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MSBHC Blog by Ingrid Herrera-yee - 2w ago

                                                      caregiver, spouse, child, friend, and clinician

By Torre Boyd

Take a moment

When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is okay to take a moment to pause and have a mental health moment or moments depending on how overwhelmed you may be feeling.

Pausing has helped me to find my center and to bring back creativity at times when I feel as if my well has run dry.

It can give you a chance just to be; you can at that moment slow down your thoughts and be your most authentic self.

The daily grind of life, and the many roles that we have as individuals, make you feel heavy from the weight of the responsibilities and expectations of others and even yourself that you may have integrated over time.

Take a moment to pause in order to free yourself from these roles, if even for a moment.
To be grateful that you still have the opportunity to empower yourself and to change any behaviors that you deem not a part of your identity anymore.

What you deem worthy of your self-identity will change as we continue to grow into the people we are meant to be along this life journey.

There is no such thing as perfect, and when you are standing in your truth (whatever that may be for you) during your PAUSE, you may realize that you are enough and that you are doing enough. Sometimes taking this mini-break, is all that we need to be able to push through to the next hurdle or to reframe this next plot twist in your journey.

PRESS PAUSE
I had to pause just this week, when I had overbooked myself with activities and commitments. I tend to say yes and then figure out the logistics after. I am an advocate for failing fast and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. On that particular day, I had just finished working my full-time position, completed my internship hours at my site, and realized that I still had course work that was due that night, along with going to the gym.

In order to find the will to complete the rest of my agenda I chose to PAUSE and take a moment to pull it together and to sort of motivate myself as to why I had chose this path on my life journey and how this was leading me to my most authentic self. While pausing, I came to the conclusion that I needed to take my commitments step by step until the process was over and not to think about it as a never ending story. After I pause and take a moment to myself I envision myself at a place like this, which is my happy place.

There is something about the water and the scenery that just calms me. This will look different to everyone. I’ve met someone whose happy place was going to the grocery store without her kids.

Taking a moment to pause and gain clarity will not happen overnight.
It is a skill that needs to be developed overtime.

Over time I have had to learn this skill whenever I started to feel overwhelmed. I do not know about you, but I tend to do better when I have multiple things going on in life until I start to get too busy. When you add in working full time, internship, classes, and making sure your clients are getting the best care, among other things .... Well, I have a better understanding of why people want to check themselves in just from sheer exhaustion.

Everyone has different paths in their life journey, but sometimes we can become overwhelmed and forget to take care of ourselves.

So my tip for you is to pause, allow yourself time to soak it in, recharge, and then figure out your next move.

MSBHC seeks to connect military spouses with their peers in order to gain and give support and to share knowledge and best practices with each other.

What are some ways that you can implement a PAUSE in your life?

Torre Boyd is a Graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Walden University. She is currently interning at a private practice in the DMV and has over 8 years’ mental health experience specializing in anxiety and depression. You can follow her Instagram page therapistlife
to see some of the education she is providing to help people live their truth.

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MSBHC Blog by Ingrid Herrera-yee - 1M ago

By Marinelle Reynolds, LCSW

It’s that time of year again…the time for New Year’s resolutions. We hear slogans of a New Year, New You. They speak to us to lose weight, eat healthier, to be a better mom, a better partner. We tell ourselves things like “this year I’m going to finally wear that bikini” or my favorite “I’m going to be like those other women I see on Instagram who have perfect lives." 

Here’s the thing about resolutions, we really don’t need reminders that we aren’t enough. In a world of social media and comparisons, we see and feel them every day. We hear the mixed messages of you need to be skinnier and prettier but not too sexy especially if you have children… except with your partner and… only with your partner. We hear the push pull of you need to try harder and do more but… don’t make it look like you are actually trying. The reminders speak to the sometimes loud voices in our hearts that tell us we are not enough…we need to do more…to be more.  

I’m not saying that having a New Year’s resolution is a bad thing.
Goals can be helpful.
They can help us to become the best version of ourselves.

But, when we lose the balance between self-improvement and self-acceptance, we run the risk of feeding the voice that screams “you are not enough.”

That voice is never helpful.

That voice pulls us away from others, makes us feel alone and takes us deeper into shame. Nothing good comes out of shame and we definitely don’t become better people from shame. But, when we practice empathy and compassion towards ourselves, we grow.

