Four mental health experts recommend ways to manage compassion fatigue and burnout for behavioral health professionals.
For our December installment of the Behavioral Health Toolbox Series, we covered a topic that is near-and-dear to many of us as we transition into 2021: compassion fatigue and burnout among healthcare professionals. The Telehealth Certification Institute Toolbox Series delivers live virtual webinars on telehealth topics facilitated by experts in the behavioral health field. Our webinars are practical, immersible, and driven by your interests.
Four panelists contributed to the December discussion. Sarah Dooling, a registered play therapist and instructor in San Diego State University’s MSW program, took an inventive approach to coping with pre-COVID triggers and current stressors. Sara advised practitioners to create a Resilience Kit with tools that will keep you well. Sara’s suggestion highlighted one of the webinar’s primary goals—optimizing creativity while creating new self-care routines. As Sara described for viewers, using transitional objects, such as a piece of paper with the names of your personal support squad, can act as a visual indicator.
Couples counseling is stressful during normal times – two people struggling to keep their relationship alive, and pinning a lot of hope on their therapist. Even “good sessions” – with both partners working hard on the relationship – are often filled with a double-dose of painful emotions.
When COVID-19 hit, couples therapy became even more complicated. Many therapists switched to telehealth to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Now, partners are in their own home (together), and the therapist is miles away peering at them through a tiny camera.
Sue Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), wrote that her first response to the idea of online couples therapy was “total disbelief.” In an article published in the November/December 2020 issue of Psychotherapy Networker Magazine, Johnson said that until about 18 months ago, she “simply refused to consider it.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, telehealth became a necessity for many communities across the United States as a means of mitigating the risk of virus transmission and accessing healthcare in a timely manner. Telehealth has expanded access to healthcare in many communities across the country which previously lacked access to such healthcare, including Native communities. On April 8, 2020, the Indian Health Service (IHS) announced an expansion of telehealth across all facilities.
Providing mental health using telehealth requires all clinicians to take extra steps to make sure their clients are safe during sessions, and that they are in a private location where no one can listen in.
But providing telehealth services gets even trickier when you are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and your clients are young sexual abuse survivors. Some may even be living with their abusers.
Patsy Fuller is a counselor in Louisiana with more than 10 years of experience. She’s worked with clients coping with severe mental illnesses, addiction, and childhood sexual trauma. She’s currently with Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, or S.T.A.R, an agency that supports survivors of sexual trauma.
Fuller was working with addicted clients at a psychiatric hospital when she discovered that many of her clients also had a very different issue.
Michael Cappiello, LCSW, is the President of New York State’s NASW Chapter (NASW-NYS) and introduces students to the best online educational platforms for their learning experience. Michael puts his MSW training to use every day across the social work spectrum as NASW-NYS president, a school social worker for the NYC Department of Education, and through his own counseling practice.
Schools have hit their newest paradigm shift with the unexpected appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students who relied on structured in-person classes are struggling to adapt those skills to the online learning space. Michael’s social work background explains this predicament through the gold-standard biopsychosocial model. As a frequent user of mental health assessments, Michael places equal emphasis on each part of a student’s life. His student-centered approach moves the conversation away from the child’s psychological symptoms and towards broader explanations for their educational challenges.
Sheela Ivlev is an Licensed Occupational Therapist who understands the relationship between emotional and physical pain. After completing her practical training in the psychiatric field, Sheela saw how unresolved emotional stress wears down the physical body. Now through her practice, Sheela offers occupational therapy for adults with disabilities, mental illnesses, clients with pain disorders, and individuals on the autism spectrum.
Occupational therapists are trained to assess both the emotional and physical health of their clients, but not all professionals maintain this integrated perspective. Sheela’s main goal is to help her clients with all of their occupations, any activity that enriches their life and brings them deeper meaning. Sheela’s clinical perspective is thoughtful, holistic, and always puts her clients first.
COVID-19 has necessitated that schools nationwide protect the safety of staff and students by offering crucial academic and behavioral health services through telehealth. In October 2020, the Telehealth Certification Institute hosted a webinar titled, “Telehealth in School Environment- Meeting Student Needs Amid Covid-19” which featured experts on telehealth and behavioral health in the school environment. This webinar sought to equip educational professionals to meet the needs of students in a constantly-evolving virtual environment. This webinar also included CE hours for mental health professionals and covered information such as issues of justice within virtual learning environments, how to relate with stakeholders virtually, and best practices for implementing virtual assessments. Participants had the opportunity to submit questions throughout the session and panelists answered questions live during the webinar.
Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers in New York State (NASW-NYS), Dr. Samantha Fletcher, has a PhD in social work and is a passionate advocate for ethical social work practice. Samantha argues that racial disparities are permeating almost every aspect of our society. Her even-handed response calls for education, personal responsibility, and having enough humility to be wrong.
The social work profession was built on generalist practice. This approach gives social workers a perspective that is unique to the field: an eye for injustice that impacts social systems at the micro (person-to-person), mezzo (organization, group, and community), or macro (society at large) levels. Social workers have a distinct interpretation of social issues because of their role flexibility; and in Samantha’s view, justice is best achieved when all of these factors are considered.
The use of telehealth services rapidly expanded in the U.S. after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. The changes in the way that health care was delivered were needed to help stop the spread of the disease.
But will the momentum continue after the pandemic subsides? There are signs that it might.
You may have switched your practice to telehealth-only sessions when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and – like many in America – you are still working from home. You also may be paying rent for an office you’re no longer using.
Why not just give up the office and work from home for the foreseeable future? Can you continue your practice as a telehealth-only home-based business? Is it just a matter of filling out a few change-of-address forms and ending your lease?
Here are some things to keep in mind before switching to a telehealth-only home office: