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  1. As a mental health professional, it's important to create a therapy space for yourself and your clients that is polished yet comfortable and conducive to the interactions needed for successful treatment. Much research has been done over the years on elements like comfort and privacy that can help inform the design of an effective therapy space. "A space should be something that supports you as you try to achieve specific goals…that means creating a calm and refreshing environment to balance the rigorous mental and emotional work of therapy," says Dr. Sally Augustin, an applied environmental and design psychologist. Conversely, therapy space that in any way puts your clients on edge or makes them feel uncomfortable can have an adverse impact on their progress. Creating the right space for online therapy is just as important to get the most out of your therapy sessions. In this week’s article, we provide 5 tips for creating a comfortable and effective virtual therapy space. Choosing the right technology. Investing in your virtual practice is critical to establishing confidence in your ability to deliver care, and to offer a clear environment for your clients to openly engage in the therapeutic process - even when they are far away. Start by ensuring your camera is enabled and the resolution is acceptable (we recommend 720p display resolution or higher). Make sure your internet connection can support a video session and that the audio quality is clear and concise without degradation. The best position for your camera is at face level and centered so you are able to maintain eye contact. That may mean purchasing a stand for your computer or laptop. In session, the goal is to establish a relationship with new clients, to do this we suggest minimizing the appearance of multi-tasking . In addition, if you provide virtual therapy, choose a platform that meets the needs of your clients like Telemynd. Make your online therapy space calm and comfortable for clients. Set up a designated private space that is conducive to critical conversations. Use ambient light, calming wall art, and soft-colored walls in the background to keep distractions to a minimum. If your space doesn’t have good lighting, consider buying a ring light which is specifically designed to provide lighting for cameras and computers. And keep your office clutter-free, as that can give the impression of focus, clarity, and skill in your relationship with clients. You can also utilize a virtual background during your sessions if your space cannot be augmented. Privacy is an important ingredient to the therapeutic process. Clients should always feel safe during your therapy sessions, and since they’ll be sharing thoughts they usually keep to themselves, feeling a sense of privacy is key. Even though it may be tempting, don't do your therapy sessions from the car, or with others in the background. Close doors and windows in your workspace so it feels private for your clients to open up. And make sure your phone is turned to silent as ringing phones or alarms can disrupt the session. Eliminate negative distractions from your therapy space. Keep personalization to a minimum in the background (i.e., family photos, personal mementos) to help clients feel “at home” within the space. Keep background artwork calming and neutral; if the colors or images are too loud, too specific, or evoke sadness or violence, they may be disruptive to the therapeutic process. Other distractions to avoid: open doors or views of other rooms in your residence if you are working from home, or doing your sessions in anything other than professional attire (for example, PJs definitely give the wrong impression). Make the space comfortable for you! Don’t forget to get the right chair - since you’ll likely be sitting for extended periods of time every day, it’s important to find one that is ergonomic and comfortable for you. Some therapists sit in an armchair during an online session, and some prefer to sit in a more typical “desk” chair in front of their computer. Try them out before buying and choose what works best. While there is no single right way to design an online therapy space, you can help ensure your clients have a comfortable therapeutic experience by creating a welcoming, private, and technologically-sound space for when they need to be emotionally vulnerable. What tips would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments. Sources Hospital Community Psychiatry: Design considerations for mental health facilities Healthcare: Telemedicine Workplace Environments: Designing for Success Psychiatry Advisor: Designing the Therapeutic Space: Using Layout, Color, and Other Elements to Get Patients in the Right Frame of Mind
  2. Do you find yourself having trouble thinking about big decisions like whether to switch jobs, start or end a relationship, or move to a new city? Or even more basic daily decisions like where to go on vacation, or how to organize your day? If so, you’re not alone - and stress may be having an impact on your decision-making ability. The American Psychological Association (APA) in concert with The Harris Poll just released the results of their 2021 Stress in America survey. This online survey was conducted in August among adults who reside in all parts of the U.S., and reveals that the uncertainty associated with life during the pandemic has caused day-to-day stress to feel overwhelming for the majority of us. Further, this stress has made daily tasks and decision-making more difficult, particularly for younger adults and parents. This post looks at the startling results of this survey and includes suggestions for dealing with everyday stress. 61% say the pandemic has made them rethink how they are living their lives Major sources of stress, according to the survey, include: Work (66%) Money / finances (61%) The economy (59%) Family responsibility (57%) Personal health (52%) The top 2 sources of stress (work and money) are up More than one-third of survey respondents said it has been more stressful to make both day-to-day and major life decisions compared with before the pandemic. Younger adults were more likely to feel both kinds of decisions are more stressful now (daily decisions: 40% of Gen Z adults, 46% of millennials, and 39% of Gen Xers vs. 24% of boomers, and 14% of older adults; major decisions: 50% of Gen Z adults and 45% of millennials vs. 33% of Gen Xers, 24% of boomers, and 6% of older adults). Over 60% of all respondents say they have begun to question how they are living their lives and whether they are making the right decisions about it - and increased stress plays a big part of this: 63% say that uncertainty about what the next few months will hold causes them even more stress, and 49% say that the pandemic has made planning for their future virtually impossible. Parents are citing significantly more stress over the past 18 months ‘Decision-making fatigue’ seems to have had a disproportionate impact on parents, given the big changes to schedules and everyday routines during the pandemic. Many say they are struggling to manage households divided by vaccination status, with one set of rules for vaccinated adults and kids over 12, and another for the younger, unvaccinated kids (although this should resolve soon as the FDA recently authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds). According to the survey, parents with children under 18 were more likely than those without children to say that both day-to-day decisions and major life decisions are more stressful than pre-pandemic (daily: 47% vs. 30%; major: 44% vs. 31%), with 54% of those with younger children under 5 reporting that day-to-day decisions have become more stressful. The real science behind our inability to make decisions when feeling stressed Multiple research studies have found that stress has a broad impact on the brain regions involved in decision-making processes. One study found that not only is the methodology of our decision-making altered under stress, but also our ability to make reliable cost-benefit evaluations necessary for bigger life decisions. Stress can cause us to focus too much on potential rewards and too little on potential risks; or put another way, stress biases our decisions toward comfortable (but potentially negative) habits rather than on goals. This obviously becomes problematic when weighing life-changing decisions, such as changing careers or having a baby, for example. Suggestions for coping with everyday stress It’s not all bad news. The survey did find that U.S. adults maintain an overall positive outlook. 70% said they were confident that everything will work out after the pandemic, and 77% said that overall they are faring ok. What to do if you are feeling more stressed than usual these days? Experts suggest things like: Building in regular exercise to your routine - even a brisk, 20 min walk can work wonders to relieve stress Eating a balanced diet and limiting alcohol Getting enough sleep Connecting with supportive friends and family (and the key here is ‘supportive’) Making time for hobbies and fun Spending quality time with a pet Trying meditation, journaling, or yoga if you don’t already practice these Feeling prolonged stress or anxiety? Consider Telemynd Request an appointment online or call our care team for assistance in scheduling a session today. Our mental health professionals understand the link between current stresses and mental health. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our team, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here. Sources American Psychological Association Journal of Neuroscience Research The Decision Lab
  3. Version 1.0.0

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    Both therapists and prescribers work with you to help improve your mental health, but they offer vastly different services. If you’ve decided it’s time to see a provider but you’re not sure what kind of support you need, read this guide to find out which could be the best fit for you.
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