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.
Reaching out for help can be one of the hardest things anyone can ever do, but it also takes a lot of
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
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.
What to Know Before Becoming Your Own Boss
by Jodi Stevens, CPA
Thinking about becoming your own boss? One of the advantages to going out on your own is that there are no one-size-fits-all requirements to self-employment. You can open a private practice. You can work as an independent contractor (also called a 1099) with a company like Compass Point. You can create a constellation of “gig” opportunities, such as teaching, writing or coaching.
In short, you have greater independence to focus your talents on work that brings you joy. You may even discover that you can increase your income.
But asking if you should go out on your own is only half the question. You also need to determine if you can—that is, if you are financially ready. When you are an employee, you meet with clients and receive a check. When you open your own practice or become an independent contractor, your income is less stable. You need to have enough cash on hand for start-up costs. It takes time to ramp up a client base. And you still need to cover your day-to-day requirements, like housing, food and transportation.
By taking the time to get your finances in order before you make the leap, you’ll be more likely to land on both feet. Get started with these four tips:
#1 – Determine Your Start-Up and Ongoing Expenses
When you work for someone else as a W-2 employee, you can take things like a furnished office, technology infrastructure and health benefits for granted. When you open your own practice or become an independent contractor, the burden is on you to source and pay for these essentials. To avoid financial surprises, spend time identifying and putting numbers to your start-up expenses, which could include:
As you build your financial plan, keep in mind that many of these expenses are not one-time costs. As you build out your plan, make sure to include other costs that crop up throughout the year, such as continuing education.
#2 – Know Your Financial Needs
When you work for yourself, you can set your own schedule. But before you commit to short workdays and long weekends, make sure your business plan can support your lifestyle.
If you haven’t already, establish your personal budget. You’ll need to factor in your requirements—such as housing, food and utilities—as well as your wants—such as eating out or taking a vacation. Remember that you’ll also need to set aside cash for unexpected expenses as well as for long-term goals, like college funds and retirement.
Then, combine this data with your projected business expenses and compare against your desired rate and schedule. If the two don’t align, you’ll need to start making adjustments.
#3 – Budget for the Business Cycle
When you are a salaried employee, you get paid the same whether you’re in the middle of a busy season or stuck in a slow stretch. You also receive paid time off to cover vacations or sick days. You may even get paid for holidays.
When you go out on your own—whether as an independent contractor or by opening your own practice—you can earn a higher billable rate. But if business is slow, your income shows it. In addition, if you decide to open your own practice, “therapist” is just one of many hats you’ll wear. You’ll also need to set aside time for marketing, scheduling, billing and collections, bookkeeping and credentialing. All of this will eat into your billable hours.
In short, you’ll need to be ready for unplanned downtime. That requires setting aside enough cash during upswings to have a cushion for temporary downturns or time away from the office.
#4 – Don’t Forget Taxes
Taxes are one of the most common stumbling blocks for the newly self-employed. While this topic alone could generate volumes, one of the most common points of confusion is quarterly estimated taxes. You will be responsible for paying estimated taxes four times a year. In addition, you will also be required to report and pay 15.3 percent in Social Security and Medicare taxes, as opposed to the 7.65 percent you pay as a W-2 employee.
The good news? Independent contractors and small businesses are not required to pay taxes to the state of Ohio on income less than $250,000. In addition, you may qualify for an array of deductions, including for a home office, mileage and health insurance.
Your best bet is to retain an accountant you trust before you go out on your own to ensure you understand your tax liability. An accountant can also help you prepare quarterly payments and annual returns and ensure you are in compliance with all applicable tax laws.
The Best of Both Worlds
If you’re ready to be your own boss but the business side gives you pause, consider becoming an independent contractor. As a contractor, you can partner with a company that will take care of the backend services so you can focus on your clients.
For example, Compass Point handles everything from marketing to scheduling to billing for its contractors. You’ll have access to furnished office space in nearly a dozen locations as well as a digital platform for remote counseling. Compass Point even takes care of credentialing.
As a Compass Point therapist, you can set your own schedule. You’ll have access to client leads as well as a team of compassionate professionals with whom you can collaborate. You can also gain peace of mind knowing that when you take time off, someone is answering the phone in your absence. And with Compass Point’s good-fit model, you’ll be matched with clients who are the right fit for your area of focus.
As a Compass Point therapist, you’ll still be required to report your own taxes. But the professionals at resource partner Stevens & Associates will be available to provide guidance on taxes and accounting.
Interested in learning more about working with Compass Point? Visit our hiring page to learn more.