ORLANDO, Fla. — A Central Florida family therapist said she has seen a 30% increase in clients since the pandemic began.
“I started seeing an uptick in April, mid-April,” said Orlando marriage and family therapist Cherlette McCullough.
It was less than a month into the COVID-19 quarantine when McCullough first noticed requests for her couples counselling were pouring in. She said anxiety over the virus, money, jobs or child care were piling up in many relationships.
“When we’re operating from a place of fear, our nervous system is kicked into overdrive, right? It totally ignites our alert system where we fight, flight or flee,” she said. “That’s what I’m seeing a lot of our couples are doing during this time.”
And in most of those cases, McCullough found the quarantine wasn't so much to blame as it was doing a great job magnifying deep seeded issues that were already there.
She said the single biggest complaint she hears from one partner about the other is communication conflict.
“The lack of being able to respect each other when conflicts arise,” McCullough said. “That is a main issue. I hear it from both sides.”
She said change begins with identifying those triggers and learning the tools to process them a new way.
“This isn’t about using the tools one time and it all goes away. This is an ongoing process,” she said.
McCullough said one of the biggest takeaways for couples during this time or any time is even if its only 5 or 10 minutes, you have to take time for yourself.
Healthy partners, she said, feed healthy relationships.
But some people may feel they can’t shake feelings of isolation coming off the quarantine. McCullough said if you feel your mental health is not in a good place, don’t minimize it. Let someone know. She said a counselor or therapist can help.
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