Welcome to the summer newsletter for Overcomers Counseling!

I hope everyone is staying cool during these hot months. I’m trying to find the perfect balance between my love of coffee and my need to feel chill. Today, I’m writing to share important updates that include the ability to accept new insurance plans and an exciting feature story that highlights my personal story and the mission of Overcomers Counseling.

So, let’s cut to the chase with all my news. First, I joined a company called Headway which will allow me to accept Aetna, Anthem/Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia, Cigna, Oxford, Oscar Health and United Healthcare Insurances. I continue to accept Humana, Tricare and private pay as well. I’m using Headway to manage my billing and admin work, so that I can focus my energy on our time together. Headway manages everything related to payments and insurance, and clients have found that they make it really easy. They’ll send you an email directly, prompting you to create an account and provide your insurance information and a credit card for your copay or deductible. Headway will use your existing insurance benefits, which will determine your cost per session. When you’re ready to get started in the process, visit my personal headway link at https://headway.co/providers/kimberly-duff.

Next, I’m very excited to share a feature on my personal history and business by the writers at Canvas Rebel. Be sure to check it out by going to https://canvasrebel.com/meet-kimberly-duff/

In closing, I’m a phone call or email away if you or someone you know wants to explore the counseling process or schedule an appointment. I want to be there for anyone struggling with mental health, physical health or family issues. As a counselor with over 15 years of experience, I specialize in Christian counseling, disability and chronic illness, and military and their family members. Visit me online at https://www.kimberlyduff.com or send a secure email to [email protected] for more information.

Accessible Communication for Online Counseling Services

Accessible Communication for Online Counseling Services

As we consider online counseling for persons who are blind or visually impaired, we must first ask: Shall we consider online mental health counseling a business service or a medical service? Since mental health counseling coverage typically falls under the individual’s health policy, I maintain that mental health counseling can be considered a medical service and will most likely be governed by future policies that pertain to health and medical practices.

Here, I examine the current status of the law as it pertains to communication with persons with disabilities and medical services. The ADA requires that Title II entities (State and local governments) and Title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally as effective as communication with people without disabilities.

In implementing communication solutions, the business or public accommodation should first consider the person’s preferred method of communication. Such as speech electronic text or large print.

• For people who are blind, have vision loss, or are deaf-blind, this includes providing a qualified reader; information in large print, Braille, or electronically for use with a computer screen-reading program.

• The key provision of the communication rules is that the person with the disability should be able to fully communicate to the covered entity and to fully understand the information conveyed by the covered entity resulting in a free exchange of information with both parties.

What do the courts require with regard to access to medical care? Under the Barrier Free Healthcare Initiative, the courts have recently targeted the enforcement of the law for communication with persons who are deaf or have hearing loss, physical barriers for persons with mobility impairments and discrimination towards persons with HIV/AIDS. The most recent rulings on these matters can be found at https://www.ada.gov/usao-agreements.htm

Here we see the courts repeatedly find in favor of the plaintiffs who were denied communication and physical access to medical care. Examples include Brookside Rehabilitation and Nursing Center Settlement agreement which is a case where the medical facility was required to provide an interpreter for the person who was deaf or hearing impaired. The North Ft. Mitchell Settlement agreement required the defendant to provide proper auxiliary aids and services to the person with a sensory disability. Additionally, there are many legal cases that found that physical barriers must be eliminated for persons with physical disabilities. Thus, the courts currently are focusing on accessibility for these populations. Accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, such as online mental health and virtual medical treatments, has not yet been addressed. However, one can assume that the courts will eventually find that accessibility online is equally important to make certain persons who are blind and visually impaired have equal access to online mental health and medical care especially considering the difficulty that exists for these individuals getting out of the house and accessing medical offices .

Are you looking for accessibility guidance? Kimberly can be contacted for networking, conversation and consultation on the topic of accessibility. To contact Kimberly go to: https://www.counselingbykimberly.com/contact/

Clinicians and medical providers can join Kimberly’s accessibility email list by going to: https://www.counselingbykimberly.com/join-mailing-list/

Overcomers Counseling, LLC has current openings for target populations of Christian counseling, disability and chronic illness, and military and their family members. Visit the following web site to contact Kimberly with any questions or referral information: https://www.counselingbykimberly.com

Welcome to my February 2022 accessibility newsletter.

