Psychosocial Counseling for COVID-19 Positive Patients and Family Members
Emotional and Mental Health Data Verified

Psychosocial Counseling for COVID-19 Positive Patients and Family Members

Published on Feb 21, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 16, 2022   -  8 min read


COVID-19 has resulted in severe anxiety, due to the associated morbidity and mortality. Please read the article to know how constant fear of the pandemic has affected your mental health.

Psychosocial Counseling for COVID-19 Positive Patients and Family Members


COVID-19 has affected different groups of people within the community. This infectious disease has made individuals feel stressed and worried, and sometimes this stress could be due to fears of realism, while many are just due to lack of knowledge, rumors, and misinformation. So, it is essential to make the family members or primary contact of COVID-19 positive patients aware and provide them with correct scientific knowledge and information. Also, it is essential to provide psychosocial first aid to large-scale individuals in the form of emotional and mental support because the goal is not just to enhance clinical care but also to improve psychosocial care for all individuals.

What Are the Principles of Psychosocial Support?

Professional counseling services deliver the basic principles of psychosocial care. The five essential principles of psychosocial care are,

  • Sense of safety.

  • Sense of calmness.

  • Building hope.

  • Self and collective efficacy.

  • Connectedness.

Who Can Provide Psychosocial Support?

The psychosocial support can be provided by-

  • Professional Counseling team.

  • Masters in Psychology.

  • Social Workers trained in counseling.

  • Health care workers trained in counseling.

  • Trained individuals who are volunteering to help the COVID-19 patients.

What Are the Principles or Goals of Psychosocial Counseling?

The counselor establishes a good rapport with the patient and increases their motivation to change protective behaviors and provide home-based care. Counseling should not be conducted in a group and should address each person's needs individually. Counseling is considered successful when it provides a change in the patient’s behavior and decision-making, specific to a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, by enhancing their coping skills.

A) Instructing Safety Measures:

The public is unaware of the misinformation, and a lot of confusing information is available right now. Therefore, the counselor should also check on what safety measures the patient is taking to help them with correct and reliable information. Also, the counselor should ask the patient to focus on the health of his or her family members and help them out if they are adopting the wrong measures.

B) Reducing the High Distress Level:

If the counselor is maintaining patience and calm, it will be helpful for the patient to summarize the concerns as the patient might be at a high distress level when he reaches the counselor. To know more about the patient's concerns, the counselor can ask more open-ended questions and actively listen to the topic. As the patient is in a high distress situation, do not jump to other topics and hold back from quickly providing a solution.

C) Addressing Their Worries:

The counselor should help patients to understand that feeling negative alone will not help normalize their worries, and it is natural. Also, help them address their worries by identifying healthy ways-

1) When they worry, identify what their specific worries are and also know what makes other aspects less worrying.

2) Identify when the worry is more than other times and also know what brings this difference.

3) Identify the steps they would have taken to deal with their worries and which ones have worked more than others.

4) Make them understand that all emotions are not long-lasting and that they shall pass.

5) Ask them to practice methods that have worked for them to relieve their worries.

6) Follow research evidence-based methods to get relief from their worries. They are-

  • Deep breathing.

  • Yoga.

  • Relaxation.

  • Mindfulness.

  • Regular exercise.

D) Taking Steps to Solve Life Problems:

First, identify the problem, and find possible solutions. Start testing with the possible solutions, and identify the best suitable option which can be effective.

E) Having Open Communication:

Make patients understand the importance of supportive communication within the families. Also, please encourage them to acknowledge when in more uncertain situations and help them use more supportive words.

What Are the Skills Needed for Effective Counseling?

The skills needed for effective counseling are:

1) Saying to the patient that "I am here to listen to you and help you with your concerns."

2) Carefully listen to what their concerns are.

3) Asking more open-ended questions like "What's going on in your mind," etc., will help to deal with the situation.

4) Providing emotional support will make the patient feel more supported in this difficult and isolated time.

5) Telling the patient about the assured confidentiality and giving them a clear idea that the conversations will not be shared with anyone in any situation, so the patient starts to open up about their worries.

6) Preferably, the counselor should talk in the language which is more convenient for the patient.

7) Provide psycho-education to the patients regarding their concerns and talk to them politely. For COVID-related information, ask them to direct to the resources like WHO, CDC, United Nations, and Government sites.

What Counseling Will Provide Us?

  • Counseling Is the Safe Space: Counseling is considered a safe place to share client's stories. Safety is provided by being calm, not being judgemental, having patience, and being supportive.

  • Help With Emotions: Counseling will provide us with emotional support over our distress and help us focus on important aspects of life.

  • Referring to Health Services: The counselor can perform a medical and mental health screening and can refer to adequate services if more intensive support is needed.

  • Referring to Other Supportive Services: A counselor must also know what additional support a client needs and provide adequate referrals.

What Are the Steps of Counseling?

