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Emotional Wellness vs. Emotional Intelligence: What’s the Difference?

October is National Emotional Wellness Month. It also happens to be Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month. The two might seem to go hand-in-hand. Yet, it’s essential to understand the differences between them and how they can impact your life.

The main difference is the very definition of each quality. Emotional wellness refers to your ability to recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others.

Emotional intelligence refers to identifying and managing your emotions and the emotions of others. It also focuses on your ability to think your feelings through and problem-solve how to deal with them

In all fairness, both do sound similar. What are the differences, and why are they important?

Understanding Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness is sometimes used in a religious or spiritual sense. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, those “circles” aren’t the only platforms for boosting your overall wellness.

Emotional wellness can equate to emotional awareness. When you are aware of your emotions, you can learn to process them more fully. This type of wellness is often linked to the practice of mindfulness or being completely aware of the present moment.

When you attuned to your feelings, you can let go of things that may have been dragging you down from the past. You can let go of your worries about the future. Being emotionally well allows you to recognize your emotions for what they are. You can do that without hanging onto any negativity.

Being emotionally well doesn’t mean you experience happiness all the time. But, it can certainly leave you with a sense of contentment. When you’re emotionally well, you’re more self-aware. So, you will have a better understanding of why you feel the way you do. That can help you to get to the bottom of negative emotions faster, to work through them.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is often talked about in a professional setting. It refers to your ability to identify your own emotions, as well as the feelings of others.

Unlike emotional wellness, emotional intelligence requires three things:

  • Emotional awareness
  • The ability to harness and use your emotions to problem solve
  • Regulating your emotions and helping others

Someone who is emotionally intelligent is exceptionally aware of what they are feeling at any given time, whether positive or negative. They also tend to pick up on how others are feeling.

No matter how subtle the emotion, someone with high emotional intelligence can feel it and figure out how to work through it. People who are highly emotionally intelligent tend to have careers in leadership positions. They know how to interact with others, even though they might be more prone to high-stress jobs.

For example, law enforcement and stress often go together, but police officers usually need high emotional intelligence to work with people who might be struggling.

What Are the Differences?

The critical difference between these two measurements is that one tends to focus more on your overall wellbeing, while the other allows you to take your emotions and use critical thinking to work through them.

Both are skills that you can improve. If you are trying to boost your emotional wellness, you will try things like reducing your stress, seeking balance in your life, and focusing on positivity.

Honing in on your emotional intelligence might require you to improve your listening skills, responding instead of reacting, and using more assertiveness when you communicate.

There is no reason you can’t be emotionally well and emotionally intelligent. They are both measures to work toward and can help you find balance with your feelings.

If you are curious about the difference between the two or want to know more, please contact me for more information. Or visit my page about Law Enforcement and Stress to learn more about how I can help those in high-stress environments.

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Will Remote Learning Impact Children? Understanding YOLO

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools nationwide have opted for remote learning this year — at least for the fall semester. Understanding YOLO and how this “new normal” might impact their children and teens has become a priority for parents. After all, most children and teens face a new way of doing things with its positives and negatives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and teenagers are susceptible to stress during these uncertain times. It’s no surprise that they may not know how to handle it. Fear of the pandemic, changes at home, and now learning changes can all contribute to stress and anxiety.

How will remote learning honestly impact children and teenagers?

Understanding YOLO

Most teens know the acronym “YOLO, representing the idea that “You Only Live Once.” Unfortunately, during a pandemic, it’s easy to feel life itself has hit the pause button — and understanding YOLO seems vital to parents right now.

For teenagers, this pandemic has robbed them of many things, from their everyday social lives to significant events (i.e., graduations, proms, sports, etc.). So, while you only live once, teens miss out on some of these substantial rights of passage that they won’t get to do-over.

As of April 2020, when many schools had just suspended in-person learning, about four in ten teens claimed that they were experiencing loneliness due to the pandemic and having to learn remotely. As of July 2020, three in ten parents said the pandemic’s impact was causing their children emotional and mental harm.

While younger children may not feel as though they’re missing out on as much, they also have to get used to being away from their friends during these formative years. They are missing the chance to build close relationships and friendships that can last for a lifetime.

Are There Any Positives?

Remote learning isn’t anything new. Thousands of children and teens across the country homeschooled or did eLearning long before the pandemic struck, mostly because this option has several advantages.

