Making A Resolution That Lasts
By: Rev. Dr. Bethany L. Fulton, LPCC
It’s funny how the simple unwrapping of a new calendar gets us contemplating how we can improve ourselves or make this year even better than the last. As if changing the last number in a year from a 1 to 2 has the power to transform our lives into the Hallmark movies we watched all December.
As a clinician, I feel it is important to say that approaching the new year as a time to rehash all the things we do not like about ourselves is dangerous territory and simply unproductive. Instead, let’s make resolutions that last and bring about positive changes.
If you really want to make a change that lasts, turn your resolution into a goal. Resolutions themselves are often too generic and set us up for failure. A goal lays the groundwork for more realistic and higher quality results.
When creating a goal, I like to use the trusted acronym S.M.A.R.T. A smart goal is: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time oriented. Now that we’ve defined it, let’s put it into practice.
Let’s say you have resolved that you want to be happier in 2022. Great! You have a goal. Now let’s make it S.M.A.R.T: I want to be happier in my personal relationships so I will reserve two Fridays a month to spend at least one hour with a friend.
Now that you’ve mastered creating a goal it’s time to master failing. Yes, that’s right, I said failing. Over the next 365 days you will most likely fail at least once. Once we acknowledge the failure, we can more quickly return our focus to what we can do in the present moment. We achieve a goal by moving forward not by dwelling in the past.
One of the first mistakes we make when creating a goal is attaching pass or fail logic. As humans, we love all or nothing thinking because it makes sense. But when it comes to evaluating the success of your goal, it simply does not work. Think back to our goal of more meaningful relationships. It is possible to become happier in your relationships even if there were a few months that you only had time for one get together instead of two.
Goals are fluid and it is important to allow yourself to rework the goal. Circumstances change, global pandemics occur, life happens. It’s how you adjust that matters. Be brave, take small steps, and have the courage to continue even when it becomes difficult. Success is not about passing or failing, it’s about the way you feel at the end of it all.
Home for the Holidays…Or Not
For some, going home for the holidays is the most wonderful time of the year. But for others, it can be a mixture of stress, anxiety, excitement, fear, and a whole host of other emotions.
For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the choice to go home for the holidays may hinge on whether they feel safe, accepted, and/or welcome to celebrate with their family of origin. For others, the choice may simply be to celebrate with their chosen family instead. Either way, developing a Cope Ahead Plan can be an effective way to navigate the holidays and keep your mental health intact.
4 Elements to Include in Your Cope Ahead Plan:
However and with whoever you celebrate this season, we wish you a happy and safe holidays!
Self-Care for the Holidays
By Jennifer Day, MSW Intern
During the holidays, our to-do-lists often pile up with tasks and taking care of others. It’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup, so we must take a few minutes to recharge ourselves too!
Self-care is more than just a checklist or the latest wellness buzzword. Self-care is the human equivalent of performing routine maintenance on a vehicle – we all know we have to fuel up a car to get it to run, but we also have to make sure the tires are inflated, check and change the oil occasionally, check the brakes… you get it. Good care in advance and throughout the life of a car keeps it lasting longer and running better. It’s the same with people, especially during a season that’s sometimes busy and difficult. Here are a few inexpensive or free things you can do to keep your engine running during the holidays:
1. Schedule time for you.
Think about the things you enjoy and make sure you set aside time for those things, rather than filling up your calendar with everyone else’s plans for you. Add some time to your day to practice self-care activities or just a few minutes of quiet before a gathering.
2. Practice being mindful.
Things can get pretty hectic during the holidays but incorporating mindfulness into your holiday can be as simple as paying attention to only the task you’re completing right now. Even grocery shopping can be done more mindfully by noticing your surroundings, such as the sights, smells, and sounds. Going over the river and through the woods to visit family? Try mindful driving!
3. Leave space for the tough stuff.
The holidays can be very difficult with grief popping up as we remember those who can’t be present with us or for situations that aren’t ideal. Since the pandemic, chances are there’s something about your holiday season you might wish looked a little different. It’s okay to notice your grief and leave space for it in your holiday. Consider whether these negative feelings come from expectations left unfulfilled and give yourself a break if you aren’t feeling festive.
4. Ask for help.
Need help with baking the pies or washing the dishes? Let someone know how much you’d appreciate a hand. It’s perfectly okay to give up some responsibilities and delegate tasks during this busy season… and all year long! If you’re struggling with holiday stress, you can always reach out and schedule an appointment with your CPCS therapist. We’re here to help.
However you celebrate, we wish you a holiday season full of relaxation and self-care.
