Coronavirus 19 has brought so much hardship through our entire world. One particular thing that has been challenging due to this pandemic has been the inability to have daily human interactions. Many find themselves now questioning how they will interact with others after over a year of limited social interactions. I am here to say that you are not alone in feeling this way. For over a year, we have been subjected to being indoors during times that we may have been surrounded by other individuals. Limited social interactions can lead to feeling alone and trying to figure out how to deal with issues we may have discussed with others. What you may have also experienced is grief. Grief doesn’t have to mean the passing of an individual but the loss of something significant. We experienced grief when our world changed to something we have never experienced before but with grief comes healing and I am here to help with that.
One way to begin breaking the cycle that we have created is to implement small social interactions. This can start through calling a friend. Practicing having small talk at the comfort of your own home. Once you begin to feel comfortable, you can move to scheduling a video chat call. This will encourage normalizing daily interactions. Just remember, we all have been in this hectic time and are curious how to get back to our normal interactions. But just like any skills you may have had to put aside for a while, with a little practice, it will start to feel normal again. You are not alone, we are here for you.
Briana Barrera, ACSW
Seeking help can be hard for many including myself. Many individuals have thoughts like "I should be able to handle this" … "this is embarrassing why can't I get over it?" … "people will think I am weak." Preventing them from seeking the help they need or waiting until it is so bad they become hospitalized. Being a professional helper adds to the stigma because of the thought that "I should be able to fix myself." While there is a stigma associated with mental illness, seeking help is stigmatized far too much in our society. The fear of being judged is probably the number one factor why people do not seek therapy. The truth is people choose to suffer from psychological problems despite professional help be readily available.
I am writing this to address public and self-stigma with seeking professional help. I want to assure you that everyone goes through rough times and it is okay! I want to empower the person reading this to look at therapy as a place to release the negative feelings and emotions and receive care, encouragement, understanding, reasoning, and knowledge. Therapy is tailored to you; you are the driver, and the therapist is just helping with the directions. Just think if you take a chance at therapy and you find relief who cares what others think, you feel better. It takes courage to ask for help, so I encourage you to take a chance.
Author: Alysia St. Clair
Ever since the year 2020 started, there had been a lot of fatal news spreading across the world. None of us anticipated how the 2020 would come about, but we remain steadfast in order to survive the year.
The fast approach of the holiday season last year was by far the most anticipated one. It was considered to be unique, heartfelt, and unforgettable. It was the best time to get together with our closest relatives, family, and friends. Without a doubt, last year’s Christmas celebration did challenge our daily means of coping with our inner battles.
So, I’ve listed four ways to maintain your mental health during the holidays and still get on with life everyday.
Telehealth? Teletherapy? Is this really a thing? Yes! Tele-therapy has become a recent primary form of communication between therapists and clients since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Online counseling now dominates a majority of psychotherapy services and for good reason! With recent quarantine laws, a host of new psychiatric conditions are on the rise. Alcohol use and alcoholism has seen a major uptick with individuals stuck at home. Trends of Seasonal Affective Disorder, something commonly only seen in winter months, appears to be on the rise as people stay inside in isolation. COVID-induced psychosis and social anxiety disorder has been on the rise due to the heightened stress levels that trigger distorted thinking. Anxiety and depression have seen steep spikes since the Coronavirus pandemic began. As a therapist, I often hear clients express fear about mask usage and clients ask, “Does wearing a mask help?” I have heard themes of hopelessness from numerous clients who feel that their fear and anxiety will never return to pre-COVID levels.
Online therapy is an incredible tool in which numerous HIPAA compliant platforms can be used (e.g., doxy.me, zoom, etc.). Various modalities can be done online including online relationship counseling, couples therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and insurance covers online therapy just as it does in-office!
Clients often have low-expectations when beginning online therapy and feel concerned that the client-therapist connection will not be the same. I have found that many clients end up preferring online counseling since they can attend appointments with simplicity without having to leave home. Some clients have even reported that they find it easier to open up about difficult topics to someone on a computer screen versus a live human directly in front of them.
If you have not tried it, give it a go! Many therapists are now offering this unique therapeutic setting and it is certainly worth taking advantage of the self-growth opportunity!
A scam is happening now that targets therapists, social workers, psychologists, and mental health professionals. A highly strategic and organized group of scammers have identified therapists and other medical professionals to inform them that they were subpoenaed, missed their court date, and now have two or more active bench warrants issued by a judge - one for contempt of court and one for failure to appear. They inform you that you are on a recorded line and that two uniformed deputies served you a subpoena and someone signed your name on the subpoena. When you tell them that you didn't, they persist that they will investigate but that they must follow orders by the judge. They cite that they cannot release details about the case since it is privileged information. These scammers inform the individual that both bench warrants are Class C Misdemeanor warrants which will cause law enforcement to take you into custody if you come across any of them.
This scam is a multi-day scam often in which they slowly built the intensity over a series of days. After the first day or two, they tell you that they are going to look closer into it and investigate further. With each day that they call you back, the situation escalates. Eventually they tell you that you now have an order from the judge called a "MAINTAIN CONTACT ORDER" (MCO) in which they will need to maintain contact with you at all times until you get to the sheriff's station to verify your signature. If you violate the MCO by hanging up the phone, they will bypass the civil process and turn it over to a criminal investigation. They urge you that you do not want to go through the criminal proceedings with handcuffs because you may not be able to get the warrants expunged.
