Psychologists are no different from other professionals, in the sense that we need to attend various seminars to learn about psychological innovations and mingle with everyone. Last year, I went to four different conventions across the country with my colleagues. Aside from nurturing our knowledge, we also managed to connect with psychologists from other states.
I personally loved attending mental health conferences because it allowed me to stray away from my hectic schedule. I know that professionals are not supposed to say that, but we tend to experience work burnout from time to time, too. That’s especially true if you are the only psychologist for two mid-sized towns. Although professional fees come in abundance, even doctors need a break, which conventions can offer.
Despite that, ever since the coronavirus outbreak happened, all types of mass gatherings became prohibited. It meant that the four seminars I was set to attend this year could not commence. While I wanted everyone to be safe, I could not help but feel sad about it.
Imagine, those were my only breaks in a year. I did not have kids or a husband to keep me company, so going to conferences had been my idea of having fun for years. Now that I cannot do that, it has honestly bummed me out.
Enter The Online Mental Health Convention
During the community quarantine, I lived a mundane life. None of my patients scheduled appointments at the time in fear of contracting coronavirus, so I stayed at home most of the time. The only thing I liked about it was that I could do yoga and meditation for hours. Other than that, I missed going out like everyone else.
Then, my spirit awoke one day while browsing through my email. One of the psychological associations that I was a part of was about to hold an online conference for all of us. They apparently invited a celebrity host and a couple of singers to facilitate the program and do intermission numbers, respectively. Within seconds of reading the newsletter, I already signed up for it.
Below is a detailed account of my experience with virtual conventions.
I Didn’t Need To Dress Up
The first thing that made me adore the online setup was that I didn’t need to buy new clothes for the occasion. For conventional conferences, I remembered spending my entire salary for three to four outfits only. It sucked for my savings, but I had to do it to avoid looking like a beggar in front of my colleagues.
When I attended the virtual seminar, I put on a simple white shirt. I thought it was the safest bet, considering they did not mention a dress code in the newsletter. Thankfully, it was a smart decision since I forgot that I would merely be seen from the chest up.
Traveling Was Not Required Either
Although I expressed my love for mental health conferences, I hadn’t told you about my lack of enthusiasm for traveling. I often got car sick unless I was sitting behind the wheels. Whenever I went on a plane, I had to take an anti-anxiety pill at least an hour before that.
Now, since this particular conference took place in the virtual world, I didn’t worry about traveling. I woke up, brushed my teeth, ate some breakfast, and turned on my computer. That’s it!
I Got A Digital Copy Of The Conference
It became an unwritten rule to bring a pen and notebook to conventions so that we could write down every new information we wanted to apply to our practice. Of course, it was challenging to remember everything while trying to pay attention to the speakers, so my colleagues and I ended up comparing notes later.
Nevertheless, that’s not something I had to worry about during a virtual conference. According to the facilitators, the attendees would receive a digital copy of the program. It saved me from needing to take note of anything.
Socializing With Fellow Psychologists Was Out Of The Question
What saddened me about the online conference was that I did not get to socialize with my fellow psychologists. After the conventions back then, we used to go a bar or restaurant and have fun. At the end of the night, we would already be friends.
Unfortunately, when the virtual convention ended, the line immediately went dead. There was no way to continue talking to other attendees, even though I would see their faces in the conference’s digital copy.
Attending a mental health conference online has been an interesting experience. I liked that I didn’t need to leave my town—much less my house—to learn something new about the psychological world. My savings also stayed intact, considering I didn’t have to buy clothes. Despite that, socializing with people in my field remains essential, so I would not exchange a real conference with a virtual version of it anytime.