One of the biggest pros of online learning is that kids don’t have to worry about peer pressure, bullying, or feeling “out of place” in their surroundings. Because bullying has become a hot topic in recent years, many parents prefer their children to learn at home.

Negative peer pressure and efforts for kids and teens to fit in can create major behavioral issues and even lead to school problems. Parents who keep their kids home to learn can monitor such things.

Will There Be Any Long-Term Impacts?

It’s too soon to tell what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will be on kids’ and teens’ mental health. With some data already coming in, it’s safe to say that anxiety and even depression will be prevalent for years to come.

Everyone is currently trying to deal with a “new normal.” Even kids who have gone back to school in person face new rules and safety guidelines, such as wearing masks all day.

Children and teenagers need interaction with others. Like everyone else, they are social beings and need to feel supported by friends, teachers, etc. It’s hard to tell just how much the loss of normalcy will impact them in years to come — but understanding YOLO is an excellent place to start extending empathy towards your children.

If you’re worried about how your child or teenager might be handling the transition to remote learning, feel free to contact me. Or visit my Children and Grief page to learn more about how I can help.

It’s essential to keep in mind the things they are missing out on and the stress they are under to keep moving forward while the rest of the world seems to be at a standstill.

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Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Fuel a Wave of Addiction?

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? The 2020 pandemic is still a significant problem throughout the globe — especially here in the U.S. In addition to the physical issues associated with the virus, more research surfaces about the pandemic’s lasting mental health effects.

Unfortunately, many predict that mental health professionals won’t keep up with the number of people who need help with depression and anxiety due to this pandemic.

That means more people will undoubtedly turn to other coping mechanisms. As a result, we will likely see a wave of addiction in the coming months and even years.

Since February 2020, doctors and ER units nationwide have already seen an explosion in alcohol-related issues. Sales of alcohol have also consistently gone up throughout the pandemic.

Knowing this, how do we approach this wave of addiction?

The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused plenty of more issues than merely physical illnesses. People who once dealt with addiction are at a greater risk of relapsing. Those who feel as though they don’t have anywhere else to turn may look at alcohol or harder drugs like opioids for the first time.

What aspects of the pandemic are contributing to these mental health issues?

The biggest one, undoubtedly, is loneliness. Even if you consider yourself to be an introverted person, people are social, by nature. Feeling completely isolated and disconnected from others can make you feel alone, without any support. Studies show the negative impact of loneliness lasts for years. It can even impact your physical health.

Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the uncertainties of this entire pandemic. People have lost jobs, children run risks going to school, and even though places have started re-opening, many states still have mask mandates.

There is still so much anxiety surrounding COVID-19, and it only builds up with the upcoming (and volatile) presidential election. Feelings of anxiety combined with feelings of loneliness, are often a recipe for disaster.

How People Cope on Their Own

Because depression and anxiety are so prevalent, there are a variety of ways to deal with them. Some people take medication; others seek therapy. Sadly, far too many people find harmful ways of coping, including drug and alcohol use.

Pseudo Comfort

Since January of this year, for example, Texas has seen a massive rise in both alcohol and guns/ammo sales — which is a horrible combination. But, people are looking for ways to numb whatever worries they may be feeling. That goes far beyond alcohol into harder drugs. When you learn more about opiate addiction and the brain, you find that it can lead to euphoria feelings. Who wouldn’t be looking for that right now?

Unfortunately, the effects of drugs and alcohol don’t last, so people need more and more to get by.

Substance Abuse

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? Absolutely. But, there is hope for those feeling anxiety from the effects of this pandemic.

If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, or overwhelmed, you are certainly not alone. Still, you also don’t need to turn to a substance that will only compound the issues.

Even if you can only reach out to someone digitally, do whatever it takes to make connections and find your support system. The times are still uncertain. Together we will see it through, and you don’t have to depend on substances to feel better about the state of the world.

Feel free to contact me if you’re struggling to get through this pandemic or visit my page on opiate addiction and the brainto learn more about how I can help. Together, we can work on more effective ways to work through your anxiety so you can manage your symptoms daily.

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How the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts People with OCD

How does the pandemic affect people with OCD?

Now that we have been living through the COVID-19 pandemic for several months, specific areas of concern are starting to shift. Naturally, there is an ongoing concern for everyone’s physical health and safety — especially those at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

But, research suggests already that there is a significant risk for long-term mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19.

There are expected spikes in people with anxiety, depression, and fear over the coming months and years. Some experts have even expressed concern that the mental health community will not be able to keep up with all that society needs.