They then inform you that you may be subject to the Mobile Monitoring System by the United States (U.S.) Marshall's in which they will obtain a warrant to track your precise GPS location if you do not follow the guidelines of the "maintain contact order."
It gets worse - they then inform you that they are verbally serving a "gag order" and "suppression order" in which you are not to discuss the details of this case with anyone since you now have privileged information pertaining to the case. They may make comments such as, "the judge was very upset since a minor had to take the stand and will now need to take the stand again since you failed to appear." They urge you to get to the Sheriff's Department as soon as possible to complete a signature verification so they may begin the dismissal process.
If you ask about obtaining an attorney, they tell you "If you contact legal counsel, you forfeit your right to undergo the civil process and it must then be taken into the criminal proceedings in which these charges may not fully expunge from your record." In this case, you may also inadvertently "forfeit your right to a fast and speedy trial" since your case will no longer be on the civil track.
If you ask about the legibility of the forged signature and why they didn't check your ID, they'll say "It's chicken scratch" and "we are absolutely going to launch an investigation into these two uniformed officers who served this subpoena and I will make sure that they are investigated by the Internal Affairs Division for reprimand, suspension, or forced to fired."
When you ask to consult with your family members, they remind you that you are under a "suppression order" in which you may be held liable for anything you say... and they further remind you that you are on a recorded line.
They then encourage you to go to the police station with two forms of identification as soon as possible to get the signature analysis and verification. En route to the police station, they request you to stop at a licensed retail store to purchase a "registered enforcement voucher" in which "only government officials can deposit it." They instruct you to bring that to the police station to post your "surety bond." The bond costs approx. $5000 plus a $50 bail fee. They offer a waiver for whatever amount you cannot post. They instruct you to enter the Sheriff's station and approach the "front kiosk linked to the NCID database." They instruct, "do not speak to any uniformed officers in the process because they may take you into custody because of your warrants." You are then instructed to enter a pin code for bond placement.
The more questions you ask, the more they say, "I can tell you haven't been in trouble before. We usually deal with criminals who know all about this. Don't worry. I will walk you through step by step of the process."
At some point here, the money comes in. If you are lucky, you will not get to this point. The trick about this scam is that they continually urge you to go to the police station for signature analysis. At some point en route, the money component is involved to "pull bail" and they instruct you to send gift cards to the "Dept. of Treasury" and have you scratch the numbers off the back and read it to them to "verify validity." Luckily, most of us stop when we hear this. But the continuous urge to go to the police station and comply with the legal orders can be very tricky to deal with.
In my case, my primary investigator was "Lieutenant Alex Stephens" who provided his office phone number (Orange County Sheriff's at 714-647-7000) and direct number (714-760-9055) which turns out to be an Orange County professional escort phone number. The other deputy was Lt. Mason who implemented the "gag order" and "suppression order." Both Lt. Alex Stephens and Lt. Mason called each time from the O.C. Sheriff's Dept. main line; obviously using a program to do this.
Please watch out! These guys are everywhere. They evolve to get more and more complex, even for those who would never suspect a scam.
After watching two interesting lectures from psychologist Dr. Annette Stanton at UCLA, interesting thoughts and themes emerged as I analyzed the content from a clinical perspective. The lecture topics were 1. Women and Breast cancer, and 2. Women and health behaviors (sleep and exercise).
I was struck that in the world of psychology, women are considered “survivors” from the time that they are diagnosed with breast cancer. I thought deeply about the psychological implications of being identified as a “breast cancer survivor” from the moment of diagnosis. Two repercussions came to mind, one positive and one negative. On the positive end, a woman may feel liberated and encouraged that she has survived breast cancer (at least at that point in time). On the potentially negative end, a woman who identifies as a “survivor of breast cancer” may develop a false sense of security. If this false sense of security persists, treatment adherence may possibly decline. I was certainly surprised that this label is given to women the moment that they are diagnosed.
There are several interesting implications involving the BRCA gene testing. A renown medical professional recommended that all women be tested for the BRCA gene. From a psychological perspective, an individual may be given a false sense of security if with a negative BRCA gene result. As in the case of the “breast cancer survivor” label, this could potentially give women a false feeling of protection which may result in fewer screening measures.
Regarding the subtopic of benefit finding as an intervention, psychotherapeutic interventions could be targeted at increasing benefit finding among breast cancer survivors. Benefit finding itself can be related to several therapeutic modalities. For example, the cognitive model could be applied in the case of the classic reframing technique. In working to increase benefit finding in clients, reframing their thoughts into overall benefits could potentially be useful in increasing overall benefit finding from breast cancer.
With regards to cognitive reframing, I found the verbal reframing of “exercise” to be thought-provoking since many people have a negative association with the term “exercise.” It makes sense that reframing “exercise” into “physical activity” or “recess” may provoke more individuals to want to stay active. At Kaiser, a cognitive-behavioral therapy group for healthy living incorporates “homework” activities of “exercise.” Currently it is not framed as “physical activity” and suspect that framing it this way could increase compliance.