There are three phases of counseling they are,

  1. Phase I Intervention - Achieving Stabilization: The patient has just been confirmed of COVID-19, and the patient is still dealing with the diagnosis and may or may not have emotional confusion.

  2. Phase II Intervention - Coping with Specific Adjustment Issues: The patient is in the initial process of adjustments with changes brought by the condition.

  3. Phase III Intervention - Towards Recovery: The patient is in the later stage of the adjustment process and is awaiting recovery followed by discharge.

1) Phase I Intervention - Achieving Stabilization

The goal is to deal with the emotional and distressful thoughts experienced due to the diagnosis of COVID-19. Also, the counselor helps with health education to deal with the unpredicted illness, its management, and being quarantined. The techniques followed by the counselor are,

a. Accepting Feelings: Efforts are made by letting the patient self-evaluate their thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behavior by adapting to the normal process and changes in life as humans.

b. Acceptance of Feelings: The counselor listens and validates the distress of the patient and reduces the self-blame by explaining that so many people deal with the same crisis and starts to show hope by discussing the high recovery rate of COVID-19.

c. Managing Emotional Confusion:

COVID-19 patients are emotionally overwhelmed at many points, and managing the emotional confusion can be frequent and severe, which is done in the following way:

  • Let It Go - Explain to the patient to overcome the emotion, and it will come out of the suffering.

  • Emotions in Life - Emotional uplift may be distressing, but they will run over the course and eventually be replaced by some other emotion. So, the patient should learn to ride with the flow rather than consider it as a permanent state.

  • Expressing Emotions - As human beings expressing emotions will relieve us of their impact. Therefore, patients should be encouraged to express their emotions to their loved ones.

  • Relaxation - Deep breathing exercises are to be practiced by the patient. Ask the patient to close the eyes and sit straight in a comfortable position. Then, instruct them to take deep breaths and exhale through the mouth. Ask them to repeat the exercise 10 to 15 minutes daily to calm and relax the nervous system.

  • Positive Emotions - Encourage patients to engage in activities within the hospital premises by simply talking with their loved ones over the phone or video call, reading books, etc., which brings them joy and happiness.

d. Health Education:

The situation, time of recovery, quarantine facilities, and the treatment process will be truthfully explained to the patient. Adequate information to the family members is also provided so that they also learn to deal with the situation.

2) Phase II Intervention - Coping with Specific Adjustment Issues

At the end of Phase-1, COVID-19 patients will be aware of the challenges, and facing day-to-day functioning becomes the main focus of Phase-II.

a. Reducing the Psychological Impact of Being Isolated: Strengthening physical health, having new routines, connecting to loved ones virtually, limiting COVID-19 information will help the patient handle the situation.

b. Dealing With Anxieties:

  • The future is unpredictable, and it is excessively stressful to keep estimating it, so instead, focus on what is going through each day.

  • The counselor should teach the skill of coping ahead, that is, imagining the stressful situation in the future and trying to cope with the situation.

c. The Fear of Death: The rise in the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients increases the intense fear of dying, helplessness, anxiety, fear and reduces the need to invest in treatment. The counselor should validate their feelings where fear and panic are some of the most common during this pandemic. Then the attitude of acceptance should be made towards death. Thereby, a person can classify their death anxieties into those within their control and those outside control.

d. Managing Concerns on Well-Being of Family Members: The isolated patients will be worried about the well-being of their family members. So, patients can be ensured that they can always make calls to their family members and can be assured of the well of their loved ones.

e. Coping Mechanism: The counselor can introduce coping mechanisms to deal with stress. It can lead to multiple benefits and poses mental health challenges. The counselor can tell the patient how to elicit their coping skills by having a quick analyzing assessment of how they cope. Also, the counselor can chart the helpful techniques and write them as their coping toolkit, which helps them to refer whenever stressed out.

3) Phase III Intervention - Towards Recovery

The patient starts the journey towards recovery, and the counseling is terminated at this phase.

a. Supportive Counseling: Throughout the recovery process, the patient loses hope, especially when the patient's condition is deteriorating. At that time, it is important to provide supportive counseling so that the patient continues to better the condition. The ways that help the patient are,

  • Advice.

  • Praise Efforts till Now.

  • Reframing.

  • Reassurance.

  • Encouragement

b. Self-Compassion: Isolation in the COVID-19 ward makes the patient engage in thinking about oneself. When in anxiety, self-evaluations are pretty severe, and they feel frustrated and build a sense of isolation. The counselor introduces the idea of self-compassion that suffering from these experiences is part of the human experience. Thus, the patient should be more kind to oneself that they are doing their best, and so is everyone.

c. Having Hope: The counselor must engage by building hope in the patients by discussing positive aspects of life and discussing new perspectives on the distress. It is the best possible way to go ahead and eventually overcome this critical phase.

d. Last Session: The session can be terminated by encouraging the patient to follow the action plan whenever distressed, and they are also provided with details of health emergencies to deal with any distress.


