Alice Waterfall

Series 1. The Coronavirus Series

Holding the frame and sense of connectedness during the pandemic

In this series of interviews Alice Waterfall asks psychotherapists and those working in the field of mental health about their experiences of clinical work during this time of global crisis. As both patients and practitioners attempt to manage unprecedented collective trauma, these conversations cover such issues as finding one’s way to a new therapeutic frame, regulating feelings in a virtual encounter, negotiating re-activated trauma and loss to techno-phobia and techno-tips. How can we create a sense of going-on-being in the therapeutic relationship, she asks, when there is such existential uncertainty?

Interviewees include Judith Anderson, Doris Brothers, Dr Pierre Cachia, Roz Carroll, Dr Janina Fisher, Dr Graham Music, Stephen Porges, Joy Schaverien and many more.

Dr Doris Brothers

Alice Waterfall

In this conversation Dr Doris Brothers, based in New York, highlights how the uncertainty generated by the pandemic is that which lies at the very heart of trauma and which thrusts clients into traumata with little respite. Doris speaks of her experience working clinically in recent weeks whilst adapting to the new frame and her clients’ main concerns including their finances.

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Dr Graham Music

Alice Waterfall

In this conversation Dr Graham Music discusses his rapid adaptation to working online with his client group, he wonders how it is to work without the body in the room and to be able to see only the client’s neck upwards. Graham considers the risk of social isolation for those most vulnerable including children and the clients who may turn to their objects of addiction behind closed doors during these challenging times. Click here for ‘The Good, the Bad and the Scared’ by Graham, and also click here to see Graham’s latest blog post.

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Dr Stephen Porges

Alice Waterfall

Stephen Porges highlights the importance of acknowledging that we are all currently experiencing chronic threat. Our intuitive human response when under threat is to look for a safe and trusted other with whom to co-regulate. However, this natural cycle is disrupted when we are isolating at home or working as a therapist online rather than face to face. Porges identifies ways to regulate and work with our clients as best we can at this time in history.

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Roz Carroll

Alice Waterfall

Roz Carroll shares with Alice her creative ways of working therapeutically with clients experiencing their many and varied responses to Coronavirus. Roz highlights the importance of remaining grounded and centred through the body and the capacity to acknowledge all that is around us from the anxiety and fear to the grief and loss.
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Dr Pierre Cachia

Alice Waterfall and Pierre Cachia

As Head of Online Therapy at Tavistock Relationships Pierre shares his tips on moving to online work. He advises to keep technology simple but make sure you know how it works and highlights the importance of creating a thoughtful space in which to provide the therapy. Considerations of working with transference and countertransference, attunement and disinhibition are considered and how in moving to online work you lose but you also gain.
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Dr Janina Fisher

Alice Waterfall and Janina Fisher

Janina likens the virus to an invisible Godzilla roaming the streets and the resulting traumatic stress for all as we try our best to avoid it without knowing exactly where it is. However, Janina reminds us that this threat does not come with attachment in that we don’t love the virus therefore making the fear less complex than childhood abuse or domestic violence where the threat is located in the attachment figure. Janina speaks of the huge effort required to engage in online work using more energy in facial expression, the eyes, the voice to convey a sense of presence for the client. High risk acting out Janina believes will become heightened as we emerge from this trauma with the survival mode prioritising safety while the threat remains active. A current goal in therapy could be to find, repeatedly, the present moment and moments of calm in the body where possible which inadvertently will support the immune system.
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Judith Anderson

Alice Waterfall and Joy Schaverien

Judith shares with Alice her experiences of working online and the importance of centring to create a sense of presence for the client. Judith and colleagues have noticed that online work is more tiring than face to face and that movement and self care is critical to maintaining a busy practice. Judith makes links with historic experiences of viruses and social isolation and how this may impact the therapy. Finally, as an Eco-Psychotherapist Judith links the anger of youth activists at how quickly the government have mobilised resources in response to the virus but yet remain unmoved on the climate crisis.
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Professor Joy Schaverien

Judith Anderson

Joy and Alice discuss how aspects of the boarding school experience could be replayed through the experience of the social isolation and how to work with these anxieties through the online frame. Joy shares some interesting ideas about how therapists, if they have the capacity, may be able to support the more vulnerable in their communities as well as health care workers. The interview ends on Bion – an ex-boarder – who was able to resonate with his clients and hold strong defences against terror.
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Dr Elaine Aron

Elaine Aron with Alice Waterfall

Elaine begins the interview with a helpful overview of the main tenets defining a highly sensitive person and moves on to discuss how this client group may be managing in the current circumstances. Elaine illustrates how highly sensitive people have thinner boundaries connecting them to archetypal energies which can be both a challenge and a benefit when harnessed. Towards the end of the interview Elaine shares her commitment to transcendental meditation and the centrality of this practice in her daily life which she feels evolved from her long-term Jungian analysis and which enables equanimity during such turbulent times.
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Dr Stephen Seligman

Stephen talks about his psychoanalytic work with adults and children during the last five weeks of ‘sheltering in place’ in San Francisco. The disrupted frame is discussed and the impact of the ‘new’ holding environment and how this may destabilise the therapy, how the objects of the room are not available for exploration nor the therapist’s body. In addition how is it to work with a child in his bedroom, is it more possible to access parts of the child that a more formal setting does not enable, what could emerge in this new environment? And finally how are patients who have suffered early deprivation managing to hold on to a sense of vitality when echoes of an object less world surround them.
COMING SOON