teletherapy studies

Healing Child Anxiety with Somatic Experiencing

Let’s face it, from almost every direction we hear about how anxiety, trauma, depression, addiction and a host of other mental health related problems are on the rise. The frightening thing is that the victims are not only adults whose stresses are somewhat obvious, but children as well.

 

How Your Child Naturally Responds to Stress

Before beginning to explain how the debilitating consequences of those stresses and traumas can be arrested and even reversed it is essential to understand the physiological reaction to stress and trauma. An event that is stressful triggers what is often referred to as the “fight, flight, freeze response,” essentially a survival response. Although some of us may not be aware of the aforementioned elongated label, we have all experienced the associated physical sensations: feeling startled, shallow and quick breathing, or a racing heart.

 

Any of these unpleasant physiological reactions are triggered by a tiny part of your brain called the amygdala becoming alerted to danger. You don’t decide to get scared. The fear precedes experiencing the emotion. It is the automatic response of the Autonomic Nervous System which occurs instantaneously without your conscious awareness.

 

Your nervous system is preparing you to take action in response to the stressful event and will continue as long as the danger is sensed. When the crisis has passed, and a sense of safety has returned, your nervous system will hit the brakes and calm will be restored. As a result, your breathing and heart rate becomes slower, and your muscles relax.

 

Don’t think that it takes a life-threatening scare to trigger the survival response. Getting yelled at, falling, being afraid to show Dad or Mom a poor grade on a test, or getting into a heated argument with a friend can trigger the amygdala as well.

 

Why Can’t Your Child Calm Down?

But sometimes the original return to calm doesn’t occur so naturally. The reason for this varies. Sometimes the event overloads the nervous system’s capacity to regulate itself. And sometimes the child is prevented from implementing the stress-relieving action that the body needs to take.

 

Take for instance, if the kid is in a car accident, and naturally wishes to run away but is preventing from doing so by the seat belt that is jammed. What happens is that the energy in the child’s nervous system activated by the amygdala is trapped inside the body unable to be released.

 

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When this natural survival response gets stuck, the energy that is trapped impedes the body from relaxing, often resulting in anxiety which could turn into numbness or depression. This trapped energy can produce symptoms which are interpreted as psychological but are physiological!

 

What happens is when the situation persists, the resilience of the nervous system declines over time as a result of being overburdened by this trapped energy. Headaches or all sorts of intestinally related problems very often are generated and misunderstood as originating from sources that are entirely unrelated.

 

An Innovative Solution

Somatic Experiencing is a system that was developed by Dr. Peter Levine. Dr. Levine was initially trained as a biologist. He noticed that animals in the wild would literally “shake off” excess energy such as trembling after enduring a stressful event such as barely escaping a predator.

 

After carefully observing this phenomenon in the wild, Dr. Levine theorized that the nervous systems of humans needed to release energy after a stressful event in much the same way. Somatic Experiencing was developed as a way to discharge the excess energy trapped in the body and thereby returning the nervous system to its state of natural resilience.

 

In practice, the therapist will introduce various techniques that promote the release of this trapped energy. The focus of Somatic Experiencing is not on the cognitive experience of the anxiety or trauma but instead on helping the energy release. As Dr. Levine has said, “trauma is in the body, not in the event.”

 

By slowly and gently bringing the child’s awareness to his/her body sensations, the skilled therapist can guide the client to gradually release that pent-up energy which is responsible for so many physical and emotional discomfort and pain. The release and ensuing relief are entirely natural.

 

Is your school looking to explore the benefits of teletherapy? Schedule your free demo today.

teletherapy homework

Teletherapy Homework: To Give or Not to Give, is That the Question?

The question of whether or not to give homework to students is probably as old as the hills.  Despite the age of the question and the many hours that have been devoted to debating this controversial topic, there doesn’t yet appear to be any conclusive answer.

Some are sure that it is a great idea and any opposition doesn’t understand or appreciate its supreme value and benefits. Others are on the completely opposite end of the spectrum and believe that homework accounts for a significant percentage of student negativity regarding school.

