Friday, December 5, 2014

Telepsychology: I'm So Excited For Step 3!

And here we are...Step 3. I am super excited to be writing this month's article. I am feeling full of gratitude, hope, and love as I am developing some new telepsychology programs and expanding current ones in my practice. This is an exciting time to be active as a psychologist, as I am watching the field evolve in front of me and within me. I am striving to embody the new changes while providing effective care.  I know my colleagues are as well. 

There are so many options available to you. From apps and video sessions to virtual reality offices and in-person visits. E-mail, online chat, text messaging, and phone mediums are up for grabs. Which is the right one for you? Goodness of fit is an important factor of the therapeutic relationship, which in turn affects the outcome of treatment. The fit I am speaking of is not only between the client and therapist, but also the method they use to work together as well.  

Telepsychology services might be a great option for you and they might not. Phone sessions might be really convenient, or they might not. Perhaps information gathering, such as an online educational group (see below), is appropriate for you, but you prefer therapy sessions in-person. Goodness of fit varies from person-to-person, and this is healthy. I am hoping to encourage the community to step out of the comfort zone (after all, with preparation and skills, stepping out can lead to amazing growth), and explore the multitude of treatment and educational options available. Communities no longer need to be inhibited by location, income, anxiety, transportation, distance, or schedules.  

I wish to communicate some telepsychology options available in my practice. Lets explore if we and any of these options might be a good fit for you. 

Dr. Laura on Demand App 
This is a brand new feature. Download it for free here. The Dr. Laura on Demand app allows you to contact me quickly and conveniently, read and watch meaningful content, articles, and resources, schedule appointments, and access unique discounts on services. 

Live Meaningfully With Anxiety Room 
Opening in early 2015, the Live Meaningfully With Anxiety Room is an online resource to help people dealing with anxiety to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Purchasing access to the Room will allow 24/7 availability of resources for dealing with anxiety, including panic-attack talk-downs, coping skills, the biology of anxiety, beating anxiety, progressive muscle relaxation, and more. Members will be able to log-in any time they feel anxious (as well as any other time they would like) to cope with the unpleasant feeling.  Members of the Room will receive a discount on individual therapy services if they would like to continue work on an individual and personal level. 

Behavior Management Group 
Available for parents of children aged 2-12 years, the Behavior Management Group is designed to teach strategies for dealing with problem and difficult behavior effectively, safely, and positively. This is a great option for parents who would like to manage behavior and need ideas, resources, and want to learn what works and what doesn’t. Parents can choose to participate in live workshops, or just listen to them at a later more convenient time.  There is a one-time fee for complete 24/7 access to this group and you can learn more or join here.  

There are more options available, not only in my practice, but in other psychology practices as well. I hope you find a good fit for you. 

Oh, and if any of these choices are a great fit, and you access any one of them, you will get $10 off your first therapy session should you choose to pursue individual services.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Telepsychology: The Next Step

In August I wrote about how online therapy can help and several factors to consider when thinking about online services. This month's article is intended to be part two, or the next step. Telepsychology and other online/remote/distance services are increasing in popularity and availability. As a psychologist, online options allow us to gain training, attend conferences, and become certified in new specialties. The availability of cell phones, tablets, computers, and other devices allow psychologists and their clients to connect in ways like never before. As you probably already know, I love providing telepsychology services. Take this next step with me and learn some more reasons why and how the practice of psychology is evolving. 