For people who already have conditions, however, COVID-19 can take an even higher toll. For example, people with OCD may have a harder time dealing with this pandemic than others. Let’s explore this concept.

What Are the Challenges for People With OCD?

People with OCD tend to have difficulties with discomfort. Well, nothing has been more uncomfortable than the uncertainty of this pandemic. COVID-19 is not just an irrational fear. It is a real virus that has swept over the world. Unfortunately, no matter where you stand politically, it’s clear that the U.S. hasn’t done the best job to keep it under control.

So, the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic can cross over into struggles those with OCD already have.

When most people think about OCD, the first thing that comes to mind is an obsession with cleanliness. If you have the disorder, you know that isn’t the whole story. Yet, it’s a big part of it for many people. The idea of worldwide contamination makes it easy to trigger common OCD symptoms.

There are several things related to this pandemic that can serve as triggers for people with OCD, including:

  • Being told to wash hands frequently
  • Staying six (or more) feet apart
  • Excessively searching for information about the virus
  • Emergency/panic shopping

Even now, as most states are starting to open up with restrictions, the idea of being in lockdown or staying away from people can make symptoms worse for those already struggling with OCD.

What Can You Do to Manage Your Symptoms?

What can you do to manage your OCD during this time of uncertainty? First, give yourself some slack. This pandemic is anything but an everyday occurrence. Most people are trying to get through it in their own way. If you notice your symptoms getting worse, take a deep breath, and give yourself a bit of a break.

If those symptoms are getting out of control, there are a few things you can do to manage them effectively.

Make a Plan

One of the best things you can do is to create a reasonable safety plan. That might include only washing your hands before you eat when you come in from the outside, or after you’ve been in a public place (instead of cleaning them obsessively throughout the day). Other coping mechanisms could include:

  • Limiting your time watching the news or looking at social media
  • Practicing self-care as much as possible
  • Talking to a therapist and leaning on your support system

Seek Professional Help

Talking to a mental health professional can make a big difference in how you feel. Things like counseling for loss can help you to come to terms with the things you might have had to give up because of this pandemic, whether you’ve lost your job, you know someone who passed away, or you’ve just had to deal with the loss of your everyday routine.

Therapy can also help you to learn healthy management skills to keep your symptoms at bay.

This pandemic won’t last forever. For people with OCD, it can feel more overwhelming than it does for others. If you’re struggling to manage your OCD, please contact me or visit my page about counseling for loss to learn more about how I can help.

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Pandemic Drinking: How to Tell If It’s Too Much

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health. This can be seen in part in the increase in “pandemic drinking” across much of the nation. Simply put, long periods of social isolation aren’t good for anyone. While they have been necessary to keep people safe and healthy, the effects of this pandemic will continue to create mental and physical health issues worldwide.

As a result, people will look for different ways to cope. If pandemic drinking has become a norm for you, you might want to start considering that it’s your coping mechanism.

But, when is pandemic drinking too much? If you’re “stuck” at home, what’s the harm in having a drink or two? Keep in mind; there is a difference between drinking casually and using alcohol to numb your depression or anxiety.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at pandemic drinking and how to tell if it’s become a problem.

You’re Drinking More Than Intended

Again, there’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two in the comfort of your own home. If that is your initial intention, and you continue to drink, it could be a sign of something more serious.

Maybe you have even noticed that you’re drinking more than you want. Many people who struggle with alcohol know they’re drinking too much and mean to stop. Unfortunately, they feel like they can’t because they’ve become too dependent on daily drinking.

When it comes to pandemic drinking, you might have more than you intend to “forget” about what’s going on. But, that’s not a healthy way to cope with the world’s current uncertainties.

It’s Causing Trouble With Family or Friends

This pandemic has made it difficult to interact with those closest to us. Now that things are slowly starting to reopen, and we adjust to a “new” normal, it should be easier to see how drinking impacts your relationships.

If alcohol is causing trouble in your relationships, and you continue to drink it, you might be struggling with abuse or addiction. You also might find yourself cutting back on things you once thought were important or that you enjoyed.

If you feel like your family or friends are worried about you, you might even start ignoring them or withdrawing from them. None of these behaviors are normal for casual drinking.

