What has counseling through the pandemic looked like?

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the LOHF Mental Health Copay Assistance program continues to help those in financial need who need mental health services. Programs Manager Shanece Bowman recently spoke with a participating provider for insight on how the pandemic and racial tensions have affected counseling services.

Amanda Davis-Buie, LPC, LBS, NCC owns Strength, Love, and Motivation, a counseling service in Lancaster and Harrisburg.

How has the pandemic affected your practice both negatively and positively?

Prior to the pandemic, we offered services via telemental health as well as in the office, but since March of 2020, we have only been offering telemental health services. The practice suffered a small loss of clients due to them not wanting to participate in sessions via telemental health, but rather wanting to wait until in-person sessions resumed. Still, with a minor setback, the practice has grown immensely, which may be due in part to the stress/stressors that people are facing on a daily basis due to the pandemic.

The practice has also seen a significant surge in clients after racial tensions flared due to the tragic loss of George Floyd. We had many Black and Brown clients taking the next step and reaching out after feeling extraordinarily distressed.

How else has telehealth benefitted your practice?

Telemental health has benefitted our private practice significantly because we can provide therapeutic services to clients from all over the state of Pennsylvania. Transportation, childcare, and even a lack of time are problems that can be eliminated by utilizing telemental health services.

What advice do you have for those who are having difficulty getting mental health services?

My advice is to contact their insurance company. If they have insurance, it is recommended that they ask for therapists in their area who are currently accepting clients. If you do not have insurance and live in Lancaster County, please do not hesitate to contact the LOHF program and see if you may qualify for assistance with therapeutic services.

If you live outside of Lancaster County, I recommend seeking programs in your community that may be able to assist you. If you are looking for a therapist of color, there are many Websites to check out, such as Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy for Black Men, Therapy for Latinx, and Inclusive Therapists. There is a wide array of websites available and I assure you that it is worth it for you to take your time to discover a therapist that is the right fit for you. Remember this – the role of the therapist is to serve your needs. The therapy is for you. Do not settle for a service that does not meet your needs.

What other things have you seen in the past year?

One of my goals is to help other minorities achieve their dream of obtaining their licensure. After the turmoil that our world endured in 2020, including the tragic loss of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, our society demonstrated a bleed – a deep bleed for Black and Brown therapists. I supervise clinicians through their practicums, internships, and Master’s level clinicians working towards their licensure. At Strength, Love, and Motivation, we offer relationship counseling, life counseling empowerment sessions, clinical supervision, consultation for child behavioral issues, and self-worth and self-love sessions. We also provide diversity and equity trainings to institutions, corporations, and organizations.

How did you hear about the LOHF Mental Health Copay Assistance program?

I was introduced to LOHF by a client. She emailed me and asked if Strength, Love, and Motivation participated in the LOHF program.

What was your experience enrolling as a provider in the Mental Health Copay Assistance Program?

My experience enrolling as a provider was seamless! I simply emailed the program manager, and she shared what the program offers its clients and providers. It was effortless to enroll in the program as a provider.

For more information on how to enroll in the Mental Health Copay Assistance Program as a provider or client, visit www.lohf.org/copay or email Programs Manager Shanece Bowman.