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.

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

Device overload item – could it be happening to you?

When the average American looks at his or her smartphone between 90 and 165 times per day, this average American is doing much more than practicing highly questionable personal hygiene.A spate of recent studies suggests that people constantly looking at their smartphones — or, even scarier, simply sitting near their smartphones — have lower rates of the following things: cognition, problem solving, creativity, attention span, sound sleep, affinity, trust and empathy. Basically, we are making ourselves demonstrably dumber and less happy.

Source: Hansen: We are slaves to our smartphones. We are the Facebook Zombie Army. We are the Walking and Tweeting Dead | Matthew Hansen | omaha.com

from Pam Feldman, LIMHP

Is cell phone addiction really a “thing”? If everybody’s doing it, how can it be so bad?

Matthew Hansen’s article in a recent edition of the Omaha World-Herald, is a great example of how our children are becoming affected.

A recent issue of the Family Therapy Networker challenges therapists to address the effects of being constantly connected to cell phones, addicted to gaming, laptops, tablets and watches. Are we losing ourselves without recognizing it?

Next time you’re on your device, ask Siri how cell phones use is affecting children, marriages and other relationships. She’ll plug you in.

 

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

Talking To Kids About Fear And Violence

Kids Get Worried

With everything that happens in the world, your kids will — potentially — get the idea that the world is a dangerous place. They will ask questions. So, you’ll want to be ready to talk about it with them calmly.

“Parents can help children gain a sense of personal control by talking openly about  violence and personal safety.” Recent acts of violence in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin schools have stunned the nation. Children, in particular, may experience anxiety, fear, and a sense of personal risk. They may also sense anxiety and tension in those around them — friends, family members, loved ones, caregivers and other adults who have a direct impact on the well-being of children.

Source: Talking To Kids About Fear And Violence | Mental Health America

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS: IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE FOOD

Angst Over Food

It's not about the food!
It’s not about the food!

With the holidays fast approaching, there’s always angst over food. Whether you suffer a food allergy, an eating disorder, obesity, or are just trying to stay reasonably healthy, this is a difficult time of year. Lunch rooms get crowded with baked goods, every event seems to be focused on food, and families plan and prepare for feasts that result in food comas that sometimes end up in napping rather than enjoying one another’s company.

Celebrations

To be honest, we all probably have a few favorite foods that only come out at holiday time and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying that fully. But maybe it’s time to take into account that there are lots of other ways to celebrate and new traditions that engage more than our taste buds. If you are interested in considering making some changes, I’d like to offer a few ideas with the recognition that there may be some resistance and change happens gradually for most of us.

First of all, the holiday itself need not be the central part of the celebration. In many large and busy families, there are just too many places to go on one day. Consider enjoying an activity other than a meal. Locally, there are numerous free or low cost events that allow families to enjoy music, lights, and spiritual aspects of the season. familyConsult the local newspaper and magazines that are full of ideas such as the lighting downtown starting on Thanksgiving evening, and concerts at the museums, churches and other venues. A walk at the Lauritzen Gardens or a nearby lake or park is a way to bring the family together for some exercise. Game nights, making crafts and setting up friendly competitions can become something everyone remembers fondly. Building gingerbread houses, having snowball fights, or caroling can be ways to get at least some of the family involved in a new tradition. Volunteering around the holidays is a special way to generate comradery. Donating to charity by weeding out toys and coats and unused items is another family project that sets the holidays in motion. Just looking at Christmas lights is a fun way to spend an evening.

Keep It Simple

In our family, we try to keep it simple. After years of excessive, exhausting, albeit elaborate Holiday dinners, we now opt for a more people-focused approach. For example, Christmas eve will be at one home with a light meal and gift exchange. Christmas morning will be an egg casserole and sweet rolls at another home to enjoy the children and their Santa presents. We’ll end up at my house after a family traipse through the nearby trails, have soups and sandwiches, play games and tell stories and piece together a jigsaw puzzle. No one need be stressed out or bloated or secretly upset about over indulging. Don’t get me wrong, there will be candy and baked goods. But this year, we decided to forego the heavy meal on top of all that.

