We have been sharing thoughts and concerns . . .


Authored on :
14/03/2020by :
Jenny Sprince

Groups of APPCIOS members have been meeting via Zoom, and discussing the impact of coronavirus. 

Because we are so used to communicating through the internet, and have members throughout the UK and beyond, we are aware of a variety of reactions.  We've been thinking together about how hard it is to strike a balance between denying the extent of the danger and getting into a panic - and that's particularly the case in England, where we're being encouraged to carry on more or less as usual.    

This is particularly difficult for members who are coping with the demands for close contact in their work who may also have a responsibility towards friends and relatives who fall into vulnerable categories, and who may need greater protection.  

Do please tell us of your experiences, and let's try to support one another with our thinking.  


Susan Maciver


I live in a beautiful semi- rural town in Scotland and until Friday I was fairly blase about the risks of CV19. So what made the difference: the input of  a close relative who has a senior role in a hospital and a series of very heart felt Guardian articles and my adult children. As a healthy 69 year old it was quite a shock to reasses myself and acknowledge my previous lung problems and slight heart condition together with my age made me a vulneravle adult. I am a helper professionally and personally, how could I be considered to be in an at risk group?

I am slowly getting my head round this. I have arranged to see all my clients by zoom, skpye or facetime. I have to give up the delight of picking up my grandchildren from school 3 times a week: I expect in a week their school will be closed. We have a plan to have regular zoom times with them. But I'll miss them terribly and know I'm a significant attachment figure for them.

But what disturbs me most is that the world will not be the same again. As well as suffering and loss through physical illness the economic repercussions will be dramatic. I am a babyboomer of the 50's that never knew the privations and anxiety of a world at war and the misery it brings in its wake. I'm only now realising what an unusual and priviledged position that was.

Meanwhile in my garden the minature daffodills and crocuses are a riot of yellow and purple. The sun is shining and the birds are busy building nests and singing while they work.

I live in London, and we have also made the decision to lockdown our household,  to keep ourselves and others safe.  I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about the invisible transmission of something dangerous and infectious, and how hard it is to cope with the anxiety it creates.   In some ways it's very much like the thinking we do professionally, all the time, in relation to unconscious feelings and phantasies.  It's taken us years of training and experience to learn how to understand and process unconscious projections, and not be too endangered by them.   So. Susan, I think we'll just have to forgive ourselves for not having the same expertise in relation to viral infections!

But I do know that the physical presence of people I care about boosts my immunity to toxic projections.  It's a deprivation to have to rely increasingly on long-distance contact - and I'm sure many APPCIOS members and other users of this Site will be feeling that way too.    I'm so grateful that we now have this Community Site on a live public platform:  maybe we can all use it to stay in closer contact with one another and keep each other from despondency.

Fiona Henderson


I am a psychoanalytic psychotherapist working in a rural setting. My room is in a community centre used mainly by elderly people and their carers. I took the decision last week to move to online sessions with all my patients. At the time this felt premature and reckless and I worried that it would be the downfall of my practice. What I can say is that my patients seemed very relieved that a decision had been made and there was a tone of generosity and broad-mindedness to the discussions we had. Some of them needed encouragement to face the prospect of meeting over the screen - it's not the same obviously but it can be adjusted to quickly and can come to feel second nature and certainly a place where intimate, confidential and thoughtful work continues - such a resource in the current situation. 

I think we need to present quite robust and confident messages to our patients and clients at this time about what is now going to happen to meetings with them and how the work is going to be protected. We may need to take them by the hand with the technology and settle them into their new seats, in front of the screen. It feels like a huge step for some of us, and for them, but it needn't be. I have informed my patients of the change rather as I would do with holiday dates. Their responses will be varied and important and can all be explored within the work. I don't think choice and hesitation about moving to online are helpful at this time rather than biting the bullet and making the decision for your own practice. Platforms like the Community Site are invaluable right now in supporting us in new ways of working and in staying in touch.

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Jenny Sprince


Paul Terry, a member of our Forward Strategy Committee, is self-isolating and is keen to support others who are in this situation.  He has offered to co-host with me a series of live discussion groups about this experience.  Here's a link to a notice on the home page.  

I think as time goes by that supportive groups like this will become more and more important to our Community.

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Mark Waddington


loo rolls


(Photo by Claire Mueller on Unsplash)

Psychotherapists help make sense of things that you can’t see, and you can’t quite put your finger on but get inside you and do your head in. The sense-making work is done in the social space between client and therapist through a process of talking, listening, and attunement.

At this moment we are frightened of a virus we can’t see and worry that if we accidentally put our finger on it, it might get inside and kill us. This frightenedness can get inside our heads and make it difficult to think straight. It is unlikely that the purchase of large quantities of toilet paper will do anything more than intensify these fears.

