Online Therapy During the Coronavirus Crisis

April 12, 2020
Online Therapy During the Coronavirus Crisis

Why might Online therapy during the Coronavirus crisis be helpful?

You’re considering online therapy during the Coronavirus crisis. Here in the Washington DC metro area, we are a hot-spot for COVID-19 and that has been stressful. Psychotherapy can be helpful in reducing stress, anxiety and fear. It can help you to calm down. It can help you to adjust to the major changes in your life situation. Ultimately, as life becomes more predictable, psychotherapy can help you not only manage the crisis but to recognize and overcome longstanding patterns that have led to unhappiness or dissatisfaction.

Is online therapy helpful for stress or does it focus, exclusively, on overcoming long-term patterns of behavior?

Maybe you were were thinking about obtaining psychotherapy before the pandemic. But, now, you are wondering whether you should still seek it out. After all, previously, you viewed psychotherapy as a way to address longstanding challenges or to achieve personal or professional goals that had previously eluded you.  Now, those concerns are on the back-burner as you focus on looking after yourself, your family and the other important people in your life. The good news is that psychotherapy can be useful for both.

News of Covid-19 is overwhelming

You’ve been barraged with news about the Coronavirus crisis. Stay at home. Don’t travel. Wash your hands. Abuse lysol and purell. Keep a “social distance”. The worst: No more hugging! You’re flooded, relentlessly, with countless stories about how people die of Covid-19. You are wondering how, here, in the Greater Washington DC area, you can keep your family safe.

Do you see yourself in one of these situations?

You feel overwhelmed, frightened and generally stressed. You’re distracted. You’re having trouble concentrating.

It’s usual to regress under stress ~ and this is stressful

You know that under stress we all regress. So, you find yourself not at your best. Being an insightful person by nature, you feel that this could be a time to grow, emotionally and professionally. So, you’ve made a list of goals. You assumed that you’d have a ton of “free time” while adhering to “stay at home orders”.

However, you discover that somehow you are exhausted with little energy left over to take on these challenges. You find yourself chronically tired. You feel self-critical about your inability to get things done, after all, you aren’t going anywhere.

Likely, you have underestimated just how exhausting anxiety, fear and stress can be.

Consider ratcheting down your expectations ~ in the short run.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Why you Should Ignore All of That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure, Aisha Ahmed asserts that we tend to underestimate the amount of stress that we are under. According to Dr. Ahmed, we need to give ourselves time to adjust.

She suggests: Add some structure in your day and develop a plan for addressing the challenges that we are all facing. Having survived several catastrophes, Ahmed points out that over time, we accommodate and become more proficient. Then, we may be able to add in more ambitious goals. But, for now, she says focus on adding structure and predictability into your day.

Of course, in this case, whether you can add in more ambitious goals depends on how many plates you’re juggling. Are you suddenly, a stay-at-home parent, a teleworker, a cleaning person, home schooler … and more? If this is the case, you may need to set more modest goals (and, hopefully, do some delegation. :)).

Create an internal culture of routine and predictability ~ down the pike you may be able to pursue more ambitious aims

Virtual therapy can help with both of these tasks. It can help you to contain your anxieties and fears and to take steps to address them. In this way, you can be more available to the people who you love. And, importantly, more available to yourself. Then, you, and your psychotherapist, can begin to tackle more ambitious personal goals.

Rely on Trusted Sources of Coronavirus Information

Here are some sources of information about COVID-19 that I’ve found clear and helpful. A physician recommended each one.

Please note: I’m not a physician. None of this information should be used as a substitute for medical guidance. If you are ill, please call your doctor. Thank you.

Dr. Larry Brilliant, epidemiologist, The doctor who helped defeat smallpox explains what’s coming (video).

Dr. David Price, Fellow, Cornell Medical Center, Empowering and Protecting your family during COVID-19 pandemic (video).

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Babies respond in a loving way after quarantine A sweet video about how toddlers responded after quarantine (Video). Watch this to feel something special.

If you are considering online therapy during the Coronavirus crisis stay-at-home order, feel free to reach out: 301.656.9650. Here’s what happens when you call for psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.


I am a clinical psychologist and a Training and Supervising Analyst. I’m licensed in Washington DC and in Maryland. My brick-and-mortar office is on the Washington DC, Maryland border in Chevy Chase, Maryland. During COVID-19, I am providing online psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, supervision and career counseling I welcome your call.

7 responses to “Online Therapy During the Coronavirus Crisis”

  1. Heather Myers, PhD says:

    The best thing we can do for ourselves during this difficult time is to protect and preserve our mental health!

  2. Great suggestions for navigating this challenging time. Thank you for sharing your expertise and making your services available virtually.

  3. Valaida Wise says:

    Really thoughtful piece. Thank you for writing it.

  4. LINDA Geurkink says:

    Sounds like should be very helpful. Good resource

  5. Nancy W. Glynn, PhD says:

    I really appreciate Dr. Friedman’s perspective. As an Epidemiologist, I tend to focus on the models and numbers, but this article reminds me of the mental health consequences of this pandemic. Thank you!

  6. Ann says:

    I find that online or phone therapy sessions are sometimes more effective than those in person. They can have a sharper focus.

  7. Leslie Speidel says:

    Great suggestions for all of us during this challenging time. Thank you, Dr. Friedman, for for the helpful suggestions for maintaining and enhancing our emotional health.

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