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LIFE QUALITY RESOURCES

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For further information about neurofeedback, biofeedback, and psychotherapeutic services offered by Drs. Dan and Lucy Chartier and their associates, contact:


LIFE QUALITY RESOURCES

5613 Duraleigh Road, #101
Raleigh, NC 27612
Telephone: (919) 782-4597
www.LifeQualityResources.org

Traversing New Territory Requires New Maps

For Raleigh psychophysiologic psychotherapist Dr. Dan Chartier, the current shared experience with COVID-19 is much like sailing into the unknown—a major part of human development in psychological terms, but no less uncomfortable. “When I consider the enormity of the challenges we’re dealing with, I’m reminded of the early explorers who sailed ‘off the map’—with no way of knowing what to expect. That same profound uncertainty faces us today as we cope with a rampant virus, as well as social and economic upheaval. We don’t know what the ‘new normal’ will look like or even when it will arrive. We have most certainly sailed off the map.

Dr. Chartier

And, like those early explorers, he notes, “we have to proceed cautiously. And, as we proceed on this voyage into unknown territory, the basic principles of conscious awareness, mindful living, and mindful problem solving, will be more important than ever.”

At the same time, he points out that “the negative thinking our brains are prone to is—at its most fundamental level—a survival skill. The anticipation of negative consequences—what we now call anxiety—was a survival adaptive skill for those ancient explorers, and we can learn from them as we deal with present day challenges.”

Anxiety as an Adaptive Skill

Dr. Chartier outlines two steps in confronting this anxiety. Step one requires mindful awareness and acknowledgement. “Recognize the anxiety is there, rather than trying to deny it or push it away,” he urges. “Realize that these are not things that we can wish away.”

Step two includes other things individuals can do to reduce the anxiousness. “In our circumstances,” he says, “that might simply be measures that limit our exposure to the virus—wearing a mask, limiting non-essential trips, staying six feet apart. These are not fearful responses— merely practical actions built on a clear motivation to stay as safe as possible by not exposing ourselves unnecessarily or in foolish ways to potential infection.”

And, he notes, it can be helpful to acknowledge the additional stresses we deal with that can exacerbate the anxieties we’re experiencing in this pandemic. “For example,” he points out, “some individuals are even more predisposed to the stress of the situation, and that is particularly true of women.

“I’ve come to appreciate over many years of work in the realm of psychology and psychophysiology with biofeedback, that women do carry more stress than men,” he explains. “Women now not only take on the role of being major breadwinners and professionals and workers, but then they also carry the stress load of the family as well. And as a father of daughters, a brother of sisters, and a spouse of a wife, I recognize that we do not often give the credit where credit is due in terms of how much stress the women in our lives suffer. And this pandemic and the ways it’s disrupted our lives, have just extended that even further."

To help patients navigate these uncertain waters, Dr. Chartier continues to identify ways to work with patients beyond the walls of his Life Quality Resources Center.

Support Beyond the Office

Like other practitioners, Dr. Chartier is leveraging technology in order to continue treatment via telemedicine and even using at-home tools. Like all technology, it has its quirks, but he sees the impetus for technology and tools to improve. “Tele-psychiatry will become more usable, as we work out the bugs,” he assures. “So that I anticipate no longer having only in-office connectivity, but that this Internet connectivity will be a be a part of the mix.”

He has been performing only on-line treatment since March, but hopes to be able to adapt to seeing certain screened individuals in the office by July. In the meantime, Dr. Chartier uses Zoom as a meeting platform and can work with people using home-based training equipment to do both biofeedback and neurofeedback. Oftentimes, patients already have this equipment for home practice.

Having these tools available can be a significant asset to people now, particularly when so many are facing isolation, exacerbating depression issues and anxiety. So an adjunct that Dr. Chartier typically recommends can now become a primary focus of the distance therapy, even while he continues to seek out additional devices to augment remote care capabilities.

Back to the Office, But Not Business as Usual

While increased distance and technology-supported therapy will be part of the “new normal” of his practice, Dr. Chartier anticipates a return to in-office practice this summer. The timing of resuming in-person sessions will be driven by a number of factors. “There are certain requirements and protocols for biofeedback practitioners,” he explains, “particularly a more intense sterilization for reusable sensors between clients. Difficulty finding the right cleaning products now is one limiting factor. Of course, there are delays in sourcing, but as Dr. Chartier says, with rueful hindsight, “Sometimes, you just don’t know until you’re there.

“To use a baseball analogy,” he says, “we’re only in the second or third inning of this game. So, our vigilance and our safety precautions are going to continue to be so important for a lot longer period of time.”