[For more detailed information on each stage, check out The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting Explained post after reading this one. Download the free, printable "6 Stages of Food Allergy Parenting" packet here.]
Have you ever noticed that so much of the parenting guidance out there is focused on what children are going through at each stage of their development? While that's helpful information for parents to know, it doesn't tell parents what THEIR parenting tasks are for each stage of their child's development.
That's where Ellen Galinsky's work comes in! Her research led to the development of the Six Stages of Parenthood, which focuses on how PARENTS develop at the same time their child develops.
This framework helps parents understand if they're focusing on the appropriate tasks associated with their child's stage of development, are falling behind, or pushing too fast too quickly.
As with any guidelines, they're just that - guidelines. They're not hard and fast rules. However, I think we can all agree that parenting is hard, so any helpful guidance is welcome!
The Six Stages of Allergy Parenting
Adapted from Ellen Galinsky's work, licensed family therapist and founder of this Food Allergy Counselor Directory and website, Tamara Hubbard developed the Six Stages of Allergy Parenting after recognizing that allergy parents could benefit from parenting guidance specific to allergy parenting and the associated emotional aspects.
This purpose of this framework is primarily to offer guidance related to the emotional and mindset aspects of allergy parenting, which is often overlooked in allergy parenting guidance currently available. It essentially offers parents a framework to help them develop their mindset and parenting choices for each stage of parenting, which directly impacts their child's ability to learn how to live confidently with allergies. While overall allergy management skills/goals are noted for each phase, the guidance is heavily infused with information related to the allergy emotional tasks helpful for parents to be aware of and/or develop during each stage. (For more information on what to teach your child at each stage of their development, check out this Allergic Living article).
How to Use this Chart:
The information below explains each column in more depth:
How This Framework Helps Allergy Parents:
The Six Stages of Allergy Parenting offers allergy parents a framework to help them better understand how to parent an allergic child throughout the child, teen and young adult years. More specifically, this guidance helps parents with:
Want More Specific Information on Each Stage?
Check out this following up post: The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting Explained
Think This Chart Will Help Others?
You can download the free, printable "6 Stages of Food Allergy Parenting" packet here, which is useful for both those managing allergies and healthcare/behavioral healthcare providers supporting them]
If you want to make sure you don't miss more of this kind of psychosocial information, be sure to Subscribe to The Food Allergy Counselor emails (at the bottom of the homepage or via the pop-up), as well as the FAC social media accounts. And THE BONUS for subscribing to the FAC emails? You'll get the free, 3-page Allergy Anxiety & Overwhelm Mini -Guide.
And if you're needing more allergy-related psychosocial support, don't forget to check out the Food Allergy Counselor Directory, the Exploring Food Allergy Families podcast, the Food Allergy Behavioral Health Resource section, and the allergy-specific therapeutic worksheets.
When an allergic patient or parent of a child managing an allergy reaches out for therapy, it's important for me to learn how the allergy impacts their lives. Sure, they are reaching out because they feel overwhelmed or anxious about their allergy, but that's just the overall picture. And in order to truly help my patients, I need to get a more detailed picture.
I do this by asking patients to complete the appropriate Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Form as part of their intake paperwork. The responses on this form gives me a solid glimpse into their quality of life, which domains are most impacted, and psychosocial themes that may need adjusting. It's a tool that has helped me more effectively meet my patients' needs and ensure they're feeling understood for years now.
After sharing these forms during consultation sessions with allergy practices and fellow therapists, it became clear that these tools may be beneficial to others. Therefore, I've decided to offer them to allergy and therapy practitioners, too.
Read on to learn more about how they're beneficial to both patients and providers!
The Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Forms are premade AND customizable! That means that you don't have to spend time creating them, and can personalize them with your practice's logo and information.
All four forms are available for both, but questions vary slightly between both versions so that they are more tailored to the scope of the practices.
What Information Does These Forms Gather:
These patient narrative forms allow for detailed responses on themes such as:
Benefits of Using These Forms in Therapy Practices:
Benefits of Using These Forms in Allergy Practices:
Suggestions/Tips For Use:
Narrative Versus Validated Patient Forms?
It's like comparing apples and oranges - both are fruit, but different kinds. Both narrative and validated forms gather valuable patient information, but in different manners.
Validated assessments, such as the Survey of Food Allergy Anxiety (SOFAA), typically assess functioning and impacts that helps drive diagnosis and treatment decisions.
Patient narrative forms, such as these Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Forms, primarily gather information to aid in understanding the whole patient. While they may also be used to help determine treatment decisions, their primary purpose is gathering information that helps to facilitate conversations and problem-solve with patients.
[The images above show the Parent/Caregiver - Therapy Practice version]
Visit the "Worksheets" page to check out and learn more about these Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Forms, and don't hesitate to reach out with questions!
