Can we stay connected during these periods of covid-19 isolation? Carol spent this morning taking very special care of me. It began when a bagful of cumquats was left at her doorstep by a friend. She decided to make me some of her signature marmalade. I don’t know the recipe or the instructions, but Carol does. And while the fruit steeped in a sugary fluid, she managed to bake a chocolate cake which she iced with vanilla icing caringly laced with Cointreau. She knows I love her marmalade, so I was cooking with her in spirit! Later, she drove to the clinic, being careful to maintain safe social distancing, left the cake and the jar of marmalade, still warm, at the door, rang the bell and left. I knew immediately that Carol had been cooking. I imagined her in her kitchen, surrounded by the sugary steam from the fruit and the aroma of baking cake. I wonder if she imagined me sitting on the kitchen bench, getting in the way and trying to lick the spoons? Carol and I had quite a morning together. Both of us took advantage of a fundamental aspects of firing neurons – they fire the same for reality as for imagination. In a neuronal fashion, I was in that kitchen and she was in the clinic with me as I sliced off a piece off chocolate. That is how Carol and I stayed connected without breaking any rules.
Staying connecting with clients has flung us into the world of telemental health. Now we use computers and cameras instead of clinic rooms and comfortable chairs. We can learn more about this from a new book by Chanté DeLoach, How We Practice Psychotherapy Now (W.W. Norton, 2021). We reproduce the Introduction that talks us through the background and necessary adaptations. Also, we preview the chapter, Clinical Issues in Virtual and Teletherapy, that provides a clinician’s insight.
In between these excerpts is a valuable piece of research that investigates The Relationship Between Sleep and Pain. Susan Davis is both a massage therapist and a registered nurse and when she found a gap in the literature about the impact of sleep with the experience of mild pain, she created the research. The results and the relevance for mental health is something that therapists need to know.
I hope you enjoy the articles this month and perhaps imagine the authors writing with you in mind. Equally, I hope that the authors can feel your presence in their mind’s eye as you read. Feeling connected can be an act of faith, even when there is no direct physical contact.
RICHARD HILL | EDITOR