Once again, our very own Maud Purcell, MSW, LCSW, CEAP, Psychotherapist, Executive Coach & Consultant is in the news! Maud was featured in the February issue of Fairfield County’s Golden Years Magazine, a CT Hearst Corp Media Group Publication. Maud was interviewed and greatly contributed to the article, “Mind Over Matter”, by Donna Christopher, which covered the very timely topic of mental health during COVID-19.
Maud Purcell, psychotherapist and founder of The Life Solution Center of Darien, a practice with 28 practitioners including finance, nutritionist, a professional organized, and even a wardrobe consultant, says she’s been seeing more older people lately, with most therapy being done remotely during COVID-19.
(From the article)
“There are a few people who come in because they feel isolated, especially if they are retired.” Purcell states.
She attributes some of this to seniors being unable to get out and participate in the social activities they are used to and also having to do Zoom calls, phone calls, and texting to stay in contact with friends and family.
“It’s been a particular challenge for people 50 and up,” Purcell observes. “They have a harder time availing themselves of the technology and they have a steep learning curve.”
However, there are also some positive outcomes emerging among people she counsels: “Since we know that necessity is the mother of invention, I’m actually seeing certainly some sad stories, but a lot of real successes through this, of people figuring out the technology, but also using the time to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have done.”
People may be reaching out to family members whom they may have not spoken to in many years, for instance, or completing ancestry research, or perhaps even finding relatives they did not know previously: “In some weird way, people might be feeling connected to people they would not have previously, due to time constraints. Some also are figuring out how to play cards with friends online or having cocktail parties or prayer groups over Zoom, and even in certain cases finding support groups that they might not otherwise have sought out.”
Purcell’s approach with clients is to help them find any silver lining where they face what seems like adversity. “There are people who have started relying too much on alcohol or addictive meds…they can start to rely on them too heavily to ease the emotional pain, isolation, and the fear of the unknown,” she says.
The difficulties could be worse for people who were already fragile before the pandemic and are now frightened to the point that they’ve developed agoraphobia, according to Purcell, who notes that whether the extreme of being fearful of going out at all or afraid to even go to a store with a mask on is understandable, but giving in to that doesn’t help them.
Steps that would help, in this case, include going for a walk, then at another time trying to get in a car and driving around the block. “Next time drive further, maybe to the grocery store. Break it up into bite-sized pieces. In this way, you get all these little successes, instead of feeling like a failure,” Purcell says.
Her practice has drawn clients for tele-health. “Not one person has complained or said I’m not going to see you now if you’re remote,” she states. “I think people are in some ways relieved and they don’t have to travel…they don’t even have to get dressed.”
Among the best ways to improve your mental health while waiting out the COVID-19 restrictions is to build structure into your everyday life. Purcell concludes: “Act as if you have meetings you have to get to, and each thing you’re going to do, put it on your calendar as if it’s a meeting. The first thing you want to do is get up and get dressed, get fixed up. Or do your exercise first, and everything else will flow.”
To read the full article, click here “Mind Over Matter”, February 2021, Golden Years Magazine, Hearst Media Group.