One of the things we are most proud of here at Nova MHS is the fact that we are able to provide very specialized services. This is through having therapists who work under the general focuses of Nova MHS and then they are able to sub focus or specialize. To see what individual therapists focus or specialize on go to our page named, "meet us."
This article will go through the 4 main focuses of Nova Mental Health Services. The hope is this will give the reader a better idea of what we can offer. It is also important to note that we also provide services for a wide range of mental health diagnoses and reasons for seeking therapy. These 4 areas are just where we thrive, as are the individual interests and focuses of our therapists.
PTSD and Trauma
The unfortunate reality of the world is that 70 percent of people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those, at least a fifth will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Trauma comes from many experiences like war, violence and abuse, sudden loss, accidents, or natural disasters. Both experiencing it or even witnessing such events can lead to some level of trauma. It is a common misconception that PTSD is an issue only for soldiers. It is also not uncommon for people to believe something “doesn’t count” as a traumatic event for one reason or another. However, it is not for one person to define what trauma is or how things affect others. But because of these ideas, many people don’t reach out for help after such events. We understand that trauma comes from many sources and isn’t always easy for clients to recognize. Trauma can even be passed down from one generation to another and increase a person's chances of developing chronic health conditions. Whether trauma is the cause of anxiety and depressive episodes or is adding to an existing issue, we use trauma-informed care to help identify and heal trauma throughout our clients’ journeys.
Trauma isn’t present in every situation when someone seeks out mental health care. Regardless, we believe it’s important to consider at every point in the therapy process. Our goal is to build trust and a safe environment to promote healing and avoid re-traumatization. Looking at therapy as a partnership between the therapist and client helps provide transparency and empowerment. Clients can participate more fully in their care and build confidence to advocate for themselves in potentially triggering situations. Trauma-informed care can also reduce stress and burnout in our staff, allowing us to provide better support in all situations.
“PTSD Facts and Statistics: The Recovery Village.” Edited by Megan Hill, The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab, The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab, 26 Aug. 2021, https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/ptsd/related/ptsd-statistics/.
Tello, Monique. “Trauma-Informed Care: What It Is, and Why It's Important.” Harvard Health, 16 Oct. 2018, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/trauma-informed-care-what-it-is-and-why-its-important-2018101613562.
Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center, 5 Apr. 2022, https://www.traumainformedcare.chcs.org/.
Neurodiversity is often referred to as “invisible disabilities.” This term umbrellas Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Tourette's Syndrome, Dyslexia, and many others. An estimated 15% to 20% of the world’s population falls into this category, however, as we learn more about Neurodiversity this number could grow.
We do not treat neurodiversity as it is not a disorder but a neurological classification. We recognize the impact society can have on neurodiverse folx ability to navigate through life. We know that trying to fit into a neurotypical world when your mind doesn’t work that way can add to the problem. It’s important to recognize that these brains work differently and that different way of viewing and navigating the world is vital to our society. In fact, many struggles neurodiverse people experience are either caused by and/ or worsened by societal constructs/norms and systems that favor the Neuro-Majority.
We believe in empathy based therapy and see our clients as the competent professionals of "themself" that they are. We let our clients lead the way in exploring what they need out of therapy. Maybe that is focusing on the issues like depression and/or anxiety through a Neurodiverse perspective. Maybe it is working on unmasking, accommodation advocacy, education, burnout, etc. We know that no one knows "you" better than "you".
We find it important to note here that ABA is not used in our therapy. Applied behavioral analysis therapy (ABA) started as a way to fit neurodiverse individuals, especially autistic individuals, into the neurotypical world. Many think it’s used to change behaviors that some consider “undesirable” instead of teaching skills. It's designed to ignore the needs of the children being subjected to it. We instead use other approaches such as client-focused, empathy based therapy. Such techniques encouraged a partnership between the therapist and the client. You are the expert on your lived experiences with your brain. You know where you want to go and how you want to change. We want to help you to get there.
Unsure if you’re neurodivergent? We can help!
If you think some of your problems may stem from being undiagnosed or misdiagnosis, we can provide you with additional information and sources. A good starting point might be our other post: ADHD, Autism, or Both? How to recognize the differences.
Cherry, Kendra. “How Client-Centered Therapy Works.” Verywell Mind, 13 July 2021, https://www.verywellmind.com/client-centered-therapy-2795999.
Lynch, C.L. “Invisible Abuse: Aba and the Things Only Autistic People Can See.” NeuroClastic, 13 Aug. 2021, https://neuroclastic.com/invisible-abuse-aba-and-the-things-only-autistic-people-can-see/.
