Emotion-focused and video-technology considerations in the COVID-19 crisis

Received 20 Apr 2020, Accepted 15 Jun 2020, Published online: 24 Jun 2020

The coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis has forced counsellors and therapists around the globe to use online videoconference programs to provide psychotherapy treatment, teaching, and supervision. Some varieties of psychotherapy have historically used video technology for these purposes. Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP), one such method, is built on activating intrapsychic crises that lead to emotional experiencing and change. In the current context, external or extrapsychic crises can also be a launchpad for personal growth. The treatment method relies on detailed examination of verbal and nonverbal cues as markers of unconscious avoidance processes and unconscious emotional experiences. Adopting video technology and online treatment presents some unique challenges and benefits. At the same time, the current COVID-19 crisis results in common treatment themes that therapists will encounter. In this review, we will examine common crisis response patterns, some client characteristics based on attachment trauma, and common themes emerging due to this crisis and the related social changes it brings. We will also review some technical issues and tips for those now pressed into using video technology, often for the first time.