Holiday Break Info

2014treeJust a quick post to remind everyone that Katherine is officially on her Christmas break. She will be back in the office just one day, 12/29, but is already fully booked for that day. Otherwise, regular scheduling will begin again on 1/5/2015.

Audrey is also on break and will be back in the office just on 12/26 and 12/27.

Lisa will be seeing clients on Saturdays (12/20 and 12/27) through the holiday.

As a reminder, if an emergency or crisis occurs, please dial 9-1-1 and get immediate help. You can contact your individual therapist once the crisis has cleared. We are always available by phone and will return your calls in as timely a manner as we can.

Please use the resources, articles and videos posted here on the blog, Facebook and twitter as aides during the holiday break.

We wish one and all a peaceful, healthy and joyful New Year.

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Some Changes for the New Year

iStock_insurance2015 is right around the corner!

MFT3 is making some changes to its insurance acceptances and we wanted to keep everyone updated.

Katherine Allen will no longer be taking the Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield family of plans and Audrey Bernstein will no longer be accepting the Aetna insurance plan beginning January 2015.

We have decided to make these changes for a variety of reasons, partly due to the poor reimbursements that managed care gives to behavioral health providers and partly due to an increasing intrusion of private insurers requesting case files and then having strangers review them and determine whether or not we are doing a good job, whether you still need therapy, or whether or not they want to pay us for what we have already done. It’s a changing landscape in healthcare these days and therefore we are paring down our enrollment in the insurance pool.

We know that this decision may impact your ability or decision to keep coming to therapy, may affect the frequency of sessions, but we truly feel that therapy is much more about education than mental illness and therefore this change is appropriate in that light. Having the therapeutic pace and focus stay between us – we feel – is vastly superior to having middle managers make that assessment for us, wouldn’t you agree?

Our commitment to providing high-quality services for those on state aid will not waver; we will all continue to accept the HUSKY family of plans for the foreseeable future.

Please don’t hesitate to speak with us privately about how this may impact your process.

We wish everyone a safe, joyful and peaceful holiday season!

 

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Turn towards one another

Sue Johnson is the master couples therapist and I employ her philosophies daily. There is no better nugget of how to create a lifelong loving relationship. Enjoy.

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Attention: Special Needs Parents

I received this announcement today and it seems like a valuable resource for special needs parents.

SpecialNeedsWebinarNov10

Nov 10 special needs webinar

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Regarding the AAMFT Restructure – and Scotland

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.32.01 PMI find myself with a bit of a bee in my bonnet. And interestingly, the Scotland vote for nationalism versus separatism today is an unusually apt metaphor.

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I belong to AAMFT which in turn gives me membership in my state to CTAMFT. I love being a part of this state’s leaders, I love the information I glean and the ability to help serve MFTs and other mental health professionals. I’m one of those “insider” kind of gals.

Today, AAMFT is proposing a national structural change which will potentially take away everything that I love so much about CTAMFT. It is proposing to dissolve state affiliations and pull all funds to the national pool, presumably to better distribute them across some states which have a smaller membership or smaller pool of resources. As a member in a well-funded state, I have some real concerns about what this will mean to my actual experience here. AAMFT does not seem to want to hear this even though they have asked us for our input. I put my personal feelings out there recently only to be met with a disconnected response by Michael Chafin, the current president of AAMFT. (see below)

KA-AAMFTforum

AAMFT - Chafin reply pt.1

AAMFT – Chafin reply pt.1

AAMFT - Chafin reply pt.2

AAMFT – Chafin reply pt.2

His comments to me were inaccurate and incomplete, meant only to reinforce the reality distortion field AAFMT has attempted to establish.

Remember New Coke? A few people in a board room thought up the great idea of introducing an improved Coca-Cola… remember how that fared? It bombed. Coca-Cola Inc. didn’t consider the totality of their action: they were motivated by the statistical reinforcement of select focus groups’ opinions. AAMFT is blundering into this same territory.

