AOH is going online
2020 has been quite the year right? COVID-19, with both the legitimacy of the illness itself AND the illegitimacy of all the fear-based responses surrounding our city, nation, and the world, has changed the way many business are running--if they are even able to continue running. Anchor of Hope has felt the impact of this pandemic as many of you have as well which has forced me to look inside, take my own advice around facing fear and getting out of my own comfort zone, and consider new and innovative ways of delivering a high standard of care AND find a way to grow and expand through a decimated marketplace. Many of you also know that we were trying to expand our location in Airdrie and were desiring to build a new property in Airdrie, however, due to rising costs and the financial impact that Anchor of Hope sustained over the past 5 months, we unfortunately had to cancel our build plans and have decided to relocate to a much cheaper market outside of the Calgary / Airdrie area which saved us considerable resources. This decision will open up growth in an entirely new market and preceded the only conclusion we were left with -- GROW online.
Oh Look! Hello FEAR!!
Yes, even I am battling some of my own fears with this decision. Here's some of the thoughts running through my mind even as I type this newsletter....
In reflection, I do believe that I can satisfy the concerns within my heart and my hope is that each of you will TEST this with me. Become the detective once again and avoid judging or pre-judging (prejudice) what you feel the online experience will look like and let's continue our journey together, one step at a time, at a pace that each of you will set. This being said, I have also begun the process of screening potential clinicians who are passionate to build Anchor of Hope with me who can remain within the Alberta marketplace and can offer each of you the face to face experience if you cannot handle the online experience.
These online-only changes will start taking effect mid-August and will continue this way until my move is completed and my new office is setup. My website and all contact information will remain the same and the online booking system will continue to allow each of you the flexibility to select the best session times that work for your schedule. For those who have not already experienced a Zoom (virtual) session with me, when you book a virtual session, the link to the meeting room will be included in the confirmation email when you book and it is a simple 1-click process to be admitted into the virtual room with me.
Okay... So Now What??
Glad you asked! There are a couple of things that are being done on my end and a few things that could also be done on your end to improve your online experience. I am currently looking into having a physical location (set up similar to my existing office) with a video link permanently installed in that room to give clients the chance to still leave the home and come to a private and quiet location for their session. More to follow on this when the details are finalized. For those who will opt to remain at home, here are a couple things that can be done to improve the quality of the online experience:
1) MINIMIZE distractions! Turn off televisions, podcasts, etc. Also, if you would have normally had a babysitter for our sessions, continue that good habit so that the kiddos are not interrupting our session.
2) Treat this as you would a normal session with me. Get dressed, complete your morning routine, and eat before joining the Zoom meeting, find a comfortable place to sit, engage, and participate (preferably not in pajamas or in bed).
3) Invest is a simple webcam and microphone so that your computer screen can be used for our Zoom session.
4) If this is not possible, consider installing Zoom on your iPad/tablet or laptop or other larger-screened device to enhance the online experience.
5) If none of these are options, a smart-phone can be used; however having a small phone tripod (check out Amazon) or a way of leaning your device against something will free up your hands for note taking, interaction, etc.
6) Regular phones can also be used if video options are just not realistic and I am more than comfortable conducting telephone counselling sessions if this is all we have access to.
I have been honored and privileged to work alongside every one of you and I hope this transition will be a "see you soon" instead of a "goodbye." Your questions are welcomed and you can always email us with any concerns and I will do my very best to answer everything in a timely manner. I value being in your circle and I look forward to growing online with you all very soon.
Several new developments have happened with Anchor of Hope. We now have an online booking calendar so anyone can browse the available times and grab the one that fits best with your schedule. This new tool will send you email reminders prior to your session, no matter how far in advance you book your session(s) and rescheduling or cancelling your appointments can be done with a click! The link to that scheduler is:
Also, huge victory... I am now recognized as a registered psychotherapist and most insurance companies will now allow for submissions against your health care plans for reimbursement. This includes Manulife, Blue Cross, and SunLife.
