12 Points About Telehealth

From Monday 30th March 2020, 12 Points Psychology will be moving all our sessions online until further notice.

We have done this for several reasons, the most of important of which, is to keep our clients, our staff and our clinicians healthy and safe so we can keep providing mental health support to as many people as possible.

And let’s face it, now more than ever, our mental health needs have to take priority!

Lots of people are a bit worried about how telehealth works, and it is a very different way to do a session with your clinician, but different most certainly doesn’t have to mean bad or scary!

So here’s 12 Points about telehealth to help ease the transition for you!

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Rory and Yoyo having a chat online
  1. It’s not a brand new medium. A lot of us (as clinicians) already use telehealth platforms like Zoom and Coviu to conduct supervision sessions or training and check in with clients who may have moved far away, or who are housebound.
  2. Telehealth can be conducted via an online platform that includes a video link (so you can see each other as you talk) OR via phone.
  3. You’ll get used to it faster than you’d think! You know how reality tv stars always complain about how they’re portrayed? The question most of us often then ask is, “Did they not know there were cameras there?” And the truth is, just like the cameras in a MAFS honeymoon suite, the device between you and your clinician quickly disappears and you’ll be chatting like you’re in the same room before you know it.
  4. Interruptions can happen, but not too much more often than in face-to-face sessions. We’ve had gardeners knocking on windows, kids playing bowls down the hallways and dogs barking (or in one memorable instance – throwing up!) in face-to-face sessions; and they all well and truly interupted the flow of the session! So yes, there will sometimes be connection problems with your telehealth session, but nothing that can’t be resolved and nothing that we don’t have contigency plans for.
  5. Accessing the video sessions is really easy. Have a look at the video here to check out just how straightforward the process is.
  6. The Australian government has expanded the available telehealth item numbers so that we can use Medicare-rebateable sessions online for those with a valid Mental Health Care Plan (and you no longer have to meet any special criteria to access those sessions).
  7. Kids actually engage really well online (they’re more used to it than most of us!) and moving to telehealth gives us a chance to see them in action at home, as well as more of a chance to focus on parent-child interaction work.
  8. I can’t wait to learn more about my client’s and what’s important to them. Assuming they’re ok with it, I’m going to ask each of my clients to start their sessions in the room in the house they like the best or to grab their favourite item from their home. I’m also really looking forward to finally getting to meet so many of my client’s pets!
  9. You can do your session in your own home! In your PJs if you want! I mean I honestly wonder how many people are going to want to go back to face-to-face after this for that reason alone!
  10. Rory is going to miss licking people terribly, but she’s being very stoic and we’re coming up with new and creative ways to integrate the animals into online sessions (see the pic with Rory and YoYo having a chat).
  11. You can access your sessions via laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone, so you have a lot of freedom!
  12. None of us are good with change – I devote whole sessions to why change is so hard for us and discussing all the ways our brains will try and resist it! So it’s fine to be nervous and anxious about change, but nobody ever did anything brave without feeling some fear first! So let’s take that leap together! Because we really are all in this together.

I really am incredibly grateful that we have this option open to us. I would hate to have to stop working with my clients at this most horrible of times and thank goodness we have the technology available to do this!

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So before your first session make sure:

  • you’re somewhere quiet and private (or as private as it’s possible to be if you’re self-isolating with kids – the car could be good!),
  • your device is fully charged,
  • your internet connection is good (don’t do the session at the far end of the house if the wifi signal is no good there),
  • you’ve got a cup of coffee/glass of water/pint of ice cream/ box of tissues
  • you’ve got a set of headphones handy, just in case you want to up the privacy quotient a little!

and then, we’ll see you online!

Take care everyone!

Danielle Graber
Clinical Psychologist & Director
12 Points Psychology

 

Fears & Values in the time of Covid-19

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One of my young clients said to me, many years ago as we were working on their dog phobia, “You know so much about this stuff! I bet psychologists never get scared!”

That was utterly adorable.

But dead wrong.

Of course, I get scared.