To be specific…

  • Mr. Chafin is in error. He does not acknowledge that I have a personal feeling about this proposal. He continues in his attempt punish me and CTAMFT by citing numbers that are intended to make us look invalid and unengaged. One of Connecticut’s members is on the AAMFT board and another co-developed AAMFT’s Code of Ethics. We know what we’re talking about.
  • Mr. Chafin dissembles. While he appears to be forthcoming by reposting the letter sent to CTAMFT (does he truly not see how condescending it is?), he failed to post our original request for collaboration and clarification. This “disregard first telegram” approach to debate is exactly the type of dismissiveness that I have been feeling since this process has begun.Connecticut is a small state in population and our raw numbers cannot sway any vote. But we are savvy and we are smart. We have many tools for sharing information with our colleagues locally and nationally. I am posting this response on my own blog because it is completely public. I invite Mr. Chafin to respond in kind in a similarly open space, rather than the walled garden of AAMFT.org.

Seeing how this failed attempt at a reasoned conversation is going, I will rely on the tools of my beloved MFT profession to appeal for understanding from AAMFT.

If I am the client in this matter and I am letting you know that regardless of how you intend to have the information heard, I do not hear it that way, then it is your responsibility to meet the client where the client is. Slow down and try again, please stop re-trumping the party line and dismissing how I feel. I don’t trust this process and you keep telling me I need to. Do better. Sell it to me differently.

I think I understand, just a teensy bit better, how Scotland feels today. And I hope all of our results are healthy and productive.

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Domestic Violence and Power in the NFL – Again

I was disappointed (yet unsurprised) to learn of yet another case of serious abuse being perpetrated by a professional sports player against his fiancee Janay Palmer. The tape that is being circulated of NFL player Ray Rice punching then dragging Janay’s body out of an elevator, stepping over her, using his foot to move her legs, is sickening. Unfortunately it’s more prevalent than anyone would like to think. This kind of behavior is not a “first offense”. This is indicative of someone who is extremely comfortable using physical and financial power over another. Just because it’s the first time we see it doesn’t mean it’s the first time this has happened between them.

Domestic Violence is always about power and control. Period. It’s not an “anger problem” or because of too many steroids, although steroids can exacerbate anyone’s aggressiveness.

As a former facilitator of male repeat offender programs, I have sat before hundreds of men who think and act exactly like Ray Rice, and their partners more often than not keep taking them back, too.

Put yourself in her shoes. He’s famous. He’s rich. He has a lot of power. That can be very alluring, it comes with luxuries and perks, but at what cost? There is an excellent book titled “Not to People Like Us” by Susan Weitzman. She deftly explains the hidden “upscale” abuse that happens behind some very fancy and expensive doors. I would imagine that Ray Rice’s story is much the same. We call it the slot machine principle. Expensive things are prized in American society and many people use access to them as their power and control. You like designer clothes? 5-star hotels? Luxury cars? Well pay the price. Victims feel that they have subjugated themselves so much for these things that they better stay, because if they don’t, then how do they reconcile having sold their values and morals, their self-esteem, for just a bunch of things? So they make it OK by thinking that it will get better, that it was the booze or the stress or -something-, and they stay. That’s the slot machine principle. If I leave now, look at what I have put into this, what I have paid. What if it does pay off? What if he does change? If I leave then I won’t benefit, it will all be for naught. And the cycle deepens and perpetuates.

We need to acknowledge that this happens vastly more often than we like to think. Yes, physical abuse is the most obvious, but it doesn’t usually start there. It usually starts with verbal or emotional abuse, then financial, then sexual, physical and even psychological. All are real, all count. Unfortunately our law enforcement and court system can only deal with the physical, it needs “proof” to prosecute. I see emotional, verbal and financial in my office every day, and I see a lot of it. And no, I am not a hammer that only sees the world as nails. If you get the proper education and eschew the mythology, you can’t help but to see it.

Victims oftentimes are deeply ashamed of their (ill defined) apparent collusion in the cycle. They don’t want to admit to the full picture of what they have accepted and lived with, for shiny things. So they don’t call, they don’t ask for help. They might get a really nice apology gift and pretend that it was a one-time, isolated event, rather than seeing it as an escalation in a deadly pattern.

