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Trichotillomania

Feb 17, 2018 in Ask The Therapist

Trichotillomania is a lesser known, but not uncommon disorder affecting both males and females of all ages. It is characterized by repetitive pulling out of one’s hair. Trichotillomania is classified as a body-focused repetitive behavior. Research indicates that 2-4% of individuals experience “trich” in their lifetime. Onset is typically in early puberty. By adulthood, trich is more common in females. It is a “cousin” of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

 

Treatment for trichotillomania typically includes a combination of therapy, education, and medication. Often times, hair pulling can occur as a focused, deliberate behavior in response to an urge. At times it is described as mindless and automatic, as the individual is less aware of the behavior.

 

This disorder offers many challenges as it is often embarrassing for the individual. They may try to conceal missing hair which can result in avoiding sports or other activities which would “expose” the missing hair (ex: swimming, sleepovers, intimacy).

 

Help is available! bfrb.org (body focused repetitive behaviors) is a website with support/education/research. Find a therapist educated and experienced for help with trichotillomania.

 

Thank you Judith Zaher, M.A.Ed., LPCC, LSW for writing this post! 

What it’s Like to Be a Therapist

Feb 10, 2018 in Ask The Therapist

Becoming a therapist has definitely been an amazing journey for me. It has given me purpose and it has also helped my personal growth- not only mentally and emotionally, but also spiritually!

My biggest goal now as a therapist is to be able to show people what a great therapist should be like and the positive differences a good therapist can make in someone’s life. I want to be a therapist who can contribute to the overall growth of the mental health field.

The interesting fact is I never saw this coming. Sometimes we don’t choose the path, the path chooses us. I was previously a physician, but changed over to the mental health therapy field so I could help people in improving their behaviors and ability to cope with detrimental and stressful life situations. Psychology has always been my passion and now I’m contributing to the mental health field. Any amount of positive change I make in my clients’ lives gets me a bit closer to my goal of helping others.

 

Thank you Fauzia Javaheri, MSSA, LISW for writing this blog post!

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & its Treatment

Feb 3, 2018 in Ask The Therapist

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder caused by chemical imbalances in the brain due to lowered exposure to sunlight in the winter. It can occur any time between September-April, but is most common in December, January, and February. Changes in the amount of sunlight can cause changes in our internal clock causing some people to feel out of sync.

 

Melatonin, a sleep related hormone, may also be linked to SAD and influence symptoms of depression. It is produced in increased levels in the dark so its production increases as the days are shorter and darker. Additionally, the further you live from the equator the higher incidence of SAD. For some it is a mild case of the winter blues with manageable symptoms and for others it can be serious preventing them from functioning without treatment.

 

The symptoms include irregular sleep patterns with a desire to oversleep or difficulty waking up, lethargy with fatigue, overeating with cravings for sweets, feeling down, apathetic of hopeless, irritability and a desire to avoid social activities, anxiety, loss of libido, and mood changes. These symptoms usually disappear in the spring.

 

For mild cases, daily exposure to as much natural daylight as possible, even when gloomy, especially midday, can be helpful. Most of us spend 90% of our day indoors where artificial light rarely reaches the level of an overcast day.

 

Light therapy has been found to be helpful in moderate cases. It works using a light box that replicates natural daylight without damaging ultraviolet light. It lets light enter through the eyes and helps regulate the chemicals in the brain.

 

Research has shown that antidepressants, light therapy, and counseling can be helpful in more serious cases.

 

 

Written by Noha Everetts MA.Ed, LPCC

“Whole Brain” Parenting

Jan 27, 2018 in Ask The Therapist

Parents today are juggling demanding jobs and household responsibilities while trying to work on challenging child behaviors in the bargain. A few simple parenting techniques are suggested by Daniel J. Siegel, M. D., in his book “The Whole Brain Child.” These simple techniques are discovered after weeding through some very complicated neurobiology, which you can also read if you like that kind of thing.

In the book, Dr. Siegel introduces the concept of “brain integration” and its positive effects on child development. He provides suggestions to assist your child in becoming horizontally integrated so that the logical left brain and the emotional right brain will work together. He also suggests to train your children to be vertically integrated, so that their higher brain (in charge of thoughtful consideration and empathy), can communicate with lower parts of the brain (concerned with instinct and survival, involving strong emotional responses).

 

According to Dr. Siegel, one simple technique for a child who is having a melt-down would entail the “connect and redirect” strategy, which involves understanding and validating the child’s emotion first (through the right brain), and then engaging their logical left brain in problem-solving and planning for future changes. A vertical integration technique is suggested called “engage, don’t enrage” for tantrum behavior, which involves encouraging an angry child to engage in a logical problem-solving activity in order to make choices and solve a problem, thus distracting them from the lower brain emotions.

If you skim through the complicated “brain talk” in the book, the focus is essentially on validating your child’s emotions (not to be confused with allowing or encouraging bad behavior), and redirecting and engaging their logical and higher-order thought process to encourage good coping and reasoning skills. It’s s simple concept if you think about it, and not only will using this framework result in better behavior from your children, but it will also serve to encourage more satisfying relationships with them as well.

 

 

Written by Elizabeth Holmes, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Say a Big NO to New Years Resolutions

Jan 20, 2018 in Ask The Therapist

All kinds of ads are going to be appearing telling us we need to be more- healthy, fit, strong, young looking, organized; or less- in size, weight, stressed, in debt. Good to remember lots of those people are focused on getting you to listen to them, as the expert in charge of your life.