And then there are those who see both the pros and cons. Since the jury is still out on this critical yet delicate issue, it seems that it may be best to present some of the pros and cons and let you come to your own conclusions.

What are Some of the Pros of Teletherapy Homework?

It has been shown that completing teletherapy homework helps to make a more responsible student as it helps the student to learn time management skills.

Working on homework inculcates in children perseverance. Often during the teletherapy session, the student will not master all of the skills and therefore needs the time to practice over and again to gain mastery.

The ability to consistently complete and submit teletherapy homework on time raises the self-esteem of the child which has immense benefits beyond their therapeutic success.

Homework has the benefit of helping the child to become and stay organized. It forces the student to plan and break large tasks into smaller more manageable parts.

Let’s not forget perhaps the most obvious benefit of homework in that it gives the child another opportunity to review material from the session.

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A lesser-known benefit of homework is that the teletherapy clinician can better gauge precisely what the student is absorbing and not absorbing which helps the clinician to modify the next session for maximum benefit strategically.

Homework teaches students to pace themselves more naturally. They learn not to rush, and that problematic tasks take time to complete.

What are Some of The Cons of Teletherapy Homework?

Although it is rare, there may be times when a teletherapy clinician will use homework as a form of punishment or repression. It could be that the therapist was frustrated with the child’s lack of effort or attitude and is seeking to “teach the child a lesson.” In such a case homework will be counterproductive.

An honest mistake that some teletherapy clinicians make is that they don’t realize how much homework the child already is burdened with from school. Piling on the homework will rob the child of the necessary time to relax and play. This is sure to reflect poorly in the homework and create a bad feeling negatively.

Sometimes doing extra work outside of the session won’t affect a noticeable improvement for the student and will be seen by the child as unnecessary. This may boomerang in the next session when the children will be resistant to the new material and promote a feeling about the therapist that “she just piles it on!”.

What is the Answer?

The prudent path is for the teletherapy clinician to assign homework that will help the child- very carefully!. And once that homework has been completed as assigned, it would be wise for the child to be handsomely rewarded for his/her efforts. This will encourage the child to be more enthusiastic about the next assignment and about the therapist who is assigning it.

What Do You Think?

 

Is your school looking to explore the benefits of teletherapy? Schedule your free demo today.

prinicpal clinician communication

4 Ways to Improve Principal and Teletherapy Clinician Communication

Administrators, teletherapy clinicians, and parents need to join forces to enable students to enjoy a healthy, productive learning environment in school. While many components are necessary, excellent communication skills are indeed at the top of the list.

 

But as we all know, the reality of creating a healthy and productive communication bond is often easier said than done. Unfortunately, there is usually a disconnect between school administrators and teletherapy clinicians that complicate what would otherwise seem relatively straightforward.

 

Below you will find four helpful tips that can both facilitate and improve this crucial tool to enhance student success and bolster the relationship between administrators and teletherapy clinicians. When there is so much at stake, it behooves the conscientious administrator to master as many of these suggestions as quickly as possible!

 

1. Regular and Consistent Communication with Teletherapy Clinicians

It is a well-established fact that relationships won’t either form or last if the contact is intermittent.  The communication between administrators and teletherapy clinicians must be frequent enough to form a bond that will allow important information regarding the student to pass comfortably between them.

 

What’s more, the communication shouldn’t be limited to crisis intervention or discussing problems but should be expanded to sharing stories about the students and discussing ideas the that will improve the clinical and educational environment for students, teachers and therapists alike.

 

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2. As a Policy:  Keep the Door Wide Open

Beyond the communication being consistent, teletherapy clinicians must sense that the administrator’s door is always open. This will facilitate a more open and honest dialogue, not to mention that it will build mutual respect and trust.  Such foundations are required if the conversation will be both collaborative and productive.

 

It is important to note that “open door” means more than just physical access to the principal’s office. If the teletherapy clinicians or for that matter any other therapists or teachers are not walking through the door to talk, the principal should be seeking them out. And don’t forget to be accessible through email and your cell phone as well!

