Kevin Chapman ’00 is a licensed clinical psychologist, founder and director of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (KY-CARDS) in Louisville, and a diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. He treats anxiety and related disorders in adults and adolescents, and as an expert in the field, he shares some unique insights into anxieties, physical distancing, self-care techniques and whether he has seen an upsurge of anxiety during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I have had a few patients report an increase in anxiety, but the majority of them are not that concerned,” Chapman says. “One of the things I’ve been talking about with my friends and colleagues nationally is that, remarkably, we’re seeing that our clients are much less anxious than the general population. Through our work, I think they’ve learned emotional regulation skills to manage worry and anxiety and strong emotional experiences that’s better than many people who haven’t experienced treatment.
“We’ve had a few phone calls from new patients, but we didn’t get bombarded like people would presume we would,” Chapman continues. “But here’s what we could expect because of how disorders work, especially anxiety: when the coronavirus starts fading out, I can almost guarantee that the incidences of anxiety disorders will manifest. If people are going to develop an anxiety disorder, which 40 million Americans have, including one-in-three kids, it requires a stressful enough situation to trigger that genetic predisposition. So what we would expect is that, once the coronavirus outbreak subsides, new cases of anxiety disorders are going to increase substantially.”
The good news is that Chapman offers some concrete practices for healthy living in an unprecedented world environment.
“Anxiety about the Coronavirus/COVID-19 is absolutely normal, and while I think that following the CDC’s guidelines is super important, I have also developed an acronym recently called FIGHT (COVID). The ‘F’ stands for focus on what you can control. There’s certainly plenty right now that we can’t do much about, but you can control your own behaviors so that’s what you should focus your energy on. The ‘I’ is for identify negative thoughts. Negative thoughts fuel anxiety, and while anxiety right now is normal, having negative thoughts that are pervasive certainly will increase it. The ‘G’ is for generate alternative thoughts. It’s important to try to be more flexible with your thinking, not necessarily positive, but just flexible—being able to see things from multiple, different points of view and not just one. The ‘H’ is for highlighting adaptive behaviors. What are things you can do right now to protect yourself, following the basic CDC guidelines of course, such as limiting media consumption, exercising, using apps, connecting with people via FaceTime, prayer and meditation. And finally, the ‘T’ is for teach somebody else to do the exact same thing. These are important ways to manage anxiety associated with current world events, in addition to looking at the phenomenal resources available at adaa.org, the website of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ”
He also believes that the term “social distancing” is an unhealthy misnomer.
“Psychologically, framing our parameters as ‘physical distancing,’ as opposed to ‘social,’ is much more conducive to one’s mental health and wellness. Though physically distant, we are still able to connect socially through video conferencing, fitness apps, and other forms of technology. Keeping in contact with others is essential during this time of uncertainty, and it should be scheduled regularly.”
Chapman and his team of three psychologists, two life coaches and a doctoral student position KY-CARDS as a premier anxiety center. The center helps clients achieve rapid relief for lifelong change, specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and is one of only 16 national social anxiety centers in the country. It remains open during the quarantine as an essential employer, following CDC guidelines in order to ensure the safety of everyone in the community, and offering telehealth options in lieu of in-person services.
“The special thing about CBT is its collaborative, its evidence-based and, importantly, it’s time-limited in nature so, in essence, we teach our clients how to become their own psychologist,” Chapman says. “Our treatment programs take place both inside and outside of the office and generalize to real life. We go to walking bridges, and we go to elevators, and we take you to social situations that are uncomfortable; we do these things with you so it’s not just talk therapy, there’s an educational component. It’s a hands-on approach that has a time limit in mind, so you’re not seeing me for years, you’re seeing me for a semester. Clients who need medication management will have that, but it’s really to help people manage more effectively, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy, which is our specialty and the gold standard for anxiety and related disorders.”
Chapman lives in southern Indiana with his wife, Jackie Shaw Chapman ’00, and their daughters, Jada (15) and Mya (13). He received Centre’s Distinguished Young Alumnus Award in 2015.
Listen to Dr. Kevin Chapman’s interview with Public Radio International (PRI), “Stop touching your face: Why that’s more difficult than it sounds.”
by Cindy Long
April 7, 2020