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Family Psych Consumer
38 minutes | Feb 7, 2019
Cracking the Code on Borderline Personality – How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Brings Change and Dignity to Your Loved One Living in Chaos [Episode 8]
Borderline personality disorder is one of the most stigmatizing and sensational (pejoratively speaking) conditions that the mental healthcare world tries to understand and “treat”. So needless to say, if the experts are always struggling to figure out (and agree about!) its traits and disabilities, parents and families are suffering beyond belief each day caring for a loved one living with it. In another of his Shrink Rap talks with national experts, Tom introduces his listeners to Dr Anne Wake, a national expert on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and herself a longtime colleague and collaborator with DBT’s originator Dr Marsha Linehan. Like all Tom’s picks, Anne is a soothing but exacting reporter on how to understand the person suffering in their chaotic world AND this uniquely functional and successful behavior therapy. And how families can count on it for real change.
31 minutes | Jan 24, 2019
Your Reluctant Sidekick in Recovery – The Health Insurance Company [Episode 7]
OK, from birth, we are all potty trained, learn to eat, then distrust everyone over 30, and finally, hate insurance companies. But when we are expected them to pay our healthcare bills, we need to understand how they want to control the quality of care that hospitals, doctors, and therapists deliver. Now we know they have a rich reputation of denying care, especially when we feel our loved one needs it most. But why do they do it? This is Tom’s talk on understanding that why, so every parent or caregiver can be armed with that information to either advocate effectively to the treatment providers, or advocate to the insurance company to pay for necessary care. In this episode, Tom takes a balanced look at the good, and not-so-good, and infuriating about how insurance companies do their job. But here’s the thing - Tom is coaching you to get out of the emotional and into the (mild) weeds of thinking like them, and staying ahead of their decision-making. Then, you can truly use them as an effective partner in getting. . .and keeping . . . someone well.
16 minutes | Dec 26, 2018
Visiting a Psychiatric Hospital – Primer for First Timers, and How to Handle Yourself AND Help the Patient When You Are There [Episode 6]
One of the most mystical but misunderstood places in the medical world is the psychiatric hospital; this place has been dehumanized in our modern culture, and has a plethora of characters..the “looney bin, padded rooms, “crazytown”, all making it seem like some scary, even fascinating place. If it were a reality show , most viewers would expect the voyeur rush of watching an addict freaking out and destroying their room. But in real life, the “psych unit” is a really pretty boring place. And It IS a place where everything that matters happens quietly and unspoken – a place full of people who are quietly in distress, some really suffering, but all experiencing a brain injury that needs healing. But for families who have never been, there is are basic rules ways to behave to meaningfully participate in the recovery process. Tom take his listeners on a visit and explains the ways to get the most out of your visits to your loved one who is there. This episode walks you through a how-to plan for this most intimate and consequential of hospital stays for you and your loved one.
53 minutes | Dec 6, 2018
A Trauma Treatment Primer for Parents and Families [Episode 5]
Trauma - What does it look like? …Someone I love is suffering and it’s tearing me apart . . . How do I help? In todays’s episode Tom dives into trauma, treatment, and recovery…what it is, how it happens, and how you, the parent or family, can do everything in your power to understand it . . . and help someone recover from it. Tom introduces his listeners to Family Psych Consumer’s resident trauma expert, Dr Debbie Orr, and taps into her 30+year history as a trauma treatment expert to explain how trauma changes the person and the brain. With her quiet, deliberate manner, Debbie walks you through what to look for - and how to cope - when a loved one’s traumatic event completely overwhelms their life. Dr Debbie describes in detail how a singular or series of traumatic events slowly change the psychological, emotional, and physical health of a loved one. Tom and Debbie delve into how trauma experts approach and treat trauma, and the characteristics of quality care in this most intimate and complex area. Most importantly to his listeners, Tom discusses how family recovery can happen as part of the treatment for the traumatized person.
20 minutes | Nov 29, 2018
Doing the Impossible - Hospitalizing Someone You Love Against Their Will[Episode 4]
Due to popular demand, Tom jumped into one of the hottest (translation: painful and confusing) topics for parent and family caregivers: having to use a mobile crisis team to get a loved one into the hospital against their will - all in the interest of keeping them safe. While this topic requires A LOT of coverage, Tom gives his listeners a primer on the things that really matter: first, who are the players, what are their roles, and what are the rules of engagement. Secondly, what does the parent or family caregiver need to know, plan for, and expect in this otherwise highly chaotic, overwhelming event (that usually concludes with helping the cops handcuff some you love and take them to the hospital). And why is this necessary? Because the family or mental health providers have concluded that their psychotic thinking or despair makes them a certain risk to kill themselves or endanger the community. Tom wants this episode and its content to be a digestible “how to” about dealing with this most dreaded of all interventions for families dealing with a mental illness. He reviews his crisis care checklist and rules of engagement so the event can be as tolerable and as successful as possible. From knowing the law, to dealing with the police, and managing their thinking and stress, Tom walks his listeners through this most painful and courageous act of love.
