News & Information

March 19, 2020

COVID-19: Deciding to Close the Office for Now

Dear Valued Client,

If I was fairly certain earlier this week that you’d been made aware of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, I’m quite certain that, by now, you’ve been inundated, as I have, with information (and even misinformation) about it and the current (and ever-evolving) condition of our local and global neighbors, especially in the topics of physical health, mental and emotional health, and financial health.

Closing the Physical Office and Moving to Online Sessions Only

More and more businesses are responsibly taking measures to flatten the curve. And some businesses, or portions of them, have been mandated to close. In addition, many professional health agencies are encouraging the adoption of telehealth practices, except in cases of emergency, for now and in the foreseeable future.

My practice is under the larger umbrella of those health agencies. As such, I have decided to close my physical office for now and make the temporary move to secure online sessions only, effective today, March 19, 2020.

Secure Online Video Sessions

• Let me know if you’d like a 5-minute practice session. It can help you get a feel for your sense of privacy, sound, connection, and what it’s like to meet online.

• Secure video sessions are billed at the same rates as our in-person sessions.

• Late cancel fees will be waived while we exercise these temporary measures.

• Online sessions are a great way to ensure the continuity of your continued work on your goals.

• They are also a place for you to process how you or your loved ones have been affected by COVID-19 or any other topic.

• Your consent is required for conducting online sessions. Please see your portal for the form and information on what to expect, if you haven’t already.

• You will receive an email from hello@heritagecounselingMN.com within 24 hours of our session with a link for us to use for our scheduled time.

Adjustment Periods are Challenging

Change is hard. And this was a hard decision for me to make. However, in my commitment to helping you achieve your best state of wellness, for now this includes our not sharing the same physical space.

Frankly, I’m a bit relieved in having made this decision and knowing that it may have removed a decision point from your plate as well. Having to make decisions uses mental energy. And now we’re each ‘freed up’ to make other important decisions for our best welfare, including that of our family and other loved ones.

Please Remember

→ There is no right or wrong way to feel about the novel coronavirus.

→ This situation continues to evolve and your (or my) feelings about it may change not only from day to day but even hour to hour. It is still okay to feel confused and wonder about things being ‘up in the air’ and uncertain at this time.

→ This is time-limited. We do not know the “best end date” of our new and current normal, but in our working together we will get there that much sooner.

→ Distance yourself as needed from social media and news outlets.

→ Inform yourself about ways to reduce your personal risk, such as referring to reliable sources, such as the links above and below or your primary physician.

→ Practice self-care such as getting good sleep, rest, and physical movement, eating well, and engaging in other healthy self-care practices.

→ Practice self-compassion such as being kind to and not judging yourself. Remember to spare others from judgment as this time as well.

→ Remain in touch with your loved ones via phone, text, or video and just share your feelings about where you are (do not allow judging thoughts into these conversations).

→ Remember that in your doing your part you are demonstrating respect and kindness for yourself and others.

→ Practice self-care and self-compassion (yes, still worth repeating).

Another Helpful Link

In addition to the links I referenced in my previous post below, I am also following our governor’s executive orders, found at this link.

Office of the Governor of Minnesota

In Closing

I will continue to refer to the local and global effects on our communities as I recognize that and how, unlike any other time before us, we are all in this space of uncertainty together. As we have been hearing and reading, we continue to be in a data-gathering and -review phase. As such, we can be certain that today’s information will evolve.

Even this change may feel uncomfortable to you. If you have any questions or concerns about my efforts to support you through this unusual time, please call or text me at 651-689-3359 or email me at hello@heritagecounselingMN.com or via my Contact page.

I appreciate my relationship with each of you and the hard work that you do. I look forward to our continued work together.

Wishing you peace within and between,

JoEllen

March 15, 2020

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Dear Valued Client,

I’m fairly certain you’ve been made aware of news of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, a respiratory illness ranging in mild to severe symptoms including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. You’re also likely aware that our community leaders have begun to make recommendations for helping to halt the spread of the virus and protect our communities, locally and globally.

Helpful Links

As data continues to be collected and reviewed, the information and recommendations we have today will change. In my pursuit of making my own best decisions for my own health and that of my family, I continue to review the information in the following links. I cannot make your decisions for you and encourage you to gather your information directly from the sources of the CDC, WHO, and our state department of health.