So, in my view, at this time, psychotherapy has a particular capacity and responsibility to help look after thinking so we can look after each other. Furthermore, this capacity is increasingly available on-line in a way that can safely reach into the lives of individuals and families in isolation and attend to this frightenedness.

Mark Waddington is Director of Placement Support. Our therapists been supporting children and families for more than a decade, are highly rated, and available on-line. Ofsted reports our service to be "amazing" and "transformational".


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Bethan Manford


I really appreciate this space to think.and share our experiences about what's happening currently

I work on a neonatal intensive care unit where babies are ex prem or term babies but unwell. 

I love this job though its emotionally demanding. Its been hard travelling on public transport in London where the sense of threat is high. I have felt my emotions surge and noted that in a position of being a container for babies, families and staff alongside managing my own emotions, I have felt full up. 

The unknown is.being played out day by day. My phone is constantly receiving news of things i need to attend to which means its non stop. 

I am an avid yoga practitioner and need to make ans protect space for this now, more than ever. It's funny how its fallen away but the chaos takes over the mind. The mind gets all of the attention and the body is following behind like a dog. The body needs space to move, breathe fully and mindfully, the heart needs to.lift, the chest to open  .....

overtired I am retreating to bed. 

Susan Maciver


These thoughts are so helpful.

Joana Simoes


I am a young ish therapist with two small children. We live in the most polluted borough in London, by the city airport. Not so polluted for the past week. I am not self isolating. I don’t see how I can, and work out when I should. Forgive me, but I will delay it as much as possible.  I work with the young:  children on child protection plans or adopted, the ones that suffered harm since before they were born. They often don’t have words: we work with clay and paint and a vast amount of glue to repair their shattered self.  I am an art therapist.  The impact of this virus is unimaginable: last week most kids were excited with the prospect of schools closing, and feeling guilty about the deaths, which, in a way they feel responsible for, by wanting schools to close.. The playground gossip is phenomenal. Adults are short in explaining what we all don’t quite understand, and kids fill the gaps with remarkable phantasy. I was faced with having to explain that the safe space that I have worked so hard to create and maintain was not safe anymore and we must have a break. I too, have abandoned them. The impact of Coronavirus on the young is unquantifiable. And nobody seems that bothered. Parental anxiety for a start. Stay at home all summer. Do not touch anything. Don't touch playground equipment. No school. Police is being called, more than usual, to the homes of the families I work with: absconding, violence.  Most countries allow dogs to be walked out, but not children. They are the carriers of this infectious disease, dirty killers. As children always have been demonised throughout the history, if not forgotten. Yet who dies of this virus are the people in theirs 80’s, 90’s and perhaps a bit younger with some illness already. No one has died under the age of 20 in this country, and perhaps a handful Worldwide. This virus absolutely does not like the young, which is a blessing for a mother like me, and a worry for a daughter and granddaughter like me. This divide is hard to process. May I point out that the old would die anyway. Perhaps not this year but the next. Perhaps flu. The children will however survive the virus but may not survive the legacy of this virus and thousands will be damaged, traumatised or may die as a result of harm or neglect. How many will develop OCD and anxiety as a result of this distopia? how many will be irreparably damaged by the impact of the draconian measures on theirs parents, jobs losses, poverty, domestic abuse, neglect. Half of the Children and Families Social  Work force self isolating, crippled to help and do and do a job that was already so demanding. The harm will be huge. Those numbers are yet to be considered- the body count.  I am not self isolating, I don’t see how I can. Sadly, I have work as a therapist for the next 40 years as a legacy of this tiny yet colossal bug. 

Thank you for such a very important and helpful contribution.  

Susan Maciver


The fear reaches me second hand through Bethan having to travel on buses which are now perilous places and Joana witnessing the anguish of the poor, the disenfranchised, the most vulnerable. I feel helpless, lost as to how to help. All I can say is that I think about your words and send you love .....

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Jenny Sprince


Paul Terry and I convened a Zoom discussion group on Monday evening to think about the impact of self-isolating.  I found it moving and helpful to think together with other clinicians about how this societal trauma is affecting us all.  

Georgina Hardie is convening a second group.  This group will be meeting at 6.00pm on Wednesdays.  Contact Georgina here if you'd like to join.  

Hi just trying to join the self isolating group but it is denying me access to join. Not sure how to resolve? It look super interesting and lots of people are asking me about it.

Group pages are kept private to members In order to safeguard confidentiality.  In order to join a group you have to send an email to the group's convenor, so that s/he can make you a member.  Once you've become a member you'll find that you can access the group!

So to join the Self-Isolating Discussion group you need to send an email to Georgina Hardie.  Just go to this link and send her a message.  Don't forget to write the name of the group you'e asking to join.  

I'm sorry that it's a bit complicated, but we want to ensure everyone's privacy.