Bring Back 3-D Clients

Claire Entwistle

July 2020

“I am another human being, and therefore dangerous,” says Claire Entwistle as she discusses whether remote working in the lockdown era of Zoom is a sensible precaution or a dystopian nightmare for body psychotherapists. What will the New Normal mean for body psychotherapy, she asks, and provides her own vision of working with returning “3-D clients.”

COVID-19 arrived, and perhaps nothing will ever be the same again. ‘And so it shouldn’t’, people say. ‘We need a new normal’. In some ways, no doubt. But at least in the old normal I could hold therapy sessions without me or my client vanishing into thin air mid-sentence, or apparently speaking through a mouthful of water, or intermittently having to rely on lip-reading rather than vocals. At least all the communication problems were in the room, created by us and in theory at least, fixable by us.

That COVID had its eye on my work came as a shock. It seemed that no sooner were politicians declaring a crisis of unknown proportions, than lockdown was announced. Don’t go out. Don’t go to work. Don’t meet with your clients, in effect. Don’t see them for three weeks, I think it was initially. But we all knew what it really meant: Don’t see your clients indefinitely.

Don’t see your clients! But this is body psychotherapy. Some therapists work remotely all the time, including some who have done a body psychotherapy training. I respect their decision, I don’t question the quality of their work, I understand the many rationales for working remotely. But.

But it isn’t the way I have ever chosen to go, in my twenty-plus years of practice, except where working face to face is impossible for some reason, and a phone call or Zoom session seems better than nothing. I use touch in my work quite a lot, and my sense of how we are sitting or standing and what that means, and subtle changes in posture – a shrug or a shrinking, a tapping of the foot, a leaning forward or away. The possibility of a hug or a handshake at the end of the session. The – oh, everything.

Still, it was a choice between working remotely or stopping work without notice, and the first seemed the better option. In some ways, it was fine. We talked, feelings were understood and accepted, blocks were cleared. To a surprising extent, I continued to get that visceral sense of what was going on for my client down the phone line or over the internet. Some good work was done.