Maintain Continuity of Care 
Telepsychology allows psychologists and clients to continue working together during almost any circumstance. Whether it's travel, a long work commute, illness, child care, busyness, work, bad weather, transportation issues, or other life situation, a client can still access psychological services. To illustrate, in my last post I shared some experiences about being a new mommy. Telepsychology allowed me to continue work with my clients while I was on maternity leave and gave me the option of (warning:-total self-disclosure here) conducting sessions in pajamas with messy hair and most likely spit up on my shirt. This type of service also gave me the best opportunity of all-the ability to care for my baby and spend time with him easily while being a working mom. Telepsychology is and will be an excellent option for parents. 
As Effective as Face-to-Face Treatment 
Telepsychological services have demonstrated effectiveness similar to traditional office visits, based on empirical research. This means telepsychology clients can expect high quality treatment, interventions, and assessments that give the same results and contribute to mental health as effectively as in-person visits. There are a variety of programs that allow for secure video sessions, which can feel as if everyone is in the same room together. Smart phones allow for the use of texting, email, video conferencing, and app use. I look forward to reviewing more literature about the use of these technologies clinically. 
Access Information and Services Quickly-Connect, Collaborate, and Care 
The practice of telepsychology allows psychologists and the public to exchange and share information quickly and conveniently. I can review research, attend workshops, network with colleagues, and offer free consultations to people interested in my services easily and conveniently. Clients find greater availability and flexibility with the scheduling of online and phone sessions. There is no wait time, no travel time, and we can meet for shorter and longer periods of time. I can email interesting articles, share helpful resources and links, and monitor progress of treatment remotely.  
Stay (wirelessly) tuned for next month's post-in which I will be sharing information about brand new telepsychology services I will be offering. I am cooking up some very exciting options!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Journey Back to Basics

As I am writing this piece, I am reflecting on my very new journey into motherhood. I recently gave birth to my first child and I am amazed at how complicated and yet simple caring for a newborn is. I am savoring these tiny moments all the while researching, learning, practicing, asking, and trying the best ways of being a parent. So far, I have learned the importance of going back to basics. 

Preparing for the arrival of a baby can be quite daunting. There are constant conflicting messages about what you need and what you don't, what you should do and what you shouldn't, and who to trust for advice and who not to trust. For example, when we completed our registry, we were given a checklist of "must-haves" and "nice-to-haves" that spanned several pages long. Being a diligent and efficient individual, I registered for most of the-let's call them- mandatory items and several of the suggested items. Several hours later, we completed the task and returned home. Over the next several weeks leading up to Baby's arrival, we learned that we did not in fact need many of the mandatory must-have's after all. Some of the items, in fact, are actually unsafe to use. In thinking about what we really needed, we learned that a certain amount of staple supplies, and not three of everything (for example, we didn't need 3 types of strollers) are a good start. 

All of this preparation led up to Baby making his world debut! We were so surprised in the hospital to learn how basic supplies were to be used with our newborn. The "wipes" for example reminded me of dinner napkins. It turned out, they were, in fact, like napkins. We were taught to take a napkin and wet it with water and (ta-da!) you have your baby wipe. So, I didn't need to use (and still can't use) any of the store made baby wipes that we stocked up on. The same goes for diaper rash cream. The hospital supplied us with petroleum jelly to use, which is still the recommended product to use until he is 1 month of age.  All we need is a diaper, a paper towel (yes-the pediatrician said to use a wet paper towel as a wipe), and some plain petroleum jelly to change Baby. 

Bringing a baby home is such a blessing. We, as parents now, put our needs after Baby's. We are programmed to check that Baby's basic needs are being met all day and night.  Since our needs are not met first anymore, we need other people to help us. Family and friends have helped meet our needs by providing food, cleaning the house, and running errands. 

There is a related point to sharing these thoughts. When working with clients, kids and adults, it is vital to make sure basic needs are being met. If you are a parent, a teacher, a provider, a spouse, a co-worker, or a friend, we can ask: are you hungry? thirsty? tired? not feeling well? need to use the bathroom? need shelter? need clean/warmer/cooler clothing? If I would like to read Baby a story, I need to first make sure he is full, clean, well-rested, and calm. If not, Baby won't benefit from the book. If your child/student/client/patient/spouse/co-worker/friend appears upset, check that basic needs are being met before delivering an intervention. This will help them get the most out of your help. 

I hope you will join me on my motherhood journey back to basics.

