Category Archives: Jefferson Oaks

May Mental Health Awareness

In honor of mental health awareness month, the team at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health wanted to address the alienation persons served often experience before seeking help. Feeling alone or like the “only one” is common when experiencing depression, anxiety, grief and loss. The isolation that often comes with the symptoms of depression, anxiety, grief/loss separates us further. The isolation initially may feel safe, but over time, the isolation becomes a wall, a barrier.

At Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, our primary form of treatment is group therapy. Our clinicians are well versed in DBT, CBT, ACT and many other models of effective forms of psychotherapy. Persons served are often initially fearful of joining a group. The people are strangers after all. In many ways because we do not know those in the group, is precisely why group therapy works. Group therapy is an accelerated microcosm of the real world- a safe world, a sacred space where all the work is done in this space. At Jefferson Oaks, we emphasize the importance of the confidentiality of the group and the no connection “rule” outside of group to keep the space free of outside influence and to keep the focus within. Also, this “rule” decreases the risk of trying to help each other when the patients in the group are often in a vulnerable place.

Those in the groups at Jefferson Oaks are in different stages of the therapeutic journey. Some are nearing graduation, some are beginners, some are midway. This creates a beautiful balance of support as those who are just arriving need the most support and those that are later in the process have new tools and are generally feeling stronger and ready to return to their lives with a renewed sense of purpose. In this way, persons served truly connect and support each other as they move through the group therapy process.

Group therapy is essential to the therapeutic process. We are social beings and being separated from others hurts. The need for the “group” is innate to humans. We have met in groups in circles since the beginning. We still meet in the circle at Jefferson Oaks as this shape helps further unite us and enables us truly “see” each other. The ritual of the group space becomes a place of safety, vulnerability and honesty. For without vulnerability there can be little honesty. In closing, I often tell patients to try one group. Listen and observe. Just being with others is often therapeutic after feeling alone for so long. The act of being seen itself is healing. We all need to be seen, noticed and supported. We all need our groups

Art Therapy

At Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, we work within a multidisciplinary team, which includes the use of the expressive therapies. Art therapy has been greatly beneficial to persons served due to the experience of creating imagery that addresses reasons for admission, such as anxiety, grief, loss and depression. Art therapy helps-but how?

Art Therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.

Art therapists are master-level clinicians who work with people of all ages across a broad spectrum of practice. Guided by ethical standards and scope of practice, their education and supervised training prepares them for culturally proficient work with diverse populations in a variety of settings. Honoring individuals’ values and beliefs, art therapists work with people who are challenged with medical and mental health problems, as well as individuals seeking emotional, creative, and spiritual growth.

Through integrative methods, art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic opportunities invite alternative modes of receptive and expressive communication, which can circumvent the limitations of language. Visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience, and empowers individual, communal, and societal transformation.

~Adapted from the American Art Therapy Association

Music Therapy

At Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, we work within a multidisciplinary team that includes the use of the expressive therapies. The benefits of music therapy are numerous but how does it work?

What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. 

What do music therapists do?
Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.

Who can benefit from music therapy?
Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease and other aging related conditions, substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain.

Who is qualified to practice music therapy?
Persons who complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC).

What are some misconceptions about music therapy?
That the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy — they do not. That there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest — this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient’s life.
~Adapted from American Music Therapy Association

How COVID-19 hinders the growth of understanding a misunderstood and discriminated population.

The LGBTQ community struggles with similar issues of straight and cisgender population during this COVID-19 pandemic. People are being laid off or having a cut in pay due to limited shifts or opportunity to work, as well as being employed as essential workers who are on the front lines taking care of others who have contracted COVID-19. About 5million LGBTQ identified community out of 14million LGBTQ adults and 2 million LGBTQ youth work in industries that will be highly affected by COVID-19 (restaurants, teachers, healthcare works, etc.) (1)

The LGBTQ community is an at-risk population for COVID-19 contraction. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ community is more at risk than the general population for such struggles such as poverty, access to healthcare, limited access to health supports, paid medical leave and basic human needs. One in ten LGBTQ people are unemployed and impoverish than straight people, therefore leading to struggles affording doctor’s visits and acquiring and keeping health insurance. These high rates of poverty and unemployment also can be linked to discrimination, which leads to possible loss of jobs, being looked over for promotions, or not being considered for a job in the first place. (1)

Because of the rates of poverty and lack of employment, the 2018 BRFSS reports 17% of LGBTQ adults lack any kind of health care coverage as well as 23% of LGBTQ adults of color, 22% of transgender adults, and 32% of transgender adults of color. (1) With the lack of healthcare and limited financial resources, LGBTQ adults are less likely to receive care and treatment if they experience any COVID-19 related symptoms or health issues.