When Your Child Needs Therapy:
Five Commonly Asked Questions, Answered
By The Adolescent Team at Compass Point
When children and teens need therapy, it’s not unusual for caregivers to feel like they have failed. But rather than being a sign of failure, seeking help for your child is a brave act.
Sometimes children and adolescents need counseling, just like adults. They may be suffering from a mental illness, which affects a staggering 1 in 6 youths in the U.S. every year. Or they may need guidance with working through emotional issues related to family, school, trauma or other situations. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them or you. It just means they need the assistance of someone who specializes in helping people overcome their life challenges.
No matter the reason why you are seeking therapy for your child, taking that first step can be scary. Here is a list of frequently asked questions to help you prepare for what comes next.
What Should I Tell My Child About Going to Therapy?
Be open and honest about why they are going to therapy and how you think it will help. At the same time, be sensitive to the worries or fears your child may have. Many children and adolescents think that therapy means there is something dramatically wrong with them. You can help ease this concern by explaining your child that they will learn new skills and tools for coping with their challenges, and that these skills and tools can help them for the rest of their life.
Will I Meet with My Child’s Therapist First?
The first session will be between you and the therapist to freely discuss your concerns and why you think your child needs therapy. If you think your child may be suffering from mental illness, be ready to talk about the signs or symptoms you or others have observed and when they started to occur. Come prepared with questions for the counselor as well. Common questions include:
Will the Therapist Keep Me Updated About My Child’s Progress?
In most cases, you will not take part in the sessions with your child. This is to provide your child with space to open up about things he or she may not be comfortable sharing in front of you. However, most counselors will schedule one-on-one parent sessions to share information and provide guidance on how you can help your child at home.
What if My Child Doesn’t Like the Therapist?
Talk to your child and try to understand why he or she does not like the therapist. Keep in mind it may take several sessions for the relationship to “click.” However, you should always trust your instincts. It may be that it’s simply not a good fit. If that’s the case, it’s OK to move on and find another therapist.
What Can I do to Support My Child?
Commit to making sure your child attends all appointments. We know this can be challenging for working parents and for parents of school-aged children. However, improvement will only be made if your child attends all sessions. In addition, talk to your child’s therapist about specific actions you can take to support your child at home. And finally, be patient. Progress takes time, and you will not see a breakthrough overnight. There may even be setbacks. But over time, you will see a change for the better.
When It’s Time to Get Help
At Compass Point, we have an experienced team of child and adolescent therapists who are ready to work with you and your child. Because we know how important it is to find the right therapist for your child, we will do our best to match you with the best fit from the start.
When you schedule an appointment using our online scheduler, you’ll answer questions about your child’s needs, your preferred location and your schedule. Within minutes, our system will generate a list of available providers who have the skills, capabilities and expertise to help you and your child. It’s that easy.
Take the first step. Call or request an appointment online today.
by Kristin Henderson
After more than a year of living with COVID-19, there are signs that we could return to something close to normal by this summer. That’s right: a future of mingling with friends, family, and colleagues indoors is within sight.
However, it’s safe to say that our use of videoconferencing platforms is here to stay, even after social distancing restrictions are fully lifted. What started as a necessity last March has, for some, become a source of convenience. Teletherapy in particular has emerged as a lifeline for people who have barriers to attending in-person therapy.
Yet even a year in, many of us still experience a sense of “Zoom anxiety.” That is, we feel self-conscious or anxious about videoconferencing to the point of distraction. One way to alleviate these feelings is to use the tools around us to our advantage.
Here are six tips to feel more at ease and look your best on camera, whether you’re meeting with colleagues, with family or with a healthcare professional.
#1 - Assess Your Lighting
Good lighting is essential to humanizing your video interactions. Natural light is the highest quality and most flattering form of lighting. If natural light isn’t an option, you can purchase a ring light, which mimics white natural light. A lamp will do fine as well. Just make sure that you are facing the light source to avoid creating a silhouette or halo effect.
#2 – Check Your Surroundings
Keep your space free of clutter and other visual distractions. Using a blank or minimally decorated wall as your backdrop will keep the main focus on you. Try to avoid doorways in the background, especially if there is a chance for someone to pop in while you’re on a call.
#3 – Evaluate Your Camera Angle
Your camera should be at or slightly above eye level. You can achieve this by purchasing a laptop stand or a phone tripod, or by stacking books or boxes on your worksurface. Also ensure the camera isn’t too close to your face. Most laptops have wide-angle lenses, which will distort your face if you are too close. If your laptop or phone is just not cutting it, you can buy a stand-alone camera that can mount on your screen or to a tripod.
