Free Therapy During the COVID-19 Emergency

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Thanks to COVID-19, people with insurance in New York State do not have to pay copays, co-insurance, or deductibles for telehealth sessions for as long as the state of emergency lasts.

That’s one thing to be grateful for.

This is a state mandate. Insurance companies haven’t advertised it, and I haven’t seen it in the news. So, spread the word. Even among us shrinks, there’s been a lot of confusion in the past two weeks. Many of us have been collecting these copays, co-insurance payments, and deductibles because we didn’t know, couldn’t believe it, or were puzzled by the impenetrable prose of bureaucratic pronouncements. But I have it from the horse’s mouth. Free therapy. Read it yourself.

The catch is that it must be a video or phone session with an in-network provider. If you insist on meeting your therapist in person, or if she is still expecting clients to do so, then you still must pay those fees. I guess they’re trying to encourage people to stay home so they don’t spread the virus. That, and to get the help they need before they go stir-crazy in their homes, ready to kill someone over a roll of toilet paper.

You’re out of luck if you have insurance that originates outside New York State because your company’s headquarters is in Chicago, Kansas City, or some other place, unless that state has ordered it, too.

Video counseling is preferred by therapists over the phone variety. But you need a good cellular signal or Wi-Fi connection to see a therapist by video, as well as a private place to talk. That can be hard when you’re all cooped up with other people. I’ve had clients talk to me in their cars or from the bathroom. You can read more about video counseling here.

If you have been particularly anxious these days, or depressed, or if the bonds between you and your loved ones are beginning to fray, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. This is also a perfect time to change bad habits. We therapists can’t do much to change the state of the world, but we can help you with your response to it.

Is it safe to go to counseling during this pandemic?

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I’m sending this letter out to all my clients prior to their appointment.

 

In this age of the coronavirus, you may be wondering if it is safe to keep your counseling appointment. I’ve thought about that, too; and here is what I came up with.

My office does not get a lot of traffic. Compared to a grocery store, a school, a church, a doctor’s office, or a coffee shop, few people go in and out and there’s little physical contact. Moreover, they are generally in good health.

I’m also in good health. I’m experiencing my environmental allergies, but I have no fever, cough, or shortness of breath, the symptoms of coronavirus. I have not knowingly been exposed to anyone with the virus. Nor have I recently been to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea. I’ll let you know if any of that changes.

If you don’t have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath; have not been exposed to anyone with the virus; or have not recently been to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea; then you are welcome to come. I have no reason to be afraid of you.

In between sessions, I can easily clean the places in my office people touch. If you want, you can see me do it. We don’t have to shake hands.

If your kids are home from school and you have no one to watch them, you can bring them with you, provided they are old enough to stay in the waiting room or young enough not to understand anything if they are with us.

So, come to my office, if you can. But, if you can’t; then keep your appointment anyway by phone. It’s not optimal to have a psychotherapy session by phone, but doing so, permits us to maintain progress you’ve made and address any problems you’ve encountered.

I just got clarification from the insurances I take that phone sessions are fully covered. That didn’t used to be the case. So, contact me if you would like a phone session, beforehand preferably.

I’ve done video sessions in the past; but stopped because there were too many problems and not enough demand. I can begin doing video sessions again and try to solve the problems if there proves to be a need. Let me know if that would be important to you.

So, please, keep your appointments if you can, either by phone or in person, but preferably in person.

If you have any questions about the coronavirus, here’s where I’m getting my information. From the World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Keith

Note: Within one day of posting this announcement, it was already out of date. On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, I stopped seeing clients face-to-face in compliance with the Governor’s recommendation that non-essential businesses close. Counseling is often essential, but it is not essential that I see people in person.

Today, March 18th, I’m just having phone sessions. I’ve signed up with a video provider, but they haven’t set me up, yet. They’re probably swamped. Tomorrow will probably be different.

The Shink’s Links on Twitter

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If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you may remember a series of mine, called the Shrink’s Links. In this, I posted interesting things I’ve read, seen, heard, or helpful tools I found on the web. If you were a fan, you might have missed it when I discontinued it. Well, weep no more; the Shrink’s Links is back; but to find them, you’ll have to go on Twitter.

