Licensed Clinician and Independent Contractor for Neuro Harmony, LLC
Bobbi has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and works as an independent contractor for Neuro Harmony, LLC. She earned her Associate's Degree in Psychology from John Wood Community College in Quincy, IL. She was one of the first three students to earn a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Springfield and completed a Master of Arts in Child, Family, and Community Services and completed extensive course work in Human Development Counseling at University of Illinois at Springfield. She later taught sociology and psychology at John Wood Community College and social work classes at U of I Springfield as well as teaching psychology at Western Illinois Correctional Center. Bobbi has experience working in child welfare, marriage and family counseling, individual outpatient therapy, inpatient child and adolescent therapy, and dual diagnosis counseling.
Bryanna grew up an hour south of Chicago in Bradley, IL. About 3 years ago moved to Edwardsville to go to school and work. While in Edwardsville she met her boyfriend, Adam, who is originally from the Mattoon area. At the beginning of 2020 moved to Mattoon to be closer to both of their families. Bry enjoys spending time with friends and family. The move has given Bry the opportunity to work with Neuro Harmony. She looks forward to the future, and where life will lead her.
Telehealth is a way of working with your therapist through an internet connection; but you will still see your therapist and your therapist will see you for your session. While there may be obstacles that might keep you from physically coming into the office especially during this time of Corona Virus, we can still meet with you through telehealth. At Neuro Harmony, our therapists Sarah Malak and Alexis Dearing, have even evolved to be able to use "play therapy" via telehealth. Your child's therapist will contact you with how that might work with you and your child and how you might be a participant during your child's therapy session.
How does telehealth work? Your clinician will send you an email link that you use to connect with them either on your phone, on an Ipad, on the computer or on a laptop. Your telehealth session will be as confidential as if you were in the Neuro Harmony office with your therapist. This way of connecting still allows you to meet with your therapist "virtually" at the same time as your usual session would be scheduled. A telehealth session will last the same amount of time, about 53 minutes. Your therapist will help you to get connected online with them and feel safe and comfortable during your session that it is a confidential way of having a session.
Does my insurance cover telehealth? Because of the CoVid pandemic, insurance has changed many obstacles to billing for telehealth. March 19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order expanding telehealth services across the state as part of the continued effort to mitigate the CoVid19 crisis. Most insurances now cover telehealth services by any form even by telephone. Billing for telehealth is simple; we will bill your insurance just as if you were in our office having a session. You pay your normal copay or coinsurance for your session.
Is telehealth confidential? Neuro Harmony uses a HIPAA compliant platform that is confidential and approved by insurances. However, keep in mind that insurance has loosened their requirements for getting therapy to our clients. Neuro Harmony therapists will still contact you via email or phone to make sure you can get connected with our HIPAA compliant software. It will be easier than ever to have a session with your therapist.
What is Neuro Harmony doing to minimize the risk of getting CoVid19?
- Neuro Harmony precautions:
- Because we are technologically advanced, we have the option to see our clients in the safety of their homes via telehealth. Any client who would like to stay in their home and still have their session will need to contact the office or their therapist to request a telehealth session. Our telehealth is HIPAA compliant and totally confidential. Telehealth can be over the phone, using an IPad or a laptop or computer. We realize that some of our clients may not have access to an internet or wifi connection. With that, we will meet with you in person and use the "social distancing" of staying 6ft from each other in order to facilitate your session.
- We are bleaching doorknobs, desks, chairs, flat surfaces etc. and trying to eliminate germs as much as possible.
- We are asking all staff and every client to use hand sanitizer or proper personal hygiene when coming into the building and upon exiting.
- We are asking our child clients that use the children's therapy room to wash hands before and after using any therapy toys etc. We will be sanitizing all therapy tools or toys after a child or staff handles them.
- Along with our news and the media, we are educating ourselves as much as possible regarding CoVid19 and how to minimize the risk to our staff and clients.
- We are not going to panic, we want to take this one day at a time and each week we will consider what we need to do to make changes and fluidly make those changes without causing panic to our staff and clients.
- For now, we are still going to have in-person sessions and we will use telehealth as needed.
- Please contact the CDC and WHO for accurate news and information regarding this pandemic.
Sarah Malak, LCSW, presented at the EIU 2019 Thomas A. Bonine Suicide Prevention Conference: Risk Among Youth and Throughout Life's Stages. Her presentation, "Prevention Through Play Therapy," addressed risk factors for suicidality in children and teens, as well as ways that play therapy strategies can be implemented to alleviate children's mental health concerns, in efforts to reduce suicidality in youth.
Sarah Malak, LCSW, has recently obtained the certification of “Registered Play Therapist.” She has been participating in classes, workshops, and essential trainings for over the last two years, and she received supervision from a registered play therapist supervisor, so that she could learn more about how children’s and adolescents’ brains work and how to help them to heal. Sarah is using the most up-to-date tools to help children reduce traumatic injury or just navigate life’s many issues. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she has been working with children and adolescents for about seven years. She has been helping children to heal at Neuro Harmony since 2018. To schedule an appt, please call 217-508-7953.
Dec 17, 2018
Sophie doesn't always love getting dressed up, but she usually loves getting her picture taken. She loves coming to work no matter whether she is dressed in holiday colors or not!
Dec 17, 2018
Today we stopped our normal workday for some holiday fun! We had a great time and lots of fun taking new photos with our team!
Nov 1, 2018
Allison is the proud winner of the Neuro Harmony, LLC insulated tumbler cup, with a bonus $20 Starbucks gift certificate inside.
