Treatment during COVID

Treatment during COVID

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

As we’ve shared with our clients already, it’s important to continue with mental health treatment when possible during our current pandemic to provide stability to more tumultuous times. But many people who aren’t already under the care of a mental health practitioner may notice that with continued uncertainty, they also be feeling a bit unsteady. 

Based on our operating definition of trauma, the COVID-19 experience meets a few hallmarks:

  1. The event is unexpected and unplanned. That sense of, “life isn’t supposed to go this way” can lead to traumatic outcomes. 
  2. The event is life changing. Our day-to-day structure and and contents have shifted considerably.   
  3. The event threatens our safety. Especially for those who are more immune-compromised, the statistics on our pandemic make us fearful for our health. 
  4. There is nothing we can do about the outcomes; a person feels powerless to effect change in the situation. 

It’s important to acknowledge that everybody experiences challenging times differently. While there might be ways of coping that are more or less healthy, there’s no “wrong” way to deal with trauma. For many people, survival is enough – at least to begin. 

For those who have not experienced mental health treatment, there’s likely a few things happening under the surface that you should be aware of:

  • We’re being asked to become careful about things like hygiene; these behaviors might melt into other areas and become more hyper-vigilance or cause anxiety around cleanliness. This can become a heavy burden and a slippery-slope. 
  • This may be bringing up unresolved events and experiences from the past, even things you thought were done and over. The emotions you feel may be triggering the emotions you felt in past events, and you may find yourself responding to today’s crisis in a way that feels “off” from what you would anticipate your response would be. This is quite normal with forms of trauma and is something to explore. 
  • This is normal. Handling traumatic events isn’t easy and no one does it the same way. 
  • It’s okay to ask for help. We see the best outcomes with trauma when people find support from others. Especially if your friends or family aren’t available to give you their ear with compassion and empathy, then please seek out the help of a professional. 
  • We are currently taking new clients, even during this strange time of social distancing. Mind Body Health Associates have had great success with our HIPPA-compliant Zoom platform and our clients have remarked about it’s ease of use and the comfort of being from home. 
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Benefits of telehealth

Benefits of telehealth

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

Mind Body Health Associates moved all appointments to a virtual platform a month ago. Conducting our type of deeply personal and relational work through a screen and microphone was bound to change the dynamics of the appointments and our staff greeted these potential challenges, as Rumi says, with a smile. Thankfully our efforts paid off. One client even remarked on the smooth transition to the new appointment style: “I was relieved at how easy it was to access MBHA’s virtual therapy sessions.  With just a few clicks, I was able to access the same personal, quality experience that I’ve come to expect while I sat on my sofa with my cat. With the recent developments in the world, what I am learning about myself is that my feelings are valid.  My coping mechanisms as valid. Neither is good nor bad. Just because I am struggling, doesn’t mean I’m failing.” 

Our staff conversation moved from removing roadblocks for effective treatment, to what we’re seeing the unanticipated benefits. One of our therapists, Robin Walters-Powell – who also works as the chair of the Social Work department at the University of Findlay – shared her thoughts on utilizing our technology to connect with clients.

“As a social worker, we are taught the person-in-environment perspective,” she said. “This gives us the opportunity to objectively see things that impact the client on a daily basis. By going into their home and their space, it allows us to better comprehend the whole picture. It allows us to gain a full understanding of the client and the impact that their environment has on their situation.”

We are truly meeting clients where they are: we are in their homes, their cars; their most personal, private spaces. We have been invited in to see how they live. We have met family members, pets, and seen spaces that we have only heard about. Albeit unconventional, it has enhanced our understanding and allowed us to be more appreciative of the story that our clients were once sharing from the comfort of the office.

Therapist Rachel Tincher added, “I am finding so much expansion with connecting to each client on different level as well. I am experiencing an enormous amount of gratitude and moments of unique joy with each client that would not have happened in my office space.”

