The new normal

By John Grohol, Psy.D.
June 27th, 2022
Covid 19 prevention masks

A year ago, I claimed that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”

In hindsight, I was being optimistic. While the pandemic rages on largely unchecked, the newer strains of the coronavirus appear to be less deadly – especially to those who are vaccinated and boosted. At least, for now.

Masks have become uncommon, even in large indoor gatherings. Here in New England, I’m seeing less and less mask wearing in grocery and home improvement stores. I was in town meeting the other night in our elementary school’s auditorium/cafeteria and fewer than five percent of people were wearing masks. Hospitalizations are rising again, but death rates haven’t yet caught up.

For better or worse, Americans are learning to live with the coronavirus. That appears to mean largely going on with life as usual, with only a few changes. For some, maybe it means wearing a mask while visiting their senior relatives. Maybe it means continuing to meet with some clients remotely. And maybe for others, it means avoiding large indoor concerts or events.

The new normal is hard to wrap my head around. Americans are still dying from catching the coronavirus, but it’s a death toll number that, collectively as a society, to which we seem to be resigned.

It’s just like how we’re largely resigned with the number of people who die from automobile accidents, suicide, and medical mistakes. Nobody likes it, but it would be challenging to bring those numbers down without having a significant impact on society.

Clinically, at least one positive has come from the pandemic: being reimbursed at similar rates for remote psychotherapy video sessions. While there has been some effort to roll back this way of working with clients, it appears that for many insurance companies, they’ll continue to recognize it as a legitimate reimbursable modality moving forward.

No therapist will claim it’s the same as being there, in-person, with your client. But it’s proven to be better than nothing.

Enjoy the warmer weather while it lasts and please remember to take some time for yourself during these long summer months. Your mental health is just as important as your clients’. Too often we believe ourselves to be stronger than we are. So this summer, make a commitment to not ignore or put your psychological needs on the back burner any longer.

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