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.

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. 

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

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.  

Discomfort of quiet

Discomfort of quiet

The Discomfort of Quiet

by Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW

If this slowed down, adjusted pace is bringing to mind certain existential questions, know that you’re not alone. We’ve been hearing it from clients, family and friends.

“What does this all mean anyway?”
“What lasting impact am I really having on the world?”
“What is my true purpose?”
 
 
We encourage you to use this time to reflect on the different parts of you. If you haven’t taken up a regular practice of journaling, now is a great time to use writing and reflection to absorb what is happening in the world and in your own interior life.  What do you want for your life?  Are you living the life you are meant for?  What is holding you back?  What is supporting you in your journey?
 
One of the clients Holly Schweitzer Dunn met with last week was able to name one of the challenges of our collective sequestering. Her willingness to be still and silent, her openness to hear her inner voice, and her strength to acknowledge what was revealed led her to greater clarity. She realized,

“It is in the silence that I can really hear what I still need to work on.”

This is, of course, scary for most people. If you are accustomed to being a busy bee, you might find that all that activity has been a means to numb, distract, and deny pain; now, when the things that keep us busy have stopped, it may feel excruciating. To the extent that you can remain safe and calm while doing so, take a breath, close your eyes, and listen to the voice of truth that you’ve been too busy to hear before now.

Beyond the Couch

Beyond the Couch

Beyond the proverbial couch

 

When Landon Dunn meets a client for the first time and welcomes them into his office, he invites them to have a seat on the couch in his office. He then typically cracks a joke about the couch that seems so stereotypical. But to be honest, many clients find comfort in the familiarity of our office and the work that happens within the walls.

For the past week, Mind Body Health Associates has been operating away from that proverbial couch. For the safety of staff and clients we have held appointments virtually, utilizing a HIPPA-compliant platform to conduct video sessions with each of our therapists. As we moved this direction to elevate the priority of social distancing, we were concerned for both the quality and the quantity of the sessions. Would clients feel they could connect with their therapists authentically? Would we see a large number of cancelations? Would those who needed support make a priority of it while at a physical distance from the office?

What we experienced over the past week (the week that feels like a year, for many of us) has been the opposite of our fears. We’ve seen very few cancellations, and have felt the gratitude of our clients for making a safe means of connecting with our practitioners. Even more, where we expected deep anxiety and paralyzing fear, we found clients who were feeling positive, in large part, the interruption has provided the opportunity to feel grateful. Prior to the Coronovrus outbreak, these clients had developed skills and insights using mindfulness. Now, when the rest of the world feels anxious and unsure, these clients feel gratitude for their months or years of practice, as they are now the ones who can provide the wisdom of experience.

For example, one client has been working through traumatic experiences with pretty severe negative behaviors. But now she finds herself offering her coping skills to others by connecting online. By working through the process of healing to health, she has also found her voice and practiced bravery by sharing these skills  for managing the effects of stress and trauma on social media.

Each of the MBHA family members has expressed that while this new reality in which we find ourselves has presented numerous challenges and concerns, by and large our practice continues to feel more gratitude for its practitioners, office staff and most of all, clients, who continue to grow and learn to manage each moment as it arises.