Congratulations, Allison Marie!
Oct 28, 2018
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.
To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- Do I have biofeedback or neurofeedback benefits?
- Do I have mental health insurance benefits?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- How many sessions per year does my health insurance cover?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
- What is my co-pay amount for each visit?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client. However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.
Oct 1, 2018
- Eat chocolate - Dark chocolate, that is. While overindulging may not be the best for your waistline, adding a little dark chocolate to your diet does have its health benefits. Dark chocolate causes your brain to release dopamine, a chemical that improves overall brain function and improves your memory.
- Eat fish - While this one may not excite you as much as the previous “eat chocolate” recommendation, studies suggest that a diet rich in fish – especially fatty fish like salmon - can improve brain function.
- Exercise your peripheral vision - Yes, eyes can learn. Scientists have found that acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the peripheral nervous system, is crucial to focus and memory. By practicing peripheral vision exercises, you can reinvigorate the release of acetylcholine in your brain and improve your memory function.
To practice, try this exercise the next time you’re sitting some place outside of your house, such as a restaurant, a bench at the mall, or the local park. With a pen and paper handy, stare straight ahead for several seconds and don’t move your eyes. Mentally note everything you can see without moving your eyes. When you believe you’ve taken note of everything, take out your pen and paper and write down everything you saw. Then, try the exercise again and see if you can add to your list.
- Play ball - Remember how much you loved to play ball as a kid? Well, you might want to take it up again. Throwing a ball up in the air and catching it, or better yet, trying your hand at juggling, can improve your hand-eye coordination and carries widespread brain health benefits.
- Exercise - Surely you’ve heard of the health benefits of exercise…but did you know there are health benefits for your brain too? Exercise brings with it benefits for the hippocampus, an important brain structure for learning and memory function. Exercise can even help your brain create new cells…so get that body moving!
- Rest up - Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to brain function. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep have more trouble learning new information than those who are well rested. Moreover, sleeping well after learning something new helps your brain store that information and recall it at a later date. So for your long-term memory’s sake, catch your Z’s every night.
- Turn down the volume - As we age, our hearing ages with us, causing us to sometimes struggle to hear conversations. But you can train your ears to become sharper. The next time you’re watching TV, try turning it down a little from the volume at which you normally have it set. Concentrate and see if you can follow just as well as you did at the louder volume. Keep turning it down notch by notch, listening closely to hear the increasingly softer tones. By training your ears to listen more intently to lower volumes, you’ll find it easier to catch every word of day to day conversations.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle - While they may seem mundane, jigsaw puzzles are actually great for your brain. Choose one that is on the difficult side – at least 500 pieces. Then, on a rainy afternoon or whenever the mood strikes, set out to conquer your puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles require fine visual judgments about where pieces belong and entail mentally “rotating” the pieces, manipulating them in your hands, and shifting your attention from the small piece to the “big picture.” Besides, it’s rewarding to see your puzzle become a whole work of art. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
- Make your hobbies harder - Do you already have a favorite pastime? From cooking to crossword puzzles, there are always things you can do to challenge yourself, pushing you outside your “comfort zone” by taking on something a bit more difficult than you’re used to. By putting higher demands on your brain, you will have to concentrate harder and put more effort into the activity at hand, re-engaging your brain’s learning ability.
- Walk on a rocky road - Before you ask, “Huh?” let us explain. Scientists believe that walking on uneven surfaces like cobblestones improves the vestibular system of the inner ear, which plays a central role in balance and equilibrium. Walking on a rocky road challenges the vestibular system in ways that improve its function, which translates into better balance.
- Visit a museum - Enjoy art? Natural history, perhaps? Take a guided tour of a museum or other interesting spot in your area. Pay careful attention to what the museum guide says and when you get home, try to recall what you learned and write down everything you remember. Besides getting some cultural enrichment, this activity engages your brain’s ability to receive and remember information, helping to improve cognitive function.
- Learn to play guitar - Or any instrument for that matter. And if learning to play an instrument has been on your to-do list for some time, some proven brain fitness benefits give you all the more reason to pick it up. Playing an instrument helps you exercise many interrelated dimensions of brain function, including listening, control of refined movements, and translation of written notes (sight) to music (movement and sound). So dust off that harmonica (or piano, flute, banjo, etc) and make some music.
- Use your other hand - Whether you’re right-handed or left-handed, you probably find yourself doing day to day activities such as eating and combing your hair with your dominant hand. But try mixing it up a bit. Brushing your teeth is a good place to start. Try brushing your teeth with your subordinate hand (so your left if you’re right-handed) and keep practicing until you master it. While you may find it difficult at first, practicing an activity such as this can drive your brain to make positive changes. Think of millions of neurons learning new tricks as you finally establish better control of that other hand!
- Memorize a song - Think of a song you like but one that you don’t know the words to. Make it a point to buy the CD/MP3/etc if you don’t already have it and listen to it as many times as it takes to write down all the lyrics. Then sing along - (if you’ve got stage fright, feel free to do this part when no one’s around). Once you’re able to sing the song word for word without the recording playing in the background, move on to the next song!
Hopefully you find this brain exercise fun, but there is also some science behind it. By carefully listening to the song, your brain releases acetylcholine, a chemical that aids in understanding, thinking, and memory function. So whether it’s in the shower or at karaoke night, go ahead and sing your heart out. Your brain will thank you.
Adapted in part or in whole from the Hartford Insurance Company on Brain Fitness.