Anxiety causes our mind to become preoccupied with the future - all the things we're concerned might or might not happen - and it can be easy in our most anxious moments to lose awareness of the fact that, at least in the present moment, we might actually be okay. One of our favorite strategies to teach clients is a grounding tool that brings us back from anxious worries about the future to noticing and enjoying the here and now. There are several different versions of this tool; Dr. Helen Williams and Beacon House UK have created a brief video illustrating one of them. When you practice it, what do you notice, both in terms of your environment and any shifts away from anxiety?
Image or information courtesy of Beacon House Therapeutic Services & Trauma Team | 2019 | www.beaconhouse.org.uk
Dr. Bruce Perry is a world-renown psychiatrist, author, and trauma researcher. He emphasizes that one of the most important ways we can help ourselves stay grounded and feeling safe and organized during times of stress is to incorporate patterned, repetitive, rhythmic, somatosensory activity into our daily routines. One of the best, and most enjoyable, ways to do this is by using our bodies to feel and keep a beat! Music therapist, Allison Davies, has a wonderful video up on her YouTube channel teaching children (and adults!) a fun way to do this. Give it a try and let us know how you like it!
The Foundation Trust, an organization in Boston, MA, focused on supporting the needs of youth and adults impacted by complex trauma, has released a guide to strategies for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic for individuals who have experienced trauma. The strategies themselves are helpful for anyone to consider experimenting with during this time of increased stress; however, the guide also addresses ways in which a history of complex trauma may influence a person's response to the added stress of this pandemic and the heightened importance of feeling connected to self and others.
Coping Strategies for Complex Trauma Survivors Contending with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic:
Come for the fun, catchy tune (seriously, once you hear it, you won't be able to keep yourself from singing it); stay for Allison Davies' cheerful spirit and explanation of some of the reasons why singing is so good for us from a neurological standpoint.
What song or chorus do you love to sing to yourself or to your children when you need assurance?
With rain forecast over the next few days here in Georgia, finding ways to help energetic little ones expend physical and emotional energy indoors can be challenging. As part of their new series of resources called "Staying Connected Through COVID-19," the team at Beacon House UK has produced a short video showing how one of their occupational therapists created a small obstacle course in her home to help her children engage in alerting, organizing, and calming activities in just a few fun minutes. Check it out!
Based on current information, we anticipate using telemental health, predominatly HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, for all appointments, including sessions with children and EMDR therapy, at least through the end of April. Efforts to slow the impact of COVID-19 through social distancing are vital; we are also sad about not being able to be in the office with our clients. We are doing our very best to make telemental health appointments as effective and enjoyable as possible in the meantime. Thank you for bearing with us while we adjust to some of the technological glitches that come with an exponentially larger load being placed on the platforms providing this service.
Right now, we are using Google Meet as our primary provider for telemental health. Through G Suite for Business, Google Meet is HIPAA-compliant and protects client privacy while also providing a high quality means of communication. Clients still receive general appointment reminders 48 hours in advance of their session, with a follow-up invitation to their Google Meet appointment about 24 hours in advance containing a link they simply click on at their appointment time to join their therapist. Google Meet can be accessed via a web browser (https://meet.google.com/_meet) or by downloading the Hangouts Meet by Google app onto a mobile device (make sure you download Hangouts Meet by Google, not just Hangouts). To ensure your privacy, we encourage clients to log on from a quiet room in their home that has a door they can close (or even from their car!) and to use headphones or ear buds that will connect with their computer or mobile device.
Clients can request a call with their therapist in advance of their appointment, if they would like assistance setting up and/or testing their ability to use Google Meet; clients can schedule a call through the client portal to do this or can just call their therapist directly and leave a message with some dates and times they are available.
If at the time of your appointment, Google Meet is having significant technical trouble, clients and therapists will have the option of switching over to Doxy.me, another HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform we utilize. Should this be necessary, therapists will assist clients in connecting with them on the Doxy.me site.
Clients who have been, or wish to, submit superbills to their insurance company as part of an out-of-network claim can still do so for telemental health services; however, benefits may not be the same for telemental health as for face-to-face sessions. We encourage clients to contact their insurance company to verify what telemental health benefits are available to them from an out-of-network provider; if asked for CPT codes, the primary ones to provide are 90791-95 (if you are a new client) and 90834-95, with 90837-95, 90847-95, 90846-95, 90853-95, and 90832-95 also possibly being used depending upon your treatment plan. Talk with your therapist if you have questions or need assistance with conversations with your insurance company.
We are looking forward to connecting with each of our clients in ways that are meaningful and creative via telemental health. We have all experienced an incredibly rapid amount of change and disruption in a short period of time, and we're here to care for any and all of our clients experiencing increased anxiety, feelings of isolation, or other mental health stressors. If you have any questions or concerns, just give us a call at 404.394.1096.
Arbor Cove Therapy, LLC, is an outpatient mental health practice specializing in the needs of individuals and families involved in adoption, as well as people recovering from trauma and resulting symptoms of anxiety, depression, and relational difficulties.