LGBTQ community is also at risk for contracting COVID-19 due to the population being more likely to smoke every day (up to 50% more than general population,) (transequality.org) which affects the respiratory system. The LGBTQ community also has  higher rates of HIV infection and cancer, weakening the immune system and making this population more susceptible to infection. (1,2)

Besides having issues with accessing healthcare, financial hardships, and poverty, the stay-at-home orders mandated by Governors around the US and the President causes LGBTQ people to quarantine in environments that may not be as supportive and more isolating than before the mandated quarantine. Being a part of the LGBTQ community comes with the fear of being discriminated against in many atmospheres, the home being one of them. Living with family members who are not supportive of their lifestyle can cause deterioration to their mental health. LGBTQ older adults are also more likely to live alone and less like to have larger families such as a spouse or children, therefore feeling more isolated from supports as well as not having close family members to help take care of them if they fall ill. (1)

If anyone is feeling alone or isolated, either if they are living alone or with others, it is important to reach out to those that are supportive. Utilizing other forms of communication such as cell phone, FaceTime, and different online video chat options can help with connecting with those closest to us while also maintaining healthy social distancing. TIME Magazine online posted, with several Pride events around the world being forced to cancel their activities due to stay-at-home mandates, Interpride and the European Pride Organisers Association are organizing a “Global Pride” event for June 27, 2020. There will be a 24 hour live stream “including remote contributions from international Prides, speeches from human rights activists, workshops with activists, and high profile performers.” (4) I’ve also attached Funders for LGBTQ issues, discussing funding for LGBTQ related issues and places to receive support during this time.

Remember to try and reach out to support systems and take care of your medical needs with the resources available to you. Reach out to a therapist that can also provide you support via telehealth platforms as well and remember to stay safe.

  1. Human Rights Campaign Brief: https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/covid-19
  2. National Center for Transgender Equality: https://transequality.org/covid19
  3. USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/18/lgbtq-coronavirus-community-vulnerable-covid-19-pandemic/2863813001/
  4. TIME: https://time.com/5814554/coronavirus-lgbtq-community-pride/
  5. National LGBTQ Cancer Network: https://cancer-network.org/coronavirus-2019-lgbtq-info/
  6. Harvard Health Publishing Blog: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/covid-19-and-the-lgbtq-community-rising-to-unique-challenges-2020043019721

Funders for LGBTQ Issues: https://lgbtfunders.org/covid-19-response/

COVID-19 vs. Your OCD Symptoms

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic may be specifically impacting your OCD symptoms, including your obsessions and/or your compulsions. If this is the case for you, read on for some specific information based on your subtype.

IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH CONTAMINATION FEARS:

  • Give yourself permission to set a basic safety plan based on the recommendations of trusted health organizations, and do not add to it.
  • Disinfect surfaces once a day. Focus on the surfaces in your home that are frequently touched, and think about whether this is truly needed (for example, if you stayed home all day and had no visitors, do you really need to disinfect that doorknob?). This process shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes per day.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after being outside or in public, before eating, after going to the bathroom, and after you’ve coughed/sneezed/blown your nose. If soap and water are not available to you, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • If you want to do more than this, pick a person to help you figure out what might be a reasonable and rational safety measure to take.

IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH PERFECTIONISM:

  • Remind yourself that no one can protect themselves “perfectly” from COVID-19, and no one expects you to. Times like these call for using your common sense instead of going to perfectionistic extremes.
  • Remember that trusted health organizations aren’t thinking about people with OCD and/or perfectionism when they set public health guidelines, and thus it might be helpful to talk to a trusted friend, family member, and/or your therapist to help figure out what “common sense” might mean. Your therapist can be especially helpful in figuring out how to apply these guidelines in a way that meets health standards without sending you deeper into your OCD.

IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH THOUGHTS OF HARMING OTHERS:

  • Be mindful that your OCD may take advantage of COVID-19 fears by telling you that you might have infected someone or that you are going to infect someone in the future, whether accidentally or on purpose.
  • If you’re noticing these intrusive thoughts, or that you’re doing compulsions related to these thoughts, check in with your therapist and let them know how your symptoms might have changed. They can work with you to come up with new exposures and/or homework activities to help contain them.