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LESA and ASSIST
are excited to present

CAREER DEVELOPMENT WEBINAR SERIES

To register for one, two or all three seminars: 
LESA.org/careerwebinars


Friday, June 12: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Opening Your Own Shop:
What you Need to Know Before
Hanging your Shingle

Speaker: Donna Moore, Law Society of Alberta
 



Have the buttons on your pants social distanced from their buttonholes?
Do you need some motivation to turn off  the news?
Join Loraine every Thursday
Thursday,  June 11, 2020 for a
lunch time virtual dog walk/run/workout to
assist each other to fit back into our work clothes.
Fire up your Zoom phone app and your favourite fitness tracker
(or ask for an Assist pedometer).
Let’s all get moving together
so the Quarantine +15 can be a -10.
E-mail program-manager@lawyersassist.ca to join.
Disclaimer: any and all reasonable dares, competitions or charitable
wagers will be taken seriously and acted upon.

 



JOIN YOUR COLLEAGUES FROM 
ACROSS THE PROVINCE 
FOR VIRTUAL NOON YOGA
 

EVERY WEDNESDAY
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM

RSVP: program-manager@lawyersassist.ca
Once we get your e-mail, we will send you a Zoom invitation to join the class


RED MUG COFFEE CIRCLES
 
Assist’s Red Mug Coffee Circles are a place where young lawyers and articling students can chat with senior lawyer peer support volunteers about career issues. In normal times, our volunteers can be identified by their red mugs, but in the online world, just RSVP to join. While Red Mug Coffee Circles were designed as an initiative to support articling students and young lawyers, everyone is welcome for fellowship and mentoring—law students, internationally trained lawyers, articling students, lawyers and judges.
 
12:00-1:00 pm on Monday, June 8
 
Please email program-manager@lawyersassist.ca for the Zoom invitation.

 

As the number of new COVID-19 cases in Alberta dwindles in the low double-digits, it is time to think about what is arising in its wake—the potential tsunami to COVID-19’s earthquake — the mental health crisis triggered by the economic and social consequences of the virus. While it is difficult to quantify what the mental health carnage will be, one study estimates that American adults will be eight times more likely to develop a serious mental health challenge as a result of the pandemic than they were in 2018. “Flattening the mental health curve is the next big coronavirus challenge,” The Conversation, May 29, 2020.

COVID-19 has isolated people from their extended families and social networks. People grieving deaths of loved ones have been without the comfort of funerals and memorial services. And people are facing challenges due to job loss, pay cuts, juggling small children with work and home-schooling older children. We have a lot on our plates, but we are largely cut off from our support systems.

At Assist, we know that there are many lawyers, articling students, law students and family members who are sucking up their feelings of distress because there simply isn’t time for them to acknowledge and deal with them. This may work in the short-term, but as we have all heard dozens of times so far this year, this is a marathon and not a sprint.

We also know that there are lawyers, students and family members who recognize that their stress and distress are increasing but may not feel uncomfortable communicating with a counsellor—or even their family doctor—through an online platform or by telephone. We get it it—it is hard to bear your soul to someone you cannot see or who appears on your computer screen.
However, we can all only postpone or deny our feelings for a limited time, and the new reality is that telehealth, a term encompassing the delivery of mental and physical health services online or by telephone, is here to stay, perhaps until a vaccine can be discovered, manufactured and administered to all Canadians.

Last weekend, the Globe published an op-ed piece by a psychiatry resident in Toronto about telehealth in psychiatry (“Psychotherapy is in now in the digital era. Should it ever go back?” by Saadia Sediqzadah for The Globe and Mail). She concludes that the most important component in psychotherapy is the therapeutic alliance between the therapist and patient. While traditionally that has meant people being in close physical proximity, the same relationship can develop and thrive using online tools. With new patients, she prefers videoconferencing so that she can “see” visual cues, but with patients with whom she has a longer history, she finds that telephone sessions can work well.

In Alberta, registered psychologists can meet with clients in person provided that they wear personal protective equipment and sanitize after each session. For many counsellors, the first hurdle will be sourcing and maintaining a supply of PPE. Thankfully, medical masks other than N95s are becoming more readily available.

But how will the therapeutic alliance between counsellor and client be impacted by the wearing of face masks? Counsellors interpret body language and nuanced facial expressions, but they will not be able to see the lower half of the client’s face. And will clients feel comfortable bearing their souls to a counsellor wearing a mask?

Will face to face sessions involving the mutual wearing of face masks be more desirable than online sessions where, in spite of little time lags and technology hiccups? Time will tell.

If you are feeling your stress build up, please don’t wait for unmasked in-person sessions to resume. There is no guarantee that face-to-face sessions without masks will be back any time soon, and waiting can cause stress to become distress and for distress to become crisis. Let us help you as early as possible. Assist has counsellors who are seeing clients in their offices and we have counsellors providing online and telephone therapy. We are here for you.

Resilience is an important skill for all of us as right now. Resilience is not a character trait; it is a skill and it can be learned and developed. There are many ways of building resilience but one of my favourites is expressing gratitude, even when it feels like everything is going downhill.

We cannot change the fact that COVID-19 and its accompanying economic and social devastation have hit our society but I, for one, am grateful that it hit now, in 2020. I remember what I think were the early years of videoconferencing when you had to meet in your office’s only video conference room where you could communicate with one group of people in their office’s only videoconference room. Sound was intermittent and of poor quality.

Connecting from your home through a portable device with groups of people each in their homes around the world is truly a blessing. And being able to access mental health support from the safety of your own home through encrypted channels is a downright miracle.
 
 
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Assist: Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society · c/o JSS Barristers · 800, 304 8 Avenue SW · Calgary, Alberta T2P1C2 · Canada

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