In the United States, a person is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Because of the high volume of assaults we see as a nation every day, April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month focuses not only on increasing the public’s awareness about sexual assaults but providing education to prevent future assaults and information on where to seek resources as well.
Recent research published in the peer-reviewed journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse shows that one month after a sexual assault, 75% of victims met the criteria for post-traumatic stress (PTSD). The only light in this disturbing statistic is that PTSD now has evidenced-based treatments that are working.
Identifying PTSD in Sexual Assault Victims
First things first. Trauma and PTSD are not the same. It is possible as a sexual assault victim to have trauma without being diagnosed with PTSD. Trauma is defined as a past experience that is difficult to get over. PTSD however, is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) diagnosis that is generally broken into 5 categories. Let’s take a deeper look.
Fortunately, there are evidenced-based treatments that have proven to lead to remission for both victims of PTSD and trauma. Three of the most recognized treatments include:
Not everyone responds to the same treatment, so it is important to find what works best for the individual. Treatment methods vary in the amount of effort required by the individual but within 6-12 sessions the person should begin to see progress. Like many things that require treatment, the sooner better.
Too often victims of sexual assault associate the difficulty with healing as a weakness. But that’s simply not the case. Sexual assault victims are survivors who should be very proud of the work they’ve done to recover from their assault. Seeking help with healing is not a weakness, it shows strength.
Journey to Recovery
Recovering from a traumatic event like sexual assault is a journey. Whether the individual is receiving support from a professional counselor or navigating this trauma alone, below are five simple things that can be done on the journey to recovery.
Whether you are a victim yourself or know someone who has been sexually assaulted, know you’re not alone. There is help for those who want it. To make an appointment with a Mindfully counselor, visit www.mindfully.com. If you’re not ready for professional support but need someone to talk to, the Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 by phone at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or by chat.
Dana works with a variety of modalities, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dana also treats a variety of mental health and substance use disorder issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, somatoform, and dual diagnoses disorders. Dana works with clients to help them identify goals for themselves and achieve those goals in therapy.
April can be a painful and tricky month for Autistic people and their loved ones. Why? Because it is :insert trumpet flare: Autism Awareness Month. Those of you that are new to the Autism community may find that strange. Even as an Autistic person myself, I found this odd at first. The truth is, there can be trauma around this idea of Autism awareness. There are many awareness months that people appreciate and love, so why is this one so complicated?
To understand, let’s dig into Autism history. Autism like most neurological differences was first defined by people who are not in fact Autistic. This led to many misunderstandings as to what Autism truly is. Autism advocacy was done by parents, professionals and loved ones that also did not understand. When you don’t understand it is hard to advocate effectively. Early Autism research and advocacy focused on curing and preventing Autistic people. Out of these efforts Autism Awareness Month was born.
It’s important to note that not all Autistic people feel the same about this topic. While some Autistic people want a cure or to prevent Autism, the vast majority do not. You may have notice I am using what is called Identity First Language by referring to Autistic people instead of using Person First Language and referring to people with Autism. This is another area where there are discrepancies. Some prefer Person First Language while the majority of Autistic people Prefer Identity First Language. Why does this matter and how does it relate to Autism Awareness? It matters because we see Autism as an intrinsic part of who we are, not something we carry or deal with. We don’t know who we are without it because it is a major piece of our identity. Furthermore, many of us actually like who we are.
For these reasons and more, Autism Awareness Month can feel like a bombardment of reminders that people don’t really want us as we are. Please don’t misunderstand we have many challenges because we are Autistic and those can be painful and hard for us and our loved ones. We also have strengths that we would hate to lose. Research has shown that many of us can thrive if we have accommodations that allow us to be ourselves rather than try to change our innate neurology to fit into societal norms. While these accommodations are important for inclusion and provide us equitable access it doesn’t remove the challenges we have. Those challenges will still be with us. But what it does provide is acceptance. Acceptance is greater than awareness and the driving force behind changing Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month.
