Ivory Howell Counseling is a local business that offers telehealth counseling to clients. Professionals with the counseling service say their current clients have found comfort in IHC’s transition from in-person counseling to telehealth counseling as professionals work to continue their therapeutic relationships while practicing social distancing.
“Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can access their clinician by simply clicking a link and typing their name into a virtual waiting room,” said Ivory Howell, owner and operator of Ivory Howell Counseling, LLC and a licensed professional clinical counselor.
Howell said it’s normal for counselors to see many of their clients’ anxiety levels increase during crises such as this global pandemic.
“When there is any threat, perceived or real, to physical safety or security, it is not uncommon for individuals and communities to experience a shift from everyday functioning into survival mode,” Howell said.
When in emotional survival mode, the fight-or-flight responses activate in our bodies, with raised adrenaline and cortisol levels, Howell said. Anxiety, anger, mood swings and physical symptoms can all result from these physiological changes that happen when we become afraid.
Most of Howell’s clients have experienced a collective fear of loss of income and the ability to provide for the essential needs of their families. Other concerns topping the list include fears of social isolation and the possibility of loved-ones becoming ill when access to healthcare may be limited. Those who perceive COVID-19 as a real threat fear that other don’t see the value in taking precautions to flatten the curve.
For those experiencing raised stress levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, Howell said getting “back to basics” can prove the most effective strategy for coping.
“Routines are now upended; adding a deliberate routine to the day is important,” Howell said. “Simply attending to a healthy sleep schedule, maintaining daily physical activity, eating mindfully and taking medications as prescribed will set the stage for better coping.”
Moreover, Howell recommends finding creative ways to stay connected to friends, family and the community while aligning with social distancing recommendations. Video messaging, Facebook live and telephone calls can “work wonders” when we need to feel safe and connected.
“Grounding techniques can be used to bring one’s senses to the present when the mind wanders into the ‘what-ifs,’” she said.
Examples of grounding techniques include meditation, breathing exercises, taking a cool shower or smelling your favorite scent in a mindful way. When self-soothing proves ineffective, it might be time to reach out for professional help, Howell said, as most counselors are well-equipped to aid clients in processing and learning to cope with anxiety.
Howell said, since becoming a therapist, she’s never experienced any crisis that has resulted in the “intense impact” that COVID-19 has had on their clients and the community, and that this crisis is tangibly more impactful to mental health, adding that she and the entire IHC Collective are grateful for Gov. Andy Beshear’s decision to speak openly and directly on mental health and awareness, empathy and compassion through this difficult time.
“Our referral stream has remained consistent during the COVID-19 crisis; however, we have noticed an increase in specific requests for online counseling,” Howell said. “We will welcome and accommodate as many new clients as we responsibly can. Additionally, we hope that our former clients will think to reach out for support if they are struggling.”
Anyone interested in telehealth counseling can reach out to Ivory Howell Counseling by calling 270-689-9777 or through their website at www.ivoryhowellcounseling.com.
The Owensboro Health coronavirus hotline is available 24/7 by calling 877-888-6647. Call the hotline before seeking in-person care. More information from OH can be found here.
For the latest information and data on COVID-19 in Kentucky visit kycovid19.ky.gov or dial the Kentucky state hotline at 800-722-5725.
For the latest health guidelines and resources from the CDC, visit their website here.