Frequently Asked Questions about Telemental Health and Kids

Parents have a lot of questions when bringing their children for therapy services, and this has never been more true than with the rise of telehealth. It can already be anxiety-provoking to reach out, and combined with navigating technology and “doing therapy” in a different way than what you might be used to is scary.

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Some co-workers and I put together a list of frequently asked questions that parents have about telemental health for their kids, and I thought I would share it. Most of the information here is general, so other therapists can feel free to use this when developing their own FAQ for parents. I do have many parents ask about my qualifications, so this document is specific to my practice, but you can use this as a starting point in your work.

You can download Frequently Asked Questions about Telemental Health and Kids here:

Although I currently have a full caseload (I’m writing this as of December 9, 2020), those in South Dakota who are in need of therapy services during this time can reach out to Sioux Falls Psychological Services for an appointment.

ADHD Online Presents: ADHD And Sleep Hygiene

www.adhdonline.com offers affordable ADHD assessment

Friday night, I had another amazing opportunity to talk about ADHD with the people at ADHD Online. I spoke about sleep hygiene and how people with ADHD (and parents of kids with ADHD) can help create and maintain structure to get rest they need.

The presentation is available for free here.

The slides can be downloaded here:

Thank you to everyone who tuned in and asked questions. It was such a great experience, and I am looking forward to my next presentation in January (date TBD)! My next topic is helping parents support their kids with ADHD.

Telehealth Games for Kids at Teachers Pay Teachers

As you may have seen in my earlier posts, I have created a virtual store with Teachers Pay Teachers to create and distribute even more telehealth resources for work with kids. I have been using the custom room template on PlayingCards.IO to take classic board games often used in in-person play therapy and put them online.

The thing I love most about the PlayingCards.IO platform is that I can present these games in a non-directive way, and the feel is very similar to an in-person session, more so than other online play therapy games. Because you are sharing a link, the limitations you can run into with Chrome Books doesn’t apply (like sharing screen control or features on the Zoom whiteboard), and you can both move things in the room simultaneously rather than taking turns.

So far, the feedback I’ve gotten has been incredibly positive, so I thought I would share some more details about the games I’ve created so far and ask my followers to share with me what games they would like me to try and create for telehealth next. Contact me with suggestions and I will try to turn them into a reality!

Here is what I’ve created so far. If you visit my store, you can also see that I have bundles where you can purchase multiple games at once and get a discount. I want to keep these resources affordable and accessible.

Vera The Cat is available for FREE

Vera The Cat is based on the classic cooperative game, Max. The critters are trying to escape to their home in the tree – can you help them get home before Vera catches them?

One great thing about this game is that many of my clients are already familiar with Vera’s story, so they get invested and engaged with this game.

Classic board games including Candy Land are available for a small fee

Classic board games like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Guess Who, Trouble, and Sorry were staples in our in-person offices, so I created these versions for telehealth. There is flexibility to change the rules based on the client’s preference if you take a non-directive approach, but “classic” rules are still included if you prefer.

Clue is a classic, although not one I had used in therapy prior to this year

I created Clue for telehealth at the request of another therapist. This isn’t a game I had previously included in my office, but I’ve actually had a few kids choose it for telehealth. It’s great for problem-solving and can be done with groups of up to six. One child even chose to make it a cooperative game where we shared our information to figure out the mystery together!

Vera the Cat Matching Game

I’ve written before about how matching games can be a therapeutic tool, but a lot of kids get bored quickly with the traditional playing cards. My solution, as is my solution to most of my life’s problems, was to involve one of my pets.

Introducing: Vera the Cat Matching Game! Find the 15 different pairs of Vera pictures. I chose some of her more “expressive” poses so you can also use the activity to talk about feelings.

Have you found these games helpful in your practice? What other games would you like to see? I’m thinking I will try and take some of the other resources I’ve shared and use this platform to create versions with flexible rules, as well as including games that don’t seem to have online versions yet.

As always, if you’re looking for more tools for your play therapy telehealth arsenal, check out my telehealth resources page!

How Can You Be A Child Therapist If You Don’t Have Kids?

