Bi-Tapp Becomes ‘Great Resource’ for Teen Girls at Red Hawk Behaviorial Health
I’m Valerie Faaootoa, and I’m a therapist here at Red Hawk Behavioral Health. My husband and I started this program a year ago, and we work with adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 17.
The girls that come into our program have any number of concerns, from attachment concerns, to ADHD nervous systems, and a lot of depression and anxiety. Many of them don’t know how to regulate emotions on a daily basis, and as they interact with others, their emotions fluctuate throughout the day.
We do a lot of work with family systems and helping families reunite with their kids so they can live healthier lives long-term.
Fortunately, we brought the Bi-Tapp tappers into our program about a year ago, and it was really great! Because it’s pretty intense when we have conversations for the first time with parents, we bring these tappers into our phone calls. Then the girls will hold onto their tappers, and be able to have a phone call with their parents.
It just brings them back to their present state. They don’t get out here in ‘worry land.’
A lot of times back home, when they talked with parents, they stayed in whatever mood caused conflict at the time in their family.
When they hold these tappers, I see them self-regulate a little more. It calms them down. They can even focus on the tappers with their eyes closed, while they’re talking to their parents. And it helps them be able to think through what their parents are really saying, instead of hearing something different.
Our girls use the tappers a lot! Right before bed, some put them on their chest, or maybe in their hands, or by their hips. Often as they lay down for bed, they become very anxious. That’s when their mind starts racing, and they can’t focus on falling asleep. Then they lay there for hours worrying. But when they hold the tappers, they can focus on the moment when it taps back and forth. If they focus on that, it takes them out of that anxious state and brings them back to a more grounded place. Then they can just relax, and drift off to sleep.
In the classroom, our girls also use the tappers, quite a lot! Aside from going to bed, that might be the number one place they use a tapper.
Having to focus on school can produce high anxiety—especially when we talk about an interest based nervous system—because of how difficult school has been for them. During the school hours, our girls put the tappers in their pockets, or socks, or hold them in their hands. Using the tappers can help reduce that anxiety, and get them out of their amygdala and back into a more executive function, to be able to focus, concentrate, starting those tasks, and sustaining the schoolwork. Tappers can be a really great tool, helping our girls increase their productivity. I think the tappers would be excellent for anybody and everyone, especially any other treatment program.
A lot of times, our girls aren’t really in tune with what’s going on inside, and get a little confused at the range of emotions that can come at any time. The tappers are just one more way, one more tool, that can help them focus in on what’s going on.
Instead of focusing on conflict or anger, when they have the tappers with them, I see them act a little more regulated. They are able to take a moment and pause a little bit quicker. I also notice less anxiety. While the tapper doesn’t eliminate anxiety, it helps regulate anxiety over time, so throughout the day, they’re able to build a resilience to what’s happening inside of them.
At Red Hawk, the tappers became a really great resource for us. It’s not invasive, they’re easy to use, and they’re so effective with our girls. Tappers have been such a helpful tool to add to whatever else we’re doing here!
Contributed by Valerie Faaootoa. Learn more about Red Hawk Behavioral Health.