My earlier blog dealt with the anticipated challenges for clients and coaching in the wake of the pandemic. It has now been almost a year of living through this crisis and what have we learned?
The first thing that everyone was presented with was working remotely, which meant becoming facile with using technology to communicate with clients. It is not simply figuring out how to log onto Zoom and set up a meeting or a session, however. More importantly, the challenge was to make clients feel comfortable in the remote setting. The key was to make this new venue feel natural and that there was nothing awkward about the setting. Although a personal session is in most cases the best way to connect and communicate, great strides can be made with remote sessions when everyone feels comfortable with the environment.
We also learned that there are important basic rules for conducting remote sessions and meetings.
First, it is important for me and the clients to dress appropriately, as we would if the meeting were in person, at an office, even though we were checking in from our homes.
Second, it is important for the clients to have a comfortable private space at home to conduct a remote session, where the focus is on the meeting and on each other, with no distractions from phones, television or other people in their home.
Third, it was important to determine the best part of the day to conduct a session. While early in the day works for some, later in the day works for others. It was important for me to be flexible and accommodate clients’ needs under these unprecedented circumstances.
As another adjustment to these remote conditions, we considered doing dyads, sessions with two clients at the same time.
In all these remote sessions, it was important to emphasize the themes we were looking at from the outset:
Focus on moving forward and staying positive in this environment;
Focus on developing skills to take advantage of opportunities when opportunities arise;
Use time wisely. Create as much normalcy at home as possible. Create a schedule at home.
An important development over this year was my adaptation of the “Strategies for Life Group” meeting to a Zoom group. We essentially created an online community. How did we do it?
By converting our in-person meetings to Zoom meetings, we were able to expand the number of clients participating each week. The clients enjoy this setting because they can participate from their safe space at home and don’t have to travel for an in-person meeting.
I arranged to have food and drinks delivered to the homes of the clients once a month to continue my practice at our in-person meetings when I ordered dinner to be brought in to my office.
I invited guest speakers to join us remotely and share their advice or experiences with my clients. Our Zoom Group meetings also helped clients develop listening skills as well as learn how to appropriately interact with others remotely, including demonstrating proper etiquette.
Both for the individual sessions and the Zoom Group, we were all learning together how best to adjust to these difficult circumstances. It was an important growth experience for all of us, including me!