#Motherhood #backtobasics

Monday, September 1, 2014

Successfully Transitioning Back to School and College

I can't believe it is already time to go back to school. The stores are buzzing with parents and kids (young and college-aged) reading supply lists, choosing new backpacks, selecting the best sheets for the dorm room, and grabbing deals on folders, crayons, pens, and notebooks. The other day while shopping in a popular retail store, I overheard several parents complaining about their childs' teachers, schools, and communicating feeling "bad for kids these days." 

One of my goals in sharing this piece with you today is to help stop this cycle of negative feelings about school and to help support kids, young adults and families have a smooth, successful, and happy transition back to school. If you are a college student (or soon to be college student), I hope to also provide some strategies for a great transition back. 

Here are some strategies for kids transitioning back to school: 

Work With, Not Against, Your Child's Teacher 
It is easy to get wrapped up in negativity when hearing other parents complain about their child's experience. Give the teacher and school a chance to get to know your child and family while you learn about them. Ask questions, attend any Meet the Teacher Nights that are offered, and learn about the structure of your child's day, classroom expectations, rules, supplies, etc. It is also helpful to get the contact information for your child's teacher so you can have open communication with them. Be patient when waiting for responses. You are trying to get to know one or two staff members while they are working on getting to know 20-30 kids and families. 

Understand Goodness of Fit 
The fit between a child and teacher is very important to consider and evaluate, as it affects the success of your child in school. Listen to your child when they tell you about their school day. Read the homework assignments. Ask about classroom behavior modification systems. Observe any behavior changes in your child. Communicate any helpful strategies that have worked in the past for your child with the new teacher. For example, let the teacher know if your child is more successful with writing assignments when there are lines on the paper or if your child responds well to reinforcement or taking breaks. The best way to do this is to establish a desire to have open and consistent communication with the teacher early on. 

Utilize the Team 
School should be a positive place for your child. There are a number of people on your child's team who are available in the building to help make the experience great. These team members include the teacher(s) and any other classroom staff, the school psychologist and/or social worker, nurse, and principal. The team also includes you (the parent) and the child (depending on age). If your child receives special education services, the team may also include a speech therapist, occupational therapist, or physical therapist. Everyone benefits from working together. Utilize team members when needed, as everyone presents their own unique role and area of expertise. Problems can be solved by communicating openly with team members. 

For college students: 

Know Your Schedule 
Make sure you access your schedule prior to the semester starting and classes beginning. Double check any room changes, class cancelations, or professor changes. You will have a limited time frame once the semester starts to make changes to your classes, so be sure to attend all classes and confirm they are the right day/time/course for you. 

Parents: Support and Encourage But Don't Hover 
You have a young adult now. Let him/her explore the new life of college. Educate them about safety, health, and any concerns you have as a parent. Students- you are going to have more independence than ever before, especially if you are living on campus. Seek support when needed and enjoy this added responsibility and privilege. Let your family know if you need more or less from them.  

Seek Support 
Get to know at least one other student in each of your classes. They could be a great support for you. Having the contact information of at least one other student can be a lifesaver if you need to miss class for any reason, don't understand an assignment, or want a study buddy. A note of caution- the most accurate information will always come directly from the professor. Therefore, be sure to always communicate absences as soon as you can to the professor and confirm you have correct information for what you missed. In addition, most colleges have plenty of resources available for free to students. These include a counseling center, tutoring center, professor office hours, library, computers, financial aid office, and more. Information for these can usually be found on the college's website or class syllabi. 

For All: 
Have Fun 
School, no matter at what age, should be fun. Practice mindfulness,  try new experiences, communicate openly with teachers and professors, make new friends, join clubs, and get support when needed. 

There are plenty of resources available at schools and in the community. You can research the website of the district or campus, visit the local library, or do simple online searches. In my practice, I provide services for parents, such as the online Behavior Management Group as well as services for college students, such as the online College Suite.  I also work directly with schools using a School Consultation Model to support children and teachers in the classroom.

#BacktoSchool, #College, #schoolsuccess