Distance Counseling in the Age of Pandemics: Just how effective is it?


*   March 2020  An Open Letter to All   *

No matter what happens in life,
how it passes is largely determined by the mindset you keep.



Distance Counseling in the Age of Pandemics:  Just how effective is it?

Tips for Weathering Times of Great Turbulence

While Keeping Itmore or lessTogether

by Michael Ra Bouchard, M.A., Ph.D.


March 20, 2020
945 words; 2-3 minute reading time


Dear friends and fellow world citizens,

At this difficult time of enormous change and sudden danger in the midst of the ongoing worldwide coronavirus panic, it's perfectly natural to feel occasional waves of emotional trauma wash over you. Have courage.

Now is the time to ramp up your practice of self-care and taking care of others. Be especially gentle with yourself throughout this ordealand while you're at itwith everybody else. Same thing goes for cutting yourself and others extra slack in the coming days seeing as how everyone is on edge. Easy does it—we’re all in the same boat.

During this period of rapid globe rocking upheaval—knocking everyone way out of our comfort zones and leaving us in free fall—we must be willing to change and adapt to “a new normal,” even though people in general are terrified of change and grudgingly resist it.

All the same—even as we remind ourselves that life won't always be as terrifying and erratic as it is presently—the intelligent approach is to settle in for the long haul, “roll with the punches” as best we can, and adjust our minds as necessary while establishing new habits and routines for the duration.

In times rife with uncertainty it helps to look for the silver lining in circumstances, and to readily partake of enjoyment wherever you can find it. It also helps to look for the “upside” of all the recent changes and find ways to make the most of them.

Especially during times of crisis such as now—when we can’t change circumstances far beyond our control—it is vital to remember that we still can change the way we react to them by exercising the freedom inside our head to decide for ourselves what they mean to us.

And so, in the coming weeks as the world of people goes up and down and people reactively go up and down with it, refuse to go up and down with them but rather stay steady and in your center. Your nervous system and everyone around you will thank you for it.

Throughout this unprecedented period of planet-wide quarantine, the emotional importance of staying socially connected with friends and family—safely and conveniently by telephone and internet—cannot be overemphasized. Or go old school and reach out by sending a letter or postcard. Let the people you care about know you’re thinking of them.

Exercising humorespecially finding ways to laugh at yourself and your situationis one of the best coping mechanisms we have for lightening things up when things aren't going as expected. While doing so won't eliminate the negative it will help to balance it.

For anyone with faith in a higher power, turn to it regularly for strength and succor to help sustain you during this unpredictable time of tribulation.

And above all remember, “This, too, shall pass.”

In the meanwhile, don’t underestimate the power of “accepting what is for what is” in furthering calmness and overall peace of mind. And no matter what happens, keep in mind that how it passes will be largely determined by the mindset you keep, for when you control your mind you control everything—change your thinking, change your world! 

Along this same line, American radio and television personality Art Linkletter perceptively advised, "Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out." To that end, when life suddenly sweeps you up in a huge wave and you’ve got no other choice, the best thing to do is ride it out with everything you’ve got while taking as much pleasure as possible along the way.

Consequently, strive to stubbornly hold positive expectations and keep as many pleasant thoughts as possible in the upcoming days and weeks, even as you make every effort to stay centered and adjust and adapt accordingly in these unsteadying times.

Also allow yourself to grieve whenever needed, as freely and fully grieving our losses—including our recent collective loss of the world as we knew it—helps us to adjust and better move on from them. Likewise, don’t hesitate to seek out counseling locally or online if you're feeling anxious or depressed and can't seem to shake it.

In this present “time-out interval” of people sheltering at home to stay well—and for the foreseeable future—distance counseling might be the only way we can take measures to protect our emotional health while also protecting our physical health.

The good news in this scary brave new world of practicing social distancing to keep everyone healthy is that numerous research studies have long confirmed telephone distance therapy can be every bit as effective as face-to-face therapy.

And while it is certainly different working with a therapist by telephone, it's neither better nor worse than doing in-person therapy, especially when the clinician is well-trained and specializes in the art of distance counseling.

It takes strength and courage to ask for help. And yet as many who once despaired can now bear witness today—with help comes hope.

For the time being and until this worldwide pandemic runs its course, have trust in yourself and your fellow human beings around the planet to rise in global solidarity to meet the challenges as circumstances require. And if you’re so inclined, pray for us all.

Most importantly, keep the faith while continuing to squeeze hope tightly in a big bear-hug for better days soon to come—no matter how dire or dark things may at times seem in the interim—for without hope for a better future we won’t make it very far.

Keep well,
Dr. Michael


~ Call Dr. Michael Today for a Free Telephone Consultation ~


Dr. Michael is a long-time pioneer of distance counseling.
He is a professionally trained telephone counselor with over 35 years of telephone counseling experience.

Dr. Michael is a well-seasoned distance counselor. He was an early adaptor of telehealth distance consulting via telephone counseling beginning in 1981, and online guidance beginning in 1995. Most important of allunlike the vast majority of utterly untrained and woefully unprepared self-described "distance counselors" sprouting-up overnight like mushrooms recently, with overconfident proposals of providing "Telephone Counseling" or other virtual services

In reality, Dr. Michael is a highly trained, talented, and eminently qualified distance counseling specialist.

Beginning his counseling career in 1981 as a young newly-minted clinician, the future Dr. Michael—over the course of the next five years—chose to specialize in the delivery of high quality telephone counseling by training as a 24-Hour crisis intervention and suicide prevention telephone helpline counselor with the New Orleans Crisis Line.

In 1986, Dr. Michael concluded his five year "baptism by fire" crisis hotline counselor apprenticeship to pursue full-time academic study within two specialized graduate school programs in preparation of becoming the highly-trained and credentialed marriage counselor and sex therapist; subsequently earning his master of arts degree in clinical counseling psychology in 1989 and doctorate degree in clinical sexology in 1994.

Over three decades of telephone and office sessions with many thousands of clients worldwide since have deftly seasoned and helped Dr. Michael evolve into an exceptionally proficient clinician who continues today to excel in rendering aid, comfort and precious hope, whether face-to-face in his Hawaii office or worldwide telephonically.