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younger woman with her arm around an older woman's shoulder

Hospice and Palliative Care

As I was preparing to graduate with my Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, I did not anticipate that my first post graduate position would be in Hospice and Palliative Care. My in-field experience leading me to this point was focused on children and families in the foster care system as well as working with severe and persistent mental illness in adults under the Community Mental Health umbrella. Working in gerontology was not a field in undergrad or graduate school that I would have ever considered. For 8 years I was employed as a Medical Social Worker. I provided treatment and support to patients and their families under the home care umbrella and in the inpatient Hospice Home for end-of-life care. I soon realized this field chose me and I will be forever grateful that it did. The personal stories and experiences I had the privilege of hearing from this population was such a memorable learning experience for me in so many aspects of my life. It is not every day you can sit down with a WWII veteran and hear of their experience in the war and how they fought at the tender age of 18 for this country in unimaginable circumstances. This would be only one out of thousands of stories people shared with me at the end of their life. 

Dr. Strayer with her arm on her dog Dooli

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Hello!  Let me introduce myself, then share the purpose of this article.  I am Dr. Christina Strayer. I am the Instructor for the Telehealth Certification Institute’s Animal Assisted Therapy-Interventionist credential.   As a person who has witnessed over and over the power of our connection with animals through the human animal bond, I fell in love with the AAT field in the 1990’s as I researched ways, while attending Radford University, to reach out to at-risk-youth and help them develop empathy, increase self-esteem and find purpose.  I found the early work of Boris Levinson in his book, Pet Oriented Psychotherapy, and was fascinated by his case studies of how his pet dog, Jingles, prompted his clients to feel safe and explore their treatment goals in a fun, effective way. He had one young client that was diagnosed with selective mutism that began to talk to Jingles for the first time in session!  I was sold!  

What exactly is AAT?.....

girl speaking with adult over video meeting

The Role of the Virtual School Counselor

In the years leading up to the pandemic, online learning was on the rise in the United States, as increasing numbers of students ranging from kindergarten to the postsecondary level were enrolling in virtual schools and online distance-education programs. Covid-19 escalated this trend, and as it ushered in overnight school closures, the groundwork was laid for more deliberate and permanent changes to the educational landscape. Many states, recognizing the unique opportunities that the remote learning setting provides, began approving virtual academies and charter public schools to serve as state-funded educational environments. Some offer part-time hybrid models (with a mix of face-to-face and remote learning), while others offer fully online programs. As a result, many school counselors began offering virtual services and/or completely transformed their school counseling programs into virtual ones.

dictionary page showing the definition of the word opioids

Opiate Use Disorder in our Systems and Community

I have been a substance use counselor for nearly 17 years. When I started, a patient that used opioids or heroin was uncommon; now, if a patient has not used opioids or has never overdosed, we are mildly surprised. When suboxone (buprenorphine) arrived on the scene, we all thought our opioid crisis was over; little did we know. I was talking to one of my coworkers, who is friends with one of the local EMTs; she stated that our town has 6-10 overdoses daily. The population of our town is only around 100,000 people. 

two women sitting across from each other conversing

Methods of Supervision

How are you, as a supervisor? This is a real question. Maybe an odd one but a real question for an article on methods of clinical supervision. "Methods" are thought of as techniques we employ as a supervisor. While that is part of methods, supervision is multifaceted, and involves other aspects for success. Method, paraphrased from Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, is a procedure, way, or process for doing something. Therefore, methods of clinical supervision are not just specific techniques, such as "if I do …  then …. will result". Methods include a process or practice of what is done to reach the goals of supervision. If you understand the what of supervision, the goals or purpose of it, then methods is the how, or the intentional process of providing supervision considering and combining techniques and our approach. 

Clinical supervision increases professional development and competence. There are general goals and  specific goals for each supervisee. Some common, general goals are increasing knowledge and developing skills; orientating to the profession and building professional identity; and gatekeeping for the profession. The result is having developed a person qualified for independent practice with diverse populations in various settings.

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Disaster and Trauma Response for the 21st Century:

Operation Mind, Body, and Spiritual Resiliency

In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, one of the largest person-made disasters in U.S. history took place killing nearly 3,000 Americans with over 6,000 others severely injured. Two jets crashed into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda Terrorists. The Twin Towers collapsed in less than two hours. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane, heading towards Washington D.C. crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, PA. where several brave passengers blocked the hijackers’ efforts. This was the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil in American history. Hence, the war on terrorism began.

Stressed Male Clinician on a phone call trying to Prevent Malpractice Lawsuits and Board Complaints

How to Prevent Malpractice Lawsuits and Board Complaints

What You Always Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask

Perhaps nothing provokes more anxiety than the prospect or reality of facing a malpractice lawsuit or a licensing board complaint.  As an attorney with almost 40 years of experience in representing health care and behavioral health care providers, I would love to offer you a foolproof way to prevent such events.  Unfortunately, that is magical thinking.  But there are many steps you can take to minimize your risk of exposure and to maximize your chance of a successful outcome if you are served with a lawsuit or a board complaint.  Before providing you with a risk management toolkit, some background information and advice is essential.

Maximize your Insurance.

Female Clinician in a Motivational Interview Session with her Patient

Using Motivational Interviewing in Clinical Supervision

Many clinical supervision models identify 3 stages of supervisee development: Beginning, Middle, and Advanced. Motivational Interviewing (MI) skills are easily adaptable to these 3 stages of supervisee development and can help to provide direction for the clinical supervisor in the supervisory sessions. 

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