 

3. Solicit Feedback on a Regular Basis

While regular, consistent communication together with keeping the door open will go a long way, alone they still aren’t enough.  Sometimes your teachers or teletherapy clinicians may be too intimidated to voice their valid concerns. This is why great administrators elicit feedback through surveys or other venues to allow their staff to communicate their concerns in an uninhibited manner.

 

Feedback is essential for two reasons. First of all, it conveys an unspoken message to the teachers and therapists that their insights and suggestions are crucial thus strengthening the bond between staff and administration.  Secondly, often those same insights and ideas lead to necessary improvements in the school.

 

4. Don’t Just Communicate, Set Objectives

While communication is valuable in and of itself for the reasons mentioned above, if you want to upgrade that communication, give it a purpose. Experts advise that administrators should set objectives by way of an agenda when interacting with staff.  It is the mark of a seasoned administrator to be able to balance these “focused” communications with the casual interactions designed to build relationships.

Is your school looking to explore the benefits of teletherapy? Schedule your free demo today.

mental health therapy rural schools

Can Teletherapy Quell the Mental Health Crisis in Rural America?

The CDC reports 43.4 million adults suffered from some behavioral health issue in 2015 alone. Overwhelming numbers of Americans will, at some time during their lives, confront a mental health challenge. It may be related to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or perhaps a result of circumstances like grief over a loss or a life change.

With all these people in need, just imagine for a moment that there was no psychiatrist or psychologist anywhere around, not to mention a specialist who these millions of people would feel comfortable with entrusting their needs. Hold that image. This is precisely the disturbing picture for many in Rural America.

The numbers tell the story. A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that nearly 2/3  (65%) of non-metropolitan counties don’t have a psychiatrist while almost 1/2 (47%) of non-metropolitan counties are without a psychologist. These numbers become more frightening when one understands the critical link between inadequate mental health care and other crises such as drug abuse and suicide.

For Many, Viable Options Don’t Exist

Many clinical psychologists practicing in rural communities have come to the depressing conclusion that there just aren’t enough options; in some areas, no options at all.  Even when those limited options exist, people have to travel to reach them.  Those mental health workers who exist are almost exclusively generalists, not the specialists that so many people need.  The bottom line is that most people are just left on their own.

Another devastating problem is that mental health care for most people in rural communities is considered to be a last resort. The whole notion of preventative mental health care is unheard of.  In practical terms, this means that a problem is only treated when it becomes a full-blown crisis.

Clinicians Are Overwhelmed

Until this point, we have focused on the client.  However, there is another dark side to the problem – the heroic therapists are also suffering.  Many rural clinicians claim that their frustrations are endless.  The resources such as shelters, hospitals and support groups that exist in metropolitan areas are generally nowhere to be found in Rural America.

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The result is that the professionals need to shoulder the entire burden of mental health care themselves – a Herculean feat that most of them aren’t qualified to do.  Even supplemental facilities that do exist often face the continuous threat of being closed or scaled down due to the ugly fiscal realities of many small towns.

The Vicious Cycle Keeps Getting More Vicious

Don’t think that failing to solve the particular mental health problem is the end of the story. Often, these problems spiral into worse problems like overdoses and depressions that take a substantial toll on quality of life and finances as the situation becomes more complicated from not being addressed at an earlier stage.

Online Mental Health Therapy to the Rescue!

Until recently, there didn’t seem to be much hope of ever arresting this devastating problem, not to mention turning it around. But the advent and growth of online mental health therapy can potentially change all that. Through the marvels of technology, a venue has been created that can provide top-quality mental health care from literally anywhere through a laptop and webcam.

The dearth of mental health resources in rural communities is no longer an obstacle to providing top-quality care for those who need it most. Aside from the benefits of keeping costs to a minimum and the flexibility, specialists from anywhere in the country (or world) can be just a click away. As the popularity of online mental health therapy continues to grow, the mental health crisis devastating rural communities may finally be on its way to being solved.

Is your school looking to explore the benefits of teletherapy? Schedule your free demo today.