Working from home during lockdown

When the President announced that there would be a lockdown I was in total shock. I didn’t know what to feel or what to think. It felt like a dream. As my shock started to wear off, I had a rush of thoughts but my primary worry was around my practice that I had just started.

Providing teletherapy in South Africa was quite foreign to many counsellors and psychologists and I had so many questions but luckily our governing body was more than willing to answer them amongst all the chaos and uncertainty. The Department of Health also sent out a communique indicating that we, as therapists and counsellors, could officially engage in teletherapy which was a huge relief.

With the rapidly changing circumstances around the coronavirus, I had to move my counselling practice online. Protecting my health and the health of my clients was and is paramount. Providing virtual support during an event like COVID-19 proved to be a great way to help clients during times of heightened anxiety and stress, as well as allow me to continue to work.

Initially, providing teletherapy had its negative side including getting clients, poor network, delayed and interrupted sound, laptops freezing and Zoom login issues to name a few. All these proved to be quite frustrating however it was a learning curve for both myself and my clients.

Strategies for coping during the hard lockdown:

  • I stayed motivated. This was a new experience for everyone. We were all in shock. However, in order for me to continue to provide mental health services, the lockdown allowed me to write a lot on mental health-related topics which attracted clients.
  • I was thankful for the work I had. I was grateful for the opportunity to move my practice onto a new platform in order to broaden my abilities and reach people not limited to a specific area.
  • I had to find a balance between working and relaxing. The fear of not getting clients was unbelievable because finances were obviously a big concern. I had to remind myself not to overwork or ‘overwrite’ posts on social media and also learn to relax and just enjoy the time I had when I didn’t have anything to do.
  • I was able to plan my day adequately. Knowing that I didn’t need to leave the house just made it easier to plan my schedule and prepare for work when I needed to. The flexibility was quite amazing.
  • Staying in contact with my siblings who are medical doctors was helpful in the sense that I was worried about their wellbeing. Checking in with them and them with me helped to reduce a lot of stress. Knowing that they were coping helped me to cope as well.

Essentially I learnt a new profound way of being patient in a pandemic that is ravaging not only our country but the world. In a time where there is so much panic, chaos, uncertainty and unpredictability, I have learnt to be patient and calm.

Deborah Olusola

A Specialist Wellness Counsellor, Deborah treats pre-teens, adolescents and their families using a variety of techniques including games and behavioural tools. She also treats adults with depression, anxiety, grief, trauma and general challenges or transitions with a focus on seeing her clients as unique individuals whilst striving to support them in body, mind and spirit. Passionate about the youth of our country and making a difference in their lives, she is passionate about the work she does and the ability to do what she loves.