Pandemic Life is a series looking at how individuals are living their lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Glassell Park -- Janie McGlasson is a psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. She's lived in NELA for over 9 years and recently moved to Glassell Park. Janie specializes in relationships, but also spends a lot of time helping stressed out women, millennials in quarter-life-crises, and men working on relationship issues. She is the founder of Spaces Therapy in Highland Park. She conducts trainings, leads lectures, and trains her dog Phyllis on how to be the perfect therapy dog.
In a Q&A, McGlasson describes what her life has been like during pandemic times. She also shared a few of her photos.
How has your daily life changed since the pandemic started?
My "routine" has changed SO many times since this started. But also, the world feels different now than it did in the first month of stay-at-home orders and therefore my routine is different too.
I currently start every day with a walk with my dog Phyllis while listening to a book or podcast on how to be more anti-racist (currently Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates).
I see clients.
I look in on my partner a few times a day just for fun. We make food together and eat at the table when we have energy (or at the sofa when we don't).
I send emails or make phone calls about justice for Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and others, and I make sure I create down time in every single day (more walks, baths, playing games, talking with friends).
No matter what it looks like, I try to make my routine a balance of time caring for others (through my job, personal life, activism) and caring for myself.
What has been the biggest challenge of offering therapy from a distance? What has been the biggest reward?
I see a lot of couples or individuals with kids, and with schools shut down and childcare options limited or nonexistent, it can be really hard for them to find uninterrupted time to have a therapy session.
This has honestly also been incredibly rewarding as it means that I get to see a different side of my clients as they grab a snack for their child or introduce them to me over video before they go to watch a Disney show so their parent(s) can go to therapy.
I also love getting to see a bit of my clients' homes. I love interior design so it’s fun to see all of their unique styles.
How have you adapted?
I'll tell ya- doing therapy without the cues of body language has been a real shift- but I realize that I hear more from my clients' voices or facial expressions than ever before.
I was honestly surprised by that! I thought I'd miss out on a lot when switching to telehealth but I've gained a lot of insight from facial expressions, tone of voice, and even what a client was doing only seconds before they joined the video session. For what I lost in reading body language, I gained in a lot of other areas that therapy in-office doesn't allow.
Also, therapy is usually not as close up as the angles that video sessions create. So wow am I way more attuned to the stories clients’ faces tell as they tell me about their lives!
What is a telehealth therapy session with you like?
I'm a relational therapist so a video session is usually still be pretty relational and not overly structured.
I ask how you've been feeling (emotionally), talk through symptoms, talk through conflicts or anxieties about the world, find out how your past or early relationships are impacting that conflict or anxiety. See how we can help you separate your past from your current way of being and help you feel more mindful and in control of your life.
Sometimes we will end with something for you to think about or try, sometimes we will end with being grateful that you got to show up for yourself for an hour and hope that feeling of being present stays with you through your next task.
What would you tell someone who's considering seeing a therapist, but is hesitant because it won't be in person?
I would say that is totally understandable and I think you should give it a try anyway. Meeting with a therapist once or twice, or even having consultation calls with multiple therapists, doesn’t require you to commit to them or to that type of work.
But I believe that you (as I and many of my clients would profess) may be surprised by how connected you can feel to a new therapist and how much work you can do even when it starts online.
It may take a bit longer to get comfortable, but with the uncertainty of what’s next for our city and for our country- you deserve to have space for yourself now and not have to wait until things go back to…whatever "normal" was or will be.
What would be your advice to others?
Structure your time on social media and news apps. Having bad news at your fingertips at every moment can lead to hyper vigilance and your body being in a constant state of stress. So just be mindful of when you look at your phone and try to structure it so it doesn’t impact your sleep or work or connection time as much.
How has your life changed during the pandemic? The Eastsider is accepting first-person stories (no more than 500 words) on the subject. You must live in our coverage area to participate. Please contact Melody@TheEastsiderLA.com for details.