Special introductory pricing is available through March 31, 2022, and there will always be a discount for purchasing the package, which includes all 4 forms.
Direct URL to the Worksheets page: www.FoodAllergyAnxiety.com
Since starting the Food Allergy Counselor Directory and website in 2018, I routinely get emails from counseling and psychology graduate students considering focusing on working with those managing food allergies. (And I always take the time to pay-it-forward and chat with these students!)
But I also get frequent emails from therapists who personally and professionally understand IgE-mediated food allergies and want to consider adding food allergy counseling services in their private practices. The top comments and questions I get from these emails are:
A relationship builder at heart, I also take the time to connect with the therapists who reach out to me about food allergy counseling, either informally or more formally through my consultation services. Since I receive common questions in many of these emails, I decided to write a post to share the basic answers. But before I jump into the marketing tips, let's first explore WHY there's a need for food allergy counseling services.
Why food allergy counseling services are needed
Approximately 32 million Americans manage food allergies. While many may associate food allergies with children, rates of adult allergies, including adult-onset allergies are rising. Per this recent study from Dr. Ruchi Gupta and colleagues, almost 11% of adults manage food allergies, with nearly 19% believing they have a food allergy.
No matter the age of the individuals managing food allergies, reports of increased anxiety, and psychosocial and quality of life impacts are common. Here is a brief snapshot of common psychosocial impacts reported:
Additionally, results from this recent survey (of food allergy centers) on the availability of mental healthcare services for those managing food allergies suggests:
These descriptions are brief, but help paint a clear picture of the WHY and NEED for support services from allergy-informed licensed clinical mental healthcare providers.
Now, let's move on to HOW to market yourself if you're an allergy-informed therapist and ready to add the food allergy counseling niche to your practice!
(If you're a therapist that is not well-versed in food allergies, but would like to learn more about them in order to provide support to patients, stay tuned for posts and podcast episodes on this topic).
Marketing Tips for food allergy Counseling
Below are three key marketing tips for allergy-informed licensed clinical therapists, psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists looking to expand their practices to include food allergy counseling services.
#1: HELP CLIENTS FIND YOU BY LISTING "FOOD ALLERGIES" AS A CLINICAL FOCUS
I know this may seem like complete common sense, but I can't tell you how many times I come across a therapist's website with no mention of food allergies as a clinical area of focus, yet, they want to grow within this niche.
At the very least, it's important to mention food allergy counseling or support somewhere on your website. Even if you don't want to dedicate a separate page on your site, or even a description of how you can support those managing food allergies, just listing food allergies in your list of clinical focuses helps clients know that this is a service you provide.
If you do want to describe your food allergy-focused therapy services, here are some ideas to help you with writing about those services:
Taking this tip one step further, it's also helpful to list food allergies as an area of focus on your practice's social media profiles and pages. Again, seems like common sense, but this one is often overlooked, too.
And, if you're good with website management and/or coding, throw some food allergy counseling-related words into the SEO section of your website!
#2: THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX & THEN CONNECT WITH ALLERGISTS
In almost every online clinical mental healthcare provider forum or group I'm a member of, the discussion of HOW to market therapy services to medical practices gets explored. What marketing materials should we drop off or mail (business cards, flyers, rack cards)? Should we spend money on swag and treats for them in order to help our practice stand out?
While these are all personal choices related to how you want to market your practice, here's the advice I will offer on how to market your services to allergists and allergy practices.
Before reaching out, think about what you can offer them - what's the benefit of making a connection with you? While many allergists have started assessing their patients' psychosocial impacts, some may not yet have a clear picture of how allergy-informed mental healthcare providers can benefit them, their practices and their patients.
Think outside of the box here - beyond just being a patient referral source. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Taking this tip one step further - beyond allergists/allergy practices - think about marketing to and networking with local food allergy support groups and dietitians, and if you work with kids, schools and pediatricians. Offer the same kinds of out-of-the-box service ideas in order to help build strong referral relationships.
#3: TO DISCLOSE OR NOT DISCLOSE - THAT IS THE QUESTION
This may seem like less of a marketing tip and more of an ethical practice discussion. But, especially if you've added a food allergy focus to your clinical practice because allergies personally impact your life or the life of a loved one, exploring this consideration is important since clients may inquire.
In our training to become licensed clinical mental healthcare providers, many of us were taught not to self-disclose personal information to clients, or to do so very purposefully and sparingly. So let's explore this topic more in order to help allergy-informed therapists determine where their boundaries are on allergy-related self-disclosures.
Potential Benefits of Self-Disclosing Personal Understanding of Food Allergies:
Considerations When Deciding Whether to Self-Disclose This Information:
Hopefully this piece helped illustrate the need for more allergy-informed clinical mental healthcare providers, and provided a few helpful marketing tips to those who offer food allergy counseling services.
I'll end with a few related follow up thoughts....
Thanks for reading,
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