This month I want to highlight why making your private practice web site or online platform accessible is simply the right thing to do even if you haven’t been given a legal challenge at this point. I want to give credit to disability rights attorney Lainie Feingold. Much of this current content comes from her webinar from 12/10/2021. You can learn more about her practice and the current state of the law with regard to accessibility by going to her web site at www.lfl-egal.com.

How should we view the concept of access and accessibility? First, therapists should recognize that accessibility is a civil right of the person with a disability. Digital accessibility means that the person who is blind or visually impaired can utilize the digital information independently without asking for help. This right of the individual grants them privacy, independence, and security. A web site that cannot be accessed independently creates a barrier for the person, thereby breaking the person’s right to privacy, independence, and security. Privacy is broken when I need to ask a sighted person to assist me with completing a task. Of course, this means I am not able to be independent when I must ask for this assistance. Security is broken because I must typically give the person access to user names or passwords in this process.

We know that the law solidifies these civil rights through Title II and Title III of the ADA. Title II mandates that federal, state, and local governments make their web sites accessible to the public. Private practices that accept federal funds through Medicaid, Medicare, or other federal or state programs are expected to make their online services accessible to the public.

Title III applies to the business that offers a service or a product to the public. Last month we highlighted how this act easily applies to the brick and mortar business and any architectural barriers. We recognized that the guidelines for the online business or practice may not be as clear-cut as technology and the law are rapidly evolving.

I agree with accessibility attorney Lainey Feingold who states that it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive in these circumstances. Therapists who practice online or who have a web site should make a good faith effort to promote accessibility to avoid future legal conflicts and to promote the dignity and civil rights of persons with disabilities. Therapists should recognize that accessibility is about people and about promoting an individual’s dignity and sense of independence. As therapists, we are bound by an ethical code that requires that we promote the ethical concepts of autonomy, beneficence, and non-malfeasance. Providing information in an accessible manner promotes these concepts as it enables the person who is blind to be independent and to be empowered to accomplish a task.

Are you looking for accessibility guidance? Kimberly can be contacted for networking, conversation and consultation on the topic of accessibility. To contact Kimberly go to: https://www.counselingbykimberly.com/contact/

It’s a New Year. Is your website accessible?

I often describe the conversation with my mom that occurred after the surgery that left me totally blind in which I asked her, “How can I do anything if I’m blind? How can I have a job or a family?” My mother’s response framed my future as she stated, “You can still do anything you wanted to do before; you’ll just have to do things differently now.”

My name is Kimberly Duff and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (LPCCRC). These credentials mean that I am licensed to work as a counselor in Georgia and I have special education and certification in disability and chronic illness. Throughout my education and professional development I have paid particular attention to the advances in assistive technologies and also the changing laws and guidelines that have direct impact on my practice as a counselor and my life as a person with disabilities.

Did you know in 2020, 10,982 Title III ADA lawsuits were filed in federal courts. In 2019, a suit was filed by a visually impaired individual against Domino’s Pizza because he was unable to order a pizza through the company’s website in 2015. Domino’s was ordered to bring their website into compliance with industry standards for website accessibility and pay the plaintiff $4,000 in penalties.

Federal district courts have held that businesses are “places of public accommodation” and as such, must reasonably accommodate the disabled in accessing services. They violate ADA when they fail to make their websites and physical locations accessible for disabled customers.

Privately owned therapy offices are also considered “places of public accommodation” and are subject to Title III regulations as set forth in the ADA. This includes websites if the website provides the address or directions to the office, provides a phone number for the office, offers an online scheduling system for prospective clients, and provides a printable copy of an informed consent document or other intake paperwork.

The key provision of the communication rules is that the person with the disability should be able to fully communicate to the covered entity and to fully understand the information conveyed by the covered entity resulting in a free exchange of information with both parties.

So, what should a counselor or practice manager like you do? Where should you start? Just like my mother told me, you can still do anything you want to do, you just need to do things differently now.

This newsletter will bring these issues to the forefront and offer clear guidance on how you can comply with current best practices and legal standards and also better serve your clients with disabilities. I hope to encourage dialogue to foster understanding and change within the counseling community. If you are ready to implement accessibility in your online course, counseling platform, or electronic forms, contact me so we can get started. To see if my accessibility services are the right fit for your practice, please fill out the contact form on my website here

Sources:

https://www.camft.org/Resources/Legal-Articles/Chronological-Article-List/breaking-down-digital-barriers-to-care

https://www.gibbonslawalert.com/2021/08/16/robles-v-dominos-the-saga-continues-on-remand-district-court-grants-partial-summary-judgment-to-plaintiff-solidifying-the-scope-of-ada-website-liability-in-the-ninth-circuit/

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/website-compliance-with-the-ada-gil-v-5213145/

https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/17-55504/17-55504-2019-01-15.html


Are you a clinician or medical professional interested in receiving regular updates on web site and online accessibility for the blind and visually impaired? Subscribe to Kimberly’s blog by going to https://www.counselingbykimberly.com/join-mailing-list/

Raindrops on Roses – 3 Ways to Control Your Thoughts and Foster Resilience

3 Ways to Foster Resilience

Raindrops​ on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

 Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

​When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

As a child with pediatric brain cancer, I recall listening to this song while in the hospital over and over to get through the many struggles I encountered. 