A final thought . . .

whatever your holiday includes, pay attention to what you really want to set your focus on. Who needs you to listen? When did you last read a book to a child? Is there an elderly person who would appreciate your attention? Have you connected with your spouse, your children, parents? How does nature, movement or music play a role in your holiday plans? The options are endless. Just let your imagination go.

Like I said, your family may have some awesome, creative holiday traditions. Share!

 

 

Setting the Stage for More Sex

How To Increase Your Chances of Having More Sex

“My wife and I haven’t been intimate for 8 years.”

I have people coming in with relationship problems.  They’re not getting along, they’re not communicating and they’re not having sex.  They might mention they miss having sex, then I know desire is there.

I take note of this because desire for sex is really a positive thing, it shows zest for life.  If it’s been a long time, though, starting up again can be awkward.

It Starts Early in the Day

Once you’ve made up your mind, get started.  You will want to connect in a positive way with your loved one.  Some people call it “simmering” and what they’re doing is showing affection toward their partner.

A husband walks in from getting the mail and touches her cheek. Just like that, out of the blue.

She extends her hand to him, touches his shoulder.

They have started something.

But neither will show their cards yet there’s no rush…

He helped clean the kitchen so she could go work out.  She prepared his favorite spicy chili for dinner.

What is happening is that they are on good terms and doing things to maintain those good terms.

A hot time in the bedroom at night starts in the morning.  It’s all the little steps during the day that makes the difference.

Is There Unresolved Conflict?

However, increasing affection might not lead to sex.  Then the question is, is there unresolved conflict?

In the past they had a major argument over him going out of town when she had to stay home and work.  She felt his trip was a financial drain.  It was since that time that sex had become nonexistent, only once every two months.

It might be helpful to ask yourself what has changed since you first noticed lack of a sex life?

Make a Date Time

Finally, it’s really helpful to look forward to getting together. Couples can set the stage for a good time.  Find a time when both have enough energy, are alert.  During courtship people prepare for a date and want to maximize their time together.  Making time to be intimate deserves the same kind of thoughtfulness.

What thoughts do you have about getting restarted with your sex life? If you are ready to talk it over, please give me a call.

Romance on a Shoestring

Romance on a Shoestring

Valentines Day is upon us! Couples are often stretched in terms of time and money. People often tell us that at the end of the day, they are daunted by multiple responsibilities, deadlines, and a personal or family budget that is stretched to the limit.

Ideas for you!

Our therapists are a creative group! As we were wrapping up a recent meeting, we put our heads together and came up with some ideas for making a wonderfully romantic date without spending a lot of money.

New experiences

One category for keeping spice in your relationship is trying new things. Have you ever tried these ideas?

  • have a daytime date The Joslyn Art Museum is free on Saturday mornings. Stroll through the galleries that interest you, and  strike up conversation about your favorite artworks. Take your time – no one says you have to see it all in one visit! Grab lunch or coffee – it’s much less expensive and can be more intimate than dinner. You’ll find plenty of ideas here for the Omaha area.
  • Pick a new recipe and cook together after the kids are in bed. Wear nice clothes, and listen to music while your meal cooks. Dance in the kitchen. Set a beautiful table.
  • Buy massage oil and give each other a neck and shoulder massage. Then light some candles and look at your old photo albums. Enjoy reminiscing about good times and each other.
  • Go on a picnic, even in the car, and take photographs. Exploring an area you’ve never been to before. Treat your hometown like a tourist would treat it. Whenever possible, turn off the social media notifications that typically draw your attention away from one another – use this time just for one another.

Shift focus to each other

  • Instead of buying flowers and chocolates, go to the Botanical Gardens or a plant nursery and take in the smells and colors. Then go home and make your own chocolate covered strawberries.
  • Or find the new restaurant or lounge and pretend to be meeting each other there for the first time. Take time to re-discover each other!
  • think about your best times when you were dating. Find ways to recreate those special feelings and closeness.