The hallmark of social work is to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are serving, and that is what our situation has allowed us to do.

We feel honored to be invited into these spaces; we have a new appreciation for the work we’re privileged to continue to do and the people we are able to serve.

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Recovery Support During Social Distancing

Recovery Support During Social Distancing

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator
 
There’s a saying in the recovery community: What we cannot do alone, we CAN do together. In nearly all recovery models, there is a strong emphasis on connection to others as a support. Our Long Term Intern, Louis Vermillion says, “The first word of the 12 steps in any recovery program is WE…it is said that the disease of addiction is always whispering in the our ear, and accountability with others in recovery helps quiet that whisper.” 
 
Isolation can be the enemy of recovery and in this tumultuous time, it’s important that those who need support can find it. Locally there are some online options. Focus is doing live Facebook check-ins daily at noon, while other recovery meetings are meeting thru Zoom. Hancock Helps offers a support link and information about local meetings while other online meetings can be found at intherooms.com and weconnectrecovery.com. Additional information including recorded speakers, books and general information can be found at AA.org.
 
For those not yet integrated into a recovery community, or finding themselves in an unknown place, ADAMSHS offers a variety of starting points to begin the path of healing. 
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Parenting Amid A Pandemic

Parenting Amid A Pandemic

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator
 
As if parenting wasn’t enough of a challenge, we now get to navigate tweens, teens, toddlers and everyone in-between, all while social distancing and explaining the very real need for us to take action against a disease.
 
This is a good time to remember one of Holly Schweitzer Dunn’s top three mantras: Parent emotion drives child emotion.
When parents are mindful of their emotional state they are more prone to recognize the impact they have on their children.  The brain hears tone before it hears anything else.  When a parent’s tone is off, children become aware of this more than they are aware of the actual words being said.  How many times have you sworn to your child you are “not angry” only to hear back from him that he knows you are angry because he can “hear it in your voice?”  Our kids know so much more than we give them credit for.
 
What parents can do:
1.  Model self care and self awareness.
2.  Model honesty with emotions and accountability to managing those emotions in respectful, healthy ways.
3.  Create home environments where honest discussion of the pandemic (in developmentally appropriate ways) takes place.
4.  Model how to acknowledge the fear and uncertainty of the quarantine while also acknowledging awareness of good, normal, neutral.
 
This might look like:
  •  A parent becoming tearful at the dinner table while voicing both sadness and appreciation for the bad germs making people sick and the brave workers who are taking care of everyone.
  • A parent pausing to take a deep breath while walking outside, mentioning gratitude for healthy lungs and the smell of spring while also acknowledging how strange and eerie it feels to see empty neighborhood streets.
  • A parent recognizing that their frustration at not-quite-right items in their grocery delivery was driven by a need to feel in control of something- anything!- during this time when so much is unknown and uncertain.

Read more about parenting from the professional wisdom of an article by The Atlantic

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The power of choice in social distancing

The power of choice in social distancing

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

 

Last week our Governor announced that Ohio would be staying home from all school, play, and non-essential work until at least May 4. Many of our clients came to us with a similar question: How will I survive this for another month?

Therapist Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW, suggests we reframe this to view quarantine from an empowerment place rather than experiencing it only as a victim provides freedom and even a sense of autonomy where we once felt powerless. Try on one of these:

  • Instead of “I have to quarantine” try “I’m staying home to bring safety to myself, to spread safety and to love to the world.” 
  • Instead of “I have no other option” say to yourself, “I choose to follow these guidelines for the good of all.”
  • Rather than “I am helpless in this” remind yourself that “I have control over how I handle this.”

By viewing your actions as an empowered individual and keeping in view the larger goal – public health and personal safety – we can feel differently about our living conditions with all their restraints. You still might long for a leisurely trip to the mall or wish you could gather with friends for dinner, but shifting from “I can’t” to “I choose not to at this time” keeps you mentally in the driver’s seat.  

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