Friday, June 24, 2022

Finding a Mental Health Therapist

 

We understand that many of us do not relish the idea of going to therapy (the terms “therapy” and “counseling” are largely interchangeable). We might have the idea that we’ll have to lie down on a couch and talk about our mommy issues, or maybe we think therapy is only for crazy people. 

Obviously, we’d prefer to do it on our own rather than find a therapist. We get that, but there is tremendous value in NOT doing this alone, and instead working with a licensed mental health professional. 

It is valuable to get feedback from someone who can provide an objective, third-person perspective, that is 100% on our side, and sincerely wants what is best for us. Moreover, our therapist is not our friend. This is a good thing to understand because a therapist can tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. Our therapist will not always agree with us and will often challenge our understanding, point out negative self-talk, and ask us tough questions.

The word “therapist” is a generic term for someone who conducts therapy with clients. Many mental health professionals fall into this category. If possible, we recommend finding a licensed therapist with specialized training in treating PTSD; a specialist and not a generalist. 

When someone has cancer, they don’t go to their family doctor for treatment; they go to an oncologist: someone who specializes in cancer. When our life is on the line, we want the best possible treatment. The same is true for mental health: therapists tend to specialize in specific treatment methods or specific client populations. 

For example, I focus on combat-related PTSD and Moral Injury. While I can do other things, it’s not what I'm best at. I have amazing colleagues who specialize in eating disorders, adolescent-issues, depression, anxiety, and all manner of mental health issues, and if you come into my office with an experience that is better addressed with one of my colleagues, I will send you to them. 

Finding a therapist who specializes in PTSD and has training in an evidence-based treatment for PTSD is smart, but it isn’t always easy. To find a PTSD specialist, we can get help from our health insurer’s website, or use our company’s employee assistance program (EAP). We can also find therapists on the internet by searching by the name of the evidence-based treatment and with our zip code (for example, “EMDR therapist Tampa 33607”).

We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, June 17, 2022

Calling a Mental Health Therapist


Once we find a therapist, we can call and request a phone consultation with them. Keep in mind that we may call and leave messages with several providers but only hear back from a few. (Therapists can be crappy this way.) 

During the phone consult:

·         Briefly explain why we are seeking therapy

·         Ask what experience they have treating clients like us

·         Ask if they are trained in evidence-based treatments for PTSD/Moral Injury 

This may sound like, “I’m trying to cope with the trauma and fallout of my abusive marriage. What kind of treatment do you use for PTSD?” 

If the therapist does not have training in an evidence-based treatment for PTSD, ask them if they can recommend someone who does. 

Next, we’ll make our first appointment. It’s okay to feel nervous; in this first session, we are getting to know the therapist and trying to determine if it is a relationship that will last. 

It also might not be. Not all therapists are compatible with all clients, and that’s okay. The relationship between a client and their therapist is important; we need to feel a sense of trust with our therapist in order to improve. 

Some therapists are unprofessional or simply not good at their jobs. We’re not trying to be ugly; it is what it is. If you don’t click with your therapist, it’s not necessarily you. Keep looking - there is excellent advice online about how to choose the best therapist. 

Having a therapist we can trust is an important cornerstone for our social support network and is vital to our recovery.

Do you know other ideas? If so, please reach out and let folks know on our Community Facebook Page.

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The 11th: Buddy Check Day

 

The 11th day of each month is Buddy Check Day reminding us to check in with other veterans. By getting in touch with others, we can enjoy camaraderie, check on each other’s well-being, and maybe even connect another veteran with a service they can use.

Buddy Check can be as simple as picking up the phone, talking, texting, or visiting.

Buddy Check Day is a great opportunity for veterans to connect with each other, and for other community members to reach out and connect with veterans.

It promotes camaraderie and connectedness. It also serves as an opportunity to educate folks on issues that are relevant to veterans across Texas and to educate folks on the services that are available to veterans.

We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, June 10, 2022

How to Find Mental Health Help with No Insurance

 

A distressingly large number of people with mental health issues have little to no insurance.

·         11.1% of Americans with a mental illness are uninsured.

·         8.1% of children have private insurance that does not cover mental health services.

·         In 2019, 24.7% of adults with a mental illness reported an unmet need for treatment.

·         Over half of adults with a mental illness do not receive                                                    treatment, totaling over 27 million untreated adults in the U.S. 

The sad truth is, many Americans struggle to pay for expensive mental health treatment without insurance, often, without cash on hand. 

There is help out there and we've created the following listing to get you started: 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Assistance (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This resource is free, confidential and staffed by professional volunteers who can talk you through a crisis and/or connect you with nearby resources that can help.

Or visit: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness operates a toll free helpline for people who need to get mental health help with no insurance. You can reach NAMI online at Nami.org or by phone at 1-800-950-6264. You can also text “NAMI” to 741741 on a smartphone.