#4 – Use the Mute Button
Unsurprisingly, new standards of etiquette are arising for video meetings. Chief among them is the use of the mute button. Start meetings on mute and keep yourself on mute until you are ready to speak. This cuts back on background noise, especially when multiple people are on a call.
#5 – Dress for Success
The clothes we wear can have a big impact on camera. Solid colors and simple patterns work best. Keep in mind that the camera angle can play tricks with what you wear. Shirts with graphics or writing and sleeveless and v-neck tops may be cut off in an unflattering way by the camera. Always do a quick camera check before hopping on a call.
#6 – Take Time for Self-Care
Zoom fatigue is a real condition. Make sure you have plenty of water and a healthy snack within reach. Also, build time into your schedule to step away from your desk. Socialize (safely) with colleagues and friends, go for a quick walk or just take a moment to decompress.
At Compass Point, we offer both in-person and teletherapy sessions for clients. If you need to seek help, call or schedule an appointment online. We’ll do our best to find the right fit so you can get started feeling better.
Four Ways to Determine if a Therapist is the Right Fit for You
by Monica Burbank, MA, LPCC
Therapy helps millions of people every year feel better and achieve more than they thought possible. But it can be intimidating to open up to a stranger. To get the most out of your therapy sessions, you need to feel comfortable talking about and exploring your fears, anxieties and other challenges.
That’s why it’s so important to find a therapist who is a good fit for you. When you find a therapist who is the right fit, it will feel like talking to an old friend. They will challenge you in all the ways you want and sit with you when times are tough.
So how do you know if your therapist is right for you? Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing checklist. However, here are four general questions you can ask yourself, based on my own experience both as a therapist and as a therapy client
If something feels off, consider talking about it with your therapist. Being open and honest about what you are feeling or experiencing will help your therapist better meet your needs. Keep in mind that it usually takes three to five sessions before you start to feel like you are making progress.
If you still feel like you are not connecting, or if you’re not comfortable talking about it with your therapist, it’s OK to move on. It’s also OK to “shop around” for the right therapist before committing. If you do this, be transparent with your therapist(s) so they know what to expect.
Finding the Best Fit at Compass Point
Therapy should be unique to you because you are one of a kind. At Compass Point, we do our best to connect you with the best fit from the start. When you call or request an appointment online, you will answer a series of questions about who you are and the type of help you are seeking. We use this information to match you with a specialist who can see you within three days at your preferred location.
More than 90 percent of our clients are satisfied with their therapist. But if it turns out that your therapist is not the right match, we can help you find a provider who is a better fit.
Schedule an appointment today.
Monica Burbank, MA, LPCC
By now, we have all seen our ability as human beings, to come together and impact change. Cancel culture has become a modern movement for change, but is it really as helpful as it is advertised to be? Cancel culture is a modern form of withdrawing support for public figures or companies after they have done something considered offensive.
Public figure Ellen Degeneres, whose motto is “be kind” and who would showcase philanthropy and kindness on her show, was cancelled due to accusations that the work environment on her show was the exact opposite of her motto. Several employees came forward to open up about a toxic work culture that fostered anything but kindness. Degeneres offered an apology and several executives of the show walked away entirely.
A popular planner company founder, Erin Condren, was cancelled along with her brand after she was accused of using Black Lives Matter to stage her daughter’s graduation party/walk. Customers quickly began to take a stance and Condren took a leave of absence from the company.
I believe in holding people and companies accountable for their actions and I also believe in redemption. We all have the capacity for change and we are all doing the best we can with respect to where we are in our lives. Many people do not see the intimate details of our life that help define our choices, values, beliefs and behavior. So how can we create a space for cancel culture to become a growth culture?
We have all made mistakes throughout the journey of our lives and we will continue to do so - we are human. Our behaviors impact others stories in ways we may never even imagine. We have all been the hero, the sidekick, the villain and the background character in someone else's story. I like to believe that from these experiences, we grow. We learn, we change our behavior and we shift as we go on this journey of life.
As a society we of course need to hold others accountable when they do wrong, but could we also not give people grace and a chance to learn and grow into becoming better? We have all made mistakes, we have all judged one another - so why can we not offer each other grace? Forgiveness is a powerful thing and without it, we become resentful, hurt, angry. I believe in creating a culture that is deeper than just cancelling someone or something. A culture that goes beyond that and moves toward growth.
The company mentioned earlier, Erin Condren, has a new CEO and although she did not have knowledge of what their founder was doing in June of 2020, she took full responsibility for the ramifications that it has had on the company and developed an ongoing plan to change their company culture and hold not only the company, but all their employees, to a higher standard. Since the incident in June, the company has gotten feedback from customers and updated monthly on concrete actions and steps they are taking to change and grow.
