These days, Carol Young Wood is often alone inside her office building. Prior to COVID-19, the clinical social worker shared space at S. 239 South French Broad Ave. with six other colleagues and the group’s clients. Now, only about one in 10 of Young Wood’s regulars comes by for in-person sessions, while the rest happen online. Meanwhile, her fellow therapists have transitioned completely to virtual meetings.
Early on in the pandemic, Young Wood says she wrestled with the ethics of continuing to offer face-to-face sessions. But considering she only works with adults and is able to adhere to recommended social distancing practices inside the office, she agreed to meet with clients who preferred the traditional setup to online therapy.
No matter the arrangement, nearly all of her regulars bring up issues stemming from the current health crisis. They’ve experienced anxiety over the Buncombe County stay-home mandate, a sense of loss due to social restrictions and a growing restlessness on account of their isolation.
Prior to the pandemic, Young Wood used her expertise to guide clients through specific traumas. Now, she’s in the same boat as many of those she counsels.
To deal with issues triggered by the current situation, Young Wood says, “The skills are really around mastering who we are in the face of uncertainty and how we learn to live with that. That’s very true for me personally, and it’s also what I bring in sessions.”
Gardening has helped Young Wood cope. She’s also embraced the fact that there will be high-energy and low-energy days throughout the crisis. “What I say to people and what I’m trying to follow myself is kind of going with what that energy looks like at any given time and not being hard on myself,” she explains.
Lastly, Young Wood recognizes the chance for self-reflection during COVID-19. “It’s certainly given me personally the opportunity to think about who I am in a crisis and how I practice being my best self, rather than falling apart around it.”
This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.