To support New Yorkers continuing to navigate challenges related to the pandemic, CASES’ Nathaniel Clinic has expanded operating hours and available services, in person and over the phone. The clinic now offers services 9 AM to 9 PM Monday through Thursday and 9 AM to 5 PM Friday and Saturday. Available services include individual and group therapies, psychiatric care, nursing, and medication management. All services continue to be available via telehealth (phone and video) with the clinic’s onsite services in Central Harlem beginning to ramp up—with the clinic carefully managing the volume of in-person services to ensure the safety of our clients and staff.
The Nathaniel Clinic has expanded family services including couples therapy, support for parents of youth with mental illness to help families navigating challenges, including related to increased stress, anxiety, grief, and/or loss related to the pandemic. The clinic’s telehealth services include group family therapy via Zoom tools designed to ensure a private, secure connection.
“We can talk individually as much as a client wants, can develop coping skills and work to start to understand ourselves,” says Francesca Aborn, a therapist at the clinic, “but it’s hard to continue making progress if you’re going home to a triggering environment. The idea of family and couples therapy is to work on issues as collective groups.”
The clinic continues to provide a diverse menu of group therapies, currently delivered primarily online via Zoom. Clinic staff are available to provide tutorials on using Zoom, and the clinic is also distributing video-capable smart phones for clients who lack this essential technology. The following clinic groups are currently accepting client referrals:
The clinic team continuously develops new group offerings as needs emerge among clients. The recently begun Working Through Grief group is an example of this responsive approach.
“I’m particularly excited about our grief group,” Marisa D’Amore, Associate Director, says. “We don’t have many opportunities to collectively talk about the loss that we are all experiencing–there aren’t a lot of spaces to honor those feelings.”
New Approach to Trauma: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
The Nathaniel Clinic also continuously identifies new approaches to ensure we best support client needs. The COVID-19 crisis is contributing to needs related to trauma experienced by many individuals who have experiences in the criminal legal system including past incarceration. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy that helps people heal from the symptoms of emotional distress resulting from disturbing life experiences. The eight-phase treatment is designed to address the role of unprocessed, difficult memories in contributing to an individual’s negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Researchers have found EDMR to be effective in relieving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In EMDR, after a clinician determines which memory to target first, she asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, for reasons believed to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.