New York Workers’ Comp Psychologist

workers' comp psychologist

Work-related injuries aren’t just reserved for “dangerous jobs” such as construction. In 2018, the retail industry had the highest number of work-related injuries involving days away from work.

When you receive a work-related injury, it is in your best interest to file a workers’ compensation claim. This involves speaking with your employer, visiting a workers’ comp doctor, and hiring an attorney to defend your claim.

Depending on the nature of your injury and the coverage you receive from your employer, it may be in your best interest to see a workers’ comp psychologist.

Read on for more information about what a workers’ comp psychologist does and why this treatment may be right for you.

Common Mental Health Issues After a Work-Related Injury

Are you dealing with the aftermath of an isolated injury or seeking help for chronic pain? There’s a chance that psychological therapy should be part of your treatment plan.

Do you think you might qualify for compensated therapy? Let’s take a look at some of the mental health issues that often fall under this umbrella.

Anxiety

We all experience feelings of nervousness or the fear of failure from time to time. However, those suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder may feel these negative, stress-inducing feelings throughout the day. At times, they may arise for seemingly no reason.

Without treatment, anxiety disorders can last for six months or longer. In this time, individuals may struggle to get through day-to-day tasks. Things that were once routine become frightening and feelings of uncertainty may cause mental anguish.

Panic Disorders

According to the New York Office of Mental Health, people with panic disorders experience frequent panic attacks. They may begin to perceive harmless sensations as serious threats.

These sensations are often related to a previous incident that led to the disorder in the first place. They become what we sometimes call triggers.

For example, a piece of machinery that caused your injury might trigger you. It could be the noise it makes when on or the vibration it produces.

When people with panic disorders are triggered, they may feel faint, dizzy, or short of breath. Unpleasant physical symptoms are often accompanied by feelings of intense fear. They cause the individual to shut down, flee the situation, or avoid potential triggers altogether.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, may set in after a person undergoes trauma. Typically, this trauma involves a life-threatening incident or an incident that they perceived as life-threatening.

Symptoms of PTSD include panic attacks, emotional numbness, aggravation, aggression, and depression. Those with PTSD often replay the original source of trauma in their minds. This is called having a flashback.

Flashbacks may be triggered by noises, visuals, or sensations the individual associates with the trauma. When this trauma occurred at work, it can become dangerous for the individual to return to their place of work.

Pain Disorders

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic pain does not involve physical factors, alone. It also affects your psychological and emotional health.

Chronic pain requires medical treatment and physical therapy. It is also a good idea to include psychological treatment in your regime. That way, you can talk through the emotions you associate with your disability.

Understanding your emotional reaction to chronic pain can actually lessen the severity of the pain you feel on a day-to-day basis.

Depression

After a work-related injury occurs, you may find that your life is changing in unexpected ways. As you recover, your abilities are limited, leading to social isolation, loss of income, and other short term issues. For some, these changes lead to depression.

Depression is a mood disorder that can cause sadness and emotional numbness. Regular tasks such as bathing or cooking a meal become insurmountable. Going back to work can seem even more impossible without treatment.

Psychosocial Issues

Many people who experience major life changes due to pain and physical trauma struggle to connect with others. These experiences feel alienating or isolating. This can lead to interpersonal issues both at home and at work.

These individuals struggle with feelings of anger, abandonment, or apathy. It likely stems from a loss of fulfillment or pleasure. Debilitating accidents are never fair and they may struggle to get past the question, “Why me?”

These individuals need assistance in accepting the injury and finding new ways to enjoy life. They also need help in recovering their ability to connect with others and form meaningful relationships.

Other Mental Health Issues

You may face a variety of other problems and feelings that are hard to work out on your own.

Some people find that while they don’t seem to have an overall anxiety issue, they’ve developed specific phobias. Others may experience intense bouts of anger. Experiencing a traumatic injury can also cause sleep disorders and trouble dealing with grief.

If you are experiencing symptoms of any of these mental health problems, consider seeking the help of a workers’ comp psychologist.

What a Workers' Comp Psychologist Does

We recommend finding a doctor experienced with workers’ comp cases. Similarly, we recommend seeking psychological treatment from a certified workers’ comp psychologist.

Certified psychologists are trained to treat a variety of psychological ailments and disorders. Workers’ comp psychologists are familiar with the process of filing a workers’ comp claim. Asking for compensation for therapy requires specific procedures.

For example, they are familiar with New York workers’ compensation laws. This includes the provision that states that psychologists must notify the employer within 48 hours of first treatment. They are required to provide a detailed report outlining the necessity of the treatment in order for workers’ comp to cover the costs.

