Nevada Interrupted: Reno therapist shuts doors, moves to remote counseling
The Nevada Independent
"Nevada Interrupted" is an ongoing series of stories launched this week by The Nevada Independent that features interviews with businesses and workers about how they are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic’s realities.
This story first published March 31 by The Nevada Independent and is republished here with permission. Read more about impacts to Northern Nevada businesses in the Nevada Interrupted series:
RENO, Nev. — Reno-based licensed therapist Frank Lemus knows that during the COVID-19 crisis, his practice is more important than ever, and he’s focusing on providing his clients with a sense of safety and security.
Lemus has adjusted to social distancing requirements by offering counseling sessions remotely, via videoconference software Zoom, instead of inside his practice, a red-brick home off of Wells Avenue. So far, he’s had three new clients while 12 others have put their counseling sessions on hold.
“Many of my clients are uncomfortable doing remote therapy,” Lemus told The Nevada Independent. “Many of them are also worried about finances and are trying to save their money in case the crisis goes on longer than they think.”
Lemus adjusted fairly easily to the remote sessions himself, although he faced a few obstacles, such as finding a webcam after Best Buy had sold out so his clients could see him face-to-face.
With 30 years of counseling experience, Lemus feels confident that his practice will “return to normal” once the health crisis slows down and the quarantine period is over. In the meantime, he’s doing his best to provide his clients with guidance that can help them maintain their mental wellbeing.
The therapist said the fear among his clients is clear — “there’s no question about it.” He said the fear, while natural, magnifies anxiety issues his clients were struggling with prior to the virus outbreak.
“They were dealing with issues with parents, they were dealing with issues with their children, and this has just exacerbated the idea that their children are in danger and that their parents are in danger,” Lemus said.
He worries his clients aren’t relying on credible and factual information regarding the health crisis, leading to increased panic and fear from misinformation. He also worries people will neglect their needs like proper nutrition, sleep, physical activity and social connection and that could perpetuate negative thoughts and mental storylines in their isolation from others.
“It’s more of a doomsday story rather than a more realistic, more balanced story of ‘this is just a period in time,’” Lemus said. “It’s one period.”
In order to provide a sense of control and reliability amid the uncertainty, Lemus encourages his clients to lower their consumption of cable news and to instead rely on information and guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization.
Lemus emphasized that while it’s important to acknowledge and process the negative emotions brought on by the crisis, it’s just as important to maintain a well-rounded perspective.
“Feelings are feelings. They are not necessarily truth,” he said. “They are just emotions that we can change by the way we think about things and the way we present things.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.