If you subscribe, you’ll get a more intimate access into parts of the inside of my writerly head. No, not everything I ever think; I’ll still rope off large parts of my brain for privacy; but you’ll see me at the moment of inspiration, when I encounter a concept, play with a tool, or conceive a metaphor, long before the gestation period is complete, and the blog post is born. You may also be inspired.

I’m always leery of getting caught by the addictive properties of social media. You should be, too. My rules are:

  1. Prioritize the rest of life over social media.
  2. Turn off notifications and go on no more than once or twice a day.
  3. Set a timer when you go on. Get off when the timer goes off.
  4. Never go on just before bed.
  5. Don’t squander time on crap.

I’ve found that by adhering to these rules, I’m able to utilize social media to learn new things and increase my visibility without wasting time and pissing off my family. They may work for you, too.

The address is @theshrinkslinks. See you there.

Helping Therapy Clients in Difficult Relationships Find Peace

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I’ll be teaching a 2 hour webinar for therapists at 9 am, Eastern Time next Friday, 1/17/2020, on goodtherapy.org. Two continuing ed hours will be provided by GoodTherapy for attending this web conference in its entirety. If you cannot participate live, you’ll be able to view it from the Goodtherapy archives.

Every client who comes to therapy is likely to have hurt or been hurt by their loved ones. This is understandable for people who are seeking marriage counseling and trauma recovery, but it is likely also the case when the presenting problem is addiction or any other mental health condition. The focus of treatment should not necessarily be on the harm caused or suffered, but relationships may need to be mended before recovery can be solid.

A break in a relationship can bring up many difficult questions for both the clinician and the client. Was the harm momentous, or was it much ado over nothing? Can a perpetrator’s complaints be taken seriously or are they simply justifying their actions? Are the victim and perpetrator in denial? Is the victim playing the victim? Is the victim forgiving too easily or making restitution impossible? Is the perpetrator staying in the relationship out of codependency or authentic love? How can things be made right? Is it okay to confess a betrayal to someone ignorant of it? How can the client effectively demand an apology? How do you make an apology stick? What can be done when reconciliation is impossible? What does peace look like?

In this 2-hour continuing education web conference, I will discuss how to answer these questions and more. I will describe a process of healing and potential forgiveness for anyone in a relationship affected by selfishness, violence, abuse, addiction, or betrayal; whether they are the victim, the perpetrator, or both. I will explain how to assess the damage done and recognize codependency and vindictiveness, blocking the way from injury to peace. I will give pragmatic advice on how to help clients find safety, assert needs, apologize, make amends, and promote change.

It’ll be all based on my book, The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad

How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again

Apo Book Cover 4If you’re in the doghouse and would like to get out, today is your lucky day. I just published a new book that can show you how: How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again.

This is the third in a series, all designed to help you have more satisfying, and less damaging relationships with the people you love. The first was Constructive Conflict: Building Something Good Out of All Those Arguments, followed by The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad.

This one is different in that, when you complete it, you will become the co-author of your own, personalized book. It’s a workbook, in other words. I lead you through exercises that will prepare you to make an effective apology and transform yourself into the person who never commits that misdeed again. Reading this book is a lot of work, but if you’re the type of person who repeats his transgressions, even though you want to change, then it’s worth it. Today is, indeed, your lucky day.

How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again is available only in ebook at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Announcement: Online School

I’m pleased to announce the opening of the Road to Reconciliation’s Online School for all those who need step-by-step instructions to find peace when relationships go bad.

The first course available is How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again. Click here if you would like to find out more.

Soon, I hope to develop other online courses that deal with other parts of the book such as finding peace when you are hurt, cultivating change in others, and dealing with pervasive problems.

Announcement: The Road to Reconciliation is Available

After at least two-and-a-half years since I started it, my book, The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad, is available in paperback and on Kindle. Now comes the part I hate: pitching it and talking about it at a time when I am ready to go on to other things.

It’s like that phase of a marriage when the initial excitement and wonder has passed and you’re left with a disordered house full of crying kids, a spouse with morning breath, and a hot colleague at work who seems like a better option.  It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself until you realize that you wanted this.

In other words, when I conceived this book, I wanted this: to have written something that can help many people find peace and reconciliation. The thing is, writing it helps no one if it doesn’t get in the hands of those who need it.

If you need this book, go here to get it. If you know someone who needs it, please get it for them, or at least tell them it exists. Christmas is coming, you know. What’s a better Christmas present than the Road to Reconciliation?