Here are some tips on how to balance self-acceptance with your New Year’s Resolutions:

Stop comparing – In a world of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparisons. But, what many of us fail to remember is that we only see what others’ allow us to see. We see a glimpse into their world but we often don’t see the whole picture. We all have challenges; we all make mistakes and we all have messy parts. 

There is no such thing as perfection and striving towards it is a sure fire way towards feeling inadequate and alone.

Comparing tells us we should do more and more and BE more and more. Stop comparing!

Tell your story, live your truth. You are imperfect, we all are, but you are worthy of love and belonging just the way you are. YOU ARE ENOUGH

Focus on strengths – We are a society that focuses on faults and short comings. When we think about goals, we often focus on areas where we are weak.  However when we work from a place of strength, we are less stressed, more likely to meet our goals and we are a whole lot happier (Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., & Hurling, R. (2010)).

Let me be clear, I’m NOT saying to ignore areas of weakness.

Being aware and having a realistic sense of your weakness is an important part of personal development.  What I am saying is, start from a place of strength.  When we work towards a goal with our strengths in mind, tasks are easier and we experience triumphs quicker.

As our confidence grows our motivation to keep working towards a goal also grows.

For example, if your goal is to lose 15 lbs and you love to cook but hate working out, working from a strengths perspective would take your love of cooking and focus on creating healthy meals that help you step towards your goal. In time, as you eat healthier you will lose weight. As you lose weight it will increase the confidence that you can achieve your goal thus making working out seem less daunting.

To find your strengths, think of the things that come easy to you.

Think of the things you have heard friends and family tell you that you are good at.

What are the things that you enjoy?

Starting from strengths will influence your motivation and drive to tackle the more challenging steps towards your goal.

Take the time to know your “why” – Take a look at the intention behind your goal. Knowing why you want to reach a goal can be instrumental in not only meeting your goal but also in balancing self-improvement with self-acceptance. Knowing your “why” can give you the motivation to keep going when things get tough. But, it’s not just about knowing why. Knowing where your “why” is coming from can give you perspective, especially if it’s around a resolution that keeps breaking. 

Ask yourself:

“What am I hoping to get out of meeting this goal?”

“What does it mean about who I am if I meet or don’t meet the goal?”

Be brave. Be courageous; don’t be afraid to shine a light into dark places.

Your “why” will shape your thoughts.
Your thoughts will shape your behavior.
And your behavior will determine if you meet your goal. 

Use a compassionate and forgiving heart – Most of us would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves. We would never let a friend beat themselves up over a mistake. Yet we often are not even aware of the constant voice in our own heads that tells us we are not good enough or that what we want for our lives is unimportant.  Approach yourself with the same compassion and empathy you show others.

Change is hard. It’s full of ups and downs, backwards, and forwards.

Meaningful change is not a linear and upward line like many of us believe. When we are working towards a goal we will fall. It’s a part of the journey.

Instead of beating yourselves up and giving up, learn from it and move forward. When you notice your thoughts going down that self- degrading path, stop, take a breath and re-state what you are telling yourself. Only this time say it as if you are talking to your best friend. Ask yourself kindly:

 “What were things that made me vulnerable?” 

“What are some things I can put into place to reduce those vulnerabilities?”  

Instead of letting those hiccups derail you completely, understand that we all make mistakes. We are imperfect, we are human and that’s OK.
Forgive yourself and allow yourself to fail forward.

THE CHALLENGE

Instead of beating ourselves up over our short comings,
let’s try some self-compassion and vulnerability instead.
I challenge us to stop comparing, start from a place of strength and set goals that come from an intention of growth.

Instead of a New Year, New You let’s commit to a NEW YEAR, BEST YOU.

Practicing self-compassion isn’t about settling or letting go of ambitions. Self-compassion is about balancing the need to change and grow with accepting who you are wholeheartedly. It’s moving towards a better version of yourself knowing that YOU ARE ENOUGH.   

References:
Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., & Hurling, R. (2010). Use of positive psychological strengths leads to less stress and greater self-esteem, vitality, and positive affect over time: A three-wave longitudinal study and validation of the Strengths Use Scale.

MSBHC seeks to connect military spouses with their peers in order to gain and give support and to share knowledge and best practices with each other.

What are the strengths you can focus on for the New Year?

Marinelle Reynolds is a LCSW who graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Michigan State University. She has over 15 years of experience helping individuals & groups learn to find their authentic self, thrive in life’s transitions & build resiliency against stress. You can connect with this proud military spouse (with two active littles and a sweet but stubborn dog) and her small private practice here online.

