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Post-Covid Trauma and Resetting the Boundaries

Some people will already be in the thick of re-entry, and others will be facing the imminent prospect of Community Life After Covid.  It adds a whole new flavour to the phrase ‘Living Apart Together’, bringing with it a need for new boundaries.  And all this has to be managed alongside the (often unconscious) trauma of effectively having been shut away – albeit with our consent – for almost three months.  That can feel like a lot to cope with, and it is.  Why should this fall within the remit of Rafan House as a psychotherapy clinic, you might ask.  It is because there is an unconscious ‘groupthink’ which operates within organisations which impacts on an individual’s unconscious.  This in turn affects a family’s unconscious.  The result is sometimes trauma overload.  What can we do to alleviate that load?

Because of the imposition of lock-down, unconsciously we will inevitably have stepped down our ladder of emotional maturity, from adult to teenager, or even further down in terms of our reactions.  So something as simple as getting on a bus or train, or having a coffee in the staffroom, or attending a long meeting can feel like something which is beyond our imagining now, filling us with real and sometimes unnameable fear.  And so we wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “what happens if I get sick from the coffee cups?  Have they thought of that?  How can I be sure they are clean?”  A tiny fear, perhaps, but one which is multiplied through many other tiny risks – the door handles, the filing cabinets, the transport, the telephones.  Learned fear has a hold of us, and that messes with our boundaries.  It leads to us believing that we have to hold ALL the boundaries ourselves because no-one else is doing it, or we lose all our boundaries, as in the midst of anxiety we lose our adult discernment.

One way that organisations can help to lower this kind of anxiety is to help to redraw boundaries using mapping boards.  They address gaps in the stance between staff and institutions, especially in times of trauma when boundaries have broken down.  The concept is simple:  what are the concerns and risks?  Can they be grouped?  Make one person responsible for that risk, or that small group of risks.  Each person then acts as convenor and conduit for the specific risk or concern from all other staff.  The maps can be built from scratch, or they can be built onto existing strategic maps.

So if you wake up in the night thinking, “What about the coffee cups?” you will know there is someone in charge of coffee cups, or canteen hygiene.  The organisation has put good boundaries in place so that particular worry is off your plate, and you can begin to focus on your own job.  Anxiety levels at work and at home will start to go in the right direction – down.

If your organisation needs help with planning and strategy to move forward beyond Covid, do contact us at or find us on our website,

In the meantime, stay safe.