26 minutes | Nov 22, 2018
How Does a Psychiatrist Do Their Job? [Episode 3]
As a caregiver, you are practically trained by the mental healthcare world to be an outsider in the treatment process for someone you love. You didn’t ask to be marginalized, and you weren’t told your participation is unwelcome. This just happened; but how? Because the mental healthcare world does a poor job explaining how it does its job AND that includes explaining how you can actually help them do their job. And it doesn’t help that you, the family caregiver, are so overwhelmed watching someone’s life fall apart that you don’t even know what to ask or how to participate. I think we are also trained in life to defer to doctors and the medical profession (there was a time in this country when nurses all stood up when a doctor entered a hospital nurses’ station; imagine that.) But your job is to “pierce the veil” and understand how they think, assess, and formulate their opinions. So I asked a national expert who trains psychiatrists, Dr Paul McHugh at Johns Hopkins, to explain how he trains psychiatrists to think and validate family caregivers as meaningful participants in treatment planning. Your knowledge and “front line” experience caring for or parenting that patient is relevant and necessary to the psychiatrist’s assessments. And you are a valid partner in that process. But behaving like a valid participant starts with acknowledging yourself as a relevant, necessary reporter to the people providing care for your family. And it is critical for your own welfare to be able to practice objectivity and distance like the doctor or therapist does. Being emotionally overwhelmed hurts your quality of life AND your ability to be a quality participant in helping the mental healthcare providers do their best work for someone you love.
23 minutes | Nov 15, 2018
How We Should Look at Recovery from Mental Illness… and Recover Ourselves as Caregivers [Episode 2]
Recovery is a very loaded word in the mental health world. It is desperately pursued by parents with adult kids with psychiatric problems and other family caregivers. And as a concept, it has a different meaning medically than it does functionally for the patient in treatment. Parent and family caregivers need to understand the word, and its different meaning to different audiences in the treatment world so they can be prepared to realistically expect it (or not). Most mental illnesses do not have a clear path to medical recovery; that is, getting, having, and then getting over an illness. In fact, they emerge and remain as lengthy or life-long conditions . . .and will be disabling to one’s quality of live. But recovery is attainable in one’s functional live through various rehabilitation strategies, and by utilizing hope as an emotional stamina. As a caregiver, you can understand how and where recovery can be real in a loved one’s treatment. This leads to effectively advocating recovery-oriented thinking and strategies in your loved one’s care (be it hospital, residential, or outpatient). Being focused on functional recovery can also help your own emotional wellness so you can separate your life as a caregiver FROM your life as an individual. Your loved one’s welfare is dependent on declaring recovery goals for yourself. Taking steps to have your own recovery as a caregiver is critical to both your lives.
24 minutes | Nov 8, 2018
How Families Navigate The Mental Healthcare System to Get Quality Care for a Loved One [Episode 1]
Tom O'Connor, the host of Family Psych Consumer, welcomes his listeners to his podcast community – and walks you through why Family Psych Consumer is providing consumer reporting in mental healthcare NOW and how his content helps parents and families understand the mental healthcare marketplace. Tom takes time to discuss tells his own story as a professional in the mental health care marketplace and his unique perspective as an advisor to parents and families around the US. Tom goes into detail explaining what most listeners experience in their day-to-day life – that they are subject experts on the mental health and disabilities of their loved ones who become patients in the mental health care system. And those parents and family caregivers are marginalized as stakeholders in the treatment decisions and treatment planning for their loved one. In a deeper dive, Tom reviews how psychiatry and mental health care do little to explain to its customers and prospective patients how to understand it, assess it, purchase it or judge its quality. So parents and families are left to guess about a medical service that is highly variable in quality and highly instrumental in the mental welfare of a loved one. He concludes with his vision for a more robust and effective mental health care delivery system designed around caregivers.
4 minutes | Sep 18, 2018
Welcome to Family Psych Consumer, America’s New Place to Navigate the Mental Healthcare System
Family Psych Consumer is a next-generation community where parents and families can learn about the confusing world of mental healthcare in America. Each week, Tom and his expert guests will bring the best critical thinking, skills, and ongoing support to accelerate your learning and understanding of mental healthcare. Our goal is that every parent or family caregiver confidently and competently navigates the mental healthcare world and gets the best care, the best value, and the best peace of mind as they purchase and consume mental health treatment and services. Family Psych Consumer de-mystifies the world of psychiatry, therapy, rehabilitation, health insurance, and the law– to reduce the chaos and cost of managing a mental illness event in your family. Join us each week to learn better coping, gain better skills, and experience better support in the daily campaign to help your loved one AND yourself.
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