You Continue to Drink Even Though It Makes You Feel Bad

One of the significant signs of a drinking problem is drinking, even if you feel the adverse effects. Alcohol can make you feel depressed, anxious, and physically sick. It can also contribute to long-term health conditions that could cause significant issues for years to come. If you don’t feel good after drinking a lot, but you continue to do it anyway, it’s essential to ask yourself why.

Alternatively, suppose you have tried to go more extended periods without drinking, and you feel withdrawal symptoms like insomnia or nausea. In that case, it’s usually a sign that you’re used to having too much alcohol.

Unfortunately, when you become dependent on alcohol, you might find that you need to drink more than you once did. It takes increasingly more to feel the same kind of “buzz” that you did at first. That leads to addictive behaviors, and it could be a dangerous path.

If any of these signs and symptoms sound like what you’re going through, you’re not alone. However, your dependency on alcohol doesn’t have to get worse. You can get your life back on track as this pandemic eventually fades away.

Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment. Also, please visit my page on alcohol addiction counseling to learn more and the additional resources page to help you get started if you need more information.

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What Are the Differences Between Counseling vs. Coaching?

It’s often easy to confuse the benefits and even the very definitions of counseling and coaching in the mental health world. While the two are somewhat related, they’re more like distant cousins than any other type of closer relationship.

It’s essential to understand the differences between the two, especially if you’re looking for some professional help.

What are the differences between counseling vs. coaching? Which one is right for you and your specific situation?

What Is Counseling?

When it comes to counseling, the goal is to help people reach their personal goals. Counselors help to reveal the insight of their own lives. This approach helps you to be more self-aware. It also helps you to be more aware of others and their impact on your life.

When you become more self-reflective, you can improve your self-esteem, find direction in your life, and develop secure relationships. Additionally, when you’re more aware of who you are, you’re more likely to achieve those goals confidently.

Most people turn to counseling when they are going through a rough time or are dealing with things they can’t handle on their own. It focuses on present struggles as impacted by the past. Counseling can be an excellent asset for those with mental health issues or someone needing addiction intervention. It is a safe, secure environment that allows you to open up and dig into your past to better your future.

What Is Coaching?

While coaching has some similarities to counseling, there are a few critical differences. Perhaps the most significant counseling vs. coaching difference is that counseling tends to focus on the past to encourage self-reflection.

Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on the future. It allows you to see where you are today and what you can do to move forward. While counseling often tells you what to do to achieve your goals, coaching is about discovering what those goals are.

Differences Between Counseling vs. Coaching

On the surface, counseling and coaching do sound similar. Each method helps you find your best self and move forward with your life — but in somewhat different ways.

One of the biggest counseling vs. coaching differences is that coaching focuses more on action and change. Counseling focuses more on coping and healing. While you certainly will learn how to go out into the world and reach your goals with counseling, you first have to peel back layers of who you are and things that may be holding you back.

Coaching is about action from the start as you are guided to figure out what you want. A coach may challenge you more than a counselor. Though counselors will try to guide you to reach your goals, they are there for support and understanding.

Similarities of Counseling vs. Coaching

One of the most interesting similarities between coaching and counseling is also where they differ the most. A coach is trained to recognize which of your core beliefs in life could be holding you back.

A counselor can do the same thing. But, they will typically go further. In addition to recognizing what’s holding you back, a counselor can recognize if it’s something like depression or anxiety contributing to your setbacks.

Whether you choose coaching or counseling is a lot about personal preference. It also depends on where you are in your life and where you want to be. While both options will help you achieve your goals, one does so by considering your past and how you can get to the core of your problems — the other focuses on your future and where you can be with the right mindset.

If you’re interested in learning more about counseling or coaching, or you would like to set up an appointment, feel free to contact me for more information. Or visit my page on addiction intervention to learn more.

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Detox During a Pandemic: Challenges of Detox and Residential Addiction Treatment During COVID-19

Detox during a pandemic can sound impossible. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone in some way. But, if you’re struggling with opiate addiction, the implications of this pandemic can be even more challenging.

Even now, as restrictions across the country are starting to relax and facilities are beginning to re-open, it’s vital to understand that the pandemic threat isn’t over. As a result, many outpatient treatment centers (OTCs) will remain closed or provide limited services.

Detox can seem scary and dangerous if you feel you have to go through it on your own. If you were already in some addiction treatment program before COVID-19 hit, you might also be wondering what resources are available to you now.

Detox during a pandemic is possible, as long as you know what those resources are.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you can safely receive addiction treatment and detox during a pandemic.