Or visit: https://nami.org/Home 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. On July 16, 2020, the FCC adopted rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number Americans can use to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. By July 16, 2022 phone service providers will be required to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Until then, please continue to use 1-800-273-TALK. 

Employee Assistance Program. Hear us out—We think this is one of the most underutilized work benefits and it is widely available to almost anyone employed, even on a part-time basis. EAPs are part of many benefits packages, and a call to your Human Resources folks will give you more information. An EAP is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting their performance at work. EAPs offer free short-term counseling to employees and family members, and the EAP will usually set you up with a counselor, making it user friendly. The EAPs that Virginia works with gives clients five to ten therapy sessions with no cost or co-pay. When she works with clients who have high deductibles before their insurance kicks in, Virginia encourage them to go through their EAP. You’d be surprised how much you can get in five or ten sessions. 

Call 211. This is the nationwide, non-emergency referral service for state and community services. Through 211, people can find out about resources that may help with healthcare costs; however, this is not a hotline. Some healthcare concerns 211 resource specialists can help locate resources for include:

·         Access to affordable healthcare, including locating clinics that are free, low-cost, or work on a sliding scale

·         Lower cost mental health and counseling options

·         Programs to provide financial assistance to pay medical bills

·         Transportation services to help individuals get medical treatment

·         Information on local agencies that can assist in prescription costs or pharmaceutical programs for medication assistance

·         Services for substance abuse, including counseling and treatment programs 

If you attend a college or university, check with the college health center to find out what counseling services they offer. If you don’t attend but have universities and colleges in your area, call to see if they have a psychology department. They might provide a reduced rate or a sliding scale therapy with clinician-supervised students training to become psychologists or therapists. 

Call around and speak to local mental health professionals. See if they will work on a sliding scale, or ask for their recommendations. Folks who work in mental health all tend to hang out together and are usually very connected to our local community resources. 

Lastly, try contacting a social worker in a government agency or hospital and ask them. In our experience, we have found that social workers have a unique super power: knowing things. They are incredibly resourceful!

Do you know other resources we can list here? If so, please reach out and let folks know on our Community Facebook Page.

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, June 3, 2022

Social Support: The Key to Lasting Change

 




“Social Support.” This is what mental health professionals call “friends” and researchers have shown over and again the importance of social support in treating PTSD. Our therapist is part of our support team, and we have to build on this foundation. Making friends is difficult, especially if we have PTSD. So, let’s talk about it... 

Back in the day, making friends was easy. As a kid, we made friends in school or in our neighborhood, and in the military, we have our unit. Making friends gets harder as we get older. We realize that for guys, it’s weird to approach another dude and say, “want to hang out?” Women are different in this regard, but we also tend to isolate ourselves in the face of PTSD, saying things like, "I don't want to bother them with this. they have their own crap they're going through. My friends are just all so busy. I don't want them to think I'm a drama bomb." 

Real talk: if you would drop everything for a friend that is going through what you are going through, then give them the same respect to come and help you. 

Even when we know that making friends and building networks helps us recover from PTSD, it is an anxiety-inducing idea. Some people are natural extroverts (and yay for you), but normal people worry about making new friends, especially if our PTSD has poisoned our other relationships. It’s normal to worry. “What if new people learn about my PTSD and freak out? What if I have a melt-down, or if I hurt someone by accident? Maybe I’m better off protecting the world by keeping to myself because people have their own problems and they don’t need mine.” 

We hear you, friend, and want to put this into perspective. Trying to make friends is a big risk. We can be rejected, others can judge us and be crappy, and we might be terrible at making new friends—but we also know that social support is a major determining factor in our recovery from PTSD. In other words, to get better, this is a risk we need to take. 

Because this is important, we want to take you back to the Big Two questions:

(Q1) Do we believe it’s possible?

Do we believe it’s possible that we could get out of our comfort zone, break out of that Criterion C of avoidance, and connect with another person, either in-person or virtually? Is it possible that there is another person in this world who is not crappy? Is it possible that we can use this powerful—and proven—tool of social support to fight our PTSD symptoms? Is it possible that we deserve to be loved and cared for by others?   

Moving on to...

(Q2) “Do we want to change?” (but rephrasing it differently)

The second question can’t be, “Do we want to make friends?” Because we already know the answer: NO. With PTSD, we want to avoid other people. This is good old criterion C: avoidance. It’s like asking, “do we want to go to therapy?” Big NO.

So, we need to look at the bigger picture of Q2. Do we want to do the work it will take to recover from PTSD? Do we want to lessen our symptoms? Do we want the people we love to know that we love them? Do we want to build, and possibly rebuild, relationships?

It’s okay to be on the struggle bus about this. Going to therapy and making connections is difficult when we have PTSD, but we have to do it if we are serious about getting our lives back. 

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD