online mental health therapy is tough

The 3 Biggest Challenges of Online Mental Health Therapy

Few satisfactions are as sublime as alleviating another’s pain. Consequently, few professions are more rewarding than online mental health therapy.  But it isn’t free.

Below are the three greatest challenges of online mental health therapy.

Ethical Issues Confronting Online Mental Health Therapy

Online Mental Health Therapy can brush up against genuine ethical issues and engender discomfort and dilemma in the relationship. Some of the more common challenges  are:

Values:  It is imperative that the therapist’s cultural and religious values and beliefs stay out of the therapy. If the clinician is to be of help, then he/she must strive to understand the client’s religious and cultural orientation in a professional manner free and clear of discrimination. If the therapist feels there is a conflict, then the client must be referred to another therapist.

Confidentiality: Short of written permission otherwise, the client’s information must remain strictly confidential as therapy depends upon trust. Even when family or friends request information, this confidence must be maintained despite the protests otherwise. Alternatively, a court order may require the therapist to divulge private information.

Boundaries: Many therapists feel their most challenging ethical issues is maintaining professional boundaries with their clients. Sometimes the professional role of clinician will be in direct conflict with another relationship with the client be it friend, business or otherwise. This dual relationship will often compromise if not completely undermine the benefit of the therapy.

Changing Patterns

Often a client is “stuck” in a detrimental situation or relationship due to patterns that developed and were reinforced through decades of repetition. Helping clients detach themselves from these destructive and deeply entrenched patterns can present a daunting challenge.

It can seem impossible to generate movement beyond these deeply held beliefs and thoughts that have been clung to dearly often since childhood.

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What complicates this further is that the client can’t just drop cold turkey. A happy medium is required to on the one hand allow the client to continue these unhealthy patterns (when necessary) while simultaneously pushing for substantive change. Finding this happy medium in online mental health therapy requires a great degree of sensitivity, understanding, and finesse.

Emotional Drain and Burnout

But perhaps the most difficult challenge for many a therapist is enduring their client’s pain as the client works through the issues.  Effective therapy by definition often demands to navigate emotionally painful territory. Experienced therapists know that “baring one’s heart” doesn’t always make it feel better.  In fact sometimes, it makes it feel worse.  But they also know that this courage is often the key to success.

Dredging up painful experiences and memories, to say the least, can be upsetting and sometimes overwhelming. Effective therapy, while rewarding, is often a difficult and at times painful process.  There may be many bumps in the road.  For a compassionate and sympathetic therapist, this journey is not easy to witness - not to mention being part of it.

It is critical that the person involved in online mental health therapy acknowledges his/her emotional drain. If a therapist wants to remain helpful and avoid “burnout”, the taxing of these emotions must be addressed.  Clinicians have found various strategies that have been helpful.

Some therapists work shorter days which helps keep energy levels up. Others get ready for sessions through deep breathing and visualization techniques that help prepare for clients. Still others empathize and feel with their clients during sessions, but to also leave it all in my office when they go home. They don’t let the emotional experiences “stick”.

As one therapist was told, “You are very good at being empathic and breathing people’s stuff in. You need to remember to breathe it out.”

online occupational therapy

Online Occupational Therapy: Demystifying a Common Myth

Is Online Occupational Therapy Just Glorified Physical Therapy?

People are often curious about the relationship between Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT). Since both Onsite and Online Occupational and Physical Therapists help individuals increase their independence after an injury or physical impairment, they seem quite similar. In fact, some even think that the two are synonymous!

However, despite their many similarities, there are significant and important differences between the two professions as well. Lacking awareness of these differences may prevent someone in need from seeking the right therapy and getting the best help. So, what exactly is this difference?

Physical Therapy Defined

As part of their education and training, occupational and physical therapists must learn and master the anatomy, the musculoskeletal system, and physiological functioning much like that of a medical doctor.  However, Physical Therapists apply this education to improving movement and regaining strength, especially after an accident or injury.

Physical therapy is concerned with identifying, understanding and treating abnormalities arising from injuries or other physical impairments. While an occupational therapist will conduct a diagnosis as well, the physical therapist diagnoses and treats the physical source of the problem; the injured tissues and structures.

