The Unanticipated Success of Life Development in the Time of COVID-19

Austin has always been a perfect city to engage in therapeutic relationships with the clients of Innovation360. Life Development, a unique service built on meeting clients where they are, both literally and figuratively, usually takes place in clients’ homes, school campuses, or greenbelts- challenging them to make progress toward their therapeutic goals. We lean heavily on the cultural, natural, and commercial resources of the incredible city that is Austin. 

However, in the midst of a pandemic, as our city grinds to a halt, the lives of those we serve must go on. 

For all of us, COVID-19 has presented unprecedented obstacles. There is no minimizing that. However, Innovation360 is rather practiced at confronting obstacles. In fact, the very foundation of our work is that, when confronted with a challenge, we respond with creativity, compassion, resiliency and, as much fun as we can muster. In true form, we have taken on the difficulties of showing up for clients in the age of social distancing and found a way to meet them where they are, but from a safe distance. For many clients this has meant shifting to virtual Life Development sessions. And we are blown away by just how successful it has been.

For virtual sessions, we allow clients to peer into the homes of Life Development team members and see how we live. Clients watch us cook breakfast across a high-speed connection, spills and all. While they are doing chores around their houses, they see us doing ours. We go for walks where accountability around exercise and healthy habits (like being outside) are encouraged. Sometimes we bring our dogs and it is quickly revealed that the client’s dog is better behaved. We join clients in online recovery support meetings (occasionally forgetting the mute button is on).

The benefits from going virtual was not something we could have anticipated. Previously, a client would see us arrive on session dressed, polished, and ready to go. Clients may have felt the need to keep up, to pretend, but virtual LD has leveled the playing field in a significant way. Unloading the dishwasher, making the bed, and washing dirty clothes are no longer a one-way street.

Innovation360 has always been invested in making sure that we enter into a client’s life where they need us. Our focus is on being present, partnering with our clients, all while showing we are human too. It’s the foundation of our model. Virtual Life Development has made our authenticity even more visible. They are invited to see the things on our to-do list. They are welcomed into the parts of our lives that need attention. They learn that we are not experts at life, but we do show up well for it. They see that they can too. We couldn’t have known that virtual LD would further humanize an already humanitarian endeavor, but, without question, it certainly has.