Alayna Mastrippolito, Author, Certified Peer Supporter
Are you always taking care of others? Perhaps you work as a nurse or a counselor, or maybe you’re the main source of income for your household, the caretaker of a sick relative, or you just happen to be the person that those in your life come to for help. You may experience compassion fatigue from time to time.
Compassion fatigue is the emotional and physical burden created by caring for others in distress. It’s the cost of losing yourself in the process of caring for others. Compassion fatigue symptoms may include anxiety, depression, feeling overwhelmed, irritation, frustration, worthlessness, isolation, and physical ailments.
It’s possible to take care of others without experiencing compassion fatigue, and it all starts with how you take care of yourself. The key is to allow yourself to make YOU a priority. Those who suffer from compassion fatigue often experience feelings of shame and selfishness around prioritizing themselves over others, but it’s necessary to give yourself that time in order to be able to take care of others. A way to ensure that you’ll take care of yourself is to create your own self-care plan. This allows you to uphold your own physical and mental well-being consistently, and it doesn’t have to take up much of your schedule.
Another important component of limiting compassion fatigue is having good boundaries. Boundaries allow you to love yourself and others at the same time. If you feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of, it’s hard to maintain your compassion to begin with. Setting boundaries within caretaking doesn’t mean you’re leaving others in the dust; this can look like asking for assistance or offering to help at a different time. By setting boundaries, you’re able to take care of your own needs while also taking care of the needs of others. Helping others should not be hurtful to you.
Try connecting back to the reason you began helping people in the first place when you feeling a bout of compassion fatigue. Your altruism likely gives you a sense of meaning which is important to your life purpose. Don’t overextend yourself to the point of forgetting the reasons why you care or getting so burnt out that you can’t help anymore.
You deserve to be taken care of too.
Getting REady for BAck to School
Mary Tanner, Author MSW, LISW-S, M.Ed.
Talk of back to school can trigger parents as much as children. Going back to homework, lunch money, after school programs, car pool etc. etc. can evoke a stress response in even the most seasoned parent. So, what can we do? First of all, Moms, Dads, Guardians, Caregivers, relax. Everything will be OK. Have fun in the remaining days of summer!
When parents ask me what they can do to help their child get ready for back -to- school, I start with the basics. I call them the “Big Four” This is a recommendation I give year- round.
If you do those 4 things with and for your child, you are giving them the best chance to feel good about themselves and to perform well at whatever activity in which they partake. Sometimes, the Big Four gets put on the back burner during the summer. It is truly beneficial to be consistent and do these things year -round. You are helping yourself too, Adults. You will have less irritable, more cooperative kiddos with which to contend. The Big Four applies to all kids big and small and to their adults, as well.
I recommend limiting screen time. Children, young and old are spending way too much time on their screens. This is one of the biggest obstacles that interfere with sleep and exercise. I have had young clients who take their I-phones, I-pads, laptops to bed with them. This is a very bad idea! One little guy I was seeing was staying up all night playing games, watching shows and falling asleep at school. I got to the bottom of it and told his Guardian, who didn’t know. She put a stop to it by simply taking all electronics away at bedtime. It was a fight, but one that was necessary.
On the subject of screen time, it’s good to shut off all screens an hour before bed time. The blue light emitted from all screens interferes with our sleep cycle and makes it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. If your child is experiencing difficulty with sleep, talk to your pediatrician.
If your child is shy or seems to have trouble making friends, summer is a good time to practice social skills. Talk to your child about communicating with others. Demonstrating skills and role playing can help them learn and develop better interpersonal skills.
Playdates are also helpful. Spending time with friends during the summer can help with back-to-school worries. Knowing they have friends at school eases transitions.
If your child is starting at a new school, ask the school for recommendations, if there are summer activities that will allow your child to meet classmates. There may be a local recreation center or swimming pool where children from their school go. I love libraries. They offer fun programs that encourage reading and may be a good place to meet other children.
It's important to always talk about school in positive terms. If the previous school year was difficult for your child, offer them hope and encouragement that the next school year will be better and you are there to support them.
If your child has experienced something upsetting, or seems anxious or depressed, talk to your school. Most schools have mental health therapists and counselors on site. It’s good to jump on potential issues early. Don’t let concern that your child will be labeled stand in your way. School resources are there to help.
Covid has caused issues for everyone. Educators are concerned students aren’t as far along in their learning because of lock downs and conducting classes via computers. Children are resilient and they will catch up. We, as the adults in their lives, can be their support and can help them see the fun side of learning. Learning doesn’t just occur in the classroom, give your children experiences, nature walks, trips to the playground, regular trips to the library, time at the pool, a picnic in the park. All of these and more are opportunities for learning.
Have fun with your child! Again, enjoy the remaining days of summer!
Alayna Mastrippolito, Author, Certified Peer Supporter
Transitions can feel intimidating, especially when experiencing a major change like transferring to a new school or moving from elementary to middle or middle to high school. Your child may be worried about several factors including making friends, bullies, school work, getting lost, or even whether or not they’ll be able to open their locker. Let’s talk about how to make this transition as smooth and comfortable as possible!
One suggestion for handling school nerves is to have them discuss or write out what they’re specifically afraid of, and then note which fears are out of their control. The idea is to shift the focus off of the things they can’t control and direct their energy towards the things they can control. When they’re done, take time to discuss or write the positive aspects of the transition so they can potentially get a little excited about it!
To prepare for the transition itself, it’s a good idea to get into the school routine the week before it starts. This may include getting supplies together, keeping a realistic bedtime, and encouraging more social time with school friends. If they’re going to a new school, see if they can visit the building before school is in session so they can know their way around.
Finally, ensure that your child is practicing self-care! This means taking care of physical health (enough water, nutrition, exercise, and sleep) and also mental health (activities that make them feel relaxed and rejuvenated). These actions will put them in the right headspace to feel their best no matter what happens at school.
Understand that it’s normal to feel nervous, and the nerves are what keep your child motivated to do their best! Remind your child that they’ve handled transitions before and can do it again… and they just might enjoy themselves!
Burnout is rough
Alayna Mastrippolito, Author, Certified Peer Supporter
We’ve all had the experience of feeling so overwhelmed and drained, yet having too many items on the to-do list to be able to rest. You’re backed up on work, the house is a mess, you haven’t had much time with your loved ones, and *sigh*... it’s only Tuesday??
According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, burnout is defined as “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others”. It’s the result of doing too much of what drains you, without enough rejuvenation. Though there are times in life when it’s necessary and even beneficial to work hard, spending each day squeezing out every ounce of energy you have until you’re completely depleted is not a very sustainable or pleasant lifestyle.
Here are three steps to help you avoid burnout:
1) Know what your priorities and values are. Write these down and keep them someplace you’ll see often. Be clear on what matters to you so that you know what you want to work towards. This allows you to have a purpose behind your daily actions, rather than simply achieving for the sole purpose of being productive. Helpful questions to ask yourself might include: What uplifts and fulfills you? What promotes your personal growth? What is your reason for getting up each day?
2) Spend time on things that matter to you. Take a second look at your schedule. Is there anything on it that doesn’t align with your priorities and values? Is it possible to remove anything from your schedule that’ll make this week feel less draining? Is there anything you can delegate? When you’re spending more time on activities that you’re passionate about, you’ll feel more energized and less worn out.
3) Take time to recharge. In order to be productive, it’s essential to take time to restore your energy each day by taking care of your mind, body, and spirit in ways that make sense to you. A few ideas for rejuvenating activities include walking in nature, yoga, meditation, reading, creating art, journaling, calling a loved one, and practicing gratitude and self-love. It’s also important to be able to recognize your personal signs of feeling overwhelmed. This is the tipping point of your productivity when it’s actually more productive to rest!
