We are all in this together... however for some people this crises is making any pre-existing stress worse. There has been an increase in Domestic Violence calls reported by first responders as people who are living in already fragile financial and emotional circumstances are finding that enforced togetherness is making all pre-existing relationship issues worse.

Here are some ideas to cope with a challenges many are facing emotionally which may be lack of support of a family member who is in denial about COVID 19.

Coping with a family member who will not adhere to social distancing and continues to go out to do things that place you or others at risk. These family members use a defense mechanism of denial. They are actually psychologically fragile as the notion of being vulnerable themselves does not "add up" for them. So how do you deal with them. One approach is respectful inquiry, if you use this approach you may help them to internalize and accept the challenges we are all facing better. To do this, you should approach the person not when they have just upset you with disregard of the violations of safety regarding social distancing but when things are calmer. The discussion would be along the lines of a respectful non-judgmental discussion of what they may remember from High School biology about disease transmission, or to suggest that they have demonstrated good problem solving skills in another area and link that to a question of how they think the COVID 19 is spread as well as what they think about the current safeguards in place. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU NOT INTERRUPT OR CORRECT THEM. The goal is to simply gather information about what they have learned. It is difficult for anyone in this media age to not have been taught about the social distancing and health related advice that has been spread. The simple process of verbalizing what they have heard or think may help them make a connection that they have not been able to make. If they make a good presentation that you can agree with, praise and validate the parts that they are saying that are reassuring and consistent with preserving their health and yours.

You might reflect back to them that they seem to understand what the guidelines are but that they have mixed emotions about following them. This is not done with judgment but a neutral statement about where the person is.

This may allow the person to process more consciously how he is feeling rather than avoid and deny and perhaps open the door to them finding their own motivation to change. The idea is that you are just gathering information from them, not opposing them or pushing them. If you want more information on this approach you can read about Motivational Interviewing which is an approach to helping someone find their own motivation to change and avoids power struggles.

Other coping includes understanding that right now people are perhaps not at their best and that we all need to give each other some slack. If you feel alone and isolated, under COVID 19 many insurance companies as well as Medicare are covering Telehealth for support for feelings of anxiety, loneliness and isolation.

Stay well and keep yourself Safe! We will all get through this together.

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Norwell, MA Therapist

Marguerite Wood, LICSW