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By Benita Thornhill

The holiday season is quickly approaching. Your mind may be buzzing away with everything that needs to be done before the holidays begin. This can result in increased feelings of stress and anxiety.  Thankfully with a little preparation and planning, you can keep your balance during the holidays and lessen feelings of overwhelm. Actually, you could have your best holiday seasons yet!

Here are 7 ways to WORK LIKE A BOSS and still ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS like a rock star:

1.      Make a list of the naughty and the nice.

There will always be things that we don’t particularly enjoy doing. This is especially so during the holidays when you are trying to close the year out and get ready for the next. Making a list of all the projects you have to do and creating a plan of action to complete them by their deadlines will help you to keep your focus and keep your priorities straight

Lists are not just for work, but also for home.
Including both on your list will help you to stay one step ahead at home and at work.

2.      Leave the nooks and crannies for the muffins.

It can be very tempting to try to cram everything you have to do into every spare minute of the day and night. However, this approach will definitely increase your feelings of stress and anxiety and stalemate your creativity.

Include downtime in your schedule to rest and refresh your mind. You will find that your resourcefulness and patience will increase.
Try to continue getting at least 7 hours of sleep.

3.      It’s been said many times, but communication with your clients is essential.

Let your clients know what your holiday hours are in advance. Inform them of days when your office will close early or close completely.

Make sure they know what to do if an emergency arises. Change your voicemail to reflect your holiday hours.

4.      You don’t have elves but you do have technology.

Familiarize yourself with apps that will automate your social media accounts. You can set up your social media content to post in advance. This will allow you to maintain consistent contact with your audience across all of your social platforms. It will also encourage you to organize your social media campaigns, which in the long run, will save you a lot of time and energy.

5.      Flying Reindeer don’t work for you.

You can’t be everywhere at once. It is important to check in with yourself to see what your expectations are for yourself, and then set your personal and professional boundaries accordingly.

Setting boundaries (yes, the ones you teach your clients about) will protect your time and keep you from wearing yourself out emotionally and physically.

6.      Being merry isn’t just for snowmen.

The holiday season is a great time to network. Take the opportunity to send hand written notes or cards that have an upbeat, friendly and heart-warming message. Introduce yourself to at least three new people during those jolly, holiday parties and be sure to get their business cards so that you can expand your networking connections.

7.      There really is no place like home.

When you are home, be fully present. Thinking about work or what you have not crossed off your to do list will diminish the joy of simply being with your family and loved ones and enjoying all of the laughter and love.

When you feel your mind starting to wonder, use your bag of mindfulness tricks, exercise gratefulness and be fully present exactly where you are.

 

MSBHC seeks to connect military spouses with their peers in order to gain and give support and to share knowledge and best practices with each other.

How do you plan to maintain balance between working and celebrating the holidays?

Benita Thornhill is an LPCA, Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, and the owner of Coastal Carolina Wellness Connection. Her husband is a former Naval Surface Warfare Officer and a Disabled Veteran. She specializes in helping couples create their very own “happily ever after” and in helping individuals build a life that they love living.

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By Cynthia Blake

As mental health professionals, we invest a great deal of time and energy into ...

      selecting the right educational programs,
                  becoming familiar with licensure requirements,
                           landing internships,
                                  completing thousands of hours of practice as interns,
                                              pursuing extended, specialized training in our areas of interest,
                                                             and staying current on the latest developments in our fields through continuing education.

The space where all that vast knowledge and training are implemented on a daily basis?  Not so much.

How our therapy spaces are decorated tends to be little more than an afterthought. Oh sure, most therapists’ offices have the basic sofa, table, chair, desk setup but here are some essential elements that can easily be added to transform your space from basic to A PLACE YOUR CLIENTS (AND YOU!) WILL LOVE!

Form, function and feeling

  • Think about how you want clients to feel during their time spent in your office because this will likely influence the colors you choose.
    Do you want clients to feel empowered? Confident? Inspired? Relieved? Reassured? Calm?
    Don’t be afraid to use bold colors if they fit your personality and approach to therapy!
  • When choosing décor for walls, include images and textures that appeal to you. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here and you want to
    feel inspired too.
     
  • Arrange favorite books neatly in a bookcase or on wall-mounted shelves.
     
  • Include both soft and firm surfaces when choosing seating. That soft sofa that you sink into might be great for some clients but could be hard for others to get up from.
     