You’re allowed to create the life you want. Be kind to yourself in the process.
“I am a human being, not a human doing.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant & DBT Certified Therapist
We love empaths. We are empaths. We understand it can be hard to be an empath, or a highly sensitive person, in this polarized world.
What does being an empath mean?
To us, we are all empaths and highly sensitive persons at some level; however, there is a continuum that ranges from being completely unconscious to being an empath, all the way to being an embodied and fully conscious empath. Additionally, the continuum also goes from having slight empath characteristics to having significant empath characteristics.
Many people also interchangeably use the term ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ coined by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D. in her highly recognized book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. Another personal favorite is Judith Orloff’s use of the term ‘Empath’ and her book The Empath’s Survival Guide.
We also go as far as seeing the Empath as a lightworker in this bleak world and love Rebecca Cambell’s work.
So, what are the Empath characteristics?
When you look up the dictionary online, it defines an empath as ‘a person with the paranormal ability to perceive the mental and emotional state of another individual.’ We believe that not only can an empath pick up energetically, from other humans, but also from nature, animals, objects, rooms, places, etc. They are simply more able to sense energetic information, subtle energy, of the world around them.
This can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t even know what you are picking upon. Science shows us that some people may experience the same event, the same stimuli, and react very differently to it via seen-on brain images.
What is most important truly though, is understanding this is valid and is real to your experiences, regardless of whether others pick up on it or not. Someone who is a strong empath may feel very invalidated in this world. Feeling things at heightened levels is not easy, and you may have grown up, and may still be, being called too sensitive.
From our research, both novice and experts alike, believe most empaths are introverted, however, we don’t necessarily believe they are interchangeable.
Rather we believe that an empath just ends up taking on so much energetically, whether they are introverted, extroverted, or a mix of the two, that they often need a lot of downtimes, away from others and stimulating environments, in order to recharge. And if they don’t get this downtime, they are more prone to higher levels of exhaustion, anxiety, anger, migraines, depression, and more. Therefore, this may make others perceive them as introverted, but it is not necessarily a characteristic.
An empath has a mission, you could say a soul-mission, here on earth. Whether they are conscious of it or not, they are here to bring in healing, compassion, light energy, new technologies, or something meaningful in some way. And if left exhausted and burned out, they can not do this to their full potential.
Therefore, counseling, bodywork, and other supportive therapies are crucial for these highly sensitive beings. The empath tends to be highly clairsentient, which means having the ability to acquire intuitive knowledge by means of feeling and having a sense of knowing. Additionally, it is defined by the Merriam-Williams dictionary as the perception of what is not normally perceptible.
Remember an empath feels more, therefore they can perceive and feel what we perceive as good feelings and energies also. All energy is amplified for the empath. One of the trickiest issues for an empath is having an enormous ability to take on others, or external, energies that are not their own, and feel them as if they are. This is particularly difficult because, at a deep level, we can’t process other people’s energy for them.
The empath is especially sensitive to other people’s unprocessed traumas, and unclaimed emotions. No wonder why many empaths feel anxious and overwhelm. And this is not going away, in fact, it seems to us, more people are developing strong empath characteristics and younger generations may have even more empath characteristics. In fact, in our group counseling practice, we serve many clients who deeply resonate with this, and are having extraordinary experiences they may not be able to explain and in some cases, spiritual crises.
What can lead to more of these characteristics, well it is not completely known, but it appears many come into the world as empaths, others develop these characteristics through traumatic experiences, and others awaken to these abilities later in life. And likely most of us have a combination.
Know, you are not alone. There is hope, you have more power than you know. The empowered empath knows how to navigate energy, learns to become mindful of the energy within and around them, and learns how to release it, transmute it, or use it appropriately.
It is necessary to have tools so you can realize the gift these characteristics offer you and the world around you.
The Empath’s Tools:
Trauma processing can recalibrate your nervous system and help you stay more calm and present.
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant & DBT Certified Therapist
What makes someone feel they have been born into the wrong body? Gender identity is a prominent topic these days thanks to the transgender movement, yet many people are still uncertain about what causes this issue.
What is it, exactly, that determines whether an individual thinks of themselves as “male” or “female” or something else or neither of these two options? It seems that a possible answer to this question lies in the structure of our brains.
A considerable number of gender differences in the brain have been described and many are housed in the parts of the brain concerned with sexuality. For instance, an area of the brain that has to do with sexuality is larger in males than females and smaller in male-to-female transgender brains.
There are also reports of chemical differences in male and female brains, though there is still confusion as to how these differences, as well as size difference, relate to gender. Studies have also suggested that connections between brain areas may differ between genders, yet scientists struggle to interpret these findings in a meaningful way.
So, while we are a little closer to understanding this complex topic and understanding what exactly causes someone to identify with a different gender, there is still confusion and much to learn.
How Can Parents Help Their Transgender Child?When a young person develops a physical disease or ailment, tests can be ordered, a diagnosis given and a treatment plan put into motion. When a young person identifies as a different gender, all of the answers don’t fall into place, and there isn’t one “correct” way to handle the situation.
So how can parents ensure they support their transgender child as they face an uncertain future and possible rejection and isolation?
Accept Their IdentityTo be rejected by their parents can be profoundly damaging to a child. Most young people that come out as trans have thought a lot about their feelings and experiences before telling anyone. Their identity should not be treated as a passing phase or something “awful” they will grow out of.
So, believe your child about their status as trans and accept them.
Follow Their LeadTransgender people are individuals. Not all will wear the same type of clothing. Not all will want to make the full transition. Don’t assume what your child’s journey will or should look like. Let them lead and you follow and support them.
Don’t Misgender or "Dead-Name" Your ChildUndoubtedly it will be hard to say goodbye to the child you gave birth to and have known for so long. But it will be important that you show love and respect to your child by referring to them as the right gender and by the name they now choose to go by, if you slip up, simply apologize. But don’t intentionally misgender or dead-name them.
You may find it very helpful to speak with a therapist during this time. He or she can help facilitate good communication between you and your child as well as help you navigate these new waters.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch.
What is peer support?
Author, Alayna Mastrippolito, Certified Peer Supporter
You know that feeling when you're going through a tough experience and you find someone who's experiencing the same thing? And it's so relieving when you can talk to someone who really understands, especially when they've learned a thing or two on how to handle it. That’s what peer support is!
Certified peer support specialists provide practical, relatable mentorship and guidance to their clients through the lived experience of their own journey. Since peer supporters have overcome the same obstacles that their clients are going through, this creates a very unique safe space. For those who’ve felt like they aren’t understood, finding a peer supporter who “gets it” makes a huge difference.
Alayna Mastrippolito, a peer supporter with Mindfully, mentions that her clients appreciate having someone who they can come to with the “uncomfortable” topics. For example, adolescents who are experiencing puberty may have questions that they don’t feel comfortable discussing with their parents or their friends. A peer supporter can help to normalize and validate their client’s experience, no matter how embarrassing or vulnerable it may feel.
Peer support is also an evidence-based practice that can work beautifully in combination with other mental health providers. Studies have shown that people who receive peer support in addition to traditional mental health treatment are more likely to recover, and the diverse, encouraging team of peers at Mindfully works across specialties to ensure that every client gets the support they need to thrive.
How does peer support with Mindfully work?
First, think about what you need more of in your life to feel mentally stronger. Then, choose from one of our programs or we can create a personalized program to target your specific needs. From here you'll be matched with a Certified Peer Support Specialist who you can meet with weekly via our app, which also has helpful resources, the ability to join group sessions, and goal tracking to monitor your progress.
