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My Tele-Health Journey – The Good Men Project

Tele-health taught me to listen. I learned to observe, facial expressions, eye movements, and the slightest nod of the head. The traumatic entrance into the virtual world of technology sped into existence as the COVID-19 virus sent the entire world into chaos.

As I adapted to the new platform of Microsoft Teams, I had to overcome frustration and limitations. I hated the lack of stimuli from face-to-face interactions. My brain would fade away and I’d drag it back to focus on the topic. Day after day my experience began to wear on my emotional side.

The tool I used, my MAC Air was my escape from daily toil. Writing was my passion. After work, I’d have ideas swirling in my mind. No sooner did I get home, I would take out my trusty laptop and begin writing.

April arrived and the wall of inescapable gloom struck. No depression, per say, however, I felt alienated from the writing world. Every single topic was focused on the virus. The negatives energy surrounding so much fear and uncertainty took the joy of reading articles away.

I scaled back my writing. I thought a few days a week off would help me find something to write about, and I’d feel myself again. Days passed by, six hours of time filled listening to lectures to clients, engaging in the groups, and finding my tele-legs (pun intended) as I led groups online.

Experience after experience, observation after observation, and note after note, my world began to revolve around the six hours. I used the other hours to teach violin, and to write my final papers for my Master’s Degree. Hinging on the completion of my Internship, I waited and did my time.

Soon, my soul felt empty. I was no longer feeling part of the world of the helpers. I admit, I wallowed in despair. The negative energy in my home, the negative energy in the world, and the agony of witnessing constant strain at changing behaviors based on life-long habits wore me out.

I quit writing. I took notes. My file folder is filled with ideas to write about and yet, I didn’t do anything with them. In retrospect, I am grateful for the time off of writing. I needed to pull myself back into the mindset.

As my experience helped me grow, professionally and clinically, I found myself excited about virtual intimate partner violence courses. After hitting some roadblocks, I finally had some clients and I began five weeks ago, leading a group. We learned about the 7 Barriers to Communication, Radical Acceptance, Stress and the Body Response, Anger’s Edge and DV, Co-Dependency and DV, and today, we did the topic: Emotional Intelligence: Change is worth the journey.

The nine men I have worked with in the pilot group gave me feedback:

Thank you for what you are doing. You are awesome!

I love attending groups. I learn something every week that will help me in all areas of my life.

I plan on using more empathy and this topic helped me understand it more.

The feedback comes from months of waiting for a program to reopen, and as I waited for the next step, I found myself grateful to have the months of internship online. The skillset gave me insight into the therapeutic alliance and building rapport.

Advanced Behavioral Changes, LLC seeks to lead those who have domestic violence cases, to a better way to live. To choose to catch the spark for a brighter future, to lift our partners up when life is hard, and to own our behaviors without blaming anyone else, are three ways my agency helps clients heal, grow, and forgive.

While I cannot guarantee my clients will never be violent again, I can guarantee while on my watch they will be treated with respect, given the best possible topics with a trauma-informed lens, and know they are held accountable while being treated with kindness and empathy.

I owe my ability to do the work to my Internship leaders. The two main therapists helped me to see outside the box and become grounded in who I am. I took the best of them and applied it to my personal style. One therapist said I was “Stern with a soothing way to draw people to learn” and I suppose she is right.

This post was previously published on ILLUMINATION and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Photo credit: Unsplash



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