Last week on Twitter, a social worker asked, “Child and family therapists who don’t have kids, what are you even doing?” (I might have the wording slightly wrong, as I didn’t screen shot and she deleted her account shortly afterwards, but the gist is in tact.)

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

Seeing as I’m a child therapist/psychologist who doesn’t have kids, I took it upon myself to answer this question. I actually get asked this question a lot, so writing about it here might help a wider audience understand my answer. As a child therapist who doesn’t have kids, what am I even doing?

I don’t have kids, but at one time I was a kid who dealt with some of the same issues my clients and their families bring to me. My lived experience isn’t identical to that of my clients, but that’s true for everyone. Even if I had my client’s exact diagnosis, my experience of that diagnosis would be different. Every single person is an individual, so you will never find a therapist who completely and fully understands your experience.

I don’t have kids, but I spent five years in graduate school, and I really, really hope the six-figure price I paid for my training wasn’t a complete waste and I actually learned some valuable skills.

I don’t have kids, but I’ve worked with families for the past six years and learned a thing or two about what healthy communication looks like. I know what practices can be helpful, and I understand how to empathize with people even if their background is different than mine.

I don’t have kids, but almost every parent I know says they feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. So if that’s the case, how would having a kid make me any more qualified than I am now?

Some parents might still hesitate to have their child see a psychologist who doesn’t have kids, and I’m happy to make a referral because I’m all about finding the right fit, and I want everyone to find the right provider to meet their needs.

I know some wonderful child therapists who are also parents, and I know some wonderful child therapists who aren’t parents. Everyone brings their own strengths to the table, and isn’t that a wonderful thing?

It’s Cyber Monday!

I mentioned last week that I am having a Cyber Monday sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. In case anyone was on the fence about purchasing a game, I created a little tutorial of what my games look like and how to use them in your practice

Video demonstration about how to use my Teachers Pay Teachers games

As always, if there are any issues with any of the games or things that could be improved, please let me know! My goal is to make these games as beneficial and accessible as possible. If you found them helpful, please feel free leave a review, and let me know what games I should adapt for telehealth next!

Also, while I have your attention, the Kindle version of I Don’t Want To Be Bad is still on sale for $4.99 until tomorrow!

Black Friday Sale Alert!

As my friends and family know, I love a good sale. Black Friday used to be one of my favorite days of the year back when I could go to malls (and hopefully one day will be again).

In honor of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, I’m offering sales on my book and my telehealth games! Details below.

I Don’t Want To Be Bad, Kindle Edition
I Don’t Want To Be Bad has a five-star rating on Amazon!

The Kindle edition of my book will be on sale Friday through Monday this week. Usually priced at $7.99, I am discounting it to $4.99. Parents, therapists, and anyone who works with kids and wants to help them make better choices should check it out!

Teachers Pay Teachers: Telehealth Games
The automated logo they created for me says “up to 25%” but the sale is 20% off.

As I finished reviewing free resources that I’ve been using for telehealth, I started creating games that I wanted to use but could not find online. I’ve been using PlayingCards.IO‘s custom room option to design different board games and making them available for a small fee on Teachers Pay Teachers.

For Black Friday, I’m offering everything in my store at 20% off. So far, I’ve created versions of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, Sorry, and Guess Who. You can bundle the first three and save even more.

Is there a board game you loved using in-person but haven’t been able to do over telehealth? Tell me about it and I will see if I can make it happen! I’m in the process of creating Clue and Oregon Trail, to be unveiled soon.

And, as always, Vera The Cat is available for free. This cooperative game is a variation on Max and allows you and your client(s) to practice using teamwork to reach a common goal.

Happy shopping!

Self-Care in Lockdown: A Checklist

This is something I shared on my Facebook page months ago, but I thought it deserved a re-share since many states have gone back into lockdown. I wrote it with kids in mind, but the concepts apply to adults too.

When you never leave the house, the days can blur together. It’s tempting to park on the couch and not move for 14 hours, but this can grate on both your physical and mental health. Use this list to ensure you’re hitting all your basic needs every day!