Please, get educated as to how DV works, for real, and stop allowing myths to create shame and blame experiences for the victims. It’s never easy to admit that the person you have given your heart to is abusing you, it’s extremely difficult for victims to leave, and it’s because our society in part blames the victim too. We must change that misperception.

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Robin Williams and the Gift He Has Left

rwilliamsI fear the news of Robin Williams’ suicide is following suit with so many other teachable moments, and I will try to not have the lesson get lost in the fray.

He left us the gift of a teachable moment: the opportunity to clarify and discuss mental illness.

A battle with bipolar disorder is a very different story than one of just depression. (if someone has ever been given an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder, then they will always have it, they cannot NOT have it) Unfortunately, bipolar is a brain chemistry deficiency and is incurable, and those with the diagnosis must take medications the rest of their lives, similar to Type 1 diabetics. Unfortunately, there is still so much stigma around mental illness in our society that those with bipolar often try to convince themselves, and others, that it’s something else. This all too often results in tragic outcomes.

We must remember that those suffering with bipolar did not bring this on themselves, they have done nothing to earn this punishment. It is not about lifestyle or behavior choices or willpower. To borrow a phrase from Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, “It’s not your fault”.

Suicide is the number one side effect of bipolar sufferers who don’t comply with their medication regimes. The highs (manic periods) are usually so much fun, so productive, the person has so much energy and so many ideas, they don’t want to lose them or have them end. Unfortunately they are followed oftentimes by severe downs (depressive periods) in which the person is difficult to reach. The severity of the difference between these high and low points creates a very difficult cycle for the bipolar sufferer, and for those who love them.

And then we wonder about creativity and genius, as in our beloved Robin Williams. There is no debate over his range, his quick wit, his razor sharp mind, but at what cost? I fear that the addiction and the depression, both of which are more socially palatable to discuss or “own” than bipolar disorder, were scapegoats for the larger story. Everyone loved Robin when he was up, I hope he loved himself too, but what about the dark times? How much fun is it to be around someone who could potentially go so low? So often I have new clients come in who are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to manage (mask?) an underlying bipolar diagnosis. Getting the substances out of the way clears our ability to make more accurate diagnoses and get the person the right kind of help.

Please don’t let depression alone take the hit for this tragic event. Depression, even severe depression, is treatable with therapy and medication, even ECT, and can end. But bipolar is a brain chemistry deficiency and must be treated with medication – forever. It does not just go away. Sometimes clients feel so good when they are on their medication they convince themselves that they don’t need the meds anymore. They really just don’t want the diagnosis.

We have to change the way we discuss mental illness, mental health, and be extremely conscious and careful as to how we use the terms. The colloquial misuse of these terms has diluted their true definitions, and therefore the road to those with them getting accurate help and support.

And if you or someone you know is in a crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

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Scott Miller, #EVO2013

I was at this presentation last December, and I am thrilled to share it here. Scott Miller is a very astute, energetic and engaging presenter. Enjoy!

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Our Mysterious Brains

brain-1

As we now know, I am fascinated by the brain. I am an avid Brainspotter, my clients are getting amazing results with the technique. It seems as if this is the new cutting edge of research and understanding. There has been a ton of information lately about the brain, what it can do, and what it can’t. I am particularly energized by these two bits.

First is WNYC’s Radiolab show on “Memory”. It reminds us that what we focus upon expands.

The second is a TedTalk about the adolescent brain, brain development in general, and the reward center circuitry.

Enjoy!

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If only!

feeling great!

I often wish that this were true, that it was this easy to ease the suffering of others.

In the words of Charlie Brown, “sigh.”

But don’t let that stop you from coming in to therapy! Sometimes just the mere act of stepping through the door can have true calming and positive rewards. The act of self-care is healing in and of itself, the desire for “other” is powerful in stating the journey towards a new tomorrow.

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