Visit with KMTV 3 News Now – telehealth during COVID-19 outbreak

Fun visit with Ruta Ulcinaite – KMTV Reporter

Thanks to the initiative of our office manager, Rita, local media outlets came to realize that essential services like ours are still available to the community, even though we have pivoted to online telehealth for our sessions. Thanks, Rita!

As a result, Ruta Ulcinaite contacted Rita, who then helped coordinate Ruta’s interview with me.

Ruta – along with a cameraman – came out to the office to find out how we were dealing with our clients during the COVID-19 outbreak. She asked great questions that gave Terry Moore a chance to tell her viewers on Facebook Live how we had pivoted to telehealth back in March, and what the experience has been so far.

Please call us with your questions!

Covid-19 response

Telehealth services – limited face-to-face

As of January 18, 2021, we are starting to see some clients for face-to-face sessions – based on medical necessity (for services that can’t be done via telehealth). It is our hope that we will enter the next phase of our reopening once the number of Covid-19 cases maintain a downward trend, and we are vaccinated.

We made this decision based on our commitment to your safety and continuity of care. The pandemic continues, as we simultaneously wait for vaccinations to become more widely available to area residents. Providing you with telehealth-based services will allow us to continue your treatment, while minimizing exposures that might interrupt your care. We know that this can be disappointing to many people. We encourage you to express your thoughts and feelings with your therapist. This can be an important component of your care.

We’re happy to be able to return to some limited face-to-face office sessions. This will be for those who are participating in medically necessary services – those that cannot be conducted satisfactorily using telehealth services. Examples:

  • Blood pressure measurements or weigh-ins with our Nurse Practitioners.
  • Specialized psychotherapy services for trauma survivors.
  • Specialized psychotherapy services for young children.

As always, talk this over with your therapist, so you can receive the services that are best for you.

Useful resources to explore:

Douglas County Health Department

The Washington Post – Free Access to Coronavirus Pages

Centers for Disease Control – Coronavirus Information

Our Facebook Page – where you’ll find a regularly updated collection of news and posts about coping with the Covid-19 Pandemic


Online video and/or phone sessions are available. Call us at 402-334-1122 for scheduling. For medication refills, please contact your pharmacy.

All of our therapists are able to offer telephone or secure internet sessions. You may want to check with your insurance provider to see if they are covering telephone and/or telehealth sessions. Call your carrier for details.

Alternatives to office visits

All of our therapists are able to offer telephone or secure internet sessions. Some of the staff use a service call Doxy for video telehealth visits. Find more information here. Most of us have developed an interest in a great alternative: Zoom for Healthcare, the HIPAA-compliant version of the video call software almost everyone has been using for family, education, and business.

Instructions for video [internet – telehealth] sessions:

  1. You’ll need a fast internet connection, and a device with a camera and microphone.
  2. Even your smartphone will work in most cases. Tablets, laptops, desktop computers with webcams/mics are better.
  3. If your therapist is using Zoom, you’ll want to download the Zoom app onto your device before your session. It’s free! https://zoom.us/
  4. What browser to use with Doxy.me? iOS users will need to use Safari 11+ exclusively.
    On Android device, or on a computer:  Doxy.me officially supports Chrome, Firefox, Safari 11+, Microsoft Edge (if running Windows 10) and the Samsung mobile browser.
  5. If you have a headset, earbuds, or microphone, that will help. And a private place to talk for about 45 minutes.
  6. Make sure that you have provided us with current phone numbers and email addresses, so we can stay in touch with you.

Some insurance plans allow for phone and/or secure internet sessions, and will reimburse ACP. Call your carrier for clarification. As of June 2020, it’s our understanding that secure video sessions are covered services with BCBS, UBH, Cigna, TriCare, and Medicare. Others may be added later. Also, some carriers have allowed phone sessions to be reimbursed, but some carriers are expecting all of us to switch over to video at some point. Call your carrier, or talk to your therapist.

Additional details here —> how-to and special consent forms.

Workplace Bullying

Have you ever been subjected to Workplace Bullying by a boss or co-worker and not sure what to do about it?

Or have you ever witnessed or been subjected to what appears to be ridicule, intimidation, humiliation, or blame?