It’s just that, I also have some decent tools up my sleeves to deal with that fear.

Like right now.

I’m scared

As someone with a compromised immune system. I’m scared.

As the wife, daughter, sister and friend of others in high risk groups. I’m scared.

As a former scientist with friends still working in hospitals and labs at the frontline. I’m scared.

As a small business owner, you’d better believe I’m scared!

But honestly, it’s as a psychologist, that I’m bloody terrified.

See, the vast majority of us will survive the virus. Even if we catch it, the odds are, especially here in Australia, that most of those infected will survive. Even if the healthcare system crashes under the weight of all the cases, physically, most people will recover.

BUT

You know what people don’t recover from?

  • Seeing people do more damage to each other than any virus ever could and
  • The realisation that they have acted contrary to their values.

These two factors are literally what torturers rely on to ‘break’ their victims. I’m not even exaggerating here. Torture is one person doing cruel and unusual things to someone else and it is considered ‘successful’ when the victim starts to act counter to their value system, e.g., turning on friends, and abandoning what’s most important to them. Sound familiar?

So, I want you to have a think.

Right now.

What’s most important to you?

Health?

What do you think happens if the doctors and nurses on the front line can’t get access to essential supplies anymore? How do you think those on the frontline feel when they see people flouting social distancing rules while they work all day in an overrun hospital and then go home to the motel room, they’re staying at to protect their own family?

Family?

Think about, if you did get sick, who would look after you? Family, friends, neighbours, doctors, nurses? Then ask yourself, what are you doing today and this week to support those people NOW?

Respect? Compassion? Community?

Social distancing doesn’t mean severing all human connections. It’s imperative that social distancing doesn’t come to mean social isolation. A lot of the deluge of information (including misinformation) on social media has certainly heightened the panic around this pandemic, but let’s reclaim that. Let’s start using all this technology to our advantage.

Pick up the phone, jump online, start a FB group with your nearest and dearest and send funny memes to each other. Or, if you want to stay away from social media for now (and fair enough!), then go old school and write letters to those stuck in nursing homes, or get your kids to draw pictures for the frontline healthcare staff.

Our bodies may be stuck at home, but our heads and our hearts don’t have to be.

The thing that will help calm my terror, (and genuinely, make this time more bearable for everyone) is if we can all just take a minute, pause and ask ourselves.

  • What’s really most important to me? Not just now, but always, and
  • Am I living in concert with those values in the time of Covid-19?

If not, what can I change today, tomorrow, this week and this month to bring myself back in line with those core values? Because that is one fight we genuinely cannot afford to lose.

Danielle Graber
Director 12 Points Psychology

If this is something you haven’t considered before, take a moment now to complete this worksheet and start figuring out what actions you’re going to take that will speak your values loud and proud to those who are most important to you.

Care in the time of Corona

These are some troubling times we find ourselves in, but I would like to take this opportunity to assure our clients that we’re keeping a very close eye on the pandemic as it unfolds and making sure to update our policies and procedures regularly in line with the most well-informed recommendations.

I have no wish to increase the level of panic out there, but I do feel it’s important to let you know what precautions we’re taking and why we think they are necessary. So I feel like now may be a good time to mention, that before I was a psychologist and the director of 12 Points Psychology, I worked in medical science and I happened to be working in the Immunology and Infectious Diseases department of a major hospital during the SARS outbreak all those years ago.

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Yep. Actually me. I loved that haircut at the time!

I tell you this now because I hope it goes some way to reassuring you that you’re in good hands with us, because 1) I am coming from a place of experience and 2) the policies and procedures we’re implementing here at 12 Points are based off guidelines that were part of the reason SARS all but disappeared from the community only 2 years after it first emerged. With a bit of luck and a decent amount of care, hopefully COVID-19 will go the same way!

