The COVID-19 pandemic continues to defy people’s sense of normalcy. Students from different ages and fields across the world have been forced to transition to online modalities and/or return to educational institutions with limited capacity, following social distancing regulations. Although social distancing helps reduce the risk of infection and emphasizes the importance of staying physiologically healthy, quarantining can also lead individuals to feel disconnected from their loved ones and peers. Students, a population already vulnerable to mental health issues, may experience a sense of lack of support stemming from distancing themselves from peers, specifically those who share their same interests and who are usually around their age. Virtual psychotherapy groups can serve as support systems for students during these difficult times while also adhering to safety regulations.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual psychotherapy groups have become more popular. These groups are set up on different online platforms, such as Zoom. According to Irvin Yalom, one of the key therapeutic principles for high-functioning groups is the instillation of hope. Due to the nature of the current global crisis, there is a need to foster optimism and social support among students. Participating in virtual psychotherapy groups can help this population regain a sense of normalcy by allowing them to reconnect with peers and address issues among them. Furthermore, due to the universality of the pandemic, students can benefit from sharing similar experiences and connecting with others. Virtual psychotherapy groups can serve as a safe space for students to address uncertainties from COVID-19 and create positive connections with individuals encountering similar issues while also working at processing emotions and fostering resilience.
During these challenging times, experiencing social support can serve as a protective factor for several mental health issues, including anxiety and depressed mood. It is important for vulnerable populations such as students to feel connected and supported. Virtual psychotherapy groups can help students manage COVID-19-related stress, develop healthy coping skills, and provide a safe space for discussion. Below are some resources* that you can use to find virtual psychotherapy group for students of different ages:
- Playful Therapy Connections for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders
- Playful Therapy Connections for Children, Tweens, and Young Adults
- Online Support Groups for therapists during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Support Groups Central
- Psychology Today Support Group search
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America peer-to-peer support groups
*The author does not endorse any of the groups.