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May You Live in Interesting Times

Gloriosa by Jitney58 is licensed through CC-BY-2.0

There is conflicting information about the origins of this expression, but it is generally agreed to be a curse. We are watching history be made as each day goes by, and frankly, I wish I lived during a more boring chapter of future history books. At the same time, though, it is through the difficult times that we grow.

As a psychologist, I’m used to walking with people through the difficult times. I usually can’t offer a quick or simple fix, but I can be there with tools, hope, and connection.

My goal in creating this site is to offer resources to a wide audience during these trying times. I want to reach those who share my drive to help children and provide them with the tools to do this effectively: teachers, social workers, counselors, and fellow psychologists. If there are specific resources that you would like to see, please let me know, and if I have the appropriate skills and knowledge, I will do my best to make it happen.

Thank you for joining me during these interesting times. Follow my site to stay up-to-date with resources.

Yahtzee for Telehealth

Yahtzee isn’t a game I use often in therapy, but it can be helpful for frustration tolerance, focus, and problem solving. It can be fun for groups working on taking turns as well.

There are many options for playing Yahtzee online, but this website has a free dice set. Pull up the site, share your screen, and take turns rolling. The dice on the site make it easy to play but also allow you to give your client extra rolls if you want to let them change the rules to the game or if you are taking a non-directive approach in the session.

I also found a site that has a PDF of royalty-free score sheets, which you can print. Of course, printables are not always ideal when you are doing telehealth, so a fillable version of the PDF can be downloaded here:

You can never have too many options for telehealth activities, and there are endless games available online if you know where to look.

Dare App Review

While no app can replace therapy, there are some great options to learn more about mental health. Dare has an option for a paid upgrade, but the free version is fantastic. Choose what you are struggling with, and you are presented with education about each topic presented by a soothing voice.

Anxiety, panic attacks, health anxiety, insomnia, worry

You can choose how you want to relax, again with free and paid options. There are both video and audio options that are very relaxing, and you can download your favorites to access them when you aren’t online.

Breathing, anxiety, release, and nature

If you’re experiencing a (non-emergency) crisis, they have options for that too! All of the options to de-escalate during a panic or anxiety attack are free to use. The soothing voice talks you through calming down and makes you feel less alone while it’s happening.

This is not a substitute for medical attention but can help you move past intense emotions

I love the free version of Dare for providing mental health education and teaching de-escalation. You can learn more about your brain and get through intense moments between therapy sessions.

Call for Submissions

Dr. Katelyn and I would like to once again thank everyone who purchased It’s About To Get Real Unprofessional! We are still accepting submissions to both coloring contests, so remember to enter if you want to win a printable copy or a Cameo-style video from Armani.

Since so many people loved our first coloring book, Dr. Katelyn and I have decided to make another book! This time, we want to feature 69 (heh heh) mandalas that you can color, each one paired with a calligraphy quote. What quotes will we use? That’s where YOU come in!

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Have you received troll comments or snide responses on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Has someone tried explaining something to you that you’re an expert in? Instead of getting mad, let us turn that comment into a beautiful coloring page!

Send us the sickest burns (or ridiculous insults) you’ve received on social media, and we will choose our favorites for the book. Release date TBD.

The Weekly Mews with Armani

What a week it has been, friends! The humans had some guests over, and Armani was excited to meet new Real Life people for the first time in over a year. He asked them to help him get on the refrigerator, but they didn’t pick him up the same way that I do, so he was angry. But then he got to hang out in the garden, and he forgot all about it.

Gardening is just chewing on the plants, right?

Armani is excited to start judging everyone in the coloring contest, so don’t forget to get those submissions in!

He’s ready to judge you.

Armani is nervous too, though. After consulting with his vet at length (she is probably very tired of our calls but so sweet about it), we decided to move forward with the dental cleaning. The risk of infection with gingivitis is higher than the risks from anesthesia, so on Tuesday, Armani gets to join his sister at the cat dentist. (Vera is low-risk for the anesthesia, so the decision to make sure her teeth are clean and healthy was easy.)

What’s happening?

So please send all good vibes, happy thoughts, and prayers Armani’s way on Tuesday. Hopefully he will feel much better afterwards and can go back to snuggling and talking to his friends on Twitter.