Moeller, Miriam et al. “Neurodiversity Can Be a Workplace Strength, If We Make Room for It.” The Conversation, 8 Sep. 2021, https://theconversation.com/neurodiversity-can-be-a-workplace-strength-if-we-make-room-for-it-164859.
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C.A.S.E. and Training for Adoption Competency
The Center for Adoption Support and Education created TAC to help adoptive families have access to quality mental health services. This is important for the continued health of both the child and the family. We are happy to provide such support to our clients as we continue training and furthering our education. We will consider a child’s early history during diagnosis to better aid them during our time together. And help provide support and education to families as a whole, navigating trauma and building trust,
Ideally, foster care gives children a safe place to land when things go wrong at home, with the end goal of reuniting the family. In practice, things don’t always run smoothly. A staggering 80% of children in the foster care system have mental health issues. And unfortunately, nearly every child welfare agency notes their services need to be improved. We see the results of that as children are bounced between foster homes that are not equipped to help, not giving them the sense of security that foster care is meant to provide. From there, almost 90% will come into contact with law enforcement.
We want to provide those children and families with the resources they need to succeed in the system. We will support foster parents and educate them to help advocate for those in their care and themselves; allowing foster children the security and help they need to heal and grow. We provide support for biological parents who are trying to reunite with their children or are experiencing grief from TPR. We provide support for adult adoptee’s who need a space to process whatever feelings they may have surrounding their experience.
C.A.S.E. - Nurture, Inspire, Empower, 22 Feb. 2022, https://adoptionsupport.org/.
Guarino, GinaMarie. “Adopted Children Often Face Mental Health Struggles as Young Adults.” Claudia Black Center, 2 Aug. 2021, https://www.claudiablackcenter.com/adopted-children-often-face-mental-health-struggles-as-young-adults/#:~:text=Twelve%20to%2014%20percent%20of,like%20anxiety%2C%20depression%2C%20and%20behavioral.
Huber, Jennifer, and Bill Grimm. “Most States Fail to Meet the Mental Health Needs of Foster Children.” National Center for Youth Law, 28 Mar. 2022, https://youthlaw.org/news/most-states-fail-meet-mental-health-needs-foster-children.
Sheppard, Sarah. “The Mental Health Effects of Living in Foster Care.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 9 Feb. 2022, https://www.verywellmind.com/the-mental-health-effects-of-living-in-foster-care-5216614.
Child Welfare Department. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/racial_disproportionality.pdf
This season can be a stressful time for anybody. Financial stress alone can be a heavy burden, not to mention the socio-political issues and complex feelings some have around the holidays. And on top of all that, visiting family feels almost like a non-negotiable event for many of us. But we live in a very divided time; generational and political differences can be very stark. Family gatherings during the holiday can force those people to clash against each other and cause anger and bitterness.
Setting boundaries is a way of protecting yourself and your well-being first. However, society and much of our media can portray that as selfish, that we need to put others and their feelings first. Knowing that you’ve disappointed someone you care about feels terrible. Unhealthy family dynamics often lead to enmeshment where boundaries just don’t exist, and trying to set some can lead to guilt-tripping and gaslighting.
Even those who have a more stable and positive relationship with their family can struggle to set boundaries. I’ve moved twice in recent years and have been fortunate to have the help of my family each time. In the vocabulary of Marie Kondo, however, my parents and I find joy in very different things. The first time I moved, my parents helped me pack and kept talking about “being brutal” and getting rid of things I didn’t need… Specifically about something that had value to me. But they didn’t even hesitate packing up the three oversized fruit bowls and decorative towels they handed down to me over the years. As I was unpacking after the first move, all of those things got donated. They did not help me pack or unpack this most recent time. I made my decision very casual, and my parents barely commented on it, but that doesn’t mean guilt didn’t slip in. My parents were just trying to help, and I’m lucky that I have such a positive relationship with them. But setting boundaries can help keep that relationship stable. Setting my boundaries helped squash any disagreement that would have come up that may have resulted in frustration for my parents and resentment from me.
See if you can find out who’s coming and identify if you have any allies on the guestlist. Finding someone who will back you up when you change the subject can help relieve some of the pressure on you. Having a plan to escape, like excusing yourself to the bathroom or assisting in the kitchen, can also be an effective tactic. An ally can then find ways to let you know when the conversation has moved to safer grounds. Remember to make sure they feel comfortable helping in that situation, so you don’t overstep their boundaries. If you feel decently comfortable with all the guests, you can offer a silly codeword for everybody to use when they think the conversation is getting too heavy. Be sure to agree on this strategy and the word beforehand. For example you could say, “I want to make sure everyone has a fun and pleasant holiday so if we get on a topic that can start an argument someone should shout out ‘Banana’ and that means we need to move on.”
