Psychologist from Abkhazia spoke about helping patients during a pandemic

In an interview with, a psychologist and a teacher at State University of Abkhazia Elana Kortua talked about the mental issues people faced during the coronavirus pandemic. She also shared her personal experience on how she consulted the social workers and helped families where women and children were victims of psychological and physical violence. She also gave practical advice on how to survive this time, not to panic and strengthen mental immunity.

– Did the number of people seeking psychological help increase during the pandemic? What psychological problems did people face?

– I cannot say that the number increased. The number is almost the same, neither large nor small. People come with different questions and these are not always problems as such. In my practice, I have many clients focused on self-development, expanding their self-awareness, correcting their self-esteem and self-confidence, pursuing the meaning and guidance in life. Some of them are willing to develop their communication skills and motivation, trying to cope with difficult stressful situations, and so on.

– Have anyone reached you because of domestic violence? Or other forms of pressure?

– Not directly. Over the past year, social workers got in touch with me on these issues from time to time. For example, in one of the most recent cases, social workers were seeking for advice in relation to a family where the husband was systematically abusing his wife and children. But with the help of conversations conducted by social workers, the father stopped beating the children. Of course, the children in this family are still victims of violence and they experience tremendous psychological discomfort by witnessing the conflict between the parents. But if these talks do not help, we will take other measures, because it is unacceptable to leave children in such environment. It will seriously damage their mental and physical state.

– How do you provide assistance in the current circumstances? Remotely, by phone?

– During the quarantine all in-person meetings were canceled. I had a couple of online consultations with regular customers. In May I returned to my usual working schedule. In addition, from April to June I worked for the Hotline providing psychological assistance for population in relation to spread of coronavirus infection. For the entire time we have processed about 600 calls. Out of which 150 were of a psychological nature, the rest were of informational and social character.

– What would you advise people, how to get through this difficult time?

– This difficult time will pass like many other similarly difficult stages in life, it is important to remember this. It is necessary to be rational, not to panic and be aware of your own resources and individual ways of overcoming difficult situations. Deliberately limit yourself from receiving toxic information via the media, the Internet and the people. Do not ignore elementary means of protection, strengthen your mental and physical immunity with fresh air, a positive attitude and affirmations (affirmation is a positive statement, a short phrase of self-hypnosis that creates the correct psychological attitude), healthy food, clean water and a comfortable environment.

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