The COVID-19 pandemic: An evolving story. Professional and personal insights using self and culture as agents of calm and healing after a year of co-habitation with imminent threat
Australian &New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy
School of Arts and Humanities
Being a cross-cultural systemic therapist, clinical supervisor, and educator means that culture and language are central to my work. They provide a scaffold to develop deeper understanding, increased trust, and connection between myself and my supervisees, students, and clients and facilitate a process for the latter to connect to their own selves and values. Given the fear and uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there exists a pervasive activation of the sympathetic nervous system in the community. In this article, I present two case studies as examples of a cross-cultural/cross-linguistic approach that facilitates two clients to find a place of comfort and calmness and consequently a balancing activation of the para-sympathetic nervous system. First is a client who, due to the overwhelming pandemic chaos, suddenly exhibited a host of signs and symptoms of a functional neurological nature, which she experienced as a lack of control and disconnection from her body, her primary language, and herself. Within a trusted therapeutic relationship that draws on the culture and primary language of the therapist, the client regains connection with language and enhances her ability to communicate and connect with her body. Second is an international student who is encouraged to use her culture of origin and primary language to induce calmness, reconnect with herself, and return to the familiar as a ‘known’ collectively inclusive, comforting, and nurturing environment.