If you’re already seeing a counselor at Mindfully, you now have free access to a Peer Supporter! Speak with your counselor to get connected!
By: Jordan Thurman, MSW, LISW-S
I have naturally curly hair. I am the only one in my immediate family that has such hair, which made it very hard for them to understand my hair care. I remember my grandmother trying to brush my hair while I screamed and then cried when I looked in the mirror at the frizzy mess before me. They had no idea what to do with it, and as a consequence, neither did I. I was taken to hair salons that would spend two hours trying to straighten my hair after they trimmed it, only for my hair to instantly curl back up the minute it was washed.
As I grew up and muddled my way through trying to discover how to best care for my hair, I found myself able to locate salons that didn’t attempt to straighten my hair, but that was really it. No one really noticed the unique needs of my hair. It wasn’t until recently, I decided I was going to go to a hair salon that specializes in curl care. It was such a unique and wonderful experience for me. I felt understood and seen for the needs I had, and everything was all customized to me. I was able to be educated on things to better help my hair, and I left with a sense of pride in this part of me. I felt more confident and empowered.
Why do I share that story on a blog post about Pride Month? The answer is simple: to help us recognize the differences between tolerance and affirming and why it is important to understand these differences. Many already know that intolerance is a bad thing. However, we think it’s enough to just say, “Oh you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community? Cool!” The reality is that this is far from enough.
To start, we need to look at what tolerance is. If you were to do a quick Google search of the word “tolerance,” you would find that it is defined as the willingness to tolerate something “in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” It is often described as an ability to endure something painful or unenjoyable. The essence of tolerance in the LGBTQ+ community is this: it sends a message that the individual makes us uncomfortable. There are many people out there that will go, “I’m okay with you being gay or whatever, but I would prefer you to not discuss that.”
Imagine being on the receiving end of that for just a minute. Imagine going to a doctor, going on a date, or just any encounter with a person where you start talking about something important to you. Maybe you bring up your family, your job, a hobby, or anything else you love and enjoy. As soon as you bring that up, the person you are talking to becomes visibly uncomfortable. Two things would likely happen: 1. You would never bring up that part of you that is essential to you and keep a wall up or 2. You will make efforts to avoid seeing this person again.
Many health care professionals, including therapists, fall into this category of tolerance citing that they do not believe it is necessary for treatment. These professionals are often left wondering why their patients stopped showing up to appointments despite doing what they believed was effective treatment for their patient’s needs. The reality is that a clinician in this mindset did more harm to a patient by promoting a sense of shame and guilt. As mental health professionals, it is important for us to remember we are to be culturally competent clinicians who embrace a comprehensive, biopsychosocial approach that meets the individual needs of a patient seeking services. When there is an aspect of a patient’s identity or culture that is not
welcomed into the time together because it makes the clinician uncomfortable, then that clinician has failed to uphold best practice standards.
The definition of affirming is simple: offering someone emotional support or encouragement. That’s like Therapy 101, isn’t it? We know taking this approach is what can help our patients believe that they are capable of growth. An affirming approach with the LGBTQ+ patient is an approach that invites that part of their identity to be part of the conversation with welcome arms. “I would love to hear more about your relationship. How long have you two been together?” “I go by Jordan, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. What name and pronouns do you go by?” In these moments, we can show we welcome that part. This is a place you can talk about that piece of you and what it means. This is important because as therapists, we should recognize that many systems can contribute to stressors as well as protective factors and resources.
The harmful culture of tolerance and the effectiveness of affirmation is evident in research. In 2014, a study conducted Durso and Meyer found that 39.3% of bisexual men, 32.6% of bisexual women, 10% of gay men, and 12.9% of lesbians did not share their sexual orientation with health care providers. Another article written in 2015 by Sabin, Riskind, and Nosek found that stigma, lack of cultural sensitivity, and reluctance to address sexuality may hamper effectiveness of care. A study in 2006 by Steele, Tinmouth, and Lu found that positivity and inquiry about sexual identity led to disclosure, and disclosure led to regular health care use.
Tolerance alone is not enough and could potentially cause more harm, particularly in a health care setting as it could lead to patients disengaging from services. If we want to keep patients engaged in treatment, we must embrace an attitude of affirmation. If we want to be a better ally to our friends and family, we must embrace an attitude of affirmation.
Durso, L. E., & Meyer, I. H. (2013). Patterns and predictors of disclosure of sexual orientation to healthcare providers among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 10(1), 35-42.
Sabin, J. A., Riskind, R. G., & Nosek, B. A. (2015). Health care providers’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward lesbian women and gay men. American journal of public health, 105(9), 1831-1841.
Steele, L. S., Tinmouth, J. M., & Lu, A. (2006). Regular health care use by lesbians: a path analysis of predictive factors. Family Practice, 23(6), 631-636.
Jordan Thurman, MSW, lISW-S
Jordan works with a variety of clients, but has a passion for working with women, the LGBTQIA+ community, survivors of trauma, and individuals who have experienced loss. She specializes in working with new parents, as she is certified in perinatal mental health, and she has specific training in working with perinatal and infant loss.
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant & DBT Certified Therapist
The world is calling for more inclusive and compassionate ways to communicate and understand the full spectrum of gender, sexuality, and relationship preferences. Let's explore what "inclusion" means - it is about welcoming, accepting, and advancing a diverse mix of peoples.
It is imperative that as a parent, teacher, counselor, or anyone caring for children that we expand our knowledge and scope of understanding to the wide and beautiful spectrum that exists in terms of topics on gender, inclusivity, sexuality, and LGBTQIA+.
And yes, it is changing fast, with new belief systems and language coming all the time. At times it may seem daunting when you worry about knowing everything or getting it right, yet when we relax into changes we can feel the excitement of witnessing the broadening happening across the world. And our children will have so many more opportunities to love and accept themselves and others, and all parts of them, rather than having to ignore, suppress, question, and shame natural feelings, urges, questions, and seeking and exploration behaviors.
If you or a loved one has experience suppression, oppression, confusion, shame, and/or other traumas around sexuality, gender, inclusivity, etc., compassionate and inclusive counseling from qualified licensed professionals can help.
Many people fear changes, and have anxiety children will be hurt, confused, or judged. And are scared to talk about these subjects at all, fearing something bad will happen and yet, in truth, it is quite the opposite. It allows children and the upcoming generations to find a greater sense of acceptance in their own sense of self and authenticity in the world.
If you need coaching or want an inclusive setting to have healthy conversations, counseling can help. Also, it is important that if you have a child or teen who having difficulty with any of these topics and more, counseling with a licensed professional can be a crucial step
Our younger generations, and ALL who have for too long been ostracized, marginalized, and judged are speaking out and demanding that we have difficult and real conversations that promote change. This includes with each other, and with our children.
As a parent, caregiver, or teacher, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say when kids question what we deem to be adult topics. Broaching topics of sexuality can be awkward for both parties; however, it is a necessary and very important conversation to have. And it is crucial to have some knowledge and understanding and to approach it with an open heart. It takes willingness, openness, and compassion.
Want to learn more skills, develop great empathy and compassion for self and others, and become more mindful. Try our DBT Skills Groups for adults or teens.
When it comes to talking about gender and sexuality, and the wide spectrum that continues to expand in preferences, children should be given truthful age-appropriate information so they can better understand and empathize with themselves and with others. Regardless of whether your child identifies now or in the future with LGBTQIA+, having a conversation about LGBTQIA+ issues will help reduce prejudice while teaching compassion and empathy.
This is powerful, as it can, directly and indirectly, reduce tensions, anxiety, social awkwardness, interpersonal difficulties, and enhance wellbeing, inclusivity, and acceptance.
