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Telehealth Visits: To Be or Not To Be; by Shea Daniels, LPCC-S

Humans are pretty cool. After all, we are the species responsible for turning beans into coffee and chocolate…need I say more?! Humans are also all wired the same way when it comes to something we call neurobiology, which is just a fancy word to describe our bodys’ ability to respond to the world around us.

Our adult bodies, a lot like toddler and child and teenager bodies, prefer the world to be calm and predictable. It takes a lot of energy and effort for our bodies to respond to stress and threat.

The past few years have been full of stress and threat.

I don’t know about you, but if you sat 2019 Shea down and told her, “Listen, things are going to get bad and weird. Murder hornets are going to invade the US. Canada is going to release its emergency reserve of maple syrup. Pakistan is going to borrow a strategic duck stockpile to address a plague of locusts…and by the way there is going to be an actual plague,” I’d have definitely thought you were auditioning to write for the Simpsons, not giving me a glimpse into the future.

When life gets so chaotic our neurobiology, our very wiring, sends our entire brain and nervous system a message: Mayday, mayday, this is your captain speaking, avoid change because change has been bad lately! It’s a respectable system. It’s doing its job so on one hand let’s give our nervous system a giant figurative high five, but on the other hand, let’s take a deep breath and talk about change.

Change can be most upsetting in a stressful time when it’s related to something that grounds us, like a loved one moving away, a favorite food being discontinued, or the ways we receive mental healthcare changing.

Moving from telehealth to in person mental health services can feel like a major upset. This thing that grounds you and helps you stay healthy is suddenly changing in a world that feels like everything is changing, and just like you can’t control the pandemic and etc., you also can’t control your insurance’s coverage of telehealth vs. in person services? Not super comfy, and understandably so.

On a biological level our bodies crave routine. Some routines aren’t ever going to change. The earth will keep spinning. The sun will keep rising. Gravity will keep helping cats to knock things off counters. Some routine is so ingrained into our world that we couldn’t avoid it even if we tried.

I encourage you to ground yourself in that routine. Absolutely immerse yourself in the things which do not change. Snow is cold, y’all. The flowers will start blooming soon enough, and possums are forever cute. Even amidst all this change so much stays the same. Ground your bodies in that to remind them they’re safe.

And remember–not all change is bad. It’s the bell curve system, remember? Most things of any category are average. Some are spectacular. Some are awful. I might be biased but I feel pretty strongly that our offices aren’t awful. They’re tastefully decorated, calm, inviting spaces. The people are friendly, the temperature is comfortable, there are bathrooms if you need them. The waiting rooms have chairs, the therapy and medication offices have chairs too, and plenty of light, and just enough windows to feel comfortable without feeling exposed.

If you’re feeling nervous because you don’t know what to expect from an in-office visit, let us know.

But remember–the location of services might be changing, but what isn’t going to change is the services themselves. You’re in good hands. You will be listened to, respected, and taken care of to the best of our abilities.

Change is rough, especially during a difficult time. Emphasizing what stays the same can help.

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