By: Jordan Thurman, MSW, LISW-S
I have naturally curly hair. I am the only one in my immediate family that has such hair, which made it very hard for them to understand my hair care. I remember my grandmother trying to brush my hair while I screamed and then cried when I looked in the mirror at the frizzy mess before me. They had no idea what to do with it, and as a consequence, neither did I. I was taken to hair salons that would spend two hours trying to straighten my hair after they trimmed it, only for my hair to instantly curl back up the minute it was washed.
As I grew up and muddled my way through trying to discover how to best care for my hair, I found myself able to locate salons that didn’t attempt to straighten my hair, but that was really it. No one really noticed the unique needs of my hair. It wasn’t until recently, I decided I was going to go to a hair salon that specializes in curl care. It was such a unique and wonderful experience for me. I felt understood and seen for the needs I had, and everything was all customized to me. I was able to be educated on things to better help my hair, and I left with a sense of pride in this part of me. I felt more confident and empowered.
Why do I share that story on a blog post about Pride Month? The answer is simple: to help us recognize the differences between tolerance and affirming and why it is important to understand these differences. Many already know that intolerance is a bad thing. However, we think it’s enough to just say, “Oh you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community? Cool!” The reality is that this is far from enough.
To start, we need to look at what tolerance is. If you were to do a quick Google search of the word “tolerance,” you would find that it is defined as the willingness to tolerate something “in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” It is often described as an ability to endure something painful or unenjoyable. The essence of tolerance in the LGBTQ+ community is this: it sends a message that the individual makes us uncomfortable. There are many people out there that will go, “I’m okay with you being gay or whatever, but I would prefer you to not discuss that.”
Imagine being on the receiving end of that for just a minute. Imagine going to a doctor, going on a date, or just any encounter with a person where you start talking about something important to you. Maybe you bring up your family, your job, a hobby, or anything else you love and enjoy. As soon as you bring that up, the person you are talking to becomes visibly uncomfortable. Two things would likely happen: 1. You would never bring up that part of you that is essential to you and keep a wall up or 2. You will make efforts to avoid seeing this person again.
Many health care professionals, including therapists, fall into this category of tolerance citing that they do not believe it is necessary for treatment. These professionals are often left wondering why their patients stopped showing up to appointments despite doing what they believed was effective treatment for their patient’s needs. The reality is that a clinician in this mindset did more harm to a patient by promoting a sense of shame and guilt. As mental health professionals, it is important for us to remember we are to be culturally competent clinicians who embrace a comprehensive, biopsychosocial approach that meets the individual needs of a patient seeking services. When there is an aspect of a patient’s identity or culture that is not
welcomed into the time together because it makes the clinician uncomfortable, then that clinician has failed to uphold best practice standards.
The definition of affirming is simple: offering someone emotional support or encouragement. That’s like Therapy 101, isn’t it? We know taking this approach is what can help our patients believe that they are capable of growth. An affirming approach with the LGBTQ+ patient is an approach that invites that part of their identity to be part of the conversation with welcome arms. “I would love to hear more about your relationship. How long have you two been together?” “I go by Jordan, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. What name and pronouns do you go by?” In these moments, we can show we welcome that part. This is a place you can talk about that piece of you and what it means. This is important because as therapists, we should recognize that many systems can contribute to stressors as well as protective factors and resources.
The harmful culture of tolerance and the effectiveness of affirmation is evident in research. In 2014, a study conducted Durso and Meyer found that 39.3% of bisexual men, 32.6% of bisexual women, 10% of gay men, and 12.9% of lesbians did not share their sexual orientation with health care providers. Another article written in 2015 by Sabin, Riskind, and Nosek found that stigma, lack of cultural sensitivity, and reluctance to address sexuality may hamper effectiveness of care. A study in 2006 by Steele, Tinmouth, and Lu found that positivity and inquiry about sexual identity led to disclosure, and disclosure led to regular health care use.
Tolerance alone is not enough and could potentially cause more harm, particularly in a health care setting as it could lead to patients disengaging from services. If we want to keep patients engaged in treatment, we must embrace an attitude of affirmation. If we want to be a better ally to our friends and family, we must embrace an attitude of affirmation.
Durso, L. E., & Meyer, I. H. (2013). Patterns and predictors of disclosure of sexual orientation to healthcare providers among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 10(1), 35-42.