These behaviors are not okay at home, nor are they okay in the workplace. The link below will take you to the full article on the Insead.com website. It identifies Workplace Bullying as a silent epidemic. You’ll find out what it is and what you can do.

Kerry Matuszek, MS, LIMHP, CPC

Here’s the link to the full article.

After you’ve read it, do your best to put some of the ideas into motion. Need more help with this? Please call us!

How To Start Therapy

From Lifekit – a podcast from NPR

Feeling anxious? Overwhelmed? Unhappy? Not sure what you’re feeling at all? These might be signs that your “check engine” light is on and seeing a therapist could help.

If the mere thought of trying to find help seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. Plenty of people put off seeking treatment or try to ignore symptoms because mental health is often easier to brush off as not urgent.

 

After the podcast, you might have additional questions. Great – please contact us!

25th Anniversary! – How we got started in 1993

How we got started

Associated Counseling Professionals opened its doors for business on August 2nd, 1993, but the story goes back to earlier roots in the mid-1980s. By the way, on August the first, we were still hanging pictures and sharpening pencils. Everyone worked hard right up to our opening — and the construction crew remained onsite for some additional days. Our first clients undoubtedly brushed up against uncured paint and stepped over boxes that had not yet been unpacked.

Remember your first flip-phone?

The 1980s

You remember the 80s, don’t you? Computers were just starting to be a thing in our homes, mobile phones where luxuries and awkward. We all still watched TV on a television, maybe using a cable box. We drove larger cars that burned copious amounts of fuel. When people went to work, they dressed up. Cargo pants and flip-flops and taking your dog to work just because it felt like it could be fun had not yet come on to the scene.

Most therapists back in the 80s worked in hospitals, large agencies, or university affiliated clinics. It was a bit uncommon to move into private practice, given that most of us were not trained in the world of business, even though we spent long hours over many many years sharpening our clinical skills. Among the best private practice groups in Omaha in the 1980s was a group known as the Hudson Center for Brief Therapy. It had been originally started by a pastoral counselor, Lofton Hudson, Ph.D. It was later led by his daughter, Dr. Patricia Hudson.

Patricia Hudson, PhD, was a clinical psychologist and an AAMFT clinical supervisor. She was one of the earliest people that I know of who embraced the study of marriage and family therapy in Nebraska – and did a lot of training and clinical supervision back in that era. I [Terry Moore] was the Administrative Director for a while, too.

Everyone involved in the formation of Associated Counseling Professionals in 1993 had originally been affiliated with the Hudson Center. In early 1993, Dr Hudson began reconfiguring the business model under which her Center operated, and it opened up the active thinking amongst many of us to consider starting our own practice. It was a tough decision, but once there was a core group of us that wanted to venture out into the business environment of opening our own practice, several elements begin to fall into place. Each of the first group of owners of Associated Counseling Professionals brought an element of expertise or energy to the enterprise. Practice management systems, marketing, interior design, setting up an office – we needed it all!

It was a bit challenging!

Over the course of several weeks in mid 1993, we located suitable office space, sketched out remodeling plans, bought furniture, and all the other things that a state-of-the-art office needed in ‘93. Given the environment of leaving one practice for another of one’s own design, the carpenters and painters we’re still working when the first clients were checking in at the new clinic. We were located at 128th and Augusta Avenue just adjacent to a 9-hole golf course, which gave us a nice pastoral setting. And a sloping parking lot that proved to be quite icy and slippery in the winter. And the opportunity for a few of us to have golf balls leave little dimples in the hoods of our cars. But, hey, this is the environment we went for!

Yikes!
Today, PCs and phones are relatively easy to use. That wasn’t always the case!

The original formation group for ACP was:  Sue Williamson, Janelle Weeks, Julie Jurich, Linda Schaefer, Terry Moore, Sandy Kutler, and Karen Stacy. We were very fortunate in being able to offer employment to some of the support staff that have been at the Hudson Center, as these administrative people knew our habits and preferences and understood the territory of private practice mental health. Both Bridget Weide and Tracy Polito were instrumental in getting us started.

We also had a licensed psychologist come along with us from the Hudson Center. Dr. David Carver, a psychologist who had been working predominantly at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the Student Counseling Center there, agreed to come along and be our clinical supervisor. This was back in the days before independent licensure for mental health practitioners, so this was essential for our practice.

