It’s Going to Be OK, Take One Step (#64)

Often the most helpful advice is not something startling new, but something familiar that hits a chord with us at the right moment. This week’s guest Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge reminds us of how we can be helpful to students and parents by starting with a simple phrase.

Inspiring School Counselors
Inspiring School Counselors
It’s Going to Be OK, Take One Step (#64)

This Week's Storyteller

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge is the founder of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann, LLC.  She is known for brain-based solutions for struggling kids and her work has helped children with conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, mood, autism, learning disability, Lyme, and PANS/PANDAS using holistic therapies such as neurofeedback, biofeedback, and psychotherapy. She is the author of the first ever book on teletherapy activities for child and adolescent therapists, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and It’s Gonna be OK!™

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Matt Fleck:
Fall is in full swing across the country and as the weather turns cooler it’s time for another Encouraging Word for School Counselors podcast. Hi everyone, I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success.

School counselors rely on an array of support from other student services professionals in their day to day work; mental health specialists, social workers, school psychologists. This week’s storyteller – Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge – is a psychologist and mental health specialist who has a nationally known private practice working with parents and students. She is also known for a catch phrase that seems especially pertinent in these stressful times brought on by all things Covid.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:
As I like to tell all my parents, it’s going to be okay. And now in this time of this pandemic world, every parent is just so overwhelmed. Even when their kid is totally typical. This is a very stressful and overwhelming time. So I now add it’s going to be okay; Take one step.  

This is a theme in Roseann’s work with young adults, parents, and caregivers – helping them understand that change can happen by taking things one step at a time. Especially focusing on one thing consistently and then charting progress.

Dr. Roseann:
I recently had somebody who came in, who was so overwhelmed. Their child had anxiety. They had depression. They had OCD. You know, they were angry. They were withdrawn. They were depressed. They were difficult to parent. Every single interaction with their kid was, as I like to call, a bristle; there was always friction. And when you think about parenting, you always think I’m going to have this kid. They’re going to be great. They’re going to be easy, but in a time in the world when one in two kids have a physical or mental health problem, it’s just not a reality anymore. 

Dr. Roseann handles situations like this by first saying that she has no magic wand, that helping comes by first identifying the biggest hurdle and then focusing on just one single change that could address the friction or challenge. 

Dr. Roseann:
So what I did is I was like, okay, Jack, let’s figure out one thing that could support you, and your parents could help you, and the school counselor could do that. So I worked with him to figure out what could he do, what did he feel that he was capable of doing, and what could he commit to? Right? Because when somebody is depressed or having a hard time, we can’t just say, “This is what you should do.” We need to get them in the commitment process. 

And so what he could do is, he felt like, every morning he could get up a few minutes earlier, 10 minutes earlier, he could go outside, and he could get some light on his face and walk around for a little bit. His mom, Amy said, “I can help him with that. And I can support him and guess what? I need to do the same because I’m in stress overload.” So the two of them made a commitment. 

And I’m a data girl, because I’m a school psychologist in my training and spent 20-something years doing neuropsych and psycho-ed testing — I love my data! And people need to see changes when we’re asking people to take and celebrate micro steps, they need to see it. So I give people a blank 30-day calendar and I ask them to chart zero to five — zero no change, five change, right? — where are you feeling? And, and in Jack’s case, we were just looking at, did his brain feel less overloaded? Right? So did his brain feel like it was working is basically what we said, right? That was our one goal. We’re not doing anything else, people. Don’t put seven goals in there! And they were able to chart it.  

Matt Fleck:
At the next level, Roseann has parents write down how committed they are to supporting their child in this process so that both the child and the parent are working together to make the change happen. And constantly reminding parent and child that it doesn’t have to be super hard. 

Dr. Roseann:
It’s more appropriate than ever to break things down, let them know it’s going to be okay. That’s the first thing I say to people. You will literally see a shift in the parents you’re working with when you start out going, “It’s going to be okay, we’re going to work on this together, but I need you to do work, too.” You know, so parents are conditioned to think somebody else is going to fix it. Let’s let them know that’s not the case. So let’s let them know what we can do and provide solutions for them and help them. And, you know, you’ll see a different level of buy-in. It’s important.

This is not only a great technique to use with parents and students, but it’s a good reminder to all of us, especially on those incredibly overwhelming days, to remember to break it down to the simplest of tasks, and then just addressing that first task step-by-step.

Roseann has a ton of resources including books, videos, and of course a podcast, too, that you’ll want to check out at – or by going to our website at where we have a link to all of Roseann’s resources. 

While you’re there, don’t forget to click on the yellow orange button on the right side where you can link to our new Encouraging Songs for School Counselors Spotfiy playlist and don’t forget to tell your friends about it, too. 

And not to sound like a broken record but you know, we ALWAYS need more stories, so please consider clicking on the “Soundbooth” link to record a short story of your work with students or families for one of our future podcasts. Thank you in advance!

Until the next time, remember Dr. Roseann’s catchline: It’s going to be ok. Thanks for listening.