Psychosocial counseling aims to help with the recovery of the patients by normalizing their distress and addressing their specific concerns. The counselor will follow all the intervention's core elements and will not follow a rigid sequential approach. Also, the counselor sometimes crosses over between techniques where few techniques are frequently used, and some are simultaneously clubbed. Thus, health care professionals modify and adapt to the interventional approach to fit the culture, place, type, and severity of distress in COVID-19 patients.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Is the Psychological Well-Being of People Affected Due to COVID-19 and How to Cope With It?

Almost everyone was anxious during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease-2019) outbreak. In a few patients, there were more serious mental health problems. Psychological distress, which involves mental depression and post-traumatic stress, were also reported in greater number. Mental health service providers paved the way for many initiatives to provide support, including informal and digital support. Reaching out to mental health service providers at the right time helps in coping.


What Are the Six Counseling Methods?

- Six counseling methods include the following:
- Humanistic Counseling: Helping an individual by providing a deeper understanding of themselves and their inner ability to grow.
- Cognitive Counseling: A procedure that can help in changing the perspective an individual thinks and behaves.
- Behavioral Counseling: A certain type of counseling aimed at treating behavioral disorders.
- Psychoanalytic Counseling: The main goal of psychoanalytic counseling is to help an individual identify ways to heal from past experiences focusing on self-growth and limitations.
- Constructionist Counseling: This type of counseling believes that the main meaning makers are humans, and it is in our hands to experience this world.
- Systemic Counseling: It is counseling based on relationships and interactions socially to address and solve problems.


What Are the Counseling Techniques for COVID-19?

Following are three types of counseling techniques - 
- Directive Counseling Technique - The counselor is the major part of directive counseling.
- Indirective Counseling Technique - The client or the counselor is the major part of indirective counseling and not the counselor.
- Elective Counseling Technique - It is a combination of directive and indirective counseling techniques which depend on the situation. The counselor can use any method to deal with the situation and obtain better results.


Which Is the Best Counselling Method?

As such best counseling method cannot be rated as each psychological condition is different, and dealing with the condition differs. Every counseling method needs to have a client-to-counselor rapport to achieve the best results. A method that helps the client to develop personal psychological tools to deal with complicated and negative situations can be considered the best method.


How Can Family Give Psychological Support?

Following are the ways in which psychological support is given by the family.
- The family should understand the condition of the patient or sufferer.
- It is necessary to make the patient feel that they are interested in their treatment.
- Having conversations about the clinical condition of the patient and giving them hope that they are recovering is essential.
- The presence of any family member can play a vital role during the recovery process.


What Is a Psychosocial Care Plan For COVID-19 Patients?

- A psychosocial care plan for COVID-19 patients involves combating the problems they are facing during recovery.
- Provide support and care as the patient is already isolated.
- Addresses the financial concerns of the patient.
- Evoke religious behavior and beliefs and make their life meaningful.


How Is Family Affected During an Illness in a Psychosocial Impact?

When the sole bread earner of the family is affected due to COVID, the whole family suffers emotionally as well as financially. Any member of the family affected by COVID or an illness disturbs the balance in the family. Spending proper time with the affected individual to take care, following every precaution to make the recovery process easy and fast, and being cautious about any further risks of infection.


Is Family Included in a Psychosocial Factor?

Family plays a major part in eliminating stress, hopelessness, hostility, depression, and job control. Family members help the patient with their emotional support and physical support against COVID-19. So the family is an important thing to be included in a psychosocial factor.


How Essential Is Family Support to Improve Mental Health?

Family plays a crucial role in improving the mental health of an individual. It is to be noted that family plays a major role in improving as well as destructing the mental health of an individual. 


What Are Included in Positive Psychosocial Factors?

Positive psychosocial factors include developing strong beliefs, including optimism, and spirituality, exploring the purpose of life, processing and expressing emotions, and finding ways to improve self-efficiency. Nevertheless, emotional support from family and friends is also essential. All the factors help in staying strong and finding hope to fight difficult situations or diseases.


How Is a Family Encouraged to Live Positively Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic?

- The family has been the ultimate source of everything needed to fight COVID. 
- Many patients lost their lives due to a lack of family support which states the importance of family. Amidst all the hard times, a family is encouraged to live positively by 
- Taking proper precautions and staying safe.
- Having quality family time during the quarantine or working from home.
- Combatting stressful situations together as a family.


What Are the Six Essential Family Needs?

Essential family needs include the following.
- Proper food.
- Health services.
- Education.
- Care and protection.
- Communication.
- Adaptability.


How Are Peace and Harmony Maintained in a Family?

- Harmony and peace help in maintaining the oneness in a group of people, and that is the same in the case of family. It can be maintained by 
- Nurturing the bond by spending quality time with family.
- Respecting each other's opinions.
- Positive discussions among the family members.
- Sorting out issues in the family.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
16 Dec 2022  -  8 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Psychosocial Counselling For Covid-19 Positive Patients & Family Members or ?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.