  • Have some soft, huggable pillows available. Many clients tend to grab a pillow and hug it close, others put them behind their backs for greater comfort. Pillows with something for clients to fidget with such as fringe or tassels can be very effective for reducing anxiety during sessions.

Sight, sound and smell

  • Create a cozy spot by adding some plants for interest and a natural element.
     
  • A small fountain adds soothing sounds and can help mask outside noises.
     
  • Consider adding a rug, even over carpet, to help absorb sound.
     
  • Since privacy during sessions is vital, a white noise machine placed outside of the therapy room is a good investment.
    Soft music playing in the waiting area can also offer privacy by masking voices from sessions.
     
  • The right lighting can help create a feeling of safety and comfort. Natural light from a window or soft lighting from lamps is best.
    Avoid using fluorescent overhead lighting if at all possible.
     
  • When it comes to scent, the lighter the better. Some clients are very sensitive to smells, especially from candles or incense, which tend to produce stronger fragrances.

Comfort for all

  • Make sure boxes of tissue and a small trash can are within easy reach for clients.
     
  • Having bottled water available to clients in the waiting area or your office is a warm and welcoming touch that is usually greatly appreciated.
     

Even the smallest of offices can feel like a retreat with some or all of these elements in place. Look online for ideas but be sure to add your own personal touch as well. Most of all, HAVE FUN AND ENJOY THE PROCESS of creating a space your clients and you will love to be.

MSBHC seeks to connect military spouses with their peers in order to gain and give support and to share knowledge and best practices with each other. What is your key ingredient for a welcoming office?

 

Having lived the life of a military spouse for 21 years, Cynthia Blake is passionate about helping military spouses navigate the unique challenges of military life. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC) in private practice, serving the El Paso/Fort Bliss, Texas communities.

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MSBHC Blog by Ingrid Herrera-yee - 4M ago

By Laura Blair

Is this normal?

Once upon a time, there was a military family enjoying their stable (or as stable as military life can be), joy-filled lives. 

Then, one day, the service member got really sick, and eventually, the Med Board process was started.  And then, the biggest rollercoaster of their lives began.

Sometimes you may know ahead of time that a Med Board is going to be recommended; other times, especially in the case of Traumatic Brain injuries or accidental or life changing injuries, you may be in the hospital recovering when the Doctor comes in and tells you “This is going to be career ending” and walks out the door, while you and your spouse are left there speechless.

The Med Board process is a lot of “hurry up and wait.”  There will be periods where you have to hustle to provide a lot of information during multiple appointments and other times where you will hear NOTHING. NADA. RADIO SILENCE.

It can be difficult to navigate the process simply because life will never be the same for your family again.  It is likely you will experience multiple stages of grief, multiple times.

Depression. Anger. Bargaining. Denial. Acceptance. There will be days when you cycle through several stages in the same day.  This. Is. Normal.

So, what can you do?

1)     Get a therapist.  Tricare will pay for individual counseling for a set number of sessions.  Military One Source is a good resource that provides time-limited counseling as well.  You may have to pay out of pocket for Marriage Counseling, but believe me when I say, it’s worth it. There is a specialization called Medical Marriage and Family Therapy that can be beneficial to you, as well as the Military Marriage and Family Therapy specialization.  However, if you can’t find someone with either of these specializations, a traditional Marriage and Family Therapist is your best bet.

              Therapy will be especially important if you become your spouse’s caregiver.  There are numerous
              support groups dedicated to this.  

2)     Document and keep everything.  Go out to your office supply store TODAY and get the largest 3-ring binder they sell.  You WILL fill it up.  Request any and all medical records so that you have copies, as things do get lost. This can make the difference between having sufficient evidence for a rebuttal (if necessary) or having your claim denied. 

Some things you’ll want to keep:

Medical records (past and present)

Medication information (the Pharmacy always gives a print out when you fill a medication; keep this).

Copies of any forms you submit.  (While the VA does send you back your originals after they have been processed, don’t bank on them not getting lost.)

3)     Stay in contact with your PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer) and VA (Veteran’s Affairs) Liaison.   They will be your points of contact throughout the process.  Get their phone number, email address, and days/hours they are in the office.

4)     Be an advocate for your spouse.  Depending on their level of current functioning, you may be their voice.  Don’t be greedy and try to obtain benefits for things you’re not entitled to, but also don’t sit back and think everyone has your best interest in mind. You are not their only Med Board candidate. Things slip through the cracks.