When to Talk
It’s never too late to start a conversation on issues of sexuality with your children. While there may be initial discomfort and reluctance from preadolescent children and older, ultimately having these discussions with your children will help them develop a sense of safety and security with you, while it teaches them tolerance and acceptance.
For young children, the age of 5 is generally a good time to begin discussing these topics by sharing some basic information with them.
What to Say
For very young children, keep the conversation simple and focus on basic concepts. When talking about sexuality, you can explain to your child that just as a man and a woman can fall in love, so can a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. When talking about transgender individuals, you can explain that how a person looks on the outside isn’t always how they feel on the inside. You can refer to the familiar adage about “not judging a book by its cover.”
Children should understand the basic concept that there are all kinds of people in this world, and that is what makes us all special and beautiful, like the colors in a rainbow. Allow the colors to be different, each one is amazing on its own and when combined to form a rainbow is magical.
Encourage them to ask you questions as they explore the world. Stay curious with children, they have a sense of wonder that we all need and should be encouraged and validated. Just as they see a rabbit for the first time, they ask "what is that"? This is from a place of curiosity and wonder, not judgment.
If we allow them to ask, explore, and provide back loving, truthful, age-appropriate, and compassionate feedback they will learn to engage in the world from this place. How powerful and wonderful is that?
Our own willingness, openness, and curiosity go a long way and will foster that in children. Or maybe it is the other way around, if we let them, they can foster it in us. Either way, it is transformative and healing.
Stay mindful, and be careful to not consciously, or unconsciously, give answers or communicate verbally or nonverbally in judgmental, confusing, and/or biased ways. Nor ignore a child's or your own curiosity. For mental health and wellbeing, you want to communicate in a way that celebrates all people. We all are and equally deserving of love, acceptance, and respect. And if we all treated each other, and ourselves, this way, what a world it would be.
The research shows it all starts with self-compassion, and it can totally transform us and the world around us. “Compassion is, by definition, relational.
Compassion literally means 'to suffer with,' which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect.”
― Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
If this is difficult for you to do, due to what you have experienced in your life, please seek compassionate support. What happened to you and how you were communicated may have impacted you and left you judgmental, in pain, angry, or hateful. If you are mindful enough to recognize this and willing to explore it, wonderful. Please don't beat yourself up to more, or hate yourself more, as that created more of the problem in the world. Counseling can help, so you can move through pain, trauma, and open your heart to more wellness as well. This will help you and the children and others in your life tremendously.
Remember You Don’t Have to Know Everything
Your child may have questions that you can’t answer. It’s okay to admit to your child when you don’t know the right answer. This could be a discussion point for later after you’ve done some research, or it could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your child.
Take time to explore, ask others as well, stay humble and you will build a stronger relationship with yourself self and the children in your life.
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant, DBT Certified Therapist, IFS Intensively Trained
We can all make a difference, even in small ways, to help uplift, support, and be an ally for LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities.
We believe in empowering and advocating for ALL persons and beings and supporting marginalized groups by standing up against systemic bias and oppression for LGBTQIA+ and ultimately for everyone.
We believe in more inclusion, and that at the deepest level we are all connected. We open our hearts and creative energy centers to welcome a full spectrum of ways to identify with in terms of sexuality, gender, and beyond, including but not being limited to queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, non-binary, and more.
We believe we are all connected, energy is fluid, and that we all are empowered to have our own unique ways of expressing ourselves. So it is best to be in the present and to have ways to describe what we experience creatively among one another, and if we learn to accept and love ourselves, we will love and accept others and vice versa.
Some Ways to Empower and Ally
Other ways you can help may include volunteering at shelters and participating in and/or donating to groups like the Trevor Project in providing national resources.
PFLAG (formerly known as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) connects parents, families, friends, and allies of LGBTQIA+ community members to support one another and the members of the LGBTQIA+ community members in their lives.
Looking for compassionate and supportive counseling services, Contact Us. Learn more about our services & our specialties or join one of our DBT Skills Groups! Check out our Trauma Talks YouTube Series & Blog
Read Article "How to talk to children About Gender, Inclusivity, Sexuality, and LGBTQIA+
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant, DBT Certified Therapist, IFS Intensively Trained. Stacy is a modern-day Light-Worker, Trauma-Crusader, Shame-Untangler & Star-Seeker.
By: Stephanie Albertz, MSW, LISW-S, TRCC
Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) is recognized each year to bring attention to and reduce the stigma of mental health. Removing the stigma associated with mental health opens the door to support, treatment, and healing for the thousands of Americans who go without each year.
The term mental health is often used negatively as descriptor of an affliction or suffering. But the truth is, we all deal with mental health every day and some of us require support to manage it. Mental health looks like stress, anxiety, depression - things most of us have experienced at some point in our lives. It can also look like trauma, PTSD, and suicidal ideations.
The reality is, no matter how small or big your mental health concern is, left untended it can fester and lead to more serious outcomes.
The good news is, by working together we can be the change. We can celebrate those who ask for help. We can normalize mental health care. And we can eradicate the shame linked to mental health.
So how do we destigmatize mental health?
Reducing the stigma of mental health can be done in a variety of ways. Below are a few suggestions to #SilenceStigma but perhaps the best way is to keep talking about mental health.
Silence Stigma Tip #1: Educate yourself and others.
Like most health conditions, mental health concerns can present different in everyone. We often hear the media associate egregious acts with people who “are suffering from a mental health break.” While that account could be true, it also doesn’t mean that all people who have mental health concerns are violent. In fact, that is the minority. Deepening your knowledge of mental health creates space for empathy, understanding, and support.
In your quest to educate yourself it is important to use credible sources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, SAMHSA, and MentalHealth.gov.
Lastly, acknowledge mental health myths exist. Not everything you hear about mental health is true. Know the facts and the myths.
Silence Stigma Tip #2: Stop the shame.
There is no shame in accessing mental health support. We must liken mental health diagnoses to any other medical condition. Can you imagine if people who have diabetes were shamed and judged for taking insulin? Accessing mental health support is no different. We should applaud the bravery of those who have the courage to ask for help and support them in their journey.
Silence Stigma Tip #3: A person is not their diagnosis.
As humans, we made of many parts. Our heritage, biology, culture, education, employment, health conditions, relationships, an endless list of communities and identities to which we belong. We are a sum of our parts, and no single piece of our makeup should be allowed to define who we are as a person.
If you find yourself saying “that schizophrenic person” or “that suicidal person” check yourself. Question yourself. Is that descriptor necessary for the conversation you’re having? If it is, reframe your statement to use person first language. Such as, “a person in my parenting group has depression…”
Silence Stigma Tip #4: Be a support.
When a person comes to you and asks for help, there are three important things you should do:
Once you listen, validate, and believe, ask them what type of support they need. If they are in crisis, ask how you can help them feel safe. Offer to go to an intake appointment with them or drive them to an emergency room. Simply being there for the person is enough.
Silence Stigma Tip #5: Recovery is not a straight line.
There is a reason people say, “it’s a journey” when talking about mental health. A person does not heal or learn to cope overnight. Continue offering support to a person by asking them how they are doing and what they are working on.
If this is the first time a person has sought mental health support, it will take time for them to discover their own path.
Oftentimes people are thrown from their journey when they are triggered by a trauma or experience that led them to begin their journey in the first place. Do not shame the person. Give grace and acknowledge their hard work.
Reducing the stigma of mental health will take the collective efforts of us all. Your participation in fundraising efforts and community trainings for mental health are important and appreciated.
Join the mental health awareness movement – your support is lifesaving.