Autistic led organizations like ASAN, AWN, Neuroclastic, Thinking person’s guide to Autism, Aucademy; like to say nothing for us without us. One of the challenges in disability advocacy in general and Autism advocacy specifically is too often it is dominated by people that are not in the community. This does not mean we don’t want loved ones and professionals advocating. Instead, we ask they listen to those that live it from the inside. We want to be accepted as people worth accommodating rather than problems to be fixed.
Autistic people are a diverse group. The spectrum is not a straight line but rather a wheel with many spikes that are each a mini spectrum. Learn more about the spectrum, here. If you have met an Autistic person, you have met one Autistic person. We are each our own person, just like everyone else.
If you are looking to further Autism Acceptance, the organizations mentioned above are great resources. And as always, check out our Meme page.
I am especially passionate about supporting neurodivergent people particularly those that are Autistic, ADHD, and OCD. I also love assisting those that have chronic pain and illness. Finally. I love drawing on mindfulness, trauma informed person centered and DBT strategies to help client’s learn how to cope with a world that is often challenging and even traumatic.
As a valuable part of the Compass Point family, we want to ensure you are the first to know that Compass Point is rebranding. We are excited to introduce you to our new brand and we hope you love it as much as we do!
Compass Point’s name will be changing to Mindfully. In many ways, this has been our identity all along as we have many existing programs and services dedicated to the concept of mindfulness. Because of this, we believe that Mindfully is a more fitting name for our existing and future services.
As a part of our rebranding, we will be adding new services to our offerings including psychiatry and peer mentoring. We are mindful that the needs of our clients change throughout their lives, and we want to ensure we have your behavioral health needs covered.
In the coming weeks we will unveil our new logo that will complete our Mindfully brand identity. While the name and look of our business will be different, the quality of services you have come to know and expect will remain the same. You will still access services in the same manner, you will keep the same clinician, and your billing will remain the same.
During this transition, if you receive a denial from your insurance provider, please contact the front office to have your payment reprocessed.
While we hope you are as excited as we are, we understand that you might have some
questions too. Please reach out to your Compass Point clinician or a front office team member with any questions you may have.
The Importance of Regular Self-care
By: Jessa N. Bame MSW, LSW, SUDP
Self-care is like good dental hygiene. You wouldn’t wait until you have cavities to brush your teeth. So why should you wait until you’re in crisis to practice self-care? The answer is you shouldn’t.
Regular self-care is an important part of your physical and mental health. By setting aside time to do something that takes you to a more positive state you are contributing to your overall health.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care can be quick, inexpensive, and easy to do. The trick is to DO IT! Become a self-care master in just three simple steps:
Step 1: Think of things that bring you joy, rejuvenate you, or positively impact your mental state.
While self-care activities are often associated with females, self-care is for everyone and can be anything. Choosing a self-care activity is simpler than you think. Have you ever said to yourself, “I miss doing…” or “I wish I still did…”? That “thing” you wish you still did is a perfect place to start. Self-care is unique to each person and each person can have several different self-care activities. For some it could be morning meditations and for others it might be volunteering. Self-care could even be deciding to stay home when you’re not feeling great. The key is to choose things that fill your cup not empty it.
Step 2: Incorporate the self-care activity into your routine.
Self-care generates the best results when it’s regularly practiced, so make it easy on yourself! Try setting reminders on your phone to trigger yourself to practice self-care or create a self-care box with your “go-to” self-care tools. Self-care can even be incorporated into things you do in your day-to-day life. For example, during your commute you can listen to music or call a friend. You can even take 10-minute breaks throughout the day to read a chapter from your favorite book. These small moments you take for yourself pay dividends down the road.
Step 3: Reflect on your results.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that self-care is not about perfection. It is better to attempt a self-care activity and do it poorly than to do nothing at all. Reflect on the times you practiced self-care. How did you feel? Is your routine working or do you need to try something else?
