Symposium Highlight

VIDEO: Esther Perel on Our Shared Trauma

Navigating the "Parallel Process" Covid-19 Has Created

Covid-19 has created a situation that’s a little like the beginning of a horror film, says couples therapist and bestselling author Esther Perel: the set has been prepared, the characters are in position, and everyone’s anxiously waiting for the worst to come. Phrased differently, this is “anticipatory trauma,” she says, and everyone’s affected.

So, do you talk about this “parallel process” with your clients? If so, where do you start? And how much do you share about your own experience? In this clip from her 2020 Virtual Symposium talk, Perel explains how she’s navigating this new reality.

In her Networker article in Couples Under Quarantine, Perel advises that therapists see what’s taking place as both loss and opportunity—”Loss in our daily habits, our clinical practices, the way we’ve conceptualized life, the way we’ve related to the people around us till now.” But, she continues, “there’s also opportunity—opportunity to have conversations we’ve never had, to say things to the people who are close to us we’ve been meaning to say and never have, to take care of ourselves and others in ways we’ve never considered before.”


Esther Perel

Psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. Fluent in nine languages, she helms a therapy practice in New York City and serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Her celebrated TED talks have garnered more than 40 million views and her international bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence became a global phenomenon translated into more than 30 languages. Her newest book is the New York Times bestseller The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (HarperCollins). She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT certified sex therapist, a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research. Esther is also the host of the hit podcast “Where Should We Begin?” which is available on Apple Podcasts. Her latest project is “Where Should We Begin – A Game of Stories with Esther Perel.” Learn more at