With growing demand, therapists scramble to find space for new patients – SiouxFalls.Business

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June 13, 2022

The woman was driving on Minnesota Avenue, saw the new sign and called.

She then became the newest patient at the Counseling Cafe, which opened about two months ago at 4804 S. Minnesota Ave.

Fortunately, there was a place to make an appointment.

“Counseling is just a big need right now,” said Dr. Gary Hofman, owner of the practice with psychologist Zachary Seefeldt.

“I tried to take on one or two new clients a week. We have all these different places where we have a steady stream of referrals, so we keep busy honoring them when new ones call.

At Sioux Falls Psychological Services, the schedule is a little looser today than it would have been a few weeks ago, as many students have left town for the summer and freed up appointments. you.

“We’ve been extremely busy,” said Doug Anderson, who has practiced there since 1992 and serves as director of clinical services.

“We are doing certain things to help absorb some of that. We just hired one person, hopefully we’ll hire another, we’re hiring four interns over the summer, and these are things we do to develop who we are and what we have because the need is so high.”

Nationally, it’s the same story. A 2021 survey from the American Psychological Association found that 68% of respondents had longer waiting lists than before the pandemic, and 65% lacked the capacity to accommodate new patients. Referrals had increased by 62% and 43% of psychologists had seen their overall number of patients increase.

“There’s been a period of time where individuals have been very lonely and very connected to screens and social media and all that, and now we’re starting to see where people are struggling with anxiety and depression to get out again” , Hofman said. .

What Psychologists See

The main drivers for patients seeking advice are anxiety and depression, those in the field agreed.

“We have a culture that absolutely breeds both of these disorders,” Anderson said. “You don’t need to have a neurological predisposition. Our culture promotes anxiety and depression.

Research from 2021 confirms this, with 70% of psychologists reporting an increase in depressive disorders, up from 58% in 2020, and 82% reporting an increase in anxiety disorders, up from 72% in 2020.

Disorders related to trauma and stress increased by 58%, compared to 46% the previous year, and disorders of sleep and wakefulness increased by 38%, compared to 33%.

“We also have to deal with complicated grieving issues, people who died and there was no burial, so we see things where there is no closure and that triggers other trauma” , Hofman said.

The affairs of daily life also accumulate. Even the inclement weather that recently hit Sioux Falls prompted a number of people to seek counseling.

“It actually triggered some people’s memory of the 2019 tornado, and they were traumatized by it, and the more recent ones created a retrigger of that,” Seefeldt said.

Think of all the stresses in the world against the backdrop of an individual’s total “coping units,” Anderson suggested.

If the average person is equipped with 100 coping units, they begin to wear themselves out, even unknowingly, in the face of everything from war in Ukraine to nationwide gun violence to political dramas, racial struggles and even climate change.

“You start to realize that you have the whole normal life too (to deal with), and that’s where we are,” he said. “It’s not a very pretty picture, but life is messy, and we have to learn not just to tolerate the mess, but to lean into it and say I wonder what I can learn by navigating this messy world.”

This will vary from person to person, but if you feel like “life lives me more than I live life,” it’s probably time to seek advice, he added.

“This feeling of not being in control of things in my world and my responses to my world – these are times when, on an existential level, it’s important to step up and talk to someone. He may not be a therapist, but a therapist would be a great person to talk to.

Young people particularly challenged

Young people in particular have reserved places at council offices, those on the ground said.

“Zach and I work a lot with teenagers – high school and college – and during the time they were away from school and now they don’t really have social skills because of what happened to them” , Hofman said.

“And now I think the general unrest in the country, in Sioux Falls, where people are having a lot of fear, they don’t feel as safe as they used to, and it’s starting to pull people in and pull them towards the bottom. ”

Even young children come to therapy with issues related to politics, Seefeldt added.

“I have first and second graders coming in, and it’s usually regurgitant…but they have these strong political beliefs,” he said.

University students were particularly challenged, Anderson added.

“I think university students were perhaps the hardest hit group,” he said.

“They are leaving home and discovering their own sense of independence and shaping their own idea of ​​what they value…and many have had to move during COVID, they have entered an online world, they have lost internship opportunities and travels the world and couldn’t’ hang out with friends in the same way. We see across the country that university counseling centers are very busy, so it’s not unique to us.

Other efforts are being made at the community level to build capacity. Avera Behavioral Health Hospital recently opened its newest addition, which has brought 46 inpatient rooms for adolescent, adult, and geriatric patients in addition to 24/7 behavioral health emergency care, observational care, and counseling services. partial hospitalization.

At Counseling Cafe, the hope is to add providers. Currently, each psychologist performs an average of 35-39 slots per week, while 20 is the industry average.

“We’re trying to double down to make sure we can cover as many people as possible in this area,” Hofman said.

At Sioux Falls Psychological Services, four interns will likely see up to 1,000 patient visits over the next six to seven months, Anderson said.

“I don’t think we’ll have a problem occupying them,” he said. “If someone comes in with a broken arm, we’re not saying we’ll see you again in two weeks. So when someone comes in with a broken psyche, we try to skip the waiting list.

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