This song describes something  that psychologists and counselors study and try to impart during therapy… the impact of our thoughts on our feelings and overall mood. 

Here I examine  3 ways to foster this resilience and pattern of thinking including  developing an optimistic outlook through interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy,meditating on scripture  and using imagery and mindfulness to foster psychological well-being.

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5 Simple Self-Care Practices to Help Improve Your Mental Health

Self-Care Practices for Mental Health

This is a guest post on 5 Simple Self-Care Practices by Brad Krause from SelfCaring.info. Brad is dedicated to helping people discover that we all have the potential to be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be, but it comes down to prioritizing our own wellness through self-care.

When life gets busy, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Many things can get in the way of putting yourself first, such as work commitments and time with friends and family. However, it’s important to practice self-care because if you don’t, your mental health can suffer. Here are some simple ways that you can improve your physical and mental health, so you can start living the best life possible.

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Three Tactics to Help You Take Control of Your Life

The following entry contains 3 resources to help you establish a sense of organization and control in your life.  Planning and making priorities in life allows you to gain a clear picture of what is important. This planning helps us stay focused so we can reach our goals.  Here, I present 3 strategies to gaining control and becoming organized through the use of a calendar, planner or other list, expressing yourself through a journal or diary, and approaching chores or other family responsibilities by the use of a systematic method.

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Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible

In 2010-2011, my husband and I faced a huge decision about the future of our family.     As I turned 35, I became aware that my biological clock was ticking and I had very little time to decide if I was to have children.  Because we were both blind, the decision of having children was something we put off due to the sheer logistics of the endeavor.  The concerns that had to be faced included health concerns, financial, and practical issues.  Yet, despite the many factors that made this undertaking seem impossible, my husband and I could not let go of the yearning for something more and the desire to go for the dream I had dreamed since I was a little girl.  We decided to face our fears and we stepped off the cliff of life and entered this crazy phase of life we call “parenthood.” The rewards of parenting have far outweighed the challenges, and it all began with us deciding to act even though we were afraid.

Sometimes in life you have to be willing to “do it afraid!” Here are some steps to help you take stock, consider your options, and move forward even if you’re scared: Continue reading “Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible”

Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired

In January, 2017, Irish athlete Sinead Kane became the first legally blind woman to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

For persons who are newly blind and visually impaired, there is often an inner struggle and overwhelming sense of boredom as they come to a belief that their active lifestyle has grinded to a halt after the vision loss. With the thoughtful application of some simple principles and activities, however, it is possible for a newly blind person to once again realize the many benefits of an active lifestyle.

In this entry, we examine the role of fun and vitality in the rehabilitation of persons with vision loss including social and psychological benefits of fun and recreation, how to discover what is fun for each individual, and examples of recreation for persons who are blind and visually impaired.  Nancy Parkin Bashizi, director at Vision Rehabilitation Services (VRS) in Smyrna, Georgia, provides useful information about the impact of these types of activities on social and psychological well-being and presents a variety of adaptive activities and a list of resources for the blind and visually impaired. Continue reading “Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired”

How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?

The following blog was written by guest blogger and friend Kimberleigh S Daniels. I asked her to write about the role of spirituality in facing problems. As I read, I found similarities to techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Ms. Daniels uses a combination of Christian counseling techniques that include prayer, Bible reading, speaking her faith out loud and reciting scriptures to overcome her problems. This is similar to the guidance and support I provide during a counseling session. Ms. Daniels does a fabulous job of being her “own therapist” and illustrating how one can use his or her own spirituality to overcome the challenges of life. 

How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?

I have experienced my share of problems, some brought on by my own poor choices and others brought on by various factors that I had no control over. Some have lasted for but a brief time and others have long ago worn out their welcome. I have made it through the darkest seasons of my life because the truth I know is greater than what I feel. Continue reading “How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?”