How NHS Workers Are Finding Free Therapy Through Welldoing
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, welldoing.org therapists have offered free therapy to NHS frontline workers
Now a number of weeks into the initiative, we spoke to therapists who have seen NHS clients
If you are an NHS worker, see the list of therapists and counsellors here
There are now 260 welldoing.org therapists offering free therapy to NHS workers during the Covid-19 crisis. We spoke to three of them to hear about about why they made the offer, and how the therapy was going for them and their clients.
Katie Vanstone is an integrative BACP therapist who has practices in Surbiton and East Molesey.
“As the potential extent and impact of Covid-19 emerged, my thoughts ran to how I could make a personal contribution in response to the overwhelming demands on NHS staff. By nature, frontline staff always put others first, so I wanted to be part of a scheme that was easy to access and offering free of charge, one-off, confidential sessions," she says.
“I’ve been able to offer a safe and calm environment for NHS workers to process the difficult thoughts, feelings and experiences that have come up for them during the crisis. Clients have reported that this no-fee phone or online service offers a private space for them to talk openly about whatever’s on their mind, coronavirus-related or otherwise.”
Her NHS client reported, “I wasn’t sure whether I could talk about issues other than coronavirus but Katie said the session was for me to explore whatever was troubling me. It was such a relief to talk to someone who doesn't know me but who still cares enough to listen without judging. It meant I could just offload without worrying what anyone thinks and I really needed that emotional outlet away from work.”
Valeria Fleury is a psychodynamic therapist in South-West London who has been providing video therapy for a nurse who contacted her via welldoing.org. She has already seen this client seven times (they have agreed on a total of 10 sessions) and the client has told her “Thank you, I don't know what I'd have done without these sessions”.
Finally, Dr Lisa Kouyoumjian-Stanton is an EMDR therapist and a psychiatrist specialising in trauma who joined welldoing.org specifically to sign up for this offer. “I realised that there would be many frontline workers in very difficult situations during the Covid pandemic and they might want to access confidential psychological help but not know where to go to find this. The last thing they needed with all the stress and uncertainty would be to have to spend valuable time off searching for help.
“Sometimes it can be hard as professionals to seek help ourselves; we understand that can be hard and we will be there for you. It is important to understand stress and anxiety is a normal reaction to this sort of crisis, it is OK to feel overwhelmed we will help you through.
“With clients from welldoing.org and another platform offering therapy to frontline staff, I have worked with four NHS professionals so far. They have been surprised that I am flexible about which days and times I can see them however I understand they are working exceptional hours at the moment and I think it is important to ensure I am available when they have some time to see me.
“We work together to decide how to proceed and this seems to be progressing well. I feel really privileged to be able to volunteer; it's a very small contribution compared to what frontline staff are doing every day caring for people in this crisis.”
Founder of welldoing.org Louise Chunn said, “Many of our members have been moved by the selfless and dangerous work of NHS frontline workers they have seen on TV and read about in the media. Therapists and counsellors are professionally trained in helping people deal with extremely difficult situations, including trauma. They want to be useful in this crisis, even if it means seeing these clients without taking a fee."
Therapists who join this initiative can choose how much or little time they want to offer, and can change their mind at any point. Welldoing intends to keep the offer open for at least the next three months.