If you are a therapist supporting families going through this situation, arm yourself with as much information as you can, but also empower your client to do as much research as they can for themselves. Knowledge is power, and it can be therapeutic to the client to be able to feel proactive, instead of helpless. 

5)     Buckle up and get ready for the long haul.  While the Med Board process has a published cap of 295 days for the entire process, every case is different, and no two Med Boards are the same.

Where are they now?

Fast forward to today (after more than 6 months of “hurry up and wait” and bouncing between bargaining, denial, and acceptance), that military family has since experienced a Medical Retirement and are navigating that thing called “Civilian Life.”  They have moved back to their home state, and are enjoying new roles: he’s a stay at home dad, and she’s off to work everyday. It’s a role reversal, yes, but it is totally doable.  This life change was not marriage ending (thank goodness), and the family still has big dreams - different dreams - for their life together, including an international vacation…someday.

MSBHC seeks to connect military spouses with their peers in order to gain and give support and to share knowledge and best practices with each other. What is your role, your experience and your perspective on this subject?

 

photo credit:  Melissa Shenefelt, a fellow Navy Spouse

Laura Blair is a National Certified Counselor, Registered Psychotherapist, and Doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University.  Her husband is recently retired, and they currently live in Colorado.  Laura is a Substance Use Disorder therapist for community mental health. In her spare time, she loves to do crafts and activities with their two sons and dogs.

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MSBHC Blog by Ingrid Herrera-yee - 5M ago

By Torre Boyd

When The Fire Dims
When your flame is burning so bright, and lighting others along the way for extended periods of time, you may start to experience burnout.

There is a constant struggle for me: to both push forward and continue to work or take a minute to myself to relax, so that I don’t get too overwhelmed and burned out.

An example of this is, at this very moment, I should be asleep (it’s well past my bedtime). But instead, I felt inspired to add to this post and decided to do this instead. Both bring me joy, but in the morning getting up for work, I may not be so happy about this burst of inspiration I received when I should be asleep.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Burnout doesn’t discriminate; it affects people from all walks of life. You may be a person that feels a need to give and give, so much that there isn’t enough time left to handle personal matters. You can’t work your way through burnout, which we may naturally feel drawn to do.

Thinking ~ maybe if I do more I’ll feel more productive,
giving the illusion that I’m accomplishing tasks,
when in reality I’m not working to my fullest potential.

Being a part of the military community, we know that you can push forward when needed, but sometimes what’s needed is for you to recharge and regroup so that you can be a productive and healthy person.

Being a part of a helping profession, most would think that we are equipped to properly deal with this issue, and we are.
We just sometimes need help to make it, and that’s okay.

Getting Your Groove Back

One of the key issues with burnout is that it has the ability to sneak up on you; it’s not something that occurs overnight.

It can cause irritability, exhaustion and create the constant feeling of being overwhelmed.

I don’t know about you, but I love crafts and other creative outlets.

A major sign for me, when I start to feel the symptoms of burnout, is that I’m not as creative as usual, and that’s a warning sign for me that maybe it’s time to reevaluate life. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, the following tips may help mitigate burnout and regain composure.

The tips will not work immediately; however, incorporating some of these tips into daily life may prove to be beneficial.
The five tips will help you regain self-control and get back on track.

1.      Technology Black-Out

Disconnecting for a pre-set amount of time can have great benefits. This gives you an opportunity to relax. You deserve a break from your overloaded day. Personally, once a week I try to not use any of my electronics for a day. When I first started that it was terrifying, the thought of not being available, but as I continued with this it started to feel liberating, it felt like getting back a piece of my light.

2.      Physical Activity

Physical activity can be anything you like that gets you moving. My favorite is body step class – great cardio! Physical activity can be used as a way to cool down and re-center yourself outside of your commitments. It is often an underutilized life coping skill. In as little as 30 minutes. it can help to alter your mood.

3.      Life Audit

A life audit is when you review your daily activities to determine how those activities align with your passions and goals. By ruthlessly editing and auditing your life, you can make time for the things that speak to your passions, not limited to your self-care.

4.      “No” is A Full Sentence

You may have heard of the power of YES!, but there is a power of NO! as well. As a helping professional, it may be difficult to dedicate enough time to all of the day’s activities. Being able to say “No” will protect your mind, body, and spirit – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Saying “No” will give you time for activities that are meaningful and of interest to you as well as not overwhelming yourself with all of your commitments.