The Rise of Telehealth and Digital Support

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has suggested that Opioid Treatment Centers remain open and available for patients during this time. However, they are also aware that those who work in such facilities need to stay safe.

As a result, a few changes have been made when it comes to addiction treatment. One example is the use of telehealth and digital support.

Naturally, this depends on your stage of treatment. If you are used to attending therapy or support groups to battle your addiction, being able to do it digitally is a great way to stay connected while you detox during a pandemic. (Many detox hospitals will accommodate you being able to stay connected to sober peers while in their facility). It will help you to realize you’re not alone. You can always reach out to someone when you need it.

Staggering Appointments

One of the challenges of detoxing during a pandemic is merely walking into a treatment center to get the help you need. But don’t let that keep you from seeking out treatment altogether.

Treatment centers across the country are figuring out ways to stagger appointments. The goal of this is to keep patients safely six feet apart in waiting rooms. Other centers are trying to keep face-to-face contact as limited as possible. And most have adopted new protocols for even more intensive cleaning and safety.

If you need treatment, call your local addiction treatment center to learn more about what they are doing in response to COVID-19, and how they can help you. You just need to ask. Once you have the information, you can easily make the best decision for you and your recovery.

A Helpful Assessment Tool

Another challenge that those going through detox or addiction treatment might face is knowing what type of treatment or services they honestly need. Recently, the ASAM has released a free online addiction treatment needs assessment.

It is a 13-question assessment you can take from the comfort of your own home. The questions relate to substance abuse, your environment, and your behaviors. The goal is to help you make an informed decision about your treatment options and what might work best for you if you are seeking help.

Substance abuse treatment is not a “one size fits all” solution. This assessment helps to make sure you can get the treatment you need, not someone else.

The Next Step

This pandemic has forced businesses, organizations, and even healthcare facilities to change how they do things, mostly to keep people safe. Opioid treatment centers are no different.

There are challenges to overcome during these uncertain times. Yet, don’t let those challenges keep you from getting the help you need to fight back against your addictions.

If you’re looking for more information on how to detox during a pandemic or want to know about addiction treatment options, please contact me. Or, visit my page on opiate addiction to learn more about how I can help.

Feeling alone during this time of social distancing is no surprise. But help is always available when you’re trying to beat your addiction.

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Anticipatory Grief: Facing Loss and the Unknown During COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted almost everyone in some way. Maybe you know someone who contracted the virus. Perhaps you had to file for unemployment. Or it could be that you’ve been impacted in other ways by having to deal with some other losses throughout this pandemic.

While people have had different experiences throughout COVID-19, most of us can agree that these are uncertain times.

That uncertainty can cause a fear of the unknown. Because there are still so many unknown factors about this virus and what will happen in the future, it can lead to something called anticipatory grief.

What Is Anticipatory Grief?

Unlike the grief you might experience after the loss of a loved one, anticipatory grief occurs before a significant loss.

How can you grieve something you haven’t lost yet? First, it’s important to note that this type of grief covers a variety of losses. Maybe you feel you’re going to lose your job soon. Perhaps your pet is getting old, and you’re already grieving their death even though it hasn’t happened.

When it comes to COVID-19, anticipatory grief can occur if you know someone who is sick or is at a higher risk of getting sick. It can also happen if you’re worried you might lose your job. Or, if this pandemic will impact your relationships and you’ll lose friends or your partner.

Anticipatory grief impacts people differently. For some, it can be even worse and harder to deal with than the actual loss when it happens.

Does It Make the Grieving Process Easier?

Grief is unique to each person. Because of that, it’s impossible to say whether anticipatory grief shortens the grieving time or allows the process to be “easier.” However, it does provide an opportunity to experience closure before an actual loss occurs. That can make acceptance an easier target to reach.

For example, if you know someone with COVID-19, anticipatory grief might move you to settle your differences, or tell them how you feel. It might be a turning point for your relationship. If that person takes a turn for the worse, anticipatory grief allows you to find that closure if they pass from the illness.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of anticipatory grief are often very similar to others throughout the grieving process. Some of the most common signs include:

  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • The desire to open up to someone
  • Guilt

You might also find yourself visualizing the loss before it happens. If you’re worried about losing a loved one to COVID-19, anticipatory fear might make you think about it. Unfortunately, that often adds to the fear and anxiety you might already be feeling about that person and a possible loss.