Given my former experience in immunology and my current experience as a mental health professional, I don’t believe that now is the best time to be restricing access to mental health care and I do believe that with some basic precautions, we can continue to operate safely for now. That is why we are going to continue to offer face-to-face sessions at 12 Points Psychology while implementing the the following changes:

  • you will now receive an email reminder in addition to your text reminder prior to your appointments. These messages will serve to explain the measures we’re taking to keep you, our staff and our clinicians well and healthy. We will update them regularly with any new information that we feel may be relevant to your care, so please read over them prior to each appointment. (If we don’t have an email address for you on file, consider adding it to your updated information sheet next time you’re in or email it to us with a request to have it recorded in your client file: reception12points@gmail.com)

  • if you are unwell, or have recently returned from overseas, PLEASE STAY HOME.
    I cannot stress this enough. If you present to the rooms with any flu-like symptoms, you will be asked to leave (and we really don’t want to have to enforce that, but for everyone’s comfort and safety we certainly will).
  • if you are needing to self-isolate, or would just prefer to do telehealth sessions, please speak to admin via phone (0451 044 015) or email (reception12points@gmail.com) and we can arrange either a phone session or an online session via a secure (yet surprisingly simple to access) healthcare platform.
  • we will be providing hand sanitiser and reminders about hand-washing in each of the rooms and posting information on our Facebook page regularly. Please use the sanitiser and please familiarise yourself with the proper handwashing technique (see Dr John Campbell’s video here for a great example). It is not an exaggeration to say learning how to do this properly literally saves lives.
  • we are removing all of the kid’s toys and high traffic items (like magazines) in the waiting rooms effective immediately. It’s just too hard to keep them sanitised. Sadly, this will include the mentos too, so keep that in mind if you enjoy a sugary snack after an appointment and think about bringing your own for now! 🙂
  • we will be doing full wipe downs with an alcohol-based disinfectant at least twice a day on all the high traffic surfaces, like the desks, door handles, light switches etc
  • unfortunately we will not be offering tea or coffee to clients on arrival for the time being either (again, it’s just too hard to keep things sanitised). We will have disposable cups available if anyone needs a glass of water, but otherwise, considering bringing your own drink along to your session (keeping hydrated is another simple yet incredibly effective way to reduce your chance of getting sick).

We hope by following these current procedures and staying on top of developments as they arise, we will not only be keeping ourselves and our clients safe and healthy, but we will also be contributing to the flattening of the curve (reducing the rate of spread in the  community to keep the strain off our medical system).

So if you don’t already follow us on Facebook – now’s the time as that’s where we’ll be posting the most regular updates, and in the meantime, just follow Dr Jersey’s advice.*

dr jersey

*warning, Dr Jersey is not a medical doctor, despite the stethescope.

Take care of yourselves!

Danielle Graber
Clinical Psychologist & Director 
12 Points Psychology

Self-talk conversations with Jersey

One of the greatest privileges of my job as a psychologist is getting to bear witness to the true strength and grit of character that so many of my clients possess. Clients who have overcome every kind of trauma, heartbreak and betrayal imaginable, yet still find reasons to smile and trust and keep going.

Conversely, one of the things that makes me incredibly sad about my job is the fact that these very same people, those whose every day existence are a testament to resilience and perseverance, often find it so very hard to tolerate a kind word about themselves.

At times, simply asking about a particular strength, or focusing on an example of something they did well, is enough to bring them to tears.

I know the reasons why this happens. I can tell you the neuroscience behind negative cognition bias and give you at least 5 different theoretical explanations for the mechanisms behind it, (including response to shame, lack of unconditional love, repeated trauma exposure) and why it persists. But just like my clients, knowing why it happens, doesn’t stop the feelings of sadness each and every time I encounter a bright, intelligent, incredibly resilient client who can sit with all manner of stresses and trauma and downright horrors, dissolving into tears at the mention of a positive trait.

But this is where Jersey comes into it. Our beautiful Jersey girl who overcame her own traumatic background to learn to trust people and love her work as a therapy dog. So at these moments, I sometimes, ask my clients to turn to Jersey and pretend that whatever horrible and negative thoughts they’re currently stuck on about themselves, apply to Jersey. What would it be like to say those harsh words to Jersey’s sweet face and big brown eyes?

