Why Psychotherapy For Health Workers Is Key During The Pandemic

These are the 5 reasons why psychology services for health are essential.

Why psychotherapy for health workers is key during the pandemic

One of the most important aspects to understand the crisis of the global pandemic produced by the coronavirus is the fact that, although the people most affected by the health consequences (not economic) of this global pandemic are relatively few, they are not distributed in equitably across the population.

In fact, we know that COVID-19 is much more prevalent in those with chronic health problems, and in the very old. But beyond this first group of people vulnerable to the virus there is another who, although not normally harmed to the extreme of fearing for their life, is also suffering a lot during these months: health professionals, mainly doctors and nurses.

In this article we will see to what extent, during the coronavirus crisis, psychology services for health workers are fundamental both for themselves at the individual level and for the whole of society, taking into account the precarious conditions in which they often have to work (for more political reasons than pertaining to their profession).

Psychological therapy for health workers is essential in the face of the pandemic

If something is clear in the world of psychology, it is that, contrary to what thinkers such as René Descartes argued, there is no radical separation between the mind and the body, for good and for bad.

One of the implications of this is that the physical wear and tear produced by day-to-day tasks, if they are hard, are also capable of wearing us out mentally. If to this we add the fact that the work itself includes tasks in which there is often a great emotional load, the resulting combination can be very difficult to manage in the medium and long term.

Unfortunately, these days both conditions are fulfilled in the case of health workers: there is a lot of work, many complicated decisions in which there is an obligation to adopt ethical positions, and in addition to being in contact with people who suffer and some of which even die.

Of course, professionals in this sector are able to deal with these complicated situations better than the population average, due to a mixture of training over many years of learning, on the one hand, and a filtering process that is very difficult to pass. if you deal very badly with anguish and the need to exert yourself. However, everything has a limit, and as much as these days there is a tendency to praise the essential work of doctors and nurses, that cannot serve as a moral alibi to assume that they should be able to solve everything by themselves. This is where psychotherapy comes into play.

The 5 main benefits that psychotherapy brings to doctors and nurses

These are the main reasons why psychology services applied to health workers are essential during the COVID-19 crisis. In most cases, it is possible to benefit from them through face-to-face therapy and also through online psychological assistance by video call.

1. It allows to treat anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are among the most frequent psychological disorders in the general population, and their incidence is higher in healthcare professionals. Psychological therapy allows to overcome them effectively, whether they are phobias, generalized anxiety, panic disorder, or others.

2. Helps manage guilt and low mood

Having gone through a situation of sanitary collapse, it has become necessary to apply triage methodologies to establish which patients have priority to be cared for, many times assuming a high risk of death for those who have to wait.

Going through these experiences on a regular basis can lead to guilt situations, which sometimes include anxious memories produced by frustration or anger from patients or their families.

Psychotherapy allows us to work on these memories that are linked to problematic beliefs about oneself; processes such as cognitive restructuring applied in psychotherapy are effective to stop feeling bad. In the same way, it also allows to prevent and treat the symptoms linked to clinical depression and disorders related to it.

3. Allows addressing cases of post-traumatic stress

Exposure to unexpected deaths can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress, especially if these losses occur under very harsh circumstances. Therapy helps to prevent the appearance of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from consolidating, and those who already present all the symptoms of this alteration associated with flashbacks and sleep problems are also treated .

4. Helps prevent and treat OCD

The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is based on the thoughts or mental images that appear in the consciousness over and over again, in an intrusive way, triggering an intense anxiety response that the person feels the need to immediately alleviate through the realization of certain ” rituals “: compulsions.

One of its most frequent variants is OCD based on the ritual of hand washing. Faced with the distressing idea that their hands are contaminated, those who develop OCD experience serious difficulties when trying not to wash them immediately, something that can even damage their skin over the days.

Of course, one of the characteristics of OCD is that, as a disorder that it is, it is made up of irrational and harmful behavior patterns for the person and / or their environment; In the coronavirus crisis, it is normal to wash your hands a lot, but this habit can create the breeding ground for some people to begin to develop an excessive tendency to constantly put their hands under the tap.

Psychological intervention helps prevent the first symptoms of OCD from leading to the consolidation of the disorder, and allows to overcome the problem in cases in which OCD has already developed; For this, desensitization techniques are often used, widely used to treat anxiety problems.

5. Allows you to solve family or relationship problems

Problems at work can translate into problems at home, either from the tendency to irritability and bad mood caused by fatigue, or from a lack of dedication to anything other than thinking about work. In this sense, it should not be forgotten that psychological intervention takes many forms, two of which are couples therapy and family therapy.

Are you a health professional looking for psychological therapy?

At Psicólogos Majadahonda we offer comprehensive psychological assistance both in person at our center located in Majadahonda and through online therapy, the latter, at a lower cost. In addition, the first session is free, and we offer special advantages (to consult) for health professionals. To see more information about our center or access our contact information, go to this page.

Bibliographic references:

  • Miller, L. (2009). Doctors, their mental health and capacity for work. Occupational Medicine, 59 (1): pp. 53 – 55.
  • Kim, MS, et. to the. (2018). Mental disorders among workers in the healthcare industry: 2014 national health insurance data. Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 30: 31.
  • Ruitenburg, MM; Frings-Dresen, MHW & Sluiter, JK (2012). The prevalence of common mental disorders among hospital physicians and their association with self-reported work ability: a cross-sectional study. BMC Health Services Research, 12, Art. 292.
  • Wicks, RJ (2005). Overcoming Secondary Stress in Medical and Nursing Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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