How to Deal With Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is often a natural part of the general grieving process. But, if it starts to hinder your life or becomes debilitating, you might need to seek out support or treatment to get through it.

 

Don’t be afraid to share your feelings during your anticipatory grief. Turn to people you love and trust and express yourself. Just talking about it can help you feel better and guide you through the stages of grief healthily.

If you’re struggling with grief or a loss, feel free to contact me. Counseling for loss is one of the most effective ways to get through the grieving process, even if you’re just worried about what’s ahead.

The desire to talk to someone and open up is one of the most common symptoms of anticipatory grief. You can find comfort and peace of mind when talking about where you are in the grieving process, and counseling is a great way to do that. Please reach out to me today — I want to help.

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Scared of School; 3 Tips on How to Preserve Childhood Amid School Safety Concerns

Turning on the news nowadays can be overwhelming – and it’s almost inescapable. COVID-19 dominates the media and the minds for many of us and has become the all-too-real “invisible boogeyman” for waves of children. Not too mention that our country has seen multiple school shootings where innocent children or teenagers are killed—either by a classmate or an unexplained gunman. It’s not wonder so many kids are now scared of school. And guess what, so are parents.

As a result of the endless and evolving concerns around the pandemic as well as the number of mass shootings and threats to schools, many have taken extra safety precautions to keep students, families and staff secure. These safety measures include things like rebuffed air circulation systems, increased cleaning, hand sanitizer stations, mask orders, hiring additional security guards, installing metal detectors in the buildings, requiring only see-through backpacks or purses, entrance security and search checkpoints and even holding lockdown/mass shooter drills. It doesn’t sound much like the school environment most adults remember. It doesn’t sound like an environment that nurture learning at all, but surely one that invokes anxiety in many.

Even though these precautions are in place for a good reason, they can be traumatizing and scary to young children who may not fully understand why they’re needed.

So, how can you help to preserve some innocence and normalcy in your kids’ childhood while having an honest conversation with  them about school safety?

1. Keep Things Normal

Children thrive with routine. If you want to preserve childhood for your kids, do what you can to create a sense of normalcy as much as possible. This approach will help them to feel safe and secure, both at home and at school.

When children feel comfortable in their routine, they’re also more likely to open up about emotions they’re experiencing. Often, that includes things they might be scared or confused about. If they go to school and everything feels different, they need to know they can come home and depend on that normalcy. Think of their routine as a bit of a “safe haven,” and do what you can to keep it consistent.

Parent Hack: There is an enormous amount of media coverage on the pandemic and much of it is pretty intense. It’s an intense time. Try to avoid leaving the news running, even in the background, at home and consider limiting your own watching to times when your kids are not in the area or in earshot. Teaching kids about the news is important – but especially in times of crisis, the news tends to be overwhelming and traumatic for many children.

2. Encourage Conversation About Their Feelings

Some kids don’t have a problem opening up and sharing their feelings. For others, it isn’t always so easy.

If your child doesn’t want to talk about their feelings openly, try to prompt them with questions concerning how they feel when it comes to school. You don’t have to get specific. Besides, it’s better to let your child lead the conversation.

Once your child does open up, be sure to validate their feelings, too! If you want to preserve childhood, make sure your children know that their feelings are important.

If your child is scared of school be careful not to “quick fix” it with false assurances or telling them to “get over it” or move on. Validate the feelings. You can also talk about what is real and what isn’t, but start with letting them know that you heard how they are feeling.

And yes, it is also important to provide reassurance. Children look to their parents for comfort, guidance, and support. Assure them that their school is taking steps to be safer. And talk about the real precautionary measures that are being put into place for all of them.

Parent Hack: Tell your kids some of your own feelings and share with them what you do to help when you feel worried or confused. Don’t get too wordy – keep it simple. Sometimes hearing a parent share sets the stage and invites sharing of their own.

3. Talk About School Safety Precautions

One of the best ways to assuage your child’s concerns is to talk about some of the safety measures schools have put in place in response to COVID-19, school shootings and even bullying which many kids can relate too very quickly from experience or observation. Discuss with your children about how these efforts are intended to work. Talk about why they’re being used, and how they will help to protect them from harm.

When you’re trying to preserve childhood, it’s important to use age-appropriate language. That isn’t always easy. But, do what you can to find a way to explain the importance of these safety measures to your kids.

Parent Hack: Remember age appropriate doesn’t mean elusive or dishonest. Be honest and age appropriate.

Normal Childhood in Abnormal Times?