Knowing who is coming can also help you figure out what topics may come up in conversation. You can take some time to script out some responses to try and diffuse the conversations as they come up. Practice using “I” rather than “you” statements. Instead of saying: “you’re making me uncomfortable by talking about this,” try: “I feel uncomfortable when this topic is brought up.” It seems like a minor difference, but it could get better results. A “you” statement can come across as accusatory and cause some people to react defensively and dig their heels in when you try to change the subject. Instead, you’re putting the focus on how their actions affect you. It removes the feeling of blame while still highlighting the results of the action. In addition avoiding absolute language such as “always” statements (you always take her side) and “never” statements (you never think about anyone else but yourself). These statements can take away from the main point and feelings, causing the conversation to switch to finding examples that discredit that statement.
The unfortunate reality is that you may be on your own. Some members of your family may be too stubborn to talk down or just uncaring of your feelings. You can set out your boundaries directly and the consequences of crossing them if you need, and they may disregard them. If that happens and you feel you need to leave, do so. Negative reactions may happen; anger at your follow through, blame for ruining the holidays, manipulation to stay by appealing to a sense of family or the holidays. However, it is important to remember you deserve a happy holiday as well. The boundaries are there to work for you. They are to keep you safe and healthy. Putting yourself first isn’t something to be ashamed of.
In the wise words of the late and great Ruth Bader Ginsberg, “speak your mind. Even if your voice shakes.”
Design for Change Recovery Staff. (2020, August 29). Why setting boundaries in recovery is important. Design for Change. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://designforchangerecovery.com/blog/happens-start-setting-boundaries/.
Team Tony. (2021, January 15). The importance of "I-statements" In relationships: Tony Robbins. tonyrobbins.com. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://www.tonyrobbins.com/love-relationships/words-matter-you-vs-i/.
Selva, J. (2021, September 13). How to set healthy boundaries: 10 examples + PDF worksheets. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healt
As we become more educated and aware of what it actually means to be Autistic or ADHD, we are seeing more and more people meeting the criteria for these Neurological classifications. Specifically a lot of older teens and adults are learning that they are Neurodivergent. As individuals start to suspect they are neurodiverse, they do what most people do when they are curious about something… they google it. They may find themselves taking online questionnaires and then confused because perhaps they identify a lot with Autism… and then ADHD… and then maybe a few mental health disorders sprinkled in there… So which one is it???
Trying to distinguish between ADHD, Autism and other possible considerations and/ or diagnosises can be hard because of two distinct problems; co-morbidity and overlapping traits.
Co-morbidity is the scientific term for when multiple conditions or diseases are present simultaneously in an individual. Both ADHD & Autism are neurodevelopmental, meaning you are born with this neurological brain difference. However, many people who are Autistic have a collection of neurodevelopmental differences and one of those, quite frequently, is ADHD.
Even when co-morbidity isn’t happening, autism and ADHD can display very similar, overlapping, traits. It’s important to look at the cause or circumstance. Both experience strong interests. These interests may be more limited to a small number of things for an autistic person, while Facebook groups like “ADHD Hobby Swap” have popped up for ADHD people to get rid of all the things they bought for their current hyper-fixation and move on to the next one. Both groups stim, but an autistic person will be doing so to self-sooth, express feelings or just because it is fun and someone who’s ADHD may be getting out excess energy or keeping themselves focused. Someone who is both Autistic & ADHD may find themselves somewhere in between, this tends to vary more.
Finding a Neurodivergent affirming and informed therapist, doctor, psychologist, anyone who can diagnose, can be a good place to start when trying to figure out where you fit. They will be able to walk though your own personal examples to see if and what neurological classification fits best for you and/or if there is a mental health disorder that also could fit. For example, there is a lot of overlap between ADHD traits and PTSD symtoms. If this is not something accessible to you for one reason or another, I also want to state that self diagnosis is completley valid on a personal level. The thing is, even if you are wrong, if a self diagnosis gives you permission to be kind to yourself and to move through the world in a way that works for you and helps you to live more authentically and happily, then that is amazing.
A note to the reader: I want to acknowledge that the current mental health diagnosis manual (DSM-5) identifies Neurological Classifications as Neurodevelopmental Disorders and uses a deficit model as a way of diagnosing Neurodiversities. The DSM is the book we must work with when it comes to providing accommodations and federally & state backed support. However, as we have seen countless times, the DSM gets a lot wrong and the editors of the DSM even acknowledge this in a general sense. This article works on trying to find a balance between educating the reader on the way we differentiate diagnoses in the DSM & educating the reader on Neurodiversity affirming language and perspective.
Is It ADHD or Autism? (2017, April 3). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/add- adhd/childhood-adhd/adhd-or-autism
Morin, A. (2021, April 2). The difference between ADHD and autism. Understood.