Jessa N. Bame MSW, LSW, SUDP
Making A Resolution That Lasts
By: Rev. Dr. Bethany L. Fulton, LPCC
It’s funny how the simple unwrapping of a new calendar gets us contemplating how we can improve ourselves or make this year even better than the last. As if changing the last number in a year from a 1 to 2 has the power to transform our lives into the Hallmark movies we watched all December.
As a clinician, I feel it is important to say that approaching the new year as a time to rehash all the things we do not like about ourselves is dangerous territory and simply unproductive. Instead, let’s make resolutions that last and bring about positive changes.
If you really want to make a change that lasts, turn your resolution into a goal. Resolutions themselves are often too generic and set us up for failure. A goal lays the groundwork for more realistic and higher quality results.
When creating a goal, I like to use the trusted acronym S.M.A.R.T. A smart goal is: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time oriented. Now that we’ve defined it, let’s put it into practice.
Let’s say you have resolved that you want to be happier in 2022. Great! You have a goal. Now let’s make it S.M.A.R.T: I want to be happier in my personal relationships so I will reserve two Fridays a month to spend at least one hour with a friend.
Now that you’ve mastered creating a goal it’s time to master failing. Yes, that’s right, I said failing. Over the next 365 days you will most likely fail at least once. Once we acknowledge the failure, we can more quickly return our focus to what we can do in the present moment. We achieve a goal by moving forward not by dwelling in the past.
One of the first mistakes we make when creating a goal is attaching pass or fail logic. As humans, we love all or nothing thinking because it makes sense. But when it comes to evaluating the success of your goal, it simply does not work. Think back to our goal of more meaningful relationships. It is possible to become happier in your relationships even if there were a few months that you only had time for one get together instead of two.
Goals are fluid and it is important to allow yourself to rework the goal. Circumstances change, global pandemics occur, life happens. It’s how you adjust that matters. Be brave, take small steps, and have the courage to continue even when it becomes difficult. Success is not about passing or failing, it’s about the way you feel at the end of it all.
Home for the Holidays…Or Not
For some, going home for the holidays is the most wonderful time of the year. But for others, it can be a mixture of stress, anxiety, excitement, fear, and a whole host of other emotions.
For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the choice to go home for the holidays may hinge on whether they feel safe, accepted, and/or welcome to celebrate with their family of origin. For others, the choice may simply be to celebrate with their chosen family instead. Either way, developing a Cope Ahead Plan can be an effective way to navigate the holidays and keep your mental health intact.
4 Elements to Include in Your Cope Ahead Plan:
However and with whoever you celebrate this season, we wish you a happy and safe holidays!
Self-Care for the Holidays
By Jennifer Day, MSW Intern
During the holidays, our to-do-lists often pile up with tasks and taking care of others. It’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup, so we must take a few minutes to recharge ourselves too!
Self-care is more than just a checklist or the latest wellness buzzword. Self-care is the human equivalent of performing routine maintenance on a vehicle – we all know we have to fuel up a car to get it to run, but we also have to make sure the tires are inflated, check and change the oil occasionally, check the brakes… you get it. Good care in advance and throughout the life of a car keeps it lasting longer and running better. It’s the same with people, especially during a season that’s sometimes busy and difficult. Here are a few inexpensive or free things you can do to keep your engine running during the holidays:
1. Schedule time for you.
Think about the things you enjoy and make sure you set aside time for those things, rather than filling up your calendar with everyone else’s plans for you. Add some time to your day to practice self-care activities or just a few minutes of quiet before a gathering.
2. Practice being mindful.
Things can get pretty hectic during the holidays but incorporating mindfulness into your holiday can be as simple as paying attention to only the task you’re completing right now. Even grocery shopping can be done more mindfully by noticing your surroundings, such as the sights, smells, and sounds. Going over the river and through the woods to visit family? Try mindful driving!