Stephanie Albertz, MSW, LISW-S, TRCC
Reaching out for help can be one of the hardest things anyone can ever do, but it also takes a lot of
In the United States, a person is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Because of the high volume of assaults we see as a nation every day, April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month focuses not only on increasing the public’s awareness about sexual assaults but providing education to prevent future assaults and information on where to seek resources as well.
Recent research published in the peer-reviewed journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse shows that one month after a sexual assault, 75% of victims met the criteria for post-traumatic stress (PTSD). The only light in this disturbing statistic is that PTSD now has evidenced-based treatments that are working.
Identifying PTSD in Sexual Assault Victims
First things first. Trauma and PTSD are not the same. It is possible as a sexual assault victim to have trauma without being diagnosed with PTSD. Trauma is defined as a past experience that is difficult to get over. PTSD however, is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) diagnosis that is generally broken into 5 categories. Let’s take a deeper look.
Fortunately, there are evidenced-based treatments that have proven to lead to remission for both victims of PTSD and trauma. Three of the most recognized treatments include:
Not everyone responds to the same treatment, so it is important to find what works best for the individual. Treatment methods vary in the amount of effort required by the individual but within 6-12 sessions the person should begin to see progress. Like many things that require treatment, the sooner better.
Too often victims of sexual assault associate the difficulty with healing as a weakness. But that’s simply not the case. Sexual assault victims are survivors who should be very proud of the work they’ve done to recover from their assault. Seeking help with healing is not a weakness, it shows strength.
Journey to Recovery
Recovering from a traumatic event like sexual assault is a journey. Whether the individual is receiving support from a professional counselor or navigating this trauma alone, below are five simple things that can be done on the journey to recovery.
Whether you are a victim yourself or know someone who has been sexually assaulted, know you’re not alone. There is help for those who want it. To make an appointment with a Mindfully counselor, visit www.mindfully.com. If you’re not ready for professional support but need someone to talk to, the Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 by phone at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or by chat.
Dana McDonald, MA, MS, Ph.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
Dana works with a variety of modalities, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dana also treats a variety of mental health and substance use disorder issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, somatoform, and dual diagnoses disorders. Dana works with clients to help them identify goals for themselves and achieve those goals in therapy.
Increasing Autism Acceptance
April can be a painful and tricky month for Autistic people and their loved ones. Why? Because it is :insert trumpet flare: Autism Awareness Month. Those of you that are new to the Autism community may find that strange. Even as an Autistic person myself, I found this odd at first. The truth is, there can be trauma around this idea of Autism awareness. There are many awareness months that people appreciate and love, so why is this one so complicated?
To understand, let’s dig into Autism history. Autism like most neurological differences was first defined by people who are not in fact Autistic. This led to many misunderstandings as to what Autism truly is. Autism advocacy was done by parents, professionals and loved ones that also did not understand. When you don’t understand it is hard to advocate effectively. Early Autism research and advocacy focused on curing and preventing Autistic people. Out of these efforts Autism Awareness Month was born.
It’s important to note that not all Autistic people feel the same about this topic. While some Autistic people want a cure or to prevent Autism, the vast majority do not. You may have notice I am using what is called Identity First Language by referring to Autistic people instead of using Person First Language and referring to people with Autism. This is another area where there are discrepancies. Some prefer Person First Language while the majority of Autistic people Prefer Identity First Language. Why does this matter and how does it relate to Autism Awareness? It matters because we see Autism as an intrinsic part of who we are, not something we carry or deal with. We don’t know who we are without it because it is a major piece of our identity. Furthermore, many of us actually like who we are.
For these reasons and more, Autism Awareness Month can feel like a bombardment of reminders that people don’t really want us as we are. Please don’t misunderstand we have many challenges because we are Autistic and those can be painful and hard for us and our loved ones. We also have strengths that we would hate to lose. Research has shown that many of us can thrive if we have accommodations that allow us to be ourselves rather than try to change our innate neurology to fit into societal norms. While these accommodations are important for inclusion and provide us equitable access it doesn’t remove the challenges we have. Those challenges will still be with us. But what it does provide is acceptance. Acceptance is greater than awareness and the driving force behind changing Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month.
Autistic led organizations like ASAN, AWN, Neuroclastic, Thinking person’s guide to Autism, Aucademy; like to say nothing for us without us. One of the challenges in disability advocacy in general and Autism advocacy specifically is too often it is dominated by people that are not in the community. This does not mean we don’t want loved ones and professionals advocating. Instead, we ask they listen to those that live it from the inside. We want to be accepted as people worth accommodating rather than problems to be fixed.
Autistic people are a diverse group. The spectrum is not a straight line but rather a wheel with many spikes that are each a mini spectrum. Learn more about the spectrum, here. If you have met an Autistic person, you have met one Autistic person. We are each our own person, just like everyone else.
If you are looking to further Autism Acceptance, the organizations mentioned above are great resources. And as always, check out our Meme page.
Charity Chaney, LPCC-s
I am especially passionate about supporting neurodivergent people particularly those that are Autistic, ADHD, and OCD. I also love assisting those that have chronic pain and illness. Finally. I love drawing on mindfulness, trauma informed person centered and DBT strategies to help client’s learn how to cope with a world that is often challenging and even traumatic.
COMPASS POINT'S NEW BRAND
As a valuable part of the Compass Point family, we want to ensure you are the first to know that Compass Point is rebranding. We are excited to introduce you to our new brand and we hope you love it as much as we do!
Compass Point’s name will be changing to Mindfully. In many ways, this has been our identity all along as we have many existing programs and services dedicated to the concept of mindfulness. Because of this, we believe that Mindfully is a more fitting name for our existing and future services.
As a part of our rebranding, we will be adding new services to our offerings including psychiatry and peer mentoring. We are mindful that the needs of our clients change throughout their lives, and we want to ensure we have your behavioral health needs covered.
In the coming weeks we will unveil our new logo that will complete our Mindfully brand identity. While the name and look of our business will be different, the quality of services you have come to know and expect will remain the same. You will still access services in the same manner, you will keep the same clinician, and your billing will remain the same.
During this transition, if you receive a denial from your insurance provider, please contact the front office to have your payment reprocessed.
While we hope you are as excited as we are, we understand that you might have some
questions too. Please reach out to your Compass Point clinician or a front office team member with any questions you may have.
The Importance of Regular Self-care
The Importance of Regular Self-care
By: Jessa N. Bame MSW, LSW, SUDP
Self-care is like good dental hygiene. You wouldn’t wait until you have cavities to brush your teeth. So why should you wait until you’re in crisis to practice self-care? The answer is you shouldn’t.
Regular self-care is an important part of your physical and mental health. By setting aside time to do something that takes you to a more positive state you are contributing to your overall health.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care can be quick, inexpensive, and easy to do. The trick is to DO IT! Become a self-care master in just three simple steps:
Step 1: Think of things that bring you joy, rejuvenate you, or positively impact your mental state.
While self-care activities are often associated with females, self-care is for everyone and can be anything. Choosing a self-care activity is simpler than you think. Have you ever said to yourself, “I miss doing…” or “I wish I still did…”? That “thing” you wish you still did is a perfect place to start. Self-care is unique to each person and each person can have several different self-care activities. For some it could be morning meditations and for others it might be volunteering. Self-care could even be deciding to stay home when you’re not feeling great. The key is to choose things that fill your cup not empty it.
Step 2: Incorporate the self-care activity into your routine.
Self-care generates the best results when it’s regularly practiced, so make it easy on yourself! Try setting reminders on your phone to trigger yourself to practice self-care or create a self-care box with your “go-to” self-care tools. Self-care can even be incorporated into things you do in your day-to-day life. For example, during your commute you can listen to music or call a friend. You can even take 10-minute breaks throughout the day to read a chapter from your favorite book. These small moments you take for yourself pay dividends down the road.