Sabin, J. A., Riskind, R. G., & Nosek, B. A. (2015). Health care providers’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward lesbian women and gay men. American journal of public health, 105(9), 1831-1841.
Steele, L. S., Tinmouth, J. M., & Lu, A. (2006). Regular health care use by lesbians: a path analysis of predictive factors. Family Practice, 23(6), 631-636.
Jordan works with a variety of clients, but has a passion for working with women, the LGBTQIA+ community, survivors of trauma, and individuals who have experienced loss. She specializes in working with new parents, as she is certified in perinatal mental health, and she has specific training in working with perinatal and infant loss.
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant, DBT Certified Therapist, IFS Intensively Trained
We can all make a difference, even in small ways, to help uplift, support, and be an ally for LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities.
We believe in empowering and advocating for ALL persons and beings and supporting marginalized groups by standing up against systemic bias and oppression for LGBTQIA+ and ultimately for everyone.
We believe in more inclusion, and that at the deepest level we are all connected. We open our hearts and creative energy centers to welcome a full spectrum of ways to identify with in terms of sexuality, gender, and beyond, including but not being limited to queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, non-binary, and more.
We believe we are all connected, energy is fluid, and that we all are empowered to have our own unique ways of expressing ourselves. So it is best to be in the present and to have ways to describe what we experience creatively among one another, and if we learn to accept and love ourselves, we will love and accept others and vice versa.
Some Ways to Empower and Ally
Other ways you can help may include volunteering at shelters and participating in and/or donating to groups like the Trevor Project in providing national resources.
PFLAG (formerly known as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) connects parents, families, friends, and allies of LGBTQIA+ community members to support one another and the members of the LGBTQIA+ community members in their lives.
Looking for compassionate and supportive counseling services, Contact Us. Learn more about our services & our specialties or join one of our DBT Skills Groups! Check out our Trauma Talks YouTube Series & Blog
Read Article "How to talk to children About Gender, Inclusivity, Sexuality, and LGBTQIA+
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant, DBT Certified Therapist, IFS Intensively Trained. Stacy is a modern-day Light-Worker, Trauma-Crusader, Shame-Untangler & Star-Seeker.
Revealed: Three actions every therapist needs to take immediately to improve their teletherapy sessions
by Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
It will be years before we fully understand how the coronavirus pandemic has changed society. But one thing that is certain: teletherapy is here to stay.
Last spring, teletherapy became a lifeline for clients during the lockdown. Almost a year later, therapists and clients are still seeing benefits to this mode of treatment. It’s convenient for clients. It has expanded access for those who have transportation barriers or who face community stigma. And most important, research is finding that symptom reduction and client satisfaction rank about the same for teletherapy as for in-person sessions.
Yet despite the widespread adoption of telehealth tools in the past year, obstacles for therapists are still prevalent. Very little formal training exists that is specific to mental health providers. Telehealth has unique policies and procedures above and beyond in-person visits. Technology issues can derail a session. And there are a host of legal risks to navigate.
Continuous improvement is at the heart of what we do. In the spirit of continually improving how we serve clients, here are three video teletherapy best practices therapists need to incorporate into their teletherapy sessions now.
#1 – Set Your Sights on the Setting
Creating the right ambience is just as important on a video platform as it is for in-person sessions. Dress professionally and be on time. Remove visual clutter and physical distractions from your practice space. And don’t overlook lighting—it should be adequate without being harsh. Always position your camera so that light sources, including windows, are in front, rather than behind, you.
Pro tip: always look at your camera, not your client’s face, to show engagement. Keep in mind that positioning the camera too close to your face can make a client perceive that you are in their space. It may also cut off nonverbal cues, like hand gestures.
#2 – Know Your Technology
You may need to pull double duty as IT support, so make sure you understand how your technology works before diving in. Start by ensuring your internet connection is fast enough to support video conferencing. Test your video and audio connections before every session. And always create a back-up plan with each client during your first session. Even with preparation, technology and internet connectivity can fail without notice. You and your client should both know what to do when this occurs so that their care is not interrupted.
#3 – Protect Patient Privacy
Teletherapy presents a host of risks related to the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. At the most basic level, sessions need to be conducted in spaces that are free from interruption. You will also need to ensure that your device has a lock and is not used by any members of your household.
From a technology standpoint, all text messaging, email applications and videoconferencing platforms must be HIPAA compliant. All emails, text messages, instant messages, chat history and clinical records will need to be preserved and stored in the client’s file.