So, Then What is Occupational Therapy?

After determining what hinders the client’s freedom, Onsite or Online Occupational Therapy sets out to change that!  The OT evaluates and aims to improve a person’s functional abilities.  An OT does not treat the injury but rather seeks to optimize their patient’s independence.  The goal is to enable the patient to live “normally” notwithstanding physical impairment or injury.

Since the Occupational Therapist focuses on increasing functionality, the OT sometimes will perform assessments of the patient’s environments–whether it be work or home.  These assessments allows the OT to recommend modifications that will maximize quality of life and greater independence. In Online Occupational Therapy, a third party will perform this evaluation.

Integral to the occupational therapist’s training is the understanding that the client’s success may require modifying the physical environment to help the patient to maximize functionality in light of constraints and limitations due to the injury.  Alternatively, this may require the patient to use equipment designed to increase independence, all part of the Occupational Therapist’s training.

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Simply, The Difference Is?

Understanding the role of each therapist, it's time to clarify the difference.  The easiest way to describe the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is that a physical therapist (or physical therapy assistant) treats the patient’s actual impairment, while an occupational therapist (or occupational therapy assistant) treats that impairment in action.

Physical Therapy aims to improve the physical function that has been compromised by the disability by increasing mobility, aligning bones and joints or lessening pain. On the other hand, On-Site or Online Occupational Therapy helps patients adapt to their “new reality” by showing them how to compensate and complete necessary everyday tasks despite new challenges.

Integrating Physical and Occupational Therapy

The beauty is that often these two therapies can be integrated to maximize the patient’s benefit.  For example, for a patient recovering from knee replacement surgery, the PT would give exercises designed at improving mobility with the new artificial knee and to ease post-surgery pain and stiffness.

On the other hand, the OT would instruct the patient how to use a wheelchair in the early stages of recovery.  Once the patient was ready, the OT would shift to helping practice going up and down stairs on the new knee.  This close collaboration between the PT and OT becomes critical in helping the patient achieve a full recovery.

 

Energize Your Kid's Online Speech Therapy

Energize Your Kid’s Online Speech Therapy

Online Speech Therapy clinicians provide the help your child needs. But how can you, as a parent, maximize the therapeutical experience? Simply put, how can you help your child?

Online Speech Therapy Means Being Proactive

Being proactive begins, like so many other things in life, by getting an education. The world of special needs can be a confusing place. It comes with a whole new language: IEP, IFSP, OT, ST, PT, LRE, FAPE, and the list goes on and on! Upon discovering that your child has special needs, get educated. Read all you can and find out what resources are available in your area.

Then ask lots and lots of questions. Do NOT be afraid to ask questions! There are no stupid ones. SLPs are asked all kinds of questions and certainly don't expect you to know the things they know. Ask whatever you need to understand what is happening. The more you understand, the better you can help your kid through this process.

Advocate for your child! Be your child’s advocate, because you are the BEST person to do it. You know your child better than anyone else and spend the most time with him/her. So get educated, ask questions, and speak up!

Practice, Practice, Practice.

You need to be directly involved in your child’s online speech therapy! While the clinician will bring his/her unique expertise, that doesn’t preclude you from being a big part of your child’s success. Be involved! And the best part is that practicing many speech and language skills can weave into normal, daily activities.

Play memory games and be sure that both of you say the names of the objects on the cards as you turn them over. If your kid is musically inclined, why not use song to practice the sounds/words you want to help your child with?

Want to put that Smartphone to even better use?  Practice calling and talking to grandparents, dad at work, or other relatives and friends who want to (and have the patience) to be part of your kid’s success.

Read books together and let your child repeat words. Ask her what she sees in the picture, or just do something fun like going to the beach or playground. Capitalize on that fun and practice the sounds of the sand, ocean, waves, swim, slide, swing, etc.

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One of the sweetest ideas came from a mother who proudly acknowledged that, “My son gets to lick a lollipop in between repetitions of his words. Five words then a lick. He knows he has to put it down when it is time to work. Sticky but it works.”

Online Speech Therapy Help On The House!