5.      Vacation

This has to be hands down my favorite tip. If you have the ability to travel and or getaway for a while to recharge, it can do wonders. What vacation or time-off can do for you is give you the chance to reflect outside of the environment that has contributed to your burn out.

The Best You!!

Burnout is to be completely consumed and thus no longer aflame. Don’t let the daily grind kill your flame; integrate the tips above to help combat burnout.

From personal experience, being a person, student, friend, and family member along with a host of other things to people, I have experienced burnout. I’ve found that the tips of above have helped me through that stage of my life.

Hopefully, the same can be said about anyone who is reading this article. Burnout happens and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The way I think of it is that you got so caught up in your life passions and making our world a better place that you forgot to take a moment for you. Burnout didn’t happen in one day and you can’t expect to work through it quickly. It is and will forever be a process.

Prevention is always best, but if you are already experiencing any symptoms, just know that you can turn this around and come out better for it. Love yourself enough to focus on your well-being and self-care so that you can be the best version of you.

Torre Boyd is a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Student at Walden University with over 8 years’ mental health experience. She also holds a Psychology degree from Trinity Washington University. Her professional philosophy is to help people to live their truth, especially military, first responders, and police officers.
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By: Teralyn Hobbs, MSSW   As a mental health professional, you may interact with a school counselor in your travels, either for your kid, or a family with which you’re working. If you have ever left those interactions with questions, you are not alone.

The Way I See It

School counselors are dedicated educators who are responsible for the emotional well-being of more children than the average private practice clinician could see IN 10 YEARS. They are super busy and are getting busier due to federal efforts to improve school climate and identification of students with mental health concerns. For those of us who work in the school or are school-adjacent, this is often our introduction to Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) and the implementation of social-emotional learning curricula.

While as mental health professionals we’re ecstatic that schools are recognizing the importance of mental health and are actively trying to address it, be aware that educational psychology approaches mental health from an entirely different theoretical perspective.

The most important distinction is that the primary focus of educational psychology is academics. Need is often determined by how much academics are being impaired. Consequently, interventions are implemented to target academic difficulties.

Ethically, it is required that we practice within our professional scope. Thus, it is important to remember that the school counselor is at their core an educator. 

Not Better or Worse, Just Different

In my experience, the rub between mental health provider and school counselor usually arises from the differences in theoretical perspectives.

For example, the mental health professional may often approach the child with a more comprehensive perspective that extends beyond the narrow band of academics. This difference may cause conflict in the determination of the “problem” and differences in opinion in how to address such concerns. Additionally, there are differences in how interventions are implemented.

While mental health professionals may utilize various treatment modalities to address concerns, school counselors primarily rely on instructional strategies.

Many children can take information obtained through social or emotional instruction, generalize it, and integrate it into their behavior. However, for some children, more intervention may be required. 

What Amazed Me

As part of summer professional development, I attended training where we were tasked with creating a lesson plan where we would teach students about a specific executive functioning deficit. Having no instructional background, I was amazed at the level of consideration lesson plans and instruction require.

Understanding the complexities of instruction has caused me to reevaluate how I provide training as well as how I provide psycho-education.

However, I still struggled with the fundamental premise of the assignment. While I believe providing instruction to children with executive functioning deficits about these deficits is beneficial, I’m unsure of the long-term impact instruction alone could provide. Additionally, I was concerned that framing of executive functioning deficits within the school context alone might not have the desired impact. A more global approach is beneficial.

I believe both perspectives are important and vital to the child's development. One is not "right," and the other "wrong." Schools provide an important foundation of societal functioning; however, societal functioning does not begin and end on a school campus.

Understanding the differences in perspective can help both the school counselor and mental health professional work together to address the needs of the child collaboratively. Ultimately, what is always best for the child is for all parties to work together to address their long and short term needs.

MSBHC seeks to connect military spouses with their peers in order to gain and give support
and to share knowledge and best practices with each other.
What is your role, your experience and your perspective on this subject?
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MSBHC Blog by Ingrid Herrera-yee - 6M ago

Ingrid Herrera-Yee, PhD - Founder and President - MSBHC.  As military spouses, we know all too well that there are so many great things about our life, but there are also the challenges. The beauty of this life is that we are blessed with family wherever we go. From duty station to duty station and even online, we can find family. We meet fellow spouses and service members on base housing, at the commissary, at our local churches, in our communities and even on the interwebs (I have a solid network of amazing spouses on Facebook). Because we move so much and have to adapt so readily, we become adept at making “family” everywhere we go.