This leaves us with a decision - we can keep cancel culture as is or we can take accountability a step further and move forward together. Some who have been cancelled may not make steps toward change, but for those who do - I believe we should offer grace and give a chance to grow and learn. If we are never given a chance to learn from our mistakes and missteps in life - we will never be able to move forward.
My question to you - what are your thoughts on cancel culture?
Revealed: Three actions every therapist needs to take immediately to improve their teletherapy sessions
by Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
It will be years before we fully understand how the coronavirus pandemic has changed society. But one thing that is certain: teletherapy is here to stay.
Last spring, teletherapy became a lifeline for clients during the lockdown. Almost a year later, therapists and clients are still seeing benefits to this mode of treatment. It’s convenient for clients. It has expanded access for those who have transportation barriers or who face community stigma. And most important, research is finding that symptom reduction and client satisfaction rank about the same for teletherapy as for in-person sessions.
Yet despite the widespread adoption of telehealth tools in the past year, obstacles for therapists are still prevalent. Very little formal training exists that is specific to mental health providers. Telehealth has unique policies and procedures above and beyond in-person visits. Technology issues can derail a session. And there are a host of legal risks to navigate.
Continuous improvement is at the heart of what we do. In the spirit of continually improving how we serve clients, here are three video teletherapy best practices therapists need to incorporate into their teletherapy sessions now.
#1 – Set Your Sights on the Setting
Creating the right ambience is just as important on a video platform as it is for in-person sessions. Dress professionally and be on time. Remove visual clutter and physical distractions from your practice space. And don’t overlook lighting—it should be adequate without being harsh. Always position your camera so that light sources, including windows, are in front, rather than behind, you.
Pro tip: always look at your camera, not your client’s face, to show engagement. Keep in mind that positioning the camera too close to your face can make a client perceive that you are in their space. It may also cut off nonverbal cues, like hand gestures.
#2 – Know Your Technology
You may need to pull double duty as IT support, so make sure you understand how your technology works before diving in. Start by ensuring your internet connection is fast enough to support video conferencing. Test your video and audio connections before every session. And always create a back-up plan with each client during your first session. Even with preparation, technology and internet connectivity can fail without notice. You and your client should both know what to do when this occurs so that their care is not interrupted.
#3 – Protect Patient Privacy
Teletherapy presents a host of risks related to the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. At the most basic level, sessions need to be conducted in spaces that are free from interruption. You will also need to ensure that your device has a lock and is not used by any members of your household.
From a technology standpoint, all text messaging, email applications and videoconferencing platforms must be HIPAA compliant. All emails, text messages, instant messages, chat history and clinical records will need to be preserved and stored in the client’s file.
Compass Point uses HIPAA-compliant video and email platforms, and all Compass Point therapists have access to these tools.
More Best Practices for Teletherapy
Mental health providers have a challenging ethical landscape to navigate. Keeping current with new guidelines can feel overwhelming at times.
Compass Point is offering a one-day webinar called Best Practices in Private Practice (Ethics). The webinar will be available in March, May, September and November as a live webinar. It will be offered in June and August on location in Mason, Ohio.
The course will be worth three CEUs. This training will clarify Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist board and insurance company rules. We’ll also look at best practices for using teletherapy, including avoiding common legal risks. Register for the course today.
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
These therapists know that going to therapy can be intimidating, because they have sat on that side of the couch
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or another form of mental illness, you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 51 million adults in the U.S. experience mental illness. That’s 1 in 5 adults.
Mental health treatment, including therapy and medication, can put recovery within your reach. There are so many benefits of therapy. But asking for help can be hard. Many people find it scary or intimidating to share their fears, anxieties and other challenges with a stranger.
This is a safe place to start. Our therapists entered this field because they want to help others. Many of them have had their own experience with therapy. They know where you are coming from, because they have sat on that side of the couch.
Here’s what some of our therapists have to say about their own experience seeking therapy.
What was your experience with seeing a therapist?
We therapists have all been on the other side of the room. We have been in therapy, and we know it can be hard to start building trust with a new person. But that's what a therapist is: just a person, like you. We are ordinary people with the extraordinary job of hearing you, feeling with you, and joining you in this moment of your journey.
— Ruth Schrider, MSW, LISW-SUPV
I have sought out counseling for grief, adjustment to this career and life stress. I found it extremely helpful. For the first six months in my career, I sought out counseling just because I was a therapist. This was one of the most helpful experiences for me because it helped me to create appropriate boundaries and it was part of taking care of myself so I can help others.
