Mentors Blog 4

Pro­gram Spot­light: Behav­ioral Sup­port Ser­vices in the Time of COVID-19

It’s been quite a year!” shared Esther, KYC’s Child and Ado­les­cent Behav­ioral Sup­port Team Lead and Ther­a­pist. Esther and sev­er­al mem­bers of the team shared how COVID-19 has impact­ed clients and our pro­gram over the past year. Through­out the pan­dem­ic, our team has cre­ative­ly adapt­ed to sup­port clients as they work toward their ther­a­peu­tic goals.

About Behav­ioral Sup­port Services

Behav­ioral Sup­port Ser­vices, referred to as Men­tor­ing,” is a clin­i­cal pro­gram for qual­i­fy­ing clients who also receive indi­vid­ual ther­a­py. This pro­gram is avail­able to youth, as well as to par­ents, to pro­vide addi­tion­al coach­ing and guid­ance. Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ists work one-on-one with their clients, turn­ing every­day social expe­ri­ences into an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice cop­ing skills, social­iza­tion, and emo­tion­al man­age­ment strategies.

Activ­i­ties pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for clients to mon­i­tor and reg­u­late their emo­tions and thought process­es dur­ing a social sit­u­a­tion, with the sup­port­ive guid­ance of their Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ist. If a child strug­gles with express­ing frus­tra­tion in a healthy way, their Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ist can remind them of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­niques they learned in ther­a­py. A child who lives with anx­i­ety can prac­tice mind­ful­ness dur­ing a vir­tu­al yoga ses­sion. Each activ­i­ty is care­ful­ly select­ed and per­son­al­ized to the clien­t’s unique goals while still pro­vid­ing an enjoy­able oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with a trust­ed adult who isn’t Mom or Dad.

Men­tor­ing helps a clien­t’s treat­ment in ther­a­py. I com­pare a Men­tor to being a clien­t’s tutor and the Ther­a­pist is like the teacher,” explains Alex. Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ist. The Men­tor tutors the client in men­tal health rather than aca­d­e­m­ic edu­ca­tion,” he continues.

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There are four facets to the pro­gram: skill build­ing, iden­ti­fy­ing nat­ur­al sup­ports, find­ing com­mu­ni­ty resources, and psy­choe­duc­tion” shares Esther. This pro­gram aims to equip clients with the con­fi­dence and prac­tice they need to suc­cess­ful­ly employ the meth­ods they learn in a ther­a­py set­ting, while gain­ing a bet­ter under­stand­ing of how they process emo­tions, thoughts, and reac­tions and where they can turn for guid­ance with­in their own per­son­al sup­port system. 

Ther­a­py can have a seri­ous­ness’ to it where­as men­tor­ing is more fun for clients,” shares Alex. Clients have opened up to me about what is on their mind while shoot­ing hoops. Shoot­ing hoops might be the clien­t’s cop­ing strat­e­gy and they do not real­ize they are prac­tic­ing their cop­ing skills while they talk about a stressful/​frustrating expe­ri­ence,” Alex explains.

This pro­gram is meant to be entire­ly com­mu­ni­ty-based and social, which posed a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge dur­ing a time of stay-at-home orders and social distancing.

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Find­ing Cre­ative Solutions

Since men­tor­ing has been cre­at­ed to be in the com­mu­ni­ty, it has been a chal­lenge to switch, but the team has done it grace­ful­ly and cre­ative­ly” shared Esther. 

Twen­ty Child & Ado­les­cent Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ists wast­ed no time in find­ing new ways to keep clients engaged, work­ing togeth­er to find vir­tu­al-friend­ly fun. Spe­cial­ists found craft ideas that they knew their clients would enjoy, and mailed or dropped off the sup­plies at their clients’ homes ahead of their upcom­ing ses­sions. Oth­ers found online games to play togeth­er, or shopped for ingre­di­ents to bake tasty treats like brown­ies, hold­ing their very own vir­tu­al bak­ing sessions. 

Clients have been incred­i­bly flex­i­ble and resilient as we have tran­si­tioned this pro­gram,” shared Brooke, anoth­er Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ist. I per­son­al­ly love doing a mix of games, bak­ing, or even a book club like struc­ture with clients com­bined with some kind of psy­choe­d­u­ca­tion activ­i­ty. Over­all, it is good to know there is a way to still con­nect and make improve­ments in our clients’ lives despite the distance.”

There are a few sil­ver lin­ing” ben­e­fits to this re-imag­ined vir­tu­al ver­sion of the pro­gram: Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ists have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect clients with online resources that can be accessed at any time, in some cas­es even intro­duc­ing clients to vir­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty groups where they have found friends with shared inter­ests. Vir­tu­al ses­sions have also pro­vid­ed a new lev­el of insight into the home lives of clients, includ­ing many heart­warm­ing vir­tu­al intro­duc­tions to friend­ly fam­i­ly pets.

Look­ing For­ward to Time Together

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Despite some wel­come ben­e­fits, many clients have found vir­tu­al ses­sions to be tough. Under­stand­ably, it can be dif­fi­cult to be engaged in anoth­er vir­tu­al call after a long day of online school. Addi­tion­al­ly, many clients faced chal­lenges with social inter­ac­tions pri­or to the pan­dem­ic. Nick, Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ist, shares that this often led to self-iso­la­tion and dif­fi­cul­ties form­ing friend­ships. He reflects that with severe­ly lim­it­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for in-per­son inter­ac­tions out­side of fam­i­ly mem­bers, these chal­lenges have grown for many clients dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Every client has expe­ri­enced the last year in a unique way, with social iso­la­tion hav­ing been hard­er for some.

Behav­ioral Sup­port Spe­cial­ists and clients alike are look­ing for­ward to the return of incor­po­rat­ing in-per­son activ­i­ties into their plans, with safe­ty mea­sures in place. Dur­ing in-per­son ses­sions, masks are worn, phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing is observed, and many activ­i­ties are being held out­side as the weath­er warms up. In-per­son work is SO help­ful to our ther­a­py team, and it’s real­ly ben­e­fi­cial, espe­cial­ly for kids who have been iso­lat­ed at home for a year” shares Esther, adding when they do switch to in-per­son, it’s the best — they’re so engaged!”

KYC is proud of all that our clients have accom­plished dur­ing an espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult time. We’re hon­ored to part­ner with them as they work toward their goals and pri­or­i­tize their well­be­ing. We’re also grate­ful for our incred­i­ble Behav­ioral Sup­port team for all that they’ve done to sup­port both youth clients and par­ents cre­ative­ly through­out the last year. 

KYC 50 Logos 50 GLD BRST

We are proud to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and the work we do as part of our #KYC50For50 campaign of sharing 50 stories in honor of our 50th anniversary.

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