Anchor of Hope is soon to be expanding! We are starting a build on a new property in Bayside (Airdrie) that will include a side entrance for all clients, and my soon to be clinical partner (and wife) Melissa who will be launching her wellness / holistic health practice as an extension of Anchor of Hope. Stay tuned for more information. This may start to impact location of services in the short term as we prepare to list our existing home and throughout the moving process so we will keep everyone who is currently a client up to date on service locations and options.
With all the preventative measures that our country is taking to reduce the spread of the Corona Virus, I wanted to take a brief minute to reach out to every client, past and current, and ask you all to remember to not lose hope. Fear cripples where hope can set us free. Take care of yourselves, take care with others, and regarding any appointments with Anchor of Hope, we will remain open for anyone preferring face to face sessions, but videoconferencing is another option if you prefer to stay at home but still keep your booked appointment. Also, for anyone coming for face to face sessions, out of respect for everyone, (as hard as this will be for me ) I will not be extending any handshakes or hugs until this threat has passed. As for cleanliness and protection within the office, there is hand sanitizer available and all surfaces (chairs and tables) will be disinfected between sessions. Thank you all in advance for your understanding and we will see you in person (or virtually) very soon!
Anchor of Hope is a place where you will find rest in the midst of whatever storm you are facing. We exist to walk this journey of healing with you, side by side, through each memory and every pain, at a pace that you determine and are comfortable with. As a Bachelor prepared Registered Nurse by trade, I bring a holistic perspective to mental health. I want to see you thrive in all three domains of your health: your mind, your body, and in your spirit, regardless of your adherence to or lack of any particular faith. As a dual-specialised nurse in both the fields of psychiatric mental health nursing and faith community nursing, plus two years of formal theology training, I believe that my education and experience allows me to navigate all three domains of your health genuinely, ethically, and competently. I am also a family guy myself. Married 17 years with 3 boys aged 16, 13, and 10, and with a fondness for literature, creative writing, and even video games and board games, I am not afraid to show my personal side while you are encountering my professional side.
So what about you and your storms? I have worked alongside of people of varied responses to this question. Some choose the road of avoidance. The "suck it up buttercup" mentality that was spread throughout my time in the Canadian Forces is an example of this. Others disconnect and self-medicate their storms with drugs and alcohol until they start paying such a high price in finances, in their work performance, with marital or other relationship strains, etc. that they finally seek out help. Others still have the insight to know that they should seek help, but with all the variance in the mental health field, who is the right person to talk to? Which discipline offers the best care for you? Is there a fit with my counsellor or therapist and how do I find the courage to face these fears, especially if I am expected to pay out of pocket for this help?
These are real concerns from real people and at Anchor of Hope we listened and we responded...
We want you to experience rest. Period. We operate from a single-session model rooted in the framework of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). We want you to feel comfortable before ever paying a dime so we offer a FREE 15 minute meet and greet without obligation so you can book your first session with confidence that the interpersonal connection (that is so important) is present. We also offer a sliding scale to lower income households so that finances are not a barrier that holds you back from receiving comprehensive, holistic care. And in the months to come, Anchor of Hope will be creating an online webinar-like platform that will offer pre-recorded, topic-based presentations on mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, coping skills, PTSD, relationship strains, and so much more. These video sessions will be available for a one-time membership fee that will grant you lifetime access to all the Anchor of Hope resources so you can watch and review content at your leisure. This may also be a great alternative to one-on-one counselling, especially if you have a hard time remembering session content afterwards, are a poor note taker, or simply struggle with too much fear or anxiety to make it to a session.
Finally, Anchor of Hope wants to provide care without boundaries or borders. With the advances in technology and the use of established platforms like Skype or FaceTime, or even by phone if that is the only thing available, you can still receive the same quality of care that you would expect to receive in my home office in Airdrie, AB.
Reading this was your first step so well done! If there is a part of you that wants to know more, act on it. Call us at (403) 404-HOPE (4673) or check us out online at www.anchorofhopecounselling.ca to learn more, book your free meet and greet or book a time in person or via video conferencing. I look forward to meeting you and walking this journey of healing alongside you!
Clinical Role Model: Patch Adams. Specialist RN working exclusively in mental health since 2011. Genuine, holistic approach, and motivated by change and impact in the lives of those he walks alongside of.