PEI

Free family therapy offered to front-line workers in pandemic

If the stress of working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing problems with your family relationships, the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is ready to help.

Special 3-session course designed to offer quick, effective guidance

The therapy sessions are available online. (CBC)

If the stress of working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing problems with your family relationships, the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is ready to help.

The group is offering three free counselling sessions for struggling front-line workers.

"Whether they're in the grocery store or delivery people, or people in the hospitals, whether they're cleaning or surgeons, it's added a whole other layer of anxiety," said association president Andrew Sofin.

"Especially in the early months where people were really not sure, how do you get it?"

In the spring, said Sofin, members of the association had as many as 90 per cent of their sessions cancelled as face-to-face therapy became unsafe. As online sessions became possible, and counsellors were still waiting for regular clients to return, Sofin thought they might be able to do something productive with their free time.

Worry and isolation

His call-out to members for volunteers to help front-line workers got a strong response, and a special three-session course was designed to provide people with quick and effective guidance.

Sofin said new stresses on relationships can come from the anxiety front-line workers feel because they might be exposing their family members to health risks. They might also separate themselves from family, sleeping in the basement or garage, leading to feelings of isolation. Pre-existing problems can also be made worse by being forced to spend more time together.

"Many people have built a life where they really don't have to talk to each other," said Sofin.

Stress building up between couples during the pandemic can spread through the family, he said.

"For those kids, I think you're going to see a spike in anxiety with some kids who were maybe experiencing some very dysfunctional family dynamics during the lockdowns," said Sofin.

Talk it out

It may seem obvious, he said, but the number one piece of advice he has for working through these problems is communication.

Talk to one another frankly about how you're feeling, and understand that most of what your partner is concerned about is not directed against you.

"We usually let out our stress and tension on those closest to us, the ones we trust to not leave," said Sofin.

"If people could depersonalize some of the conversations they're having it would go a long way to easing the tension and stress."

More information on the association's free therapy offer is available on its website.

More from CBC News

With files from Island Morning

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