3. Leave space for the tough stuff.
The holidays can be very difficult with grief popping up as we remember those who can’t be present with us or for situations that aren’t ideal. Since the pandemic, chances are there’s something about your holiday season you might wish looked a little different. It’s okay to notice your grief and leave space for it in your holiday. Consider whether these negative feelings come from expectations left unfulfilled and give yourself a break if you aren’t feeling festive.
4. Ask for help.
Need help with baking the pies or washing the dishes? Let someone know how much you’d appreciate a hand. It’s perfectly okay to give up some responsibilities and delegate tasks during this busy season… and all year long! If you’re struggling with holiday stress, you can always reach out and schedule an appointment with your CPCS therapist. We’re here to help.
However you celebrate, we wish you a holiday season full of relaxation and self-care.
When Your Child Needs Therapy:
Five Commonly Asked Questions, Answered
By The Adolescent Team at Compass Point
When children and teens need therapy, it’s not unusual for caregivers to feel like they have failed. But rather than being a sign of failure, seeking help for your child is a brave act.
Sometimes children and adolescents need counseling, just like adults. They may be suffering from a mental illness, which affects a staggering 1 in 6 youths in the U.S. every year. Or they may need guidance with working through emotional issues related to family, school, trauma or other situations. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them or you. It just means they need the assistance of someone who specializes in helping people overcome their life challenges.
No matter the reason why you are seeking therapy for your child, taking that first step can be scary. Here is a list of frequently asked questions to help you prepare for what comes next.
What Should I Tell My Child About Going to Therapy?
Be open and honest about why they are going to therapy and how you think it will help. At the same time, be sensitive to the worries or fears your child may have. Many children and adolescents think that therapy means there is something dramatically wrong with them. You can help ease this concern by explaining your child that they will learn new skills and tools for coping with their challenges, and that these skills and tools can help them for the rest of their life.
Will I Meet with My Child’s Therapist First?
The first session will be between you and the therapist to freely discuss your concerns and why you think your child needs therapy. If you think your child may be suffering from mental illness, be ready to talk about the signs or symptoms you or others have observed and when they started to occur. Come prepared with questions for the counselor as well. Common questions include:
Will the Therapist Keep Me Updated About My Child’s Progress?
In most cases, you will not take part in the sessions with your child. This is to provide your child with space to open up about things he or she may not be comfortable sharing in front of you. However, most counselors will schedule one-on-one parent sessions to share information and provide guidance on how you can help your child at home.
What if My Child Doesn’t Like the Therapist?
Talk to your child and try to understand why he or she does not like the therapist. Keep in mind it may take several sessions for the relationship to “click.” However, you should always trust your instincts. It may be that it’s simply not a good fit. If that’s the case, it’s OK to move on and find another therapist.
What Can I do to Support My Child?
Commit to making sure your child attends all appointments. We know this can be challenging for working parents and for parents of school-aged children. However, improvement will only be made if your child attends all sessions. In addition, talk to your child’s therapist about specific actions you can take to support your child at home. And finally, be patient. Progress takes time, and you will not see a breakthrough overnight. There may even be setbacks. But over time, you will see a change for the better.
When It’s Time to Get Help
At Compass Point, we have an experienced team of child and adolescent therapists who are ready to work with you and your child. Because we know how important it is to find the right therapist for your child, we will do our best to match you with the best fit from the start.
When you schedule an appointment using our online scheduler, you’ll answer questions about your child’s needs, your preferred location and your schedule. Within minutes, our system will generate a list of available providers who have the skills, capabilities and expertise to help you and your child. It’s that easy.
Take the first step. Call or request an appointment online today.
by Kristin Henderson
After more than a year of living with COVID-19, there are signs that we could return to something close to normal by this summer. That’s right: a future of mingling with friends, family, and colleagues indoors is within sight.
However, it’s safe to say that our use of videoconferencing platforms is here to stay, even after social distancing restrictions are fully lifted. What started as a necessity last March has, for some, become a source of convenience. Teletherapy in particular has emerged as a lifeline for people who have barriers to attending in-person therapy.