Compass Point uses HIPAA-compliant video and email platforms, and all Compass Point therapists have access to these tools.
More Best Practices for Teletherapy
Mental health providers have a challenging ethical landscape to navigate. Keeping current with new guidelines can feel overwhelming at times.
Compass Point is offering a one-day webinar called Best Practices in Private Practice (Ethics). The webinar will be available in March, May, September and November as a live webinar. It will be offered in June and August on location in Mason, Ohio.
The course will be worth three CEUs. This training will clarify Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist board and insurance company rules. We’ll also look at best practices for using teletherapy, including avoiding common legal risks. Register for the course today.
Charles Roberts, ED.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
Coping with Covid is a group at Compass Point for Individuals trying to figure out life during the ongoing Pandemic. Please join us as we find meaning, purpose and life satisfaction in this 'new normal.'
This group may be a fit for you if :
- You live in Ohio
- You have a smart phone, tablet or computer with internet connection
- The pandemic has affected your day-to-day life
-Changes have caused you stress, anxiety, etc.
This group will cover different mental health topics including tips, tricks and resources we can use to build awareness, motivation and coping skills.
FACE COVID offers a set of practical steps for responding effectively to the Corona crisis, using the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
F = Focus on what’s in your control
A = Acknowledge your thoughts & feelings
C = Come back into your body
E = Engage in what you’re doing
C = Committed action
O = Opening up
V = Values
I = Identify resources
D = Disinfect & distance
Russ Harris is an internationally acclaimed acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) trainer and author of the best-selling ACT-based self-help book The Happiness Trap, which has sold more than 600,000 copies and has been published in thirty languages. He is widely renowned for his ability to teach ACT in a way that is simple, clear, and fun—yet extremely practical.
I am very excited that Compass Point is offering groups that will be using mindfulness to reduce stress and improve overall physical and mental health.
Mindfulness is a bit of buzzword at the moment. It may have popped up on your social media or at your job. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the art of being fully present, fully aware, and fully engaged in this moment without judgment. Mindfulness allows you to reduce the stress hormone cortisol which allows your body to function in a healthier way.
So why would you want to learn how to do that? Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years but it is only in the last 60 years that scientists have really studied it in depth. What they discovered was astonishing and will be taught in the class. In short mindfulness has been researched and found to be helpful with improving:
Please note that Mindfulness does not replace your current medical and mental health treatment but rather enhances it. It gives you the tools to get the most out of your treatment.
We tend to look at the mind and body as separate but Mindfulness is a holistic practice that embraces the interconnected whole. If you struggle with any of the above issues, I expect you have noticed how when you are stressed your health is more difficult to manage and vice versa. If you want to find ways to better manage this cycle this group could be for you.
The group will meet weekly for 9 weeks and include a time of teaching and a time of practicing techniques. There is daily homework that is essential to getting the most out of the group.
Interested in signing up? Please give the front office a call at 513-939-0300 to ask about the next available start date.
What attendees had to say about MBSR
Compass Point is now offering Mental Health Services in Mason, Ohio
Compass Point Counseling Services, a mental health private practice, is partnering with Lee Side Wellness, a psychiatric practice, to bring comprehensive mental health and psychiatric services to a brand new location in Mason.
The new Mason location will open Monday, August 5th in a 1,600-square-foot located conveniently right off of interstate 71 at 3615 Socialville-Foster Rd, Mason, Ohio 45040.
This partnership will allow a “one stop” comprehensive experience to our mutual clients who are looking for quality mental health care In addition to medication management as well as TMS treatment for chronic depression. Both mental health facilities are grounded in the core values that all people matter, are of sacred worth, and warrant the finest in mental health and psychiatric healthcare.
The office will open with 7 clinicians: Chrisha Anderson, Stephanie Baker, Debra Bruemmer, James Canfield, Geralyn Cleary, Mariah Goodwin and Dana Mcdonald. The new location will have 5 individual therapy rooms along with a large group therapy space.
“Good mental health is essential to our overall health and gives us the sense of well-being we need to live fulfilling and satisfying lives," said Founder Charles Roberts.
Compass Point offers comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages, including addictions recovery, adolescents, dialectical behavior therapy, disordered eating, family therapy and a mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy program for those with chronic health conditions.
Lee Side Wellness nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and psychiatrists assess, diagnose, and manage a variety of conditions through psychotropic medication management.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports one in five American adults will experience mental illness within a year — with about 60 percent of people not seeking out mental health services.
