if they’re ready”.
Counselling is more complicated than some of the other stage 1 businesses. We do counselling in confined spaces for an hour at a time. It is different than golfing, different than a car dealership, retail stores and scheduled surgeries even though I am sure every one of those industries have their complications.
Our College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers was quick to respond to the announcement telling us to maintain our phone and virtual appointments at this time. I believe that there is a good reason for that. First of all, the virus is still out there. It is there as it was when our College told us to stop seeing clients face-to-face. The risk has not gone away. I must say that I learned a lot over the last 2 months and we both feel quite comfortable doing virtual appointments. Some of our clients prefer phone appointments and those are, in my opinion, almost as good as in person.
So, if our College gave us the go ahead would we open tomorrow? Well, things are more complicated than that. We need to keep you safe and keep ourselves safe. Those of you who have seen my office will realize that one cannot keep 6 feet distance as it is quite small. It also has wicker furniture which cannot be “disinfected” easily. We have been doing problem solving in this area, purchased new chairs that can be quickly given a wipe with a disinfectant. We realize that my office will not work for face-to-face until the virus is gone. Marianne’s office however is quite large and therefore, once we start to see clients face-to-face this is the office that will be used. Some changes in the office will be needed such as the fabric couch and the wicker loveseat in the wait room. We will also be purchasing PPE and disinfectant at the business level to keep ourselves and our clients safe. Since our offices are in our home, this adds an extra level of complication.
There is also the issue of confidentiality. As some of you know, your confidentiality is paramount and it is only under certain specific circumstances that therapists have to break confidentiality. Well, if we or one of our clients gets sick with COVID-19, there needs to be tracing, which means breaking the confidentiality and public health gets contacted.
So, we are asking you to be patient. We still offer phone and virtual appointments using a secure platform. For now, this will have to do. I have spoken to many colleagues, some self-employed, some working for agencies and they are also sticking to phone and virtual appointments. We are both looking so forward to seeing you in person at some point in time, but it is not now. It can’t be. We hope that if you do need counselling that you will reach out through our other means of therapy.
Ray St-Amour, MSW, RSW