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Number 15: Autumn 2022

Covid-19 and Its Implications for the Practice of Psychotherapy on Zoom during the Pandemic (extract)

Jane Haynes

In addition to my daily entries during lockdown, of which the ‘Eve of Passover’ is the entry for 8 April, I kept – with my patients’ written permissions and an invitation to edit individual clinical vignettes – an account which explored at greater length some of the clinical issues con- fronting me. Working face to face was less intense, the eyes were more relaxed but Zoom-bodies are still everywhere, except you rarely see a full torso. Footwear, which can express so much about the wearer, is no longer available for scrutiny. Whatever the disadvantages of Zoom, my practice is busier than ever.

Clinical Vignette

This vignette is an illustration of some new therapeutic challenges when working via Zoom during a session with a challenging intellectual and entrepreneur, in late middle age, who has experienced a disappointed emotional life. Only after his father’s deathbed conversation last autumn did he overcome scepticism to seek out a therapist, motivated by his father’s final breath. To begin with he treated me as I imagine he treats a vintage wine. I felt he was sniffing my psychic aromas and wanting to find them corked. Excessively polite. Excessively aloof. I knew his pass-bar would be high. He was not at all happy about Zoom meetings but accepted them as the better alternative to ending his therapy.

I opened our first Zoom meeting to find him reclining on his bed. (An explanation for which appears later.) He was keen to show me the room furnishings, the paintings and a pile of books. He must use his iPhone for our sessions as whenever immersed in thought he drops the phone and his image hurtles through the ether. Doorbells announcing deliveries, whether mine or a patient’s, have become another frequent intrusion into Zoom sessions. While I would not interrupt any session to open the door, most of my patients do!