It’s not abnormal for your child to be scared or concerned if they start to see extra security measures in their school. Maybe the school is just being cautious. Or, perhaps they experienced something that prompted the additional safety measures. In that case, your child might need to talk with someone who can help them to understand better what’s going on.

One More Thing…

Children and grief counseling are going together more than ever nowadays, thanks to tragedies in schools. It’s an unfortunate reality, but this type of counseling can help kids who might be struggling.

If you’re having trouble trying to preserve childhood with a child who is already grieving, you don’t have to tackle it on your own. Feel free to contact me for more information or visit my page about children and grief counseling to learn more.

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Politicians, Privacy, & TeleHealth – Here’s What You Should Know

Thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become more of a popular and necessary resource for people worldwide.

Telehealth has plenty of benefits, after all. For example, you can have sessions from the privacy of your own home. You can work with doctors anywhere in the country. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works best for you.

But, when it comes to privacy and telehealth, some people have had concerns about their private information or the possibility of data breaches.

Some researchers believe that there are significant security risks in telehealth systems. These risks can impact a patient’s level of trust and willingness to continue using telehealth as a platform.

So, what are the issues, and what is being done to boost security?

Not Making Telehealth Privacy Policies Clear

Privacy and telehealth should be a relatively easy connection. Because it’s still a somewhat new platform that physicians and patients are using, there are still some “kinks” to work out.

One of the most significant issues is that healthcare providers aren’t giving their patients a privacy policy to look over. If there are no strict regulations in place for a particular medical facility or from a physician, there is no guarantee to the patient that their privacy will be protected. Even if a provider does do everything “right” to keep a patient’s information secure, the patient needs to know what steps will be taken to make that happen.

A specific suggestion to take the privacy policies out of the hands of healthcare providers would be to let a federal agency (The Federal Trade Commission) create a set of privacy and security standards for all healthcare providers across the country and enforce them when it comes to telehealth.

What Are the Risks of TeleHealth?

Data breaches happen all too frequently in the business and tech world. Telehealth’s popularity is expanding. It’s likely hackers will waste no time in trying to steal valuable information from patients, too. Some of the most serious risks include:

  • A lack of control over collecting and sharing data
  • Sessions used with apps can share sensitive data
  • Home computer systems/networks may not be secure
  • Transfer of information increases the risk of a data breach

What Can the Healthcare Sector Do About the Rise in TeleHealth?

The bottom line? When it comes to privacy and telehealth, there should be more government regulations to streamline the process.

In a standard patient/physician setting, HIPAA covers most of a patient’s right to a private appointment. But, HIPAA only applies to covered entities. That means it only applies to the physicians, not to patients. So, if you’re talking to a physician on the phone or through a video chat, HIPAA laws do not apply to you, and information you share through your app/portal may not be safe.

The Food and Drug Administration currently regulates medical devices. However, it doesn’t have any regulation on apps or consumer-facing mobile devices for telehealth services. So, what’s the solution? As stated above, one federal organization needs to put telehealth under its existing umbrella to take control of these privacy issues.

The Growing Need for Telehealth

Thanks to COVID-19, it’s clear that telehealth is here to stay as an option for many people. More people will likely continue to use it. It can help with everything from physical ailments to counseling for loss or anxiety.

The system is not yet perfect when talking about privacy and telehealth. But, as the need for it continues to grow, we can likely expect at least one government sector to step up and create an overview of how telehealth privacy policies should look.

How To Use TeleHealth Right Now

In the meantime, look for options that offer some type of encryption (no less than 128bit and preferably more) and stay away from options that are designed as social vehicles – look for ones intentioned for business and even better, if built and maintained specifically for medical/health purposes.

Facetime, Skype and such are great for talking with grandparents or friends. Zoom, Meetings and such are good options for business meetings, teaching classes and industry networking. These have strong options for increasing privacy – so if your counselor or doctor is using them, make sure to ask if they have set those parameters in place. Doximity and others are designed specifically for medical – and there are a lot medical system portals that are private to only the professionals in the system using them, too.

You don’t have to be a webhead or a techie. You just have to ask your telehealth provider. My rule of thumb, if they don’t know how they are protecting your privacy, it begs the question of how strongly they really are.

If you want to know more about what telehealth is, how it works, or how you can ensure that your information and personal data are safe, please contact me for more details. Or visit my page about counseling for loss to learn about how I can help you navigate troubling times.