Looking back, I’m able to see with some clarity now as to why we were successful from the get-go:

  • Each clinician was excellent and well prepared to provide Professional Services to his and her clients.
  • Each owner was able to bring an element of personal expertise, whether it be working with a specialized population of people or, or expertise in an area of business such as contract negotiation, computer configuration, or carpet cleaning. We had to know it all!
  • Our support staff was terrific, as well, in helping us set up the day-to-day business practices that allowed us to keep our focus on the clinical work that attracted us into the field in the first place.
  • We continued to receive referrals from Physicians, school counselors, other therapists, and former clients. Without everyone’s support, we wouldn’t have had clients. No clients, you get no fees. And we would have closed about as quickly as we had opened.

Expansion

We continued to work in that original space at 128th and Augusta for 15 years. Over the time, both administrative and clinical staff changed a bit here and there. Janelle Weeks got married and moved to another city. Sandy Kutler divides her time between summer living and winter living cities and has a smaller practice elsewhere in Omaha. Karen Stacy consolidated her practice at Therapy Resource Associates. Dave Carver, as well, consolidated his practice to his work with students and teaching for Nebraska Medicine. Bridget Weide completed her college degree and started her own public relations, marketing and promotional company known as Image Building Communications. Additionally, over the years, we’ve had the privilege of having worked with at least a dozen terrific people from every age cohort helping us run our front office. Some stayed for a few months and others have stayed for a couple decades.

The original site...
Our original location – below this pediatric practice. We were below street level – but people found us!

Each time one of our original owners has left the practice, another outstanding clinician has taken his or her place as a co-owner.  We are now delighted to have the addition of Glen Fineman, Pamela Feldman, and Kerry Matuszek.

A great guy lends a hand!
Rita’s husband, Dan, helped us set up our PC network in early 2009 – at our newer location.

This would be a good time to honor Rita Eisma, our office manager, for having served Associated Counseling Professional for 20 years. She has assembled a good process for our office and a terrific staff to augment what she does. Mary Palik has added 17 years to our efforts, and Lexi Trantum has been with us now for about a year. Each member of our support staff handles hundreds of little details for the counseling staff and our clients every week. They’re awesome!

Before the end of our tenure on Augusta Avenue, we began to add independent contractors and Psychiatry consultations to our staff. When we moved to our current location, at THE Athletic Club [formerly the Prairie Life Fitness Center] building, just North of 132nd and West Center Road, our expanded space availability enabled us to add several independent contractors to our clinical staff. We now have three part-time nurse practitioners, along with 5 licensed mental health pratitioners. This allows us to provide more comprehensive care to a wider range of people across all age ranges.

We appreciate everyone’s support: our support staff, the clinical staff, the people in the community who pass along our practice information or individual therapist’s names to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. We’re grateful to each and every one of you!

 

Terry Moore, MSW

How DBT Can Help You Get What You Want

In a world where communication is available at our fingertips in an instance true connection and communication appear to be lacking. We have social media, instant messaging, texting, screen shots, and all variety of digital screen-to-screen interactions. This can make face-to-face interaction feel more difficult or uncomfortable. Dialectical behavior therapy, also referred to as DBT, has a mnemonic device D-E-A-R M-A-N focusing on meeting an objective within a relationship. This skill was developed as a component of Interpersonal Effectiveness module to help remind people of the basic skills involved in asking for your needs to be met in a healthy manner. It is important in all of our relationships that we feel comfortable being capable of communicating our needs and expectations with others. Without open communication relationships can foster resentment, hurt feelings, and unmet needs. There is one caveat to asking others for what we want: even the most skilled communicators are not

Source: How DBT Can Help You Get What You Want | World of Psychology

Our Staff

Several staff members have extensive training and experience using DBT in their work — especially Kate Rist, MSW, LIMHP and Scarlett Shockley, RN-BC, MS, LPC, LIMHP.

Please contact us with your questions — 402-334-1122

Phones & Separation Anxiety

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150111195734.htm – link to original article

iPhone separation linked to physiological anxiety, poor cognitive performance

Cell phone in hand
Must the phone always accompany us through the day?