Step 3: Reflect on your results.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that self-care is not about perfection. It is better to attempt a self-care activity and do it poorly than to do nothing at all. Reflect on the times you practiced self-care. How did you feel? Is your routine working or do you need to try something else?
Jessa N. Bame MSW, LSW, SUDP
Making A Resolution That Lasts
Making A Resolution That Lasts
By: Rev. Dr. Bethany L. Fulton, LPCC
It’s funny how the simple unwrapping of a new calendar gets us contemplating how we can improve ourselves or make this year even better than the last. As if changing the last number in a year from a 1 to 2 has the power to transform our lives into the Hallmark movies we watched all December.
As a clinician, I feel it is important to say that approaching the new year as a time to rehash all the things we do not like about ourselves is dangerous territory and simply unproductive. Instead, let’s make resolutions that last and bring about positive changes.
If you really want to make a change that lasts, turn your resolution into a goal. Resolutions themselves are often too generic and set us up for failure. A goal lays the groundwork for more realistic and higher quality results.
When creating a goal, I like to use the trusted acronym S.M.A.R.T. A smart goal is: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time oriented. Now that we’ve defined it, let’s put it into practice.
Let’s say you have resolved that you want to be happier in 2022. Great! You have a goal. Now let’s make it S.M.A.R.T: I want to be happier in my personal relationships so I will reserve two Fridays a month to spend at least one hour with a friend.
Now that you’ve mastered creating a goal it’s time to master failing. Yes, that’s right, I said failing. Over the next 365 days you will most likely fail at least once. Once we acknowledge the failure, we can more quickly return our focus to what we can do in the present moment. We achieve a goal by moving forward not by dwelling in the past.
One of the first mistakes we make when creating a goal is attaching pass or fail logic. As humans, we love all or nothing thinking because it makes sense. But when it comes to evaluating the success of your goal, it simply does not work. Think back to our goal of more meaningful relationships. It is possible to become happier in your relationships even if there were a few months that you only had time for one get together instead of two.
Goals are fluid and it is important to allow yourself to rework the goal. Circumstances change, global pandemics occur, life happens. It’s how you adjust that matters. Be brave, take small steps, and have the courage to continue even when it becomes difficult. Success is not about passing or failing, it’s about the way you feel at the end of it all.
Home for the Holidays…Or Not
Home for the Holidays…Or Not
For some, going home for the holidays is the most wonderful time of the year. But for others, it can be a mixture of stress, anxiety, excitement, fear, and a whole host of other emotions.
For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the choice to go home for the holidays may hinge on whether they feel safe, accepted, and/or welcome to celebrate with their family of origin. For others, the choice may simply be to celebrate with their chosen family instead. Either way, developing a Cope Ahead Plan can be an effective way to navigate the holidays and keep your mental health intact.
4 Elements to Include in Your Cope Ahead Plan:
However and with whoever you celebrate this season, we wish you a happy and safe holidays!
Self-Care for the Holidays
Self-Care for the Holidays
By Jennifer Day, MSW Intern
During the holidays, our to-do-lists often pile up with tasks and taking care of others. It’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup, so we must take a few minutes to recharge ourselves too!
Self-care is more than just a checklist or the latest wellness buzzword. Self-care is the human equivalent of performing routine maintenance on a vehicle – we all know we have to fuel up a car to get it to run, but we also have to make sure the tires are inflated, check and change the oil occasionally, check the brakes… you get it. Good care in advance and throughout the life of a car keeps it lasting longer and running better. It’s the same with people, especially during a season that’s sometimes busy and difficult. Here are a few inexpensive or free things you can do to keep your engine running during the holidays:
1. Schedule time for you.
Think about the things you enjoy and make sure you set aside time for those things, rather than filling up your calendar with everyone else’s plans for you. Add some time to your day to practice self-care activities or just a few minutes of quiet before a gathering.
2. Practice being mindful.
Things can get pretty hectic during the holidays but incorporating mindfulness into your holiday can be as simple as paying attention to only the task you’re completing right now. Even grocery shopping can be done more mindfully by noticing your surroundings, such as the sights, smells, and sounds. Going over the river and through the woods to visit family? Try mindful driving!
3. Leave space for the tough stuff.
The holidays can be very difficult with grief popping up as we remember those who can’t be present with us or for situations that aren’t ideal. Since the pandemic, chances are there’s something about your holiday season you might wish looked a little different. It’s okay to notice your grief and leave space for it in your holiday. Consider whether these negative feelings come from expectations left unfulfilled and give yourself a break if you aren’t feeling festive.
4. Ask for help.
Need help with baking the pies or washing the dishes? Let someone know how much you’d appreciate a hand. It’s perfectly okay to give up some responsibilities and delegate tasks during this busy season… and all year long! If you’re struggling with holiday stress, you can always reach out and schedule an appointment with your CPCS therapist. We’re here to help.
However you celebrate, we wish you a holiday season full of relaxation and self-care.
When Your Child Needs Therapy:
Five Commonly Asked Questions, Answered
By The Adolescent Team at Compass Point
When children and teens need therapy, it’s not unusual for caregivers to feel like they have failed. But rather than being a sign of failure, seeking help for your child is a brave act.
Sometimes children and adolescents need counseling, just like adults. They may be suffering from a mental illness, which affects a staggering 1 in 6 youths in the U.S. every year. Or they may need guidance with working through emotional issues related to family, school, trauma or other situations. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them or you. It just means they need the assistance of someone who specializes in helping people overcome their life challenges.
No matter the reason why you are seeking therapy for your child, taking that first step can be scary. Here is a list of frequently asked questions to help you prepare for what comes next.
What Should I Tell My Child About Going to Therapy?
Be open and honest about why they are going to therapy and how you think it will help. At the same time, be sensitive to the worries or fears your child may have. Many children and adolescents think that therapy means there is something dramatically wrong with them. You can help ease this concern by explaining your child that they will learn new skills and tools for coping with their challenges, and that these skills and tools can help them for the rest of their life.
Will I Meet with My Child’s Therapist First?
The first session will be between you and the therapist to freely discuss your concerns and why you think your child needs therapy. If you think your child may be suffering from mental illness, be ready to talk about the signs or symptoms you or others have observed and when they started to occur. Come prepared with questions for the counselor as well. Common questions include:
Will the Therapist Keep Me Updated About My Child’s Progress?
In most cases, you will not take part in the sessions with your child. This is to provide your child with space to open up about things he or she may not be comfortable sharing in front of you. However, most counselors will schedule one-on-one parent sessions to share information and provide guidance on how you can help your child at home.
What if My Child Doesn’t Like the Therapist?
Talk to your child and try to understand why he or she does not like the therapist. Keep in mind it may take several sessions for the relationship to “click.” However, you should always trust your instincts. It may be that it’s simply not a good fit. If that’s the case, it’s OK to move on and find another therapist.
What Can I do to Support My Child?
Commit to making sure your child attends all appointments. We know this can be challenging for working parents and for parents of school-aged children. However, improvement will only be made if your child attends all sessions. In addition, talk to your child’s therapist about specific actions you can take to support your child at home. And finally, be patient. Progress takes time, and you will not see a breakthrough overnight. There may even be setbacks. But over time, you will see a change for the better.
When It’s Time to Get Help
At Compass Point, we have an experienced team of child and adolescent therapists who are ready to work with you and your child. Because we know how important it is to find the right therapist for your child, we will do our best to match you with the best fit from the start.
When you schedule an appointment using our online scheduler, you’ll answer questions about your child’s needs, your preferred location and your schedule. Within minutes, our system will generate a list of available providers who have the skills, capabilities and expertise to help you and your child. It’s that easy.
