Diary of a Therapist During the Coronavirus Outbreak: Dr. Amy Cirbus

Dr Amy Cirbus - Therapist Diary

Diary of a Therapist During the Coronavirus Outbreak is a new series bringing you insight into the daily lives of Talkspace therapists — those on the frontlines providing support to all of us dealing with what is an utterly singular period in recent history. Therapists are the barometers of our emotional well-being, gauging our feelings and thoughts as we all struggle through this time — alone and together. While the uncertainty of the future may leave you feeling lonely, scared, and stressed, hearing that others are dealing with the same things can be a tremendous comfort. With these video diaries you’ll get insights into what our therapists are seeing, how they’re dealing with the crisis, and tips for how to better manage your emotions and behaviors. Join us!


4/23/20

Welcome back!

What day is it again? I know I’m not alone when I say that all the days and hours are now blending together. It’s essential to create structure to our days — even loosely. Structure and routine help delineate work time and downtime that can blend so easily these days. Organizing time helps us separate our emotions as well. 

While stress may not be something you appreciate right now, it is part of our entire human experience. Acknowledging times of stress helps us better identify what moments of peace and joy feel like for us. And when we know what joy feels like, we’re better able to carve out time and space for activities that we enjoy and bring us pleasure. 

This week I really reached out to colleagues for support as part of my self-care. There’s something particularly special about gaining support from people who know exactly what we’re going through and who share similar experiences. And, thankfully, I have some pretty funny colleagues who can make me laugh out loud during even the toughest of days. 

4/17/20

Today I want to share the importance of acknowledging the power of our strengths. So many clients have been struggling with a sense that their mental health is starting to slip. It can be really scary to move from feeling generally mentally well to sensing red flags or seeing old negative patterns emerge. It’s common, right now, to feel mentally shaky and worried, or to feel you’re going “backwards.” Now, however, is the time to acknowledge your strengths. Dig deep for the coping skills you know you have. Don’t let the fear take over. You can make it through this. 

I’ve been continuing to cope myself by getting outside. Taking a walk every single night, no matter what, has helped me feel like there’s a specific end to my day and recharge my energy. I leave my phone at home and literally detach from technology. Oh, the irony of needing that phone as much as I need to let it go!

4/3/2020

Hey there — Is everyone else as tired as I feel? This is hard. We aren’t “supposed” to know what to do when this kind of unprecedented disaster strikes and so it’s okay if our emotions are seriously all over the place. 

What I want to emphasize to you this week is to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. There’s no right or wrong, there’s just hanging on and coping. And coping doesn’t always mean feeling better. Coping means doing the things that we know are good for us. It means making the choice to make the investment in ourselves so that we can fill up and endure long term. 

And so take a moment for yourself. Literally, just a moment can do the trick. Between tasks and people and things, take a moment to breathe in and breathe out to the count of 3. Notice where you are and what you feel. This might look like a harried escape to your son’s room, for a respite, but I prefer to think of it as a quick breather that’s essential to getting through one’s day. 

Be well everyone~ 

3/27/2020

Hi everyone — it’s week two of the COVID-19 pandemic and while this may be our new normal, nothing feels normal. Today, I’m discussing a common theme I’m seeing with regard to managing work. 

While many of us are dealing with the terrible economic fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak, insecurity and even job loss, for those who are working these are strange times indeed. Everyone’s work situation is unique and we’re each managing different home environments and obligations. The key when working from home, however, is communication. 

Make sure your manager knows what you need, what you’re struggling with, and what your limitations are. When expectations are aligned, you’re going to be in the best position to do the best work possible — in a less than ideal situation. 

I’m also trying to manage work, children, and lots of schedules. I spent time this week making sure that I’m clear on school expectations for my kids. The amount of work and Google classrooms and various websites we have to keep up with for their schooling is overwhelming. My go-to self care for the past few days has been eliminating the obstacles between myself and fresh air. As soon as my video meetings are complete, I jump into sweats so that when a pocket of time presents itself, I can press pause and go outside. Sometimes this was for 5 mins and other times, up to 30 minutes. Sometimes this included bringing my kids and other times it was time just for myself in quiet solitude. No matter what, after each trip outside I returned feeling refreshed and with a clearer frame of mind. 

3/19/2020

Welcome to my Diary of a Therapist! My name is Dr. Amy Cirbus, and I’m a member of the Talkspace clinical leadership team as well as a provider on the platform. I’ve been in practice for over 20 years. Five years ago I found myself reaching out to Talkspace, having recently had a baby and relocating my private practice. I wanted to retain my ability to use my expertise but needed the flexibility and accessibility that online therapy provided. Telebehavioral health was still new territory back then. 

Right now, I’m pretty grateful to have made that decision to move my mental health practice online. It’s a unique time to be a therapist, for sure. Being able to continue to treat clients who are struggling mightily during a pandemic is wonderful — I feel like a hub for how people are dealing with this unique point in history. It’s also a complicated time. I’m finding myself personally challenged with some of the same factors that we’re all collectively encountering. 

Check in with me here for a bird’s eye view of the mental health struggles my clients — and all of us — are facing. You’ll also hear how I’m attempting to navigate this pandemic, the complicated mental health challenges of our new norm, and ways I’m trying to practice good self care in order to be there for others.

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