The clients will sometimes say, “well those words don’t apply to Jersey” to which I reply, “it doesn’t matter, they’re just words, right? You don’t have to believe them; you just have to say them to her face.”

How many clients, who can be so very harsh on themselves, do you think manage to say those same words to Jersey?

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look into those big brown eyes!

I challenge you to do the same thing here, whatever negative thoughts this post may have stirred up in you:

“well you don’t want to get a big head”

“that [insert good thing here] was just a fluke”

“I’m not good enough”

Look at this picture of Jersey. Look into her eyes and speak those words to her.

What happens?

How did it feel even contemplating saying those words to that face?

If it was hard. If you struggled at all, then the next questions are:

  • Why are you deserving of any less respect than my dog (as cute and sweet as she is of course!)?
  • What could you do/be if those words weren’t on constant replay in your own head?

This might be something you want to discuss with your own psychologist, but for now, it’s just something to notice and be compassionately curious about.

As for me, I’ll keep working with my clients until they can be as kind and compassionate to themselves as they can be to Jersey-girl!

Danielle Graber
Clinical Psychologist

There’s a stone in my shoe and I’m ok with that (or, how I learned to tolerate distress)

Over the last 6 months, our IT and Facilities Manager, Mathew, has been undertaking a diploma in counselling. What I love is that he’s really focused on applying what he is learning to his own life, before introducing any of these concepts to clients. That’s a really important concept to all of us here at 12 Points, we don’t ask anything of our clients that we’re not willing to try out ourselves!

Here he writes about his experience in dealing with life’s little annoyances in a new and helpful way.

Danielle Graber
Director

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There used to be NO END of things that bothered me. Things that, in the grand scheme, are not that big a deal, but that didn’t stop them getting under my skin. These little things would sometimes bother me so much that they were all I could focus on, and they would distract me from what I was supposed to be doing.

Copy of Copy of Untitled Design (1)The kind of things I’m talking about include anything from; using a poorly-designed website, hearing a grating voice of a stranger on public transport, wearing wet clothes after being caught in the rain, seeing grammar and spelling errors in menus or signs, crying children in the supermarket, or just having a stone or twig in my shoe.

All of these annoyances and distractions caused me actual irritation and distress, and I was just no good at dealing with it.

Enter the daily mindfulness practice.

Yes, yes, mindfulness is so great, I’ve heard this all before. I don’t have time, I tried it and it didn’t work, it’s all a bunch of woo woo, etc, etc.

Let me stop you right there.

I’m not here to sell you anything – just to tell you that mindfulness helped me develop some distress tolerance and these things that used to bug the hell out of me no longer get a rise out of me. I might still notice them – wow, this website is really hindering the user, or, hey, looks like I’ve picked up a little stone in my shoe – and then after noticing them, I can actually get back to enjoying what I was doing.

This didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process that I only noticed in hindsight after I was doing a short mindfulness practice once a day.

But it was an amazing difference.

After walking the dogs in the morning, instead of getting on with the next thing, without a pause or a thought, I would sit down for 5 to 10 minutes, put on a program from the Smiling Mind or Mind the Bump app (both free) and just experience the mindfulness session. After the little bell at the end of the session, I’d get on with the day with a clearer mind, more relaxed and ready to deal with the issues at hand.

I’m certainly not immune to distress and of course, things can still pop up and bother me, but now that I know what to look for in my responses and if something small gets to me, it’s usually a sign that I’ve been letting my mindfulness practice slip, so I know exactly what to do to find my inner zen again!

I couldn’t wait until I started seeing my own clients to share such a simple and effective strategy for dealing with the stones that we all pick up at one time or another! And if you’re curious at all, I encourage you to try it out – your literally have nothing to lose – except those pesky stones! Because you can’t stop every stone from ending up in your shoe, but you can learn to enjoy the walk despite the stone!

Mathew Keany
IT & Facilities Manager