These psychologists must provide legal documentation of your treatment plan and overall progress. They also deliver a variety of treatments. They create unique treatment plans for their patients based on their symptoms, triggers, and progress over time.

Below, we’ll discuss the basics of the different styles of treatment you may receive.

Treatments Provided By a Workers' Comp Psychologist

There are five main styles of treatment. Many psychologists will develop a treatment plan that involves a blend of two or more. Read on to find out what each of these treatments includes to get a better sense of how therapy can help you after your work-related injury.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy targets your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The goal is to unpack your psychological state in order to understand how it affects your behavior.

Because your emotional and mental responses are complex, cognitive-behavioral therapy is goal-oriented. With a psychologist, you break down the way different thoughts and scenarios make you feel. From there, you can start to see the bigger picture of how these feelings were formed and how they’re affecting you now.

Your psychologist will also help you develop coping mechanisms. The first step is to uncover how your mental state determines the way you behave. The second is to replace negative or harmful behaviors with productive or beneficial behaviors.

Desensitization

Desensitization is a very direct form of therapy. Not all patients will qualify for it right away while some may never need it. Desensitization involves helping the patient recover from their triggers by confronting them both imaginatively and in real life.

In order to form a desensitization plan, a psychologist must know a number of things about the patient.

This includes things like current belief systems, both healthy and harmful. It includes the patient’s current coping strategies, both functional and dysfunctional. It also includes an extensive list of the patient’s triggers and the events that caused them.

A patient is not ready for desensitization until this groundwork is covered and they recognize that their current beliefs are both harmful and malleable. Only then can the patient begin what is also known as exposure therapy.

Psychologists will start with small steps. They will ask the patient to imagine that they are being confronted with a minute version of their trigger. Starting small allows the psychologist to evaluate the level of safety the patient feels and whether or not they are prepared to proceed.

Ultimately, the goal of desensitization is to get the patient to a place where they no longer feel triggered. This allows them to resume life as normal before the initial triggering occurred. For workers’ comp cases, this may make the difference between going back to work comfortably and suffering from anxiety in the workplace.

Neuropsychological Evaluation

Neuropsychology is necessary in cases of traumatic brain injuries. This treatment allows the psychologist to understand how the brain is functioning after trauma. It highlights the patient’s capabilities and cognitive limits.

Brain trauma can affect memory, learning abilities, and concentration. It can also affect language skills as well as motor functions. If you have experienced brain trauma, it will likely affect what you are able to do at work.

The goal of a neuropsychological evaluation is to prepare for the next step. This next step is called cognitive rehabilitation.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Cognitive rehabilitation is a form of cognitive therapy that may be partnered with physical therapy. The goal is to help those who have suffered from brain trauma to regain certain skills and cope with the loss of others. It is broken down into four parts.

The first is education. The psychologist teaches the patient about what their cognitive strengths and weaknesses are. Understanding this new way of living is crucial to finding ways to adapt and move forward.

The second is process training. The focus here to resolve some of the problems created by the patient’s brain trauma. The patient learns skills that will help them retrain the mind and body to perform tasks affected by brain trauma.

The third is strategy training. Some skills may not be recoverable and instead, the patient must learn strategies to cope with their limited abilities. They learn how to use both their internal and external environment to find ways around potential problems.

The fourth and final step is referred to as functional activity training. It combines the previous three steps in a way that allows the patient to get through day-to-day activities.

Group Therapy

Many workers’ comp psychologists offer group therapy in addition to one-on-one sessions. They often focus primarily on cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Group therapy is offered to patients who have less severe mental issues. Alternatively, some patients may find that group therapy is better suited to their emotional needs.

Not all patients are comfortable with the therapeutic process at first. It can benefit them to hear that other people are struggling with similar issues. Having the opportunity to talk with others who have gone through comparable trauma helps some patients to open up about their own struggles.

Getting the Help You Need

After a work-related injury, your responsibilities feel overwhelming. You can’t return to work right away, the medical bills grow, and the fight for workers’ comp is pressing.

A workers’ comp psychologist is an integral part of short and longterm recovery. Addressing the mental and emotional needs caused by your injury can shorten the time it takes to recover. It can make an adjustment to your new abilities easier.

The first step is to find a workers’ comp doctor. Not only will they treat your physical needs but they will help you find a psychologist that is right for you.

If you’re in New York and have experienced a work-related injury, book an appointment with the best worker’s comp psychologist near you today.

Call 1-800-897-8440 today and take the first step towards the compensation you deserve and the recovery you need.

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