Greenville counselor Aretha Hargrove-Edwards is unable to meet her clients face to face due to the social distancing guidelines of the coronavirus, but she is still doing her best to help those in need.
Since the pandemic hit, Hargrove-Edwards, a therapist at Premier Counseling Services, has done all her therapy sessions over the phone. During these phone calls, she has noticed a definite increase in anxiety.
“People are facing a lot of challenges,” Hargrove-Edwards said. “There is a lot of anxiety, but there is also a lot of fear and worry and uncertainty.”
Even though the delivery is different, the counselor said she believes she is making a difference in helping her clients make it though these tough times. But, she cautions over-the-phone therapy is not ideal, especially for children.
“With therapy for children, you really need to also have activities they can do alongside the therapy. When I provide therapy to children, having games and activities they can play really helps motivate them,” Hargrove-Edwards said.
Hargrove-Edwards is just one of many counselors in the area having to change their therapy practices.
The Community Counseling Center in Greenville is now offering free “mini-counseling” sessions in response to COVID-19 stress. Community Counseling Center Executive Director Cindi Lofton said these sessions are now being offered because of the support of the Community Foundation of Washington County.
“Talking with a counselor even for a few minutes can help significantly,” Lofton said.“Worries regarding finances, family, isolation, school, travel, employment, social contact and friendships, vulnerable family members, personal relationships, xenophobia, childcare, and of course, health concerns are areas that may be contributing to feelings of anxiety, fear, helplessness, depression or even anger. We are here to help.”
People interested in the mini-counseling sessions can call the center at 662-332-1819. These session are confidential and are administered by licensed professional counselors (LPCs). If they are unable to immediately reach someone, callers should leave a confidential voicemail because the staffing may be limited that day, Lofton said.
While not everyone in the community will need the services of a counseling professional during this pandemic, counselors like Hargrove-Edwards encourage everyone to be more understanding about what their friends and neighbors are going through.
“Our resiliency levels are different,” Hargrove-Edwards said. “What might be stressful for one person may not be stressful for someone else. We have to be able to meet a person where they are, and, as a community, we need to have empathy for each other during these times.”
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
* Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19;
* Children and teens;
* People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders; and
* People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use.
According to the CDC, ways to cope with this stress include:
* Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting;
* Taking care of your body;
* Take deep breaths and stretch;
* Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals;
* Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep;
* Avoid alcohol and drugs;
* Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy; and
* Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.