Remember a moment ago when I talked about the challenges? Well, it’s this family that helps us get through them. They help us through deployments and separations, they help us with child care when we need a break or a date night with our spouse, and they are there when things go south. They are also there to celebrate our successes and to share our common experiences. It’s those shared experiences that help to bind us together as a community. This is something that few in the civilian world can understand or relate to.

One of the major challenges we face as spouses apart from those inherent to our service members duties (deployment, separations, stressors) are employment barriers. The very nature of our lifestyle makes it extremely difficult to obtain and to hold down a job. The same goes for trying to finish a degree. Brick-and-mortar options are almost out of the question as we would need to transfer schools every couple of years to make that work or choose to geo-bach and endure even longer separations. Online options are great and growing but some have questionable accreditation and don’t translate well when seeking licensure and employment. Licensure in and of itself is a very difficult issue to tackle. Every time you move, your license doesn’t seamlessly follow you from state to state. What’s worse is that getting licensed over and over again can prove costly and time consuming.

These are barriers I have faced as a military spouse and a psychologist. I have been perennially underemployed and unemployed. When I looked to my peers in the behavioral health field for support, they were amazing and tried to understand. I appreciated their efforts but it’s difficult to explain to someone that you could be discriminated against (Read: you are a military spouse, you're likely to move every couple of years. Thanks for applying...NEXT!). Then, when I looked to my peers, my fellow military spouses, they understood the moves and the sacrifices. However, they didn’t fully grasp the impact on my professional life and my family’s financial future. It's a conundrum that so many of us face. So what do we do? We talk to our spouse and our friends, we commiserate. We try to find solutions. My solution on constant loop was underemployment. I knew there had to be a better way. I knew I wasn't the only one. 

It was because of all of this that Military Spouse Behavioral Health Clinicians (MSBHC) was born. I often felt alone, and had questions about licensure portability, financial constraints and how to interview for a job. Do I mention that I’m a military spouse? Will that affect my chances? I needed the support of military spouses just like me. The problem was, I didn’t know anyone else. I couldn't be the only one going through this. That is how MSBHC came to be, ack in 2012 - it started with an idea -  to provide networking support for military spouses in the behavioral health field. It began with a Facebook group, and quickly grew to be so much more. I found that we all come from different backgrounds:

Some Active Duty, others Reserve, Guard and Coast-Guard and even Veteran’s; spouses, girlfriends, partners and significant others. undergraduate students just finding our way, graduate students working on our theses, early career and seasoned professionals.

We are as diverse as this great country of ours.

But we have one very important thing in common: We have lived the military life and we want to give back through our passion for bettering the mental health of military and civilians alike. This is MSBHC, this is our shared experience, and I am so honored to be sharing this journey with all of you.

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By: Mary Ridenoure, LMSW  

The stress and pressure of grad school has come to pass and you made it. Graduation has arrived and now you are excited to take the state licensure test to begin your exciting new career!

Sending in your packet, preparing for the test, and waiting for approval to test brings a new level of frustration. Murphy’s Law says, “The day will come when you’ve been approved and now you are ready…Then your servicemember will come in to say, “I’ve got orders!””

Your heart sinks and then a gambit of new questions plague your mind:

            Do I take my test here or wait to get to our next duty station?
           Will my license transfer?
           What are the requirements?
            Is there reciprocity? 

Detours Ahead

Again, this really comes down to researching the requirements through the state boards. In some states, the board is “experiencing delays” in processing applications. At times you wait and wait only to have the state tell you “You need to take an additional course to be licensed,” which can be infuriating. 

Your reward for your patience and diligence is the day you get your license in the mail. The feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment of reaching your goal is unexplainable. Here you are, freshly licensed and ready to put all the skills you have acquired to making a difference in the world. 

Not Easy but Worth It

The challenge of finding “the dream job” comes and the search can be grueling. Many positions in the federal system require full “independent” licensure, generally meaning LPC or LCSW. (Positions for LMSW or LPC-I are rare on military installations.) 

On the surface, some jobs appear ideal; you accept and realize it isn’t exactly what you thought. This could mean the job entails more paperwork versus administering therapy. At times, you may find a position you feel well suited for, but realize you are grossly underpaid. 