Stay-at-home checklist for kids

Please don’t get down on yourself if you don’t hit every category every day! This is simply a guideline to help you get through this difficult time.

Bubble Breathing 2: When The Bubbles Pop

Back in August, I shared a therapy activity that teaches kids to visualize blowing their negative feelings into bubbles. This is a great way to introduce therapeutic breathing techniques and one that I’ve used myself when I’m trying to fall asleep after a stressful day.

(Because it’s still impossible to be angry while you’re saying “bubbles”) Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

Recently, a client gave me some feedback: they said they blow the feeling into a bubble, but then the bubble pops, and the feeling splatters back all over them! That doesn’t help bring the feeling down.

I did some googling and found out that there are recipes for “unbreakable” bubbles. These bubbles aren’t technically indestructible, but they hold their shape much longer than regular bubbles.

If a child is having trouble with their bubbles popping, or they’re not able to visualize images in their mind, you can make the unbreakable bubbles together (some day in the future when we can meet with kids in person again). Follow the instructions in my Bubble Breathing post above, but blow real, unpoppable bubbles! Of course, the bubbles will still pop eventually, so you can add that the bad feeling gets dissolved once it’s inside of the bubble.

Take Bubble Breathing to the next level by making real, unbreakable bubbles!

Coming Soon: Custom Board Games

With my PESI presentation coming up, I decided to write up all of my interventions for telehealth and kids. I wanted to make these resources available for free, since I know many therapists are struggling to engage kids and make progress on treatment plans during the era of telemental health.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I was putting together my list of resources, I found that PlayingCards.IO has an option to create custom rooms, which basically allows you to turn any board game into a telehealth activity if you’re willing to take the time to personalize the space. I have to say, I’m obsessed. Literally any game a child asks for, I can create with enough time and energy!

Some therapists have created board games that can be played over Google drive if the therapist grants remote control access to the child, and this can work really well, but I’ve found that some kids get overwhelmed with this format, and those using Chrome Books don’t have the option for remote control. Of course, this can become a communication skills intervention, having the child direct me where and how to move their pieces, but this isn’t always the best solution. With these custom rooms, the child follows the link and controls the pieces from their screen.

Thanks to the awesome people at Teachers Pay Teachers, I can make these games available for download! Because of the time it takes to put these games together, I will be offering them for a small fee, but I want to make this as accessible as possible. Stay tuned to see what I come up with!

Is there a specific game you’d like to use in telehealth but can’t right now? Let me know, and I’ll see if I can create it.

Giftedness: Anxiety With Better Branding

Today I would like to share a personal story. When I was a kid, I loved to read. I mean, I loved to read. I brought books out to recess, I stayed up late with a flashlight under my covers, I watched almost no television. I think it was the fifth grade when my school started Accelerated Reading, and about halfway through the year, I got bored with the list because it was all too easy for me and stopped reading AR books. At the end of the year, I was in second place in the entire school for AR points. And I had stopped participating five months before everyone else.

It probably sounds like I’m bragging (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little proud of that story), but my ridiculously high reading level had its downfalls. For one, when I decided that I wanted to read “love stories,” I got way more sex education than I bargained for when I found my way into the “romance” section at my local library.

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Giftedness can refer to intellectual ability, academic ability, or skill in another area. It sounds great, right? Who doesn’t like to be good at things? When children are intellectually gifted, the problem arises due to uneven development. They learn to understand things on a cognitive level that they aren’t emotionally ready to deal with. I’ve seen this happen when six-year-olds have existential crises after realizing that they are going to die some day. Not to mention, many gifted kids struggle in adulthood because their identity develops around the fact that they are talented “for their age,” and when age is no longer a factor, they have no idea who they are.

Whenever I work with a gifted child and the parents express guilt (“Why are we complaining that our kid is smart?”) I tell them that giftedness is basically mental illness with good branding.

Every quality can be a strength or a deficit depending on the context and how extreme it is. We live in a world where any significant deviation from average can make it hard to fit in. If we started recognizing the anxiety that goes with giftedness, these kids could grow into healthier, more well-adjusted adults who recognize their value outside of their really high reading level.