Update: While COVID is in retreat and quarantine restrictions are lifting, we are still providing teletherapy and video chat therapy in addition to in-person therapy at our offices in Tribeca and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Perhaps the biggest legacy of the pandemic for our practice has been our increased ability to offer remote therapy, which we dedicated ourselves to at a time when fear and uncertainty were present not only for our patients but for us as therapists. Because of this, we find it meaningful to look back at this page that was written during that time:
Whether Quarantining Together Or Apart, Online Family Therapy Can Help Families Cope Through COVID-19
Before COVID-19, the most common form of remote therapy we practiced over the years has been online family therapy. Families, including extended families and families with adult children, tend to live apart, which made it challenging for them to come together for an in-person session in our Downtown office. For this reason, we have a lot of practice coordinating the nuances of family therapy using phone and video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet, which has been particularly helpful during COVID-19.
At this point during quarantine, some families we’re speaking to in our online family therapy sessions are starting to wish they weren’t stuck together, struggling with issues of conflict, privacy, finding space for alone time, negotiating schedules, and maintaining intimacy.
Other families that are staying at home apart are missing each other desperately. Both circumstances can be incredibly challenging for families, and can benefit from the help of phone and video chat family therapy.
There’s No Rulebook For Parenting During Quarantine: Phone And Video Family Therapy For Families With Young Children
For families with young children, living in close quarters is especially tough. Children desperately miss their friends, kids their own age, teachers, activities, and though some may not want to admit it, the structure and routine of school. As the weeks wear on during self-isolation, this becomes harder and harder on kids, and parents can struggle to manage conflict, regression and behavioral outbursts.
There’s no rulebook for weeks-long quarantine, which means families could use the help and some creativity from an online family therapist. Some children need to be allowed to regress; rules that make sense under normal circumstances may not make sense currently. As remote family therapists, we’re often called in to sort through what both parents and children need right now, as well as helping to declare a video family therapy truce.
Remote Family Therapy With Teens Can Be A Useful Crisis Tool During Conflict
Under the best circumstances, teenagers and their parents need to negotiate the relationship between independence versus rules and structure. But, quarantining with teens has made these negotiations more important and sometimes, more fraught, creating conflict. Teens need to win some of the battles with their parents, more so than under normal circumstances. Their opportunities to act-out are limited right now. They can’t just blow up and storm off.
Teens, just like adults, are also struggling with the lack of in-person connections (just because teens are fluent at using social media, Skype and FaceTime doesn’t mean they’re not feeling lonely). Some teens are making unsafe choices, such as hanging out with friends or hooking up, while ignoring social distancing restrictions. Remote family therapy can be a crisis tool to help families ease the tension.
Families That Are Quarantined Apart Deal With Unique Challenges: Phone And Video Chat Family Therapy Can Help
For families that are separated by distance, we’re seeing in our online family therapy sessions that there are unique complications. Family vacations and reunions have been canceled. The economic and health circumstances, especially related to caring for older or ill family members, have become exceedingly more complicated given the difficulties related to traveling and the need to protect older adults from exposure. Families are also having to navigate grief and loss while separated.
As online family therapists, we’re experts in helping families understand what matters and what needs attention. Right now, there are just so many new challenges for families to sort out. It can be hard to tell what kinds of grievances are longstanding and what are complications of this moment. Sometimes the work in remote family therapy is facilitating difficult conversations that families have never had before, whether because of ongoing struggles to talk about painful issues or the unprecedented circumstances related to COVID-19.