Of course, “You don’t go into social work to become rich,” which is true. I went into Social work to make a difference. For every 50 people I may help, I may get one that is truly appreciative. 

The behavioral health profession is taxing on clinicians, primarily due to so many people being in need and there being such a shortage of clinicians in the field. One thing I’ve learned as a social worker is if you can’t advocate for yourself, you can’t advocate for your clients. 

So with that, research national salaries and be realistic in negotiations. As a dependent, we don’t generally need the health insurance benefits, so there may be room for negotiation. Be confident in your skill set, and if you do take a lowering paying position for the experience, ensure the experience will assist in your growth as a professional

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things a military spouse clinician faces, beyond simply finding a position, is developing seniority or a reputation in your community and then having to move. The emotions experienced out of grad school rear their head again and you take a deep breath and begin AGAIN. 

Do Not Give up!

Many spouses do not realize that if you move due to a PCS you can apply for unemployment. Coming from overseas, this is not always the situation.  Stateside though, you may qualify for benefits, which is something I did not know until another spouse informed me. 

While that brought some relief in balancing finances, I became incredibly frustrated having to find a position all over again. It took approximately six months for me find a full-time position and even then it was about compromising. Another added frustration is that I had to transfer my clinical supervision hours. Again, this is state dependent. Some states require 3000 hours for a clinical license and some 4000. So, as in grad school, you are faced with having to acquire additional time and or courses to get licensed. 

This is the ongoing cycle of PCSing as a military spouse behavioral health clinician.  The key is to remember why you got into this field. Research, Research, Research and prepare as best as possible and Do Not Give Up

Is Mary’s story familiar? Of course it is, that is why MSBHC exists. Share your trials and tips and remember, you are not alone.

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By: Mary Ridenoure, LMSW  Life is full of unexpected twists and turns; this is not a surprise for a military family. Deployments, NTC trainings, overseas-unaccompanied tours, and frequent PCS moves have a significant impact on choosing a program or establishing yourself as a professional. 

Hugh Prather once said, “Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes,” a fitting quote on the frustrations a person faces when pursing a degree or professional standing.

I Did It. So Can You!

The question that often arises when pursuing a degree in behavioral health is “do I pursue LPC, Social work, LMFT, PsyD, or DSW?” The options go on.

The best answer to this question is to carefully research each one and decide what your passion is. If you do not know, do some volunteer work to ensure you understand the dynamics of each discipline.  Realistically, in some settings it would appear that there is no difference, so I always encourage people to ask

As a social worker, I did engage in volunteer work before selecting my course. I originally chose to pursue an LPC track but, after volunteering for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), I felt social work was more congruent with my professional goals. 

Remember, each discipline is united in the end goal of providing exceptional service, and just the focus or approach may vary. As with military service rivalries, I have found similar arguments amongst LPC, LMSW, LCSW and LMFT as to which choice tops the other, but at the end of the day we are all focused on the end goal; to provide exceptional service to the Military community.  

Research the Discipline and the Programs  

The biggest frustration when coming to the end of your program of study is when a PCS move hits and you find a transfer will run you into more hurdles.  The hurdles may involve:

having to take additional classes,

courses that do not transfer,

struggles with setting up a new internship,

risk of leaving mid-semester

Let’s not forget attempting to balance all the responsibilities that come with being a military spouse: 

from holding down the home front,

FRG involvement,

change of duty ceremonies,

kids’ school events/sports

our bff Murphy

Not all families have the option to stay and finish a semester term for various financial or emotional reasons. Those hurdles trigger feelings of defeat, but do not give up

Don’t Lose Yourself Trying

My husband and I research a new installation and surrounding neighborhoods we are PCS’ing to, so that we get an idea of our new environment. 

If you happen to be in a grad program and are preparing for a PCS, start-researching schools in the area, contact admissions counselors to gauge what will transfer and what will not. Some online programs make the transition much easier, but depending on your discipline, this may not always be feasible.  

Another key component is researching required courses. For example, some social work programs require pharmacology and some do not. It is good to know what to expect should you have to transfer credits.  

Graduate school programs are rigorous, so planning is essential. Of course, you cannot systematically plan for every possible scenario. 

Be Realistic;

Remember to take care of yourself as well, one thing I’ve learned is the importance of self-care.  You want to be around to work in the profession you are pursuing and to manage that one constant, CHANGE!

How did you choose a program and manage the journey once you decided?

Check in next week, for Part II – Pursuing a Profession

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