Take the first step. Call or request an appointment online today.
by Kristin Henderson
After more than a year of living with COVID-19, there are signs that we could return to something close to normal by this summer. That’s right: a future of mingling with friends, family, and colleagues indoors is within sight.
However, it’s safe to say that our use of videoconferencing platforms is here to stay, even after social distancing restrictions are fully lifted. What started as a necessity last March has, for some, become a source of convenience. Teletherapy in particular has emerged as a lifeline for people who have barriers to attending in-person therapy.
Yet even a year in, many of us still experience a sense of “Zoom anxiety.” That is, we feel self-conscious or anxious about videoconferencing to the point of distraction. One way to alleviate these feelings is to use the tools around us to our advantage.
Here are six tips to feel more at ease and look your best on camera, whether you’re meeting with colleagues, with family or with a healthcare professional.
#1 - Assess Your Lighting
Good lighting is essential to humanizing your video interactions. Natural light is the highest quality and most flattering form of lighting. If natural light isn’t an option, you can purchase a ring light, which mimics white natural light. A lamp will do fine as well. Just make sure that you are facing the light source to avoid creating a silhouette or halo effect.
#2 – Check Your Surroundings
Keep your space free of clutter and other visual distractions. Using a blank or minimally decorated wall as your backdrop will keep the main focus on you. Try to avoid doorways in the background, especially if there is a chance for someone to pop in while you’re on a call.
#3 – Evaluate Your Camera Angle
Your camera should be at or slightly above eye level. You can achieve this by purchasing a laptop stand or a phone tripod, or by stacking books or boxes on your worksurface. Also ensure the camera isn’t too close to your face. Most laptops have wide-angle lenses, which will distort your face if you are too close. If your laptop or phone is just not cutting it, you can buy a stand-alone camera that can mount on your screen or to a tripod.
#4 – Use the Mute Button
Unsurprisingly, new standards of etiquette are arising for video meetings. Chief among them is the use of the mute button. Start meetings on mute and keep yourself on mute until you are ready to speak. This cuts back on background noise, especially when multiple people are on a call.
#5 – Dress for Success
The clothes we wear can have a big impact on camera. Solid colors and simple patterns work best. Keep in mind that the camera angle can play tricks with what you wear. Shirts with graphics or writing and sleeveless and v-neck tops may be cut off in an unflattering way by the camera. Always do a quick camera check before hopping on a call.
#6 – Take Time for Self-Care
Zoom fatigue is a real condition. Make sure you have plenty of water and a healthy snack within reach. Also, build time into your schedule to step away from your desk. Socialize (safely) with colleagues and friends, go for a quick walk or just take a moment to decompress.
At Compass Point, we offer both in-person and teletherapy sessions for clients. If you need to seek help, call or schedule an appointment online. We’ll do our best to find the right fit so you can get started feeling better.
Four Ways to Determine if a Therapist is the Right Fit for You
by Monica Burbank, MA, LPCC
Therapy helps millions of people every year feel better and achieve more than they thought possible. But it can be intimidating to open up to a stranger. To get the most out of your therapy sessions, you need to feel comfortable talking about and exploring your fears, anxieties and other challenges.
That’s why it’s so important to find a therapist who is a good fit for you. When you find a therapist who is the right fit, it will feel like talking to an old friend. They will challenge you in all the ways you want and sit with you when times are tough.
So how do you know if your therapist is right for you? Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing checklist. However, here are four general questions you can ask yourself, based on my own experience both as a therapist and as a therapy client
If something feels off, consider talking about it with your therapist. Being open and honest about what you are feeling or experiencing will help your therapist better meet your needs. Keep in mind that it usually takes three to five sessions before you start to feel like you are making progress.
If you still feel like you are not connecting, or if you’re not comfortable talking about it with your therapist, it’s OK to move on. It’s also OK to “shop around” for the right therapist before committing. If you do this, be transparent with your therapist(s) so they know what to expect.
Finding the Best Fit at Compass Point
Therapy should be unique to you because you are one of a kind. At Compass Point, we do our best to connect you with the best fit from the start. When you call or request an appointment online, you will answer a series of questions about who you are and the type of help you are seeking. We use this information to match you with a specialist who can see you within three days at your preferred location.
More than 90 percent of our clients are satisfied with their therapist. But if it turns out that your therapist is not the right match, we can help you find a provider who is a better fit.
Schedule an appointment today.
Monica Burbank, MA, LPCC
By now, we have all seen our ability as human beings, to come together and impact change. Cancel culture has become a modern movement for change, but is it really as helpful as it is advertised to be? Cancel culture is a modern form of withdrawing support for public figures or companies after they have done something considered offensive.
Public figure Ellen Degeneres, whose motto is “be kind” and who would showcase philanthropy and kindness on her show, was cancelled due to accusations that the work environment on her show was the exact opposite of her motto. Several employees came forward to open up about a toxic work culture that fostered anything but kindness. Degeneres offered an apology and several executives of the show walked away entirely.
A popular planner company founder, Erin Condren, was cancelled along with her brand after she was accused of using Black Lives Matter to stage her daughter’s graduation party/walk. Customers quickly began to take a stance and Condren took a leave of absence from the company.
I believe in holding people and companies accountable for their actions and I also believe in redemption. We all have the capacity for change and we are all doing the best we can with respect to where we are in our lives. Many people do not see the intimate details of our life that help define our choices, values, beliefs and behavior. So how can we create a space for cancel culture to become a growth culture?
We have all made mistakes throughout the journey of our lives and we will continue to do so - we are human. Our behaviors impact others stories in ways we may never even imagine. We have all been the hero, the sidekick, the villain and the background character in someone else's story. I like to believe that from these experiences, we grow. We learn, we change our behavior and we shift as we go on this journey of life.
As a society we of course need to hold others accountable when they do wrong, but could we also not give people grace and a chance to learn and grow into becoming better? We have all made mistakes, we have all judged one another - so why can we not offer each other grace? Forgiveness is a powerful thing and without it, we become resentful, hurt, angry. I believe in creating a culture that is deeper than just cancelling someone or something. A culture that goes beyond that and moves toward growth.
The company mentioned earlier, Erin Condren, has a new CEO and although she did not have knowledge of what their founder was doing in June of 2020, she took full responsibility for the ramifications that it has had on the company and developed an ongoing plan to change their company culture and hold not only the company, but all their employees, to a higher standard. Since the incident in June, the company has gotten feedback from customers and updated monthly on concrete actions and steps they are taking to change and grow.
This leaves us with a decision - we can keep cancel culture as is or we can take accountability a step further and move forward together. Some who have been cancelled may not make steps toward change, but for those who do - I believe we should offer grace and give a chance to grow and learn. If we are never given a chance to learn from our mistakes and missteps in life - we will never be able to move forward.
My question to you - what are your thoughts on cancel culture?
Revealed: Three actions every therapist needs to take immediately to improve their teletherapy sessions
by Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
It will be years before we fully understand how the coronavirus pandemic has changed society. But one thing that is certain: teletherapy is here to stay.
Last spring, teletherapy became a lifeline for clients during the lockdown. Almost a year later, therapists and clients are still seeing benefits to this mode of treatment. It’s convenient for clients. It has expanded access for those who have transportation barriers or who face community stigma. And most important, research is finding that symptom reduction and client satisfaction rank about the same for teletherapy as for in-person sessions.
Yet despite the widespread adoption of telehealth tools in the past year, obstacles for therapists are still prevalent. Very little formal training exists that is specific to mental health providers. Telehealth has unique policies and procedures above and beyond in-person visits. Technology issues can derail a session. And there are a host of legal risks to navigate.
