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A Psychologist Addresses Connectedness During A Pandemic

ABOVE: Fast with Jean...always connecting.

Making wise choices doesn’t stop for the mature person and nowhere has this been more accentuated than in 2020.

Sixty-six year old psychologist Brian Fast of Delmar’s CCAHope faced these challenges head-on and borrowed from his experiences to promote growth in his patients.

For example, he was skeptical about telehealth until he realized that emotions and tears and growth flow because of his relationships with his clients - not simply because he was physically in the same room. Admittedly, Fast went through a learning curve. But techniques such as configuring the size of his head on the screen so that it’s similar to real life and peering into the camera’s eye instead of looking down at the computer screen helped bring it “home.”

One of the great senior citizen pandemic fronts was technology. Many elders had rarely used Zoom and social media platforms.

“If you opt out of technology,” Fast said, “you could be accepting isolation. And what is a worse punishment than solitary confinement? You can make a good choice many times a week to go to a dinner at a family member’s house or to emotionally risk inviting someone to share mealtime together through Zoom.”

Fast points to a classic contrast that people in New York City can be isolated while folks in the country can be more connected than ever before. It’s all about daily decisions.

“Intimacy is emotional or spiritual or physical closeness with another person,” said Fast. “And it occurs as much - or as little - in virtual settings as it does in ordinary in-person life. There is always risk in drawing close or allowing someone close to us. So we typically avoid it and opt for pseudo-intimate interaction that feel less risky but are also less satisfying. We can go there if we want to, on-line or in the same room. And we feel more connected when we do.”

He and his wife, Jean, have been practicing what they preach. They’ve grown closer to their grandchildren virtually leading them through Sunday School lessons and zooming through books.

Ironically, Fast has found he can take his own advice from the comfort of his own counselor’s couch… at home, of course.


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