From Science Daily:

Cell phone use has become a common part of life as mobile devices have become one of the most popular ways to communicate. Even so, very little research exists on the impact of cell phone usage and specifically what happens when people are separated from their phones. Now, research from the University of Missouri has found that cell phone separation can have serious psychological and physiological effects on iPhone users, including poor performance on cognitive tests. The researchers say these findings suggest that iPhone users should avoid parting with their phones during daily situations that involve a great deal of attention, such as taking tests, sitting in conferences or meetings, or completing important work assignments, as it could result in poorer cognitive performance on those tasks.

Let’s talk – without the phone……

I love my smartphone. I don’t have one of Apple’s phones – but a pretty good Android. It pretty much does everything I want it to. It’s a tool, a communication device, a kind of Swiss Army Knife kind of object that I’ve come to appreciate over time. I wouldn’t want to go back to my flip-phone.

We, as a species, mastered fire about 70,000 years ago – as I recall hearing recently. We’ve only had these marvelous devices for 6 or 7 years. We await each new version with breathless anticipation. We stare at the screen to the degree that I’ve started to see articles online about orthopedic problems emerging from high use. We detach from social environments to check our Twitter feed or Facebook status updates. Look around the next restaurant you’re in – and take note of how many people are seated with others, but interacting with their phones. Airports, grocery stores, art galleries – we don’t want to miss anything, apparently.

People are carrying them into psychotherapy sessions, too. To show the therapist the nasty text from a problematic mate or family member. To catch the return call from the pediatrician [this one makes sense to me!] or risk waiting another 24 hours. To monitor emergencies back at the office. On and on.

But to what end?

To do more? Not miss out? Stay in the loop?

Trouble letting go of your continuous connection to everything? Think it through, and consider uninstalling a few apps – or turn off the notifications. Turn off the vibration feature on your phone – fewer prompts to check-check-check who-what-when-why.

Still anxious? Let’s talk it over.

 

The Spirituality – Counseling Connection

Spirituality and Counseling:  Is there a connection?

How can spirituality and counseling be related to each other?  I believe that there is, indeed, a relationship, and an important one at that!

 

I am defining spirituality as that part of us which seeks a connection to a power bigger than ourselves.  It is that part of us that asks, what exists beyond me, if anything?  This question can lead to others, for example, what is most important in life?  For what reason am I here?  What does it take to have a successful life?

 

I am respectful of the  many different definitions of a higher power. I believe that we are each on our own journey toward spirituality.  For me, God is love, and I see expressions of that love everywhere.  I was brought up in a church, so that is home to  me.  I know some find their expressions of a higher power in other houses of worship, nature, or even through meditation.

How does all this relate to counseling concerns?

Many folks come into counseling with problems that are related to childhood abuse or emotional neglect.  These injuries can deeply scar us and make us question our self worth.  We might long for love from people who can’t give it to us.  What can we do?  A big part of the answer lies in finding love NOW in our lives.  This means finding others who will love us back, as we love them.  It really is the only answer to our loneliness; it is the only healing that works.

Those of us who are married know how challenging our relationships can be.  All marriages have conflict and some of it is actually unresolvable!  Unresolvable conflicts reflect personality differences or differences in basic beliefs, like how children should be raised.   Marital love calls us to grow as people in our emotional maturity.  No, I can’t always have my way!  If we are going to have a happy marriage, we must learn to make room for the other person’s viewpoint.

Lots of folks come to counseling because they are depressed, anxious, or both.  Depression sometimes has a message for us, letting us know that we are on the wrong life path and need a new direction.  As folks search for that new direction, many ask, how can I contribute to the lives of others?  Many times, when we find this, our own lives become richer.  Again, love is a key, along with a commitment to something outside of ourselves.

An Anxious World

We live in a very anxious world, with so many things to worry about every day.  Our lives are fast paced and we fill them with activities and things.  How can we calm and relax ourselves?  How can we find peace of mind?  As we search for this peace, we may ask ourselves what really are the most important things in life?

Ultimately, it is our participation in loving relationships and knowing that we are making a contribution, whatever that is, to the welfare of others.

So, yes, there is a connection between spirituality and counseling issues.  I would be happy to meet  about your counseling concerns and to further discuss these perspectives with you.

Linda Schaefer, M.A.
Professional Counselor

What’s your ‘Catch 22’?