— Ariana Warren, MS, LPCC
I have absolutely had rich experiences with seeing a therapist both when I was younger and in my middle age. I am a huge proponent of therapy for everyone, provided they are ready to examine themselves and lift blocks to growth, potential and well-being. It is about as worthwhile a goal as I can think of.
— Donna (Dana) Danoff, MSW, LSW
“Since moving to Ohio five years ago, I've seen three different therapists. My last therapist was amazing and really just met me on my level. I think about her a lot, even after a year of no longer going to her office.”
— Monica Burbank, MA, NCC, LPCC
When You Need Help
There are many reasons to seek therapy. Some people reach out to a therapist when they have reached a breaking point and can’t manage their issues anymore. Others find a therapist to help them remove obstacles from moving forward or achieving their dreams. Still others just need someone to talk to.
If you’re ready to ask for help, contact us today. You can call or schedule an appointment online. We’ll do our best to find the right fit, the first time, so that you can get started with feeling better.
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
Charles is a Supervising Professional Clinical Counselor and a founder of Compass Point Counseling Services. He is licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor (LPCC-S), Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Clinical Supervisor (LICDC-CS) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Charles serves as the Clinical Director at Compass Point.
Six Best Practices for Living a Social (Media) Life for Therapists
Yes, you can be a therapist and use social media, too. In fact, as our world becomes increasingly connected via virtual platforms and applications, it’s nearly impossible to just say no to social media.
We use social media for everything from keeping up with friends and family to marketing our practices to collaborating with colleagues around the world. Think not just Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but also Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube, wikis, Pinterest, blogs, forums, product and services review sites, and even social gaming.
Yet as therapists, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than many other professions when it comes to social media. To be both effective and ethical mental health providers, we need to establish clear boundaries between our personal and professional lives. This is true in both our physical and digital worlds.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have social networking accounts or leave a digital footprint of any kind. But we do need to take additional steps to avoid the risk of creating multiple relationships with clients. We also need to show a higher sensitivity to the content we share and interact with.
Not sure where to start? First, check with your employer about social media policies they have in place that could affect your activity. Then follow these six best practices for maintaining a social (media) life for therapists.
#1 – Lock Your Personal Channels Down
Use the highest possible privacy controls to keep your information and activity private. Consider using alternate contact information for creating social accounts or other personal interactions (such as leaving a review). Remember that the content you post could be reshared by approved contacts. In addition, any professional activity done on your personal pages is subject to ethics and licensing complaints.
#2 – Create a Separate Persona for Your Professional Self
] If you want to market your services online, create a business or professional page separate from your personal accounts. Remember, this might be where potential clients find you, so put your business foot forward to build credibility and trust. Always use your professional email to create these pages; use personal email for your personal pages only.
#3 – Do not Interact with Clients Online
Never accept friend requests or otherwise follow clients. If you manage a blog, turn off the public comments feature. Likewise, you should never communicate with clients through social media, including “private” channels like Messenger or direct messages. Unsecure applications and platforms could put patient confidentiality at risk.
#4 – Create a Social Media Policy
If you’re going to maintain a social media presence of any kind, a social media policy should be included in the informed consent process. Your social media policy should make clear that you don’t accept friend requests nor will you follow clients, and why. It should also include a reminder that your professional accounts are public and, therefore, anything your clients post, like, reshare or otherwise interact with will be public.
#5 – Never Assume That Your Activity is Private
Just because you lock down your profile doesn’t mean that your activity with other content—your likes, comments, shares and retweets, Google and Yelp reviews and more—is private. Always consider how your activity could be perceived by clients. Don’t like, comment or share on other pages with the expectation that it will remain private.
#6 – Always Protect Patient Confidentiality
Did I mention there is no guarantee of privacy on the internet? Never seek consultations publicly, even in private therapist groups or listservs. Never post anything about a client even if the post is anonymous and you have anonymized the client’s information. Doing so could risk your reputation, your career, and most important, your client’s mental health journey.
Get More Tips for Best Practices
Want to get more tips for the ethical navigation of social media? Compass Point is offering a one-day session on Best Practices in Private Practice (Ethics). The webinar will be available in March, May, September and November as a live webinar. It will be offered in June and August on location in Mason, Ohio.
I’ll be leading the course, which will provide three CEUs. This training will clarify Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist board and insurance company rules. We’ll also look at best practices for staying in compliance with teletherapy and, yes, social media.
You can learn more about and register for the program on Compass Point Counseling’s website.