Beauty can be found all around us

sunset neighborhood

Nebraska has beautiful sunsets, even in February. Take a walk or a drive and find a spot to drink it all in. Remember, most men want to feel that they are important to their partners. Most women want to feel like a treasure to their partner. Find the way to focus on something you truly enjoy together and create that special environment for one another.

What have you tried? Please share in the comments section!

 

Relationship Malaise

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE “ALREADY GONE”?

I was surprised when a young woman walked into my office and said she didn’t care about her boyfriend.  She deserved to be treated better than he had treated her.  She had begun to enjoy dating other men and allowed herself to like them. I couldn’t imagine what had happened because she had been so in love with him for a long time.  Actually it had been a three-year disaster of a relationship.  She knew it was a disaster, too, but she couldn’t leave it.

GIVE YOURSELF A CHANCE

I had to think back over several months of sessions to understand how she moved on.  Her stated comment about her boyfriend was that she loved him.  She knew all the negative things, that he consistently preferred to spend time with his friends on weekends rather than with her.  When they did go out he’d openly flirt with other females which was very hurtful to her.

MAKE A DECISION

What kept her in the relationship was that she avoided thinking about the negative things and instead had focused on how good looking he was and what a good job he had.  She had also blamed his poor treatment of her on herself.  She’d think if only I had not got angry that last night we went out we’d still be together.  This is a typical thought from someone who loves their boyfriend, they tend to blame it on their actions. At this point, I began thinking about the song by the Eagles, “Already Gone”.  Often people don’t realize they have the key to making things better.  If you haven’t heard the song in a while, here’s a live version.

That’s exactly what this young woman did.  She had taken steps to rebuild her self-esteem.  She set goals at work to complete projects successfully.  She built relationships with friends and found activities to enjoy with them on weekends.

Even more helpful, she blocked him from Facebook and  blocked her phone number so he couldn’t call her.

Is it time to let go of your unsatisfying relationship and move on?  It can be helpful to know there are other options besides resigning oneself to a negative relationship.

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

When You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

A lot of musicians have been celebrating landmark anniversaries lately: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark 5 – to name but a few. While listening to an oldies station the other day, I got to thinking about all the great artists from that era. Right in the mix of pop music in the early 60’s was The Righteous Brothers. They recorded their great hit, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, in 1964. Have you heard it recently? Have a listen right here:
When I hear this song, and others like it, I get to thinking about the challenges of relationships – how fragile it all can be. This is often the crux of the issue when people come to see me for consultation – they’ve lost a sense of closeness, tenderness, affection, and sexual chemistry that they long to recover. People can feel that things are slipping through their fingers.
“Why don’t I have affectionate feelings for my wife?”
“Will I ever get the feelings back again?  I’m willing to wait–two weeks, three weeks even, but if I don’t start feeling those old feelings or I think we won’t have what we used to have, I’m outta here!”
What you’re hearing is men and women who are distressed with not feeling in love with their partner, having no desire to have sex with their partner, maybe even feeling numbness or totally turned off by their partner.  They recognize that they can’t make themselves feel a certain way but they may not recognize how they got to the place of not feeling anything.

It’s Probably Been Happening for Awhile

One man recognized when he came back from out of town his wife never cooked, he had to cook and do the laundry and he resented that.  Another women was actually very clear about when the problem started and how it was maintained.  When her husband asked her multiple times during the day to have sex and kept asking she was turned off.  She felt disrespected.  He did not hear her say now is not a good time.

Can This Problem be Solved?

Sometimes it can be a quick fix. In the case of the woman who felt disrespected, once her husband heard her in session and realized what he was doing was pushing her away, he backed off from approaching her so often. She then began approaching him and surprised him by setting up dates to have sex.

A quick fix and return of romantic feelings is not always the case, however. Some conflicts are difficult to unearth and are even more difficult to work through. And it may be that one partner has already checked out and is hoping to hear that restoring loving feelings cannot be done so they can just leave. It can really be helpful to work with a couples therapist to resolve conflicts and perhaps restore romantic feelings.

How has this been for you?

Ever faced this before? What helped? What fizzled? I’d love to hear your thoughts – below.