“This can have devastating consequences, as recent government reports show. For the third year in a row, life expectancy in the United States has fallen, primarily due to drug overdoses and suicides, conditions that are preventable with help from behavioral health specialists,” Roberts said.
Compass Point has locations in West Chester, Fairfield, Anderson Township, Kenwood, Dayton and Western Hills in addition to this new Mason office. The group is currently hiring for independently licensed clinical counselors and social workers.
The Addictions Support group
When: The last Saturday of the Month
Cost: Private Pay $30
This group is open to adults who have been impacted by a friend or family member with addiction. This is an education and support group focused on teaching skills to help family and friends be more effective with their family/friend. Each month we will cover a different topic.
The April 27th group will cover:
Self Care: Caring for ourselves as well as our addicted family member or friend.
The Teen Talks
6:00-7:30pm Mondays in Dayton from June 17-August 5
14-18 (high school age)
4:00-5:30pm Thursdays in Dayton from June 20-August 08
14-18 (high school age)
3:30-5:00pm Tuesdays in Anderson from July 2-August 20
These groups are for teens to discuss common themes such as academic pressure, depression, anxiety, and social stressors.
We will also learn and utilize skills effective in coping with difficult emotions, managing stress, communicating effectively, and practicing relaxation.
To learn more or register for our next start date please call our front office at 513.939.0300
or register online.
In response to those changes, the brain adapts to the presence of alcohol and other drugs, increasing the chances that a person will develop a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders are types of mental health disorders that are more commonly called addiction.
It’s possible to have more than one mental health disorder. Substance use disorders often co-occur alongside other mental illnesses. More than half of people with substance use disorders also have a mental illness. Sometimes the mental illness comes first. In other people, substance abuse occurs first. In both situations, each disorder amplifies the symptoms of the other.
“A large number of people with substance use disorders also have some psychiatric disorders which may or may not be major,” Dr. Timothy Huckaby, medical director of Orlando Recovery Center, told DrugRehab.com. “A lot of people have underlying depression or underlying anxiety.”
Other common co-occurring disorders include personality disorders, behavior disorders and psychotic disorders. With comprehensive treatment, individuals can recover from addiction and most co-occurring mental health disorders. But failing to address co-occurring disorders during addiction treatment increases the chances of relapse.
The phrases “mental illness,” “mental health disorder” and “mental health issue” are often used synonymously. In its diagnostics manual, the American Psychiatric Association uses the term mental disorder to define mental illnesses, but the organization also recommends using the term mental health challenge.
The American Psychiatric Association defines a mental disorder as: “a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.”
Mental disorders are different from developmental disabilities. Developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities, impair social interaction, mobility, language and self-sufficiency.
Substance use disorders and other mental health disorders can co-occur alongside developmental disorders. But the term co-occurring disorder most commonly refers to substance use disorders and mental disorders.
Dual Diagnosis & Comorbidity
Dual diagnosis is an outdated term for co-occurring disorders. Both of these terms are sometimes confused with comorbid disorders.
Comorbidity is a broad term used to denote the existence of multiple physical or mental diseases or disorders. Co-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis are specific to substance use disorders and other mental health conditions.
Any mental health disorder can co-occur alongside substance use disorders. The most common types of co-occurring disorders include mood, anxiety, psychotic, eating, personality and behavioral disorders. Each category includes numerous types of mental disorders that can range in severity.
Symptoms of personality disorders vary widely based on the type and severity.
Behavioral disorders most commonly occur in children. Many healthy people exhibit behavior problems, such as inattention, defiance and hyperactivity. However, behavioral disorders are characterized by chronic behavior problems that last at least six months.
Common behavioral disorders include:
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Conduct disorder
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders
The physical and emotional symptoms of co-occurring disorders vary depending on your life circumstances, the type of substances you use and the type of mental illness you possess.
The symptoms of mental health disorders are similar to the side effects of addiction. Thus, it can be difficult to determine whether a mental illness is caused by substance abuse or vice versa. Reputable addiction treatment centers screen patients for mental illnesses and develop plans for treating co-occurring disorders simultaneously.
Achieving Your Goals
Anxiety + Depression
A Therapist’s Perspective
Children & Adolescents
Couples & Marriage
Mental Health Clinciains
Mental Health In The Media
The LGBTQIA+ Community