Minnesota Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

An infographic from information is beautiful

How Heritage Counseling Services is Adapting

As of today, Sunday, March 15th, 2020, Governor Tim Walz authorized the temporary closure of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students in order for school administrators and teachers to make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that schools will be closed to students by Wednesday, March 18th through Friday, March 27th to accommodate this planning.

My current interpretation of this in terms of how and where to see you, my valued clients, is to remain open at my office AND to offer the option of online sessions via a secure video medium. That is, after you have considered all factors, including, and perhaps especially, your personal comfort level, for our currently scheduled sessions or any we may schedule in the near future, you may decide to come to the office for an in-person visit OR opt for a secure online session (click to go to How to Opt).

Please include the following factors in your decision:

• There is no right or wrong way to feel about the novel coronavirus. That is, if you have a low level of concern, you are not underreacting; and if you are concerned and taking precautions and/or cancelling travel within or outside your community, you are not overreacting.

This situation is evolving and your (and my) feelings about it may change not only from day to day but even hour to hour. It is okay to feel confused and wonder about things being ‘up in the air’ at this time.

I use disinfecting wipes to wipe hard surfaces, especially my inner and outer door handles before and after each in-person session.

My outer door to my waiting area can be opened from the common hallway in front of the restrooms by leaning into the handle with your elbow and then leaning into the door to open it. Please use this extra layer of precaution to open the exterior waiting area door. From the waiting area side let the door fall closed behind you.

Please do not touch the inner door to our therapeutic space. I will open and close this for us on your arrival and departure.

I will also open the door to the common hallway from my waiting area on your departure.

Hand sanitizer continues to be available for your use in the office.

Heritage Counseling Services shares some common space, such as the restrooms, with other offices and cannot control how the code pads or door handles are sanitized.

Please inform me if you or your closest people (friends, family, co-workers, et al) are planning to travel or have traveled, either domestically or internationally; we may decide to meet online.

If you anticipate sickness or even minor symptoms, please request an online session.

I am temporarily suspending my usual cancellation policy. There will temporarily be no penalty for cancelling appointments with less than 24 hours notice.

I will do my best to stay on top of current information in order to respond swiftly, effectively, and conscientiously being of the mind of helping you decide how to protect and care for yourself and your loved one and helping me do the same.

If quarantining by location or self-quarantine becomes evident, I will notify you as soon as possible and all future sessions will be conducted online.

How to Manage the Stress of COVID-19

Distance yourself from social media and news outlets.

Inform yourself about ways to reduce your personal risk, such as referring to reliable sources, such as the links above or your primary physician.

Practice self-care and self-compassion (for example, go easy on yourself if you believe you are taking a stance of ‘overreacting’ or ‘underreacting’).

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel about the novel coronavirus and no one is in the position to judge how you feel about it at any given time.

Remain in touch with your loved ones via phone, text, or video and just share your feelings about where you are (do not allow judging thoughts into these conversations).

Remember that in your doing your part you are demonstrating respect for yourself and others.

Practice self-care and self-compassion (yes, I wrote this twice).

How to Opt for a Secure Online Video Session

Note that secure video sessions are billed at the same rates as our in-person sessions. And they are a great way to ensure the continuity of your therapeutic care and continued work on your goals.

So, let’s keep this simple. If you and I are currently scheduled to meet, which would typically be in person, and you’re opting to meet via a secure online video session, text me as soon as you’ve decided at 651-689-3359, and simply write, “Let’s meet online.”

I will send you an email with a unique link for us to use for our scheduled time.

One other note – I need your consent to conduct a session via secure online means. If I haven’t already, I will be sending you a telemental health form that you must have reviewed and signed (electronically) in order for us to meet online.

In Closing

This may not be a perfect process. If you have any questions or concerns about my efforts to support you through this unusual time, please call or text me at 651-689-3359 or email me at hello@heritagecounselingMN.com or via my Contact page.

I value you, your time and energy, and your trust in me, and look forward to our continued work toward your goals or helping you with any new concerns.

Wishing you peace with warmest regards,

JoEllen