saata VOL: 1, ISSUE: 1 - Dec 2021 facebook


Unmute Please

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the way mental health care is provided had to shift with a sense of urgency. The need to follow extensive restrictions, such as social distancing has led to further increase in stress, isolation, and fewer options to access support. We all faced an urgent albeit a complicated situation to move to online world. Sharing experiences from our SAATA trainers.

C. Suriyaprakash, TSTA-O, shared that when the lockdown started in 2020, he stayed home, work paused and hoping we could get back to 'normal'. But as days, weeks and eventually months passed, the reality sunk-in that pandemic was here to stay. Still, there was resistance to start training online and scepticism that given the people nature of the TA training, it won’t work online. Slowly when the trainees started feeling they are losing out on the sessions, he resumed his advanced training groups. Surprisingly, they went well and continue to do so till date.

Joy Roshan, PTSTA-P, shared that as a psychotherapist and TA trainer in psychotherapy, the in-person sessions provided an individual connect. The opportunity to be in presence of another helped in mutual attuning and feeling connected to each other. With the shift towards online sessions and training, many inputs such as complete body language are not available through the Zoom screen. Hence it becomes necessary to pay close attention to what is available through the screen and frequently check with client how they are experiencing the process at intervals.

Best Practices:

  • Contracting that all parties ensuring proper network bandwidth for a seamless audio/video interaction
  • Distraction free and private space.
  • Contract to have support in form of family, friends, therapist or supervisor for any residual issues that may emerge from the training
  • Use "Raise hand" and breakout rooms so that reflections on theory and group participation is ensured
  • Have breaks of 2-5 minutes to move around after every hour of class.
  • In case the call drops off, reconnect at the earliest; inform of the connectivity status immediately through WhatsApp; and contract about such situations before the session commences.
  • Feel free to voice your feelings and not participate in an activity if you feel uncomfortable at any point.
  • Utilise buddy system (in training groups) in triads, for additional contact and support between sessions.
  • Separate meeting rooms are maintained so that the same meeting link is not shared by all clients and accidentally end up in session of another.
  • While recording, explicit permission should be taken. Since zoom records both video and audio, therapist needs to ensure that the files are either deleted after the session or is stored in a secure location where nobody else has access.

While the debate about online vs offline counselling continues, it was the best way to offer counselling services during the COVID-19 outbreak. This pandemic has thrown open many possibilities and opportunities leveraging technology to connect worldwide. Let’s explore these, without losing the human touch!


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