Yet even a year in, many of us still experience a sense of “Zoom anxiety.” That is, we feel self-conscious or anxious about videoconferencing to the point of distraction. One way to alleviate these feelings is to use the tools around us to our advantage.
Here are six tips to feel more at ease and look your best on camera, whether you’re meeting with colleagues, with family or with a healthcare professional.
#1 - Assess Your Lighting
Good lighting is essential to humanizing your video interactions. Natural light is the highest quality and most flattering form of lighting. If natural light isn’t an option, you can purchase a ring light, which mimics white natural light. A lamp will do fine as well. Just make sure that you are facing the light source to avoid creating a silhouette or halo effect.
#2 – Check Your Surroundings
Keep your space free of clutter and other visual distractions. Using a blank or minimally decorated wall as your backdrop will keep the main focus on you. Try to avoid doorways in the background, especially if there is a chance for someone to pop in while you’re on a call.
#3 – Evaluate Your Camera Angle
Your camera should be at or slightly above eye level. You can achieve this by purchasing a laptop stand or a phone tripod, or by stacking books or boxes on your worksurface. Also ensure the camera isn’t too close to your face. Most laptops have wide-angle lenses, which will distort your face if you are too close. If your laptop or phone is just not cutting it, you can buy a stand-alone camera that can mount on your screen or to a tripod.
#4 – Use the Mute Button
Unsurprisingly, new standards of etiquette are arising for video meetings. Chief among them is the use of the mute button. Start meetings on mute and keep yourself on mute until you are ready to speak. This cuts back on background noise, especially when multiple people are on a call.
#5 – Dress for Success
The clothes we wear can have a big impact on camera. Solid colors and simple patterns work best. Keep in mind that the camera angle can play tricks with what you wear. Shirts with graphics or writing and sleeveless and v-neck tops may be cut off in an unflattering way by the camera. Always do a quick camera check before hopping on a call.
#6 – Take Time for Self-Care
Zoom fatigue is a real condition. Make sure you have plenty of water and a healthy snack within reach. Also, build time into your schedule to step away from your desk. Socialize (safely) with colleagues and friends, go for a quick walk or just take a moment to decompress.
At Compass Point, we offer both in-person and teletherapy sessions for clients. If you need to seek help, call or schedule an appointment online. We’ll do our best to find the right fit so you can get started feeling better.
Four Ways to Determine if a Therapist is the Right Fit for You
by Monica Burbank, MA, LPCC
Therapy helps millions of people every year feel better and achieve more than they thought possible. But it can be intimidating to open up to a stranger. To get the most out of your therapy sessions, you need to feel comfortable talking about and exploring your fears, anxieties and other challenges.
That’s why it’s so important to find a therapist who is a good fit for you. When you find a therapist who is the right fit, it will feel like talking to an old friend. They will challenge you in all the ways you want and sit with you when times are tough.
So how do you know if your therapist is right for you? Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing checklist. However, here are four general questions you can ask yourself, based on my own experience both as a therapist and as a therapy client
If something feels off, consider talking about it with your therapist. Being open and honest about what you are feeling or experiencing will help your therapist better meet your needs. Keep in mind that it usually takes three to five sessions before you start to feel like you are making progress.
If you still feel like you are not connecting, or if you’re not comfortable talking about it with your therapist, it’s OK to move on. It’s also OK to “shop around” for the right therapist before committing. If you do this, be transparent with your therapist(s) so they know what to expect.
Finding the Best Fit at Compass Point
Therapy should be unique to you because you are one of a kind. At Compass Point, we do our best to connect you with the best fit from the start. When you call or request an appointment online, you will answer a series of questions about who you are and the type of help you are seeking. We use this information to match you with a specialist who can see you within three days at your preferred location.
More than 90 percent of our clients are satisfied with their therapist. But if it turns out that your therapist is not the right match, we can help you find a provider who is a better fit.
Schedule an appointment today.
Monica Burbank, MA, LPCC