I’m not sure how this position is comfortable, but he stayed like this for an hour.

Next week, Armani will tell you about his trip to the vet, and maybe he will share his new clean, shiny smile!

Get Weekly Mews with Armani in your inbox by subscribing to my blog!

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Proceeds from Armani’s mewsletter help pay for his insulin and vet costs. He also shares 50% of each donation with organizations that help pets.

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Armani thanks you for your donation!

Armani thanks you for your donation!

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Fluid Ap Review

Recently I asked people to share their favorite free therapeutic aps with me, and I got some great suggestions! Today I’m going to talk about an ap that wasn’t technically designed for mental health but that I absolutely love: Fluid.

With Fluid, you tap your screen to create some gorgeous aesthetics made of different colored smoke and light. It’s an awesome way to relax and be mindful, and it can be a grounding experience if you’re feeling anxious or triggered.

Pretty colors

There are infinite images you can create just by poking around at the screen – light or dark, more colors or fewer colors, and you can tweak the animaitons.

Preeeeeeeeeeetty cooooooooooooolors

There’s a paid version that gives you more settings that you can mess around with, but I’ve been very satisfied with the free version. Available for Apple devices and on the Google play store.

Fluid settings options

Which aps have you found therapeutic? Tell me about them so I can check them out!

Calm Harm Ap Review

If you’re looking for a way to reduce self-harm behavior, Calm Harm is a great resource. It’s free, user-friendly, and non-judgmental.

Calm Harm Logo

When you first go into the app, you can choose the aesthetic that is most pleasing or calming for you. You can also set up a passcode – although the app does not request a lot of personal information, it does have a journal feature to help users track their urges. Some users might want to ensure that family members, friends, et cetera, are not accessing the account without their permission.

Calm Harm opens with education about self-harm urges. When users are having an urge to engage in a self-harm behavior, the app encourages them to choose an activity to “ride the wave” until the urge passes.

Ride the Wave

Depending on needs and preferences, you can choose whether you want to ride a five-minute wave or a 15-minute wave. You are prompted to choose the length each time, so you can opt for longer waves if the urge is more intense or shorter waves if you are in a hurry. There are several adorable categories to choose from. Again, choose what activities work best for you and what you are feeling in the moment.

When you choose which type of activity you’d like to do, the app gives you a list of options to choose from. Once you choose your activity, it counts down the time and walks you through the exercise to help you stay engaged. Afterwards, you’re prompted with a survey that asks how strong the urge was, whether the activity helped, and what triggered the urge. It then provides education about triggers for self-harm based on your answers and reminds you of resources you can reach out to if you need to speak to a real person.

This is one of the apps that I most frequently reference in my practice, especially with teens who want to reduce self-harm behavior. It provides good educational information and encourages making a different choice without blaming or shaming the user for needing help, and you can use it from anywhere.

Although it speaks specifically to self-harm behavior, these mindfulness and grounding techniques can be helpful for anxiety, panic, or any other mental health concern. Try it today!

Telehealth Activity: Hatchimals

Hatchimals are a popular line of children’s toys. There are many different lines, and some come with books and backstories. Many of my clients have collections of Hatchimals and follow the various YouTubers who create content about the toys.

A lot of kids have previously brought their Hatchimals into my office, or have shown me their Hatchimals during online scavenger hunts with telehealth. I recently found an online flash game based on these toys and thought I would try it out in a telehealth session.

Hatchimals Maker

The easiest way to demonstrate this game was with a video walkthrough, so here’s how you can play this game, along with some tips for incorporating your client’s treatment goals and making the activity therapeutic:

Hatchimals Maker Demonstration Video

So, there you have it: Hatchimals are both therapeutic and available for telehealth interventions! What other toys have your clients brought to sessions that could be incorporated into their needs and treatment goals?

Fuzzy

The Weekly Mews with Armani

Hello and welcome back to Armani’s mewsletter! He is excited to share that there were so many birds on the balcony this week. He still has not caught one, but he has gotten braver about sneaking up on them. I’m not sure what I will do when he or Vera inevitably brings an injured pigeon into the apartment, but we will deal with that when the time comes.