Continuous improvement is at the heart of what we do. In the spirit of continually improving how we serve clients, here are three video teletherapy best practices therapists need to incorporate into their teletherapy sessions now.
#1 – Set Your Sights on the Setting
Creating the right ambience is just as important on a video platform as it is for in-person sessions. Dress professionally and be on time. Remove visual clutter and physical distractions from your practice space. And don’t overlook lighting—it should be adequate without being harsh. Always position your camera so that light sources, including windows, are in front, rather than behind, you.
Pro tip: always look at your camera, not your client’s face, to show engagement. Keep in mind that positioning the camera too close to your face can make a client perceive that you are in their space. It may also cut off nonverbal cues, like hand gestures.
#2 – Know Your Technology
You may need to pull double duty as IT support, so make sure you understand how your technology works before diving in. Start by ensuring your internet connection is fast enough to support video conferencing. Test your video and audio connections before every session. And always create a back-up plan with each client during your first session. Even with preparation, technology and internet connectivity can fail without notice. You and your client should both know what to do when this occurs so that their care is not interrupted.
#3 – Protect Patient Privacy
Teletherapy presents a host of risks related to the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. At the most basic level, sessions need to be conducted in spaces that are free from interruption. You will also need to ensure that your device has a lock and is not used by any members of your household.
From a technology standpoint, all text messaging, email applications and videoconferencing platforms must be HIPAA compliant. All emails, text messages, instant messages, chat history and clinical records will need to be preserved and stored in the client’s file.
Compass Point uses HIPAA-compliant video and email platforms, and all Compass Point therapists have access to these tools.
More Best Practices for Teletherapy
Mental health providers have a challenging ethical landscape to navigate. Keeping current with new guidelines can feel overwhelming at times.
Compass Point is offering a one-day webinar called Best Practices in Private Practice (Ethics). The webinar will be available in March, May, September and November as a live webinar. It will be offered in June and August on location in Mason, Ohio.
The course will be worth three CEUs. This training will clarify Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist board and insurance company rules. We’ll also look at best practices for using teletherapy, including avoiding common legal risks. Register for the course today.
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
These therapists know that going to therapy can be intimidating, because they have sat on that side of the couch
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or another form of mental illness, you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 51 million adults in the U.S. experience mental illness. That’s 1 in 5 adults.
Mental health treatment, including therapy and medication, can put recovery within your reach. There are so many benefits of therapy. But asking for help can be hard. Many people find it scary or intimidating to share their fears, anxieties and other challenges with a stranger.
This is a safe place to start. Our therapists entered this field because they want to help others. Many of them have had their own experience with therapy. They know where you are coming from, because they have sat on that side of the couch.
Here’s what some of our therapists have to say about their own experience seeking therapy.
What was your experience with seeing a therapist?
We therapists have all been on the other side of the room. We have been in therapy, and we know it can be hard to start building trust with a new person. But that's what a therapist is: just a person, like you. We are ordinary people with the extraordinary job of hearing you, feeling with you, and joining you in this moment of your journey.
— Ruth Schrider, MSW, LISW-SUPV
I have sought out counseling for grief, adjustment to this career and life stress. I found it extremely helpful. For the first six months in my career, I sought out counseling just because I was a therapist. This was one of the most helpful experiences for me because it helped me to create appropriate boundaries and it was part of taking care of myself so I can help others.
— Ariana Warren, MS, LPCC
I have absolutely had rich experiences with seeing a therapist both when I was younger and in my middle age. I am a huge proponent of therapy for everyone, provided they are ready to examine themselves and lift blocks to growth, potential and well-being. It is about as worthwhile a goal as I can think of.
— Donna (Dana) Danoff, MSW, LSW
“Since moving to Ohio five years ago, I've seen three different therapists. My last therapist was amazing and really just met me on my level. I think about her a lot, even after a year of no longer going to her office.”
— Monica Burbank, MA, NCC, LPCC
When You Need Help
There are many reasons to seek therapy. Some people reach out to a therapist when they have reached a breaking point and can’t manage their issues anymore. Others find a therapist to help them remove obstacles from moving forward or achieving their dreams. Still others just need someone to talk to.
If you’re ready to ask for help, contact us today. You can call or schedule an appointment online. We’ll do our best to find the right fit, the first time, so that you can get started with feeling better.
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
Charles is a Supervising Professional Clinical Counselor and a founder of Compass Point Counseling Services. He is licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor (LPCC-S), Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Clinical Supervisor (LICDC-CS) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Charles serves as the Clinical Director at Compass Point.
Six Best Practices for Living a Social (Media) Life for Therapists
Yes, you can be a therapist and use social media, too. In fact, as our world becomes increasingly connected via virtual platforms and applications, it’s nearly impossible to just say no to social media.
We use social media for everything from keeping up with friends and family to marketing our practices to collaborating with colleagues around the world. Think not just Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but also Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube, wikis, Pinterest, blogs, forums, product and services review sites, and even social gaming.
Yet as therapists, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than many other professions when it comes to social media. To be both effective and ethical mental health providers, we need to establish clear boundaries between our personal and professional lives. This is true in both our physical and digital worlds.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have social networking accounts or leave a digital footprint of any kind. But we do need to take additional steps to avoid the risk of creating multiple relationships with clients. We also need to show a higher sensitivity to the content we share and interact with.
Not sure where to start? First, check with your employer about social media policies they have in place that could affect your activity. Then follow these six best practices for maintaining a social (media) life for therapists.
#1 – Lock Your Personal Channels Down
Use the highest possible privacy controls to keep your information and activity private. Consider using alternate contact information for creating social accounts or other personal interactions (such as leaving a review). Remember that the content you post could be reshared by approved contacts. In addition, any professional activity done on your personal pages is subject to ethics and licensing complaints.
#2 – Create a Separate Persona for Your Professional Self
] If you want to market your services online, create a business or professional page separate from your personal accounts. Remember, this might be where potential clients find you, so put your business foot forward to build credibility and trust. Always use your professional email to create these pages; use personal email for your personal pages only.
#3 – Do not Interact with Clients Online
Never accept friend requests or otherwise follow clients. If you manage a blog, turn off the public comments feature. Likewise, you should never communicate with clients through social media, including “private” channels like Messenger or direct messages. Unsecure applications and platforms could put patient confidentiality at risk.
#4 – Create a Social Media Policy
If you’re going to maintain a social media presence of any kind, a social media policy should be included in the informed consent process. Your social media policy should make clear that you don’t accept friend requests nor will you follow clients, and why. It should also include a reminder that your professional accounts are public and, therefore, anything your clients post, like, reshare or otherwise interact with will be public.
#5 – Never Assume That Your Activity is Private
Just because you lock down your profile doesn’t mean that your activity with other content—your likes, comments, shares and retweets, Google and Yelp reviews and more—is private. Always consider how your activity could be perceived by clients. Don’t like, comment or share on other pages with the expectation that it will remain private.
#6 – Always Protect Patient Confidentiality
Did I mention there is no guarantee of privacy on the internet? Never seek consultations publicly, even in private therapist groups or listservs. Never post anything about a client even if the post is anonymous and you have anonymized the client’s information. Doing so could risk your reputation, your career, and most important, your client’s mental health journey.
Get More Tips for Best Practices
Want to get more tips for the ethical navigation of social media? Compass Point is offering a one-day session on Best Practices in Private Practice (Ethics). The webinar will be available in March, May, September and November as a live webinar. It will be offered in June and August on location in Mason, Ohio.
I’ll be leading the course, which will provide three CEUs. This training will clarify Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist board and insurance company rules. We’ll also look at best practices for staying in compliance with teletherapy and, yes, social media.
You can learn more about and register for the program on Compass Point Counseling’s website.