The Internet has provided online speech therapy resources that offer your kids opportunities to reinforce their clinical experience in the comfort of your home. Take a look at the following free resources. Remember: an optimal online speech therapy source is designed to assist your child’s growth and development, not merely to entertain and pass the time.

StoryPlace.org contains several stories and interactive activities for young children (preschool and older). The online offering is multidimensional providing a story and activity, together with activities for parents that can be downloaded and printed.

FunBrain.com includes several games for children. They cover a broad smattering of topics, and are quite educational. They include vocabulary, grammar, reading, math, and some that are thrown in just for the fun of it!

Scholastic.com, The Family Playground website, is a marvelous resource for young children (preschool and older) and mom and dad as well. Included are activities and games that are related to such beloved characters such as Clifford, the Magic School Bus, Walter Wick, and I Spy.

The Tongue Twister Database provides fun as your child masters tongue twisters. Practicing speech never brought with it so many giggles!

listening in social work jobs

Social Work Jobs: 3 Secrets to Master Listening

Importance of Listening in Social Work Jobs

Many clients agree that the experience of being truly heard by another person provides deep healing. Along with the listening comes empathy and acceptance. Aside from feeling “heard and understood,” the client feels that there is someone who is interested and cares!

Many clients agree that the most important thing that they take from counseling is that they feel listened to and understood. Even when their therapist has helped them to clarify, focus, or facilitate change, attentive listening ranks as the most valuable part of the experience.

Listening makes the speaker feel worthy, appreciated and respected. By giving someone all of our attention, we can facilitate interaction on a deeper level, enabling the client to open more of the inner self. By paying close attention, therapists desiring to perfect their social work jobs facilitate more beneficial communication.

Passive Listening and Active Listening

Listening and hearing are two different things. Hearing involves perceiving the sound, is involuntary, and may just reflect auditory capabilities. Listening, in contrast, is much more active. In fact, listening usually requires more energy than speaking as it involves receiving and interpreting the information.

Passive Listening is not much different from hearing. We think that we are listening, but in fact, we are only letting this information go past our brain. When someone listens passively, there is no reaction to what is heard from the speaker; only listening quietly.

On the other hand, Active Listening is entirely different.  It is interactive and dynamic as the listener engages and reacts to the speaker in a holistic manner, whether orally, through facial expressions, or body language. Social work jobs demand active listening!

Keys to Active Listening

Paying Attention

It begins with paying attention! Paying attention means facing the client and maintaining eye contact. Once you have made eye contact, relax, you don’t have to stare at the client. Looking away now and then is fine. Just carry on like any other person. But be sure you remain attentive!

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Avoid the distractions of background activity and noise, or even your thoughts and feelings. You must eliminate, as much as possible, any distraction. Avoiding distractions including the natural dialogue that we all have running through our minds incessantly is critical to success in social work jobs.

Keep an open mind

Listening without judging doesn’t only mean refraining from voicing criticism. It includes avoiding internal judgment as well.  Once you indulge in these judgments you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener. Remember, the speaker’s words are expressing thoughts and feelings. You don’t know those thoughts and feelings, and the only way you will is by listening.

Try to feel what the speaker is feeling

If when your client speaks about sadness or pain, you allow yourself to feel sad as well or feel happy when something joyful is expressed, and convey those feelings through your facial expressions and words—then your effectiveness as a listener is enhanced. Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening and the key to success in social work jobs. It can be achieved only by putting yourself another’s place.

Reflecting

Reflective Listening is the process of restating what has been just said either by paraphrasing or summarizing, so the client understands that you have clearly heard what was said. It confirms that the therapist validates the client, through acknowledgment; inviting further expression.

Reflecting is probably the most critical listening technique in social work jobs. By interpreting what was said, it provides the client a chance for greater insight by hearing the feelings of the heart and the thoughts in the mind somewhat differently which enhances self-awareness and acknowledgment of the truth.

Do you hear? Then listen!

The infamous General George C. Marshall once said, "Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker.”  Sue Patton Theole put it, “When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand." Therapists are trained, highly focussed, deep listeners. They don’t just hear people’s words; they know how to listen to them!