Watching his favorite show

After speaking to the vet extensively, we have determined that Armani is healthy enough to have a dental cleaning. Getting the plaque off of his teeth will make him feel so much better and make it easier for him to eat (though he doesn’t seem to have trouble with that now!).

Hey baby

He is also getting a second Libre device, and the vet said if his sugars are still good, he can wait six months before another one. I am hoping he doesn’t end up needing the Cone again when this one comes off, but we will see. He appreciates you sending him all the good vibes.

Cuddle bug

Armani also wants to remind you that you could WIN a personalized Cameo video from him if you enter the coloring contest next month! He’s not sure what any of those words mean, but he is excited.

Toe beans!

Armani wants to remind you to rest, drink some water, and brush your teeth. Ask for help when you need to, and snuggle the people you care about!

Get Weekly Mews with Armani in your inbox by subscribing to my blog!

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Proceeds from Armani’s mewsletter help pay for his insulin and vet costs. He also shares 50% of each donation with organizations that help pets.

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Armani thanks you for your donation!

Armani thanks you for your donation!

Armani thanks you for your donation!

DonateDonateDonate

Vera’s Sensory Corner

You probably remember Vera, my special cat who used to live outside. If you do, you’ll recall that Vera gets scared very easily and sometimes is afraid of things that aren’t really dangerous, like the stepladder and Amazon boxes.

Pictured: one relaxed kitty 💜

I thought today would be a good day to talk a bit about what Vera does when she feels scared. Like I said before, we do our best to make sure she knows she lives in a safe place with people who love her and will always take care of her. She gets enough food and water, lots of pets, and she can sit almost anywhere she wants, even if someone else needs that spot.

Therapist cat

Vera has gotten less fearful over time, which is awesome to see. Sometimes she investigates strange sounds instead of running away from them, and she does not always hide from visitors. But some days she still feels afraid. The loud vacuum makes her very nervous, and she doesn’t like it very much when it rains.

Other times, she doesn’t feel afraid but still would like to be by herself for a while. That’s why Vera has her own special sensory corner in our home.

Soft kitty,

We noticed that Vera likes hiding in one specific closet – she can get in and out without getting stuck, and it’s dark and quiet in there. So I put her favorite blanket and some of her toys in there so she can relax and feel safe whenever she wants! Sometimes, we sprinkle catnip in Vera’s sensory corner.

When Vera feels scared, she goes to her special spot and hides until she feels safe. If we know something scared her, like someone coming to visit, and that scary thing is gone, we go and let her know it is safe to come out. Sometimes we just check on her to remind her that we love her. But she can use this space for as long as she needs to feel safe and happy.

Vera’s special hiding place

Where do you go when you need to feel safe?

It’s About To Get Real Competitive

Thank you to everyone who purchased It’s About To Get Real Unprofessional! We debuted in the top 20,000 books on Amazon, which is pretty amazing considering there are more than 4 MILLION books on there.

As a thank you for all the support (and to keep the fun going), we are having a coloring contest! Well, we are having two coloring contests.

Hipaa the Hippo

Share your best rendition of the Hippa Hippo on Twitter with #HIPPAhippo. Dr. Katelyn and I will choose the three best ones on the following criteria:

  1. Whatever the heck we feel like
  2. That indescribable X factor
  3. Making us laugh is always a good bet

On June 18, we will announce the three finalists and create a poll. Vote for your favorite, and the winner will get a FREE printable copy of It’s About To Get Real Unprofessional so they can print it off at work and color the pages over and over instead of writing their notes!

Dress Armani up for his first day as a therapy cat

Then, get those creative juices flowing by giving Armani your best Therapy Cat outfit. Share your submissions on Twitter with #ArmaniCat. On July 2, we will again pick three finalists and hold a poll to decide the winner.

The winner will get a Cameo-style recording of Armani telling you you’re great! (Though it might be my voice instead of his – he doesn’t always talk on command.) You can request a personalized message from Armani, but he reserves the right to set limits at his discretion.

We also encourage you to share whatever pages you’ve completed and tag us @DrAmyMarschall and @Psych_k8. We can’t wait to see what you create!