By Sandy Long
There are certain segments in the work force that travel for a living, the military, construction workers and truck drivers. Being away from home for long periods can cause mental health issues such as depression and relationship issues. While the military has built in mental health services that they can access and construction workers are usually in a town long enough to find a mental health provider, truckers are rarely in a town two days in a row so cannot utilize such assistance. This is no longer so, there is now TruckerTherapy.com.
Buck Black, founder of TruckerTherapy.com, knew he wanted to become a therapist when he was in fifth grade. Buck says about how he got started, “I have always enjoyed helping people and talking with people. The more I studied psychology, the more interested I became. Once I started volunteering at a crisis hotline, I was hooked.”
Buck’s educational background includes a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from Indiana University. Buck adds, “I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana campus), where I double majored in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Computer Technology. In addition, I have received training on a variety of clinical subjects including anger management, anxiety, couples counseling, codependency, personality disorders, PTSD and various types of sexual issues. I continue to learn more about counseling and therapy by participating in anger management workshops and various trainings, as well as reading and lecturing about various topics related to counseling and online coaching.”
Most therapists only work with their clients face to face; Buck did too for a while. Then he had several truckers as clients and quickly learned that with their erratic schedules, they missed many appointments. Buck knew the importance of those truckers continuing with their therapy so came up with the idea of offering phone and Skype counseling. It worked so well for those driver clients that Buck started TruckerTherapy.com to offer those services to more drivers.
There is a difference though between face-to-face counseling and phone or Skype work. “Services are a bit different over Skype. I think the biggest challenge is the client’s quality of equipment (mike, camera, computer, and internet connection stability/speed) and the occasional unavoidable technical glitches. Therefore, that is something you usually do not have to deal with in an office setting. I always give my clients my phone number and keep my phone next to my computer when doing a session. If the connection fails, the phone is a good backup.” Buck relates.
“The phone obviously cuts out the body language, but is still quite effective.” He adds. “I encourage my clients to stop me if they disagree with what I am saying. Sometimes, there is a miscommunication; maybe the phone broke up or I used the wrong choice of words. This cannot be addressed if the client does not speak up. I believe there is a good sense of relationship between the client and me when using Skype or phone; however, the client must want to use Skype or phone. If the client does not like the technology, then the relationship would be very difficult to form. I do continue my in-office practice for those truckers who can make it to Lafayette Indiana and of course, my non trucking clients.”
Truck drivers are under a tremendous amount of stress from the job and from being away from home so much, this can lead to mental health issues. This is such a common problem that the FMCSA Medical Review Board has suggested regulations be enacted so that doctors performing DOT physicals look for signs of depression.
Buck says, “if you are having issues that you are not dealing well with, contact me or another licensed therapist to help you. If the person is in emergency crisis and is suicidal or homicidal, or has a chronic mental illness, distant services probably are not the best options. I screen each client to ensure his or her goals are attainable over the phone or with Skype. If I feel there may need to be a need for emergency services or a high level of care, then I refer the client to face-to-face therapy, but either way, I will try to assist in getting a driver the help he or she needs.”
Buck Black’s appointments can be adjusted to accommodate a truck driver’s schedule. “I take “call ins,” like “walk-ins” for lack of a better term, Monday through Friday; however, I’m usually booked all day long, so I cannot accommodate this very often. I am able to guarantee an appointment within two business days or it is free except for when my voicemail and website states I am on vacation. I work until 10pm ET and I am usually able to be talked into a Sunday evening appointment.” He laughs.
Though Buck does accept some insurance plans, most insurance companies will not pay for phone or Skype counseling. However, the cost per session is not exorbitant, only $50.00, not a great amount to spend per session for a driver to get their lives back on track. Furthermore, by working on a cash basis, the only person who will see a driver’s file is Buck himself, no reporting to insurance companies or the driver’s carrier.
Buck invites every driver who is having mental health issues to visit TruckerTherapy.com and check out the site for more information. He will tell anyone that truckers give so much of themselves to do their job that he feels that he should assist them when he can. It is a novel concept, someone wanting to help truck drivers; Buck Black has come up with a way to do so.