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Three Big Ways Virtual Reality Could Transform Mental Healthcare

When you think of virtual reality, what comes to mind?

Consumers may imagine interactive video games, or mind-bending movies like The Matrix. But healthcare professionals have been watching virtual reality (VR) move far beyond entertainment. In fact, the global healthcare VR market was $885.7 million in 2020, and is projected to grow to $11.7 billion in 2028.

What does that mean for behavioral health?

Here are three big ways that VR could help providers and clients.

1. Effective Trauma Treatment

Although the technology has advanced rapidly in the last decade, the use of VR for mental health is older than you may realize. Since the 1990s, the U.S. Veterans Affairs has been studying the use of VR to help treat combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VR allows veterans to revisit disturbing memories under controlled conditions, with a therapist’s guidance.

VR serves as a type of prolonged exposure therapy. Research indicates that VR treatment could help with schizophrenia, dementia, PTSD, anxiety disorders, paranoia, delusions, and some phobias. It can be helpful in individuals who have not gotten satisfactory results with standard treatments, such as talk therapy or medications.

2. Substance Misuse Prevention

Many patients who experience severe pain, whether acute or chronic, only experience relief with strong opioid medications. However, the use of opioid painkillers carries the risk of misuse and dependence, creating additional problems for patients.

Researchers have been finding that VR could help with pain management instead. VR programs can help create environments that reduce anxiety before a procedure, or even provide a soothing distraction during a procedure. The Los Angeles-based company AppliedVR has developed an opioid-sparing treatment for chronic pain that incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy.

3. Advancing Telehealth

After getting a big push forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is not going anywhere. VR promises to keep the momentum going with new opportunities for remote mental healthcare.

Writing for the World Economic Forum, Poppy Brown of the University of Oxford notes that many types of VR-based therapy can be automated, allowing clients to receive guidance from a virtual coach. This removes the need for a human therapist to be physically present for every session. This can allow more people to access treatment, lower therapy cost, and reduce burdens for clinicians.

VR carries enormous potential for many behavioral health conditions. While the technology is still improving (physical issues like motion sickness can still be an issue), it can help create a controlled environment for clients receiving mental health treatment. Because of its relative novelty, and because not all VR software or programs have been thoroughly studied, both clinicians and consumers should use caution and good judgment when choosing to use VR in healthcare.

Staying on the cutting edge of behavioral healthcare is essential for keeping your practice valuable and effective. While we’re not in the VR business yet, BestNotes is committed to developing software that helps your practice function more efficiently, reducing the administrative burden for clinicians so they have more time to do what they do best.

Get in touch with us today to take the next step in a more profitable and less frustrating workflow!

date:  Sep 27, 2021
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Five Common Trauma Therapies to Offer at Your Behavioral Health Practice

Mental health symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic could last months or years longer than the pandemic itself. Specifically, many individuals and families may seek out therapy to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, or uncontrolled thoughts about a traumatic incident. If the symptoms get worse, affect daily life, or persist for months or years, it could indicate PTSD.

Who may need trauma therapy?

Trauma therapy may be helpful for individuals who have experienced a variety of situations associated with COVID-19:

Recovering from severe cases of COVID-19
Losing loved ones to the disease
Working directly with patients diagnosed with COVID-19
Disruptions due to school closures
Social isolation associated with stay-at-home orders, including experiences of domestic abuse
Job loss and other financial difficulties
Loss of or limitations to support services for mental health or substance use disorders
Increased consumption of negative news stories and social media, which can increase anxiety and fear

What can help individuals who have experienced trauma?

Here’s an overview of different types of evidence-based therapies often used for individuals who have experienced trauma.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A type of talk therapy, CBT examines a client’s thought patterns and how they influence behavior and choices. CBT helps clients pinpoint how some of their thoughts and behaviors have been incorrect or unhelpful.

Over time, clients can use CBT to develop more helpful, accurate thinking patterns and coping behaviors that can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. For more details, check out our previous CBT post on the BestNotes blog.

2. Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy can help clients confront and overcome their fears. Exposure therapy helps clients break patterns of avoidance by creating a safe environment in which he or she can face what they fear.

The BestNotes blog has a detailed post that provides a closer look at exposure therapy.

3. Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)

A person’s life experiences and wellbeing heavily depend on the “story” that each individual tells himself or herself. With NET, a client can develop a fuller, more positive life story that appropriately contextualizes the traumatic event and how it has influenced him or her.

NET may help clients who have experienced complex and multiple trauma. One common use is among refugees, who have experienced trauma from “political, cultural or social forces.”

4. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

EMDR is an evidence-based treatment for PTSD that helps clients process their trauma to aid healing. During EMDR sessions, the client focuses on a back-and-forth movement or sound while remembering an upsetting memory. The clinician also helps the client talk about and process their traumatic memories until PTSD symptoms decline.

5. Psychodynamic Trauma Therapy

Psychodynamic trauma therapy focuses on different factors that may affect or cause a client’s PTSD symptoms, such as experiences and coping mechanisms. This type of therapy focuses mostly on the client’s unconscious mind and how it influences behavior. Here, the therapist helps a client recognize and process painful, unconscious feelings so they can be released instead of being avoided.

Behavioral health clinicians may see a rise in demand for trauma-related therapies in the wake of COVID-19. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself as much as your clients with a customized EHR solution that helps you save time and reduce frustration. Contact BestNotes today to learn more.

date:  Apr 21, 2021
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How Behavioral Health Providers Can Prepare for an Increase in Trauma Treatment After COVID-19

With some data suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic may be slowing down in the United States, the White House and several states have begun to discuss how to relax stay-at-home orders and reopen the economy.

However, the mental health effects of the pandemic and economic shutdowns could persist for weeks, months, and possibly years. This may increase the need for trauma-based therapy and strain the nation’s behavioral health and addiction treatment resources.

As society returns to a “new normal,” more behavioral health issues may arise. For example, parts of the nation are seeing increased alcohol consumption in quarantined households. Here are some ways behavioral health providers can prepare for an increased demand for trauma treatment.

Understand the potential sources of trauma

Hundreds of millions of Americans have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way, directly or indirectly. Sources of trauma from the experience may include:

Severe illness and prolonged recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
Experiencing a loved one who was ill or died from COVID-19
Fears over health services that have been rescheduled due to COVID-19
Job loss and resulting financial anxieties and identity struggles
Stress and anxiety from caring for loved ones or adjusting daily life during the pandemic
Depression from social isolation
Increase in domestic abuse during quarantine

Each of these situations may affect individuals in different ways, requiring a variety of approaches for treating any resulting trauma.

Understand best practices for treating trauma

Numerous evidence-based therapies have been developed to address trauma. Some of these include:

Each of these situations may affect individuals in different ways, requiring a variety of approaches for treating any resulting trauma.

Understand best practices for treating trauma.

Numerous evidence-based therapies have been developed to address trauma. Some of these include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Exposure Therapy
Medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, usually combined with other types of therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)
Psychodynamic Trauma Therapy
Support groups

Consider obtaining trauma certification.

Not all behavioral health clinicians may have the training or experience to provide a full range of services for clients seeking trauma therapy. Continuing education credits or units can help prepare clinicians to deliver appropriate trauma-focused therapies.

Several organizations, such as the International Association of Trauma Professionals or the Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, offer certifications to professionals who complete the required training in addressing trauma. The Epis Center at Penn State also offers trauma resources for therapists.

Recommend additional counseling for financial difficulties.

After restrictions have eased and the coronavirus pandemic has subsided, many behavioral health concerns will be associated with financial difficulties. An estimated 22 million U.S. workers have filed for unemployment due to business closures, tighter budgets, and changes in consumer demands and habits during the pandemic.

Behavioral health clinicians should become familiar with the financial or career counseling services available in their communities. Behavioral health providers may also consider a shift in their payment own methods to accommodate clients who have lost their insurance or cannot afford copays. This can prepare you to offer additional resources to clients who are struggling financially.

Get the right solutions to manage new clients and increased demand.

As a behavioral health provider, you use different treatment approaches for different clients and settings. Make sure your EHR solution is just as flexible.

BestNotes EHR solutions can be customized to your unique needs to help you save time, reduce frustration, improve profitability, and meet documentation and reporting requirements. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo.

date:  Apr 30, 2020
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