Catch 22 – revisited

I recently revisited the 1970 film Catch 22. I like older movies. They often offer more than today’s films, I think. Complexity of plot, character development, great cinematography, and very little computer generated content. I had seen the film a long while ago – I think perhaps it was when I was an undergrad at Creighton University. That dates me, I guess!

If you find the links to ‘external reviews’, you might click over to read Roger Ebert’s assessment. He was disappointed with the adaptation of the book. You have to love Ebert – tells it like he sees it. I wish he was still around to review more films. Perhaps that will be another blog post, on another day.

Inescapable

What is a ‘catch 22′, you ask? Wikipedia has a nice explanation. Essentially, it represents rules that create a sealed system. You can’t escape. In the film, pilots are flying dangerous bombing missions. You can ask to be evaluated to be grounded – but that just never works out. The inescapable environment, and the convoluted labyrinth constructed to maintain it is both laughable [at times] and tragic [all the time].

Limiting ideas

All this got me to thinking about the ideas that we carry around with us everyday – the ones that trap us from enjoying life and striving for the growth that we dream about. I suspect that most of us have a few. Perhaps it’s part of our development – we get feedback from our family of origin, teachers, coaches, friends, co-workers, intimate partners – just to name a few. Maybe there’s some value in taking a look at them, and deciding whether they are accurate or useful.

What’s weighing you down? Any of these sound familiar?

  • I’m not enough
  • I missed my chance
  • I’m unlovable
  • Everyone else has got it together
  • I’ll fail

Common Themes

The common theme of almost every self-limiting belief is that it:

  • Probably originates a long time ago
  • Came from someone else
  • Makes us miserable
  • Gets in the way of taking action and seeing a better future

What is therapy for?

One might say that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of the purpose of psychotherapy. Okay, fine. But consider this: maybe it’s all about examining the beliefs that we carry around with us – figuring out if those are helpful, or merely a source of pain, clarifying how we came to those ideas, and leaving them behind.

That’s what Alan Arkin’s character did. At the risk of spoiling the ending of a 40+ year old film, Arkin realizes that he must take action in order to escape the web he felt stuck to for so long. When he hears that another pilot successfully did so, he grabbed a life raft [nice metaphor!] and started paddling. All he needed was to know that one other fellow had done it.

WHAT WOULD HELP YOU TO START PADDLING?

Please share your thoughts on self-limiting beliefs and what helped you – in the comment section below.

Enjoy the Day

This is the time that you have–this very moment.  Breathe, relax, and notice the many gifts that surround you right now.  There is beauty all around.  Let’s begin a brief meditation to enhance relaxation and a feeling of well-being.

The Relaxation Posture

Sit in a comfortable position with your legs uncrossed and your hands resting palms up on your lap. Take a moment to notice your spine.  Is it straight? Let your head rest against the back of your chair if you can.  Drop your shoulders. Breathing Now let your belly expand as you inhale.  Fill you lungs.  Hold for a few counts.  Exhale fully.  Push out a little more at the end.  Repeat four or five deep breaths.  Then let your breathing become more natural, but continue to involve your belly.  This gives your internal organs room as your lungs expand.

Meditation

Consider the gift of this very moment.  You have this time for yourself. . . to focus on resting your mind, relaxing your body, being in this moment.  Slow your thoughts.  Only notice, without judging.Imagine that all tension begins to drain from the top of your head, down the back of your head and now your face.  Notice that the muscles in your face relax.  Your eyes soften.  Allow yourself to retain a slight smile as you continue to let all the tension and stress drain and move downward from your shoulders, your chest and your back.  Your arms now relax and become heavy.  Continue to breath in relaxation and exhale all tension and stress. Drain away all the remaining tension from your torso, hips and legs.  Give yourself several breaths to release any discomfort or stress from every cell in your body.   Allow deep sensations of relaxation to fill you and to flow through your entire body.

Positive Affirmations

Know that you are important in this world.   You deserve to feel at peace and to care for yourself.  You are capable of love and kindness. There is goodness within you. Awakening Now gently begin to move your hands and legs.  Stretch a bit to bring your awareness back to the room.  Notice that you are now calmer and feeling refreshed.  Be mindful of your own ability to care for yourself.

Namaste

Did you try the meditation? Please share your observations, in the comment section below.