mental health

South Florida Psychologist Discusses the Benefits and Downsides of Quarantine

NBC Universal, Inc.

South Florida is approaching month four of 'the new normal' amid the pandemic. NBC 6 Anchor Sheli Muñiz spoke to University of Miami Health System Psychologist Dr. Joan Muir about what her clients are struggling with, and what has gotten easier.

The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Sheli: How are people doing compared to 3 months ago?

Dr. Muir: So, I think people are doing better than they were 3 months ago. But actually, my colleagues are reporting that more people are calling in for services. The lockdown for 3 months really took a toll. Now, people are calling with rapid speed in order to get help. Staying at home was difficult, some people were isolated, and some people were with family and dealing with conflict. Now, people are just tired.

Sheli: You also found that there were some positives to staying at home, right?

Dr. Muir: Absolutely, there were a lot of positives. So, first of all, people are having more quality family time, and I'm a family therapist and that is definitely showing up where people are at home more. They're just spending quality time and really sitting together as families and just talking. Also, people are getting to know their neighbors.

Sheli: But, it's not all good. Because being in quarantine with somebody for 3 months is hard, right?

Dr. Muir: I've seen a lot of couples’ referrals. (In that time span of 3 months), certain things that were (previously) avoided bubbled up to the surface. Because when you are together in close quarters day after day, issues will arise that you might have avoided when you were on the road commuting, going to meetings at night, socializing.

Sheli: Does that work-life balance dynamic suffer when you are working from home? Surely, you don't have a commute, but then there are some other things?

Dr. Muir: For some reason, the days were longer and just working with technology, people had more difficulties but also some people were very obsessive, worried about work, working too many hours. So, that's one of the things that people need to work on because people are getting burnt out.

Sheli: So, it's an overload, what can we do?

Dr. Muir: One of the positives that I didn't get to mention was virtual therapy. I was doing 100 percent virtual therapy in March and April and still seeing patients in that form, and I think that will continue to a certain extent because it made it accessible to some people who may not have had those services before. The downside is you're not in the same room, you don't get those verbal cues, you don't get that energy from the person people are very depressed there's a risk, but in general, people who've never thought of therapy before are actually coming in, and that's a plus.

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