 

How about looking at ourselves and just accepting who we are right now. Focus on accepting ourselves, embracing the humanness of us. Why would a counselor, who makes her living helping people change, tell you to accept you now? Because if we accept who we are right now, we can begin to shift the things we want to shift. And the changes YOU want to make will become apparent.

 

Remember so much of what you do has gone well or you would not be around to welcome in a new year!

 

 

Written by Martha (Marty) D. Laska LPCC-S, LICDC-S, ACHT

She has a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from The University of Akron. Marty is also an Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist. Marty specializes in using both talk therapy and hypnotherapy to help couples (married or not), adolescents and adults.  Marty has been a counselor for over 25 years and takes a common sense but creative approach to counseling. She has worked in all kinds of jobs and places and enjoys working with all kinds of people.
Her focus areas include LGBT populations/issues, Trauma, Substance Abuse/Chemical Dependency assessments and treatment, Grief, and Spiritual Counseling for both Traditional and Non-Traditional Beliefs; as well as Smoking Cessation and Weight Release using Hypnotherapy

“I’m a Teenager. Are the Symptoms of ADHD Different for Me than Kids?”

Jan 6, 2018 in Ask The Therapist

 

Many teens and/or their parents ask if ADHD looks different in children vs. teens. Although the “standard” symptoms of ADHD are the same for everyone, children through adults, teens show their symptoms in some very specific ways.

Here is a checklist of ADHD symptoms for teens. If you (or your child) meet 4 or more criteria, it might be a good idea to seek a professional evaluation for ADHD. One of the main symptoms of
ADHD in children, hyperactivity, greatly drops off by the time one reaches adolescence. Outward hyperactivity is sometimes replaced by more of an “internal” feeling of hyperactivity; this has been described as “restlessness” or feeling like you have to be doing something all the time.

 

Signs of ADHD in Teens:

  • Has trouble getting organized and setting priorities
  • Has a tough time getting started on homework and other assigned tasks
  • “Spaces out” when listening to someone or doing assigned reading
  • Often needs to re-read information or ask people to repeat what they’ve said because it doesn’t stick the first time
  • Has trouble staying focused
  • Often gets sidetracked from tasks, unless they are doing something that is especially interesting to them
  • Often rushes through assignments or produces messy work with lots of errors
  • Often seems to be working well below their potential in school or on homework
  • Has trouble remembering information when it’s needed
  • Struggles to recall facts during tests, when they studied and seemed to know the night before
  • Has trouble remembering day-to-day things
  • Often forgets to write down assignments or keep track of stuff
  • Often acts/speaks impulsively

 

 

Written by Diane Heidorf, M.A., LPCC

Teaching Teens to Drive in the Snow

Dec 30, 2017 in Hot Topics

The thought of first time drivers having to endure the winter snow can be terrifying. We already know that teens are more prone to accidents, and when you add snow in the mix, it just gets worse. How can we have teens get experience driving in the snow, while still being safe?

 

The first thing to note, is that if you live in an area that gets snowfall, sooner or later, they are going to have to drive in it. Chances are, for a good amount of their life, they were driving with you. They most likely already have an idea that generally, when it snows people slow down. Other than this rule of thumb, talk to them about things they may not know about bad weather driving. Certain things like pumping your brakes (even if you have an automatic braking system, or ABS), using all wheel drive, or over-correcting may not be their first thought.

 

After they are educated on what to do in various scenarios, it is time for them to test the roads themselves. At first, they will probably keep in mind all the things you have told them. Then, they will become more comfortable and try to push the limit, and most likely speed in the snow more than they should. Obviously, the hope is that they will not disregard anything you have told them, but unfortunately, teens will be teens. Chances are they will slip or slide enough to scare them, then they will realize the snow is actually no joke. They will quickly find out there are all the precautions for a reason.

 

Ultimately, driving in the snow takes time and practice. Take time to drive around with your young driver in the snow, that way you both feel more comfortable. Also, accept the fact that eventually, they will have to endure it alone, so just ensure you give them any information they need.

Grieving During the Holidays

Dec 28, 2017 in Ask The Therapist

The holidays can be stressful enough on their own; add grief to the mix and they can seem unbearable. Here are some ways to cope with grief during the holidays.

 

1.) Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, whatever they are: sadness, anger, loneliness, etc. They are all a part of the grieving process and they don’t magically go away because it’s the holidays. Do try to be mindful of what you plan for the holidays so as not to overwhelm yourself.

 

2.) Consider traditions. Are there traditions that you had in the past that you would like to continue, even without the loved one? Are there traditions that you want to discontinue? Are there new traditions that you want to start? All of these options are OK. It is NOT a betrayal of the loved one to carry on; in fact, it is very likely that the would want you to do so. It is perfectly fine to celebrate the holidays AND remember the loved one at the same time.

 

3.) Remember, the anticipation of the day can often be worse than the actual day itself. We very frequently talk ourselves into believing that an event is going to be terrible, awful, etc., but when it arrives, it is not nearly as bad as we anticipated. Yes, there might be some pain as you go through the holidays without your loved one…but you can and will get through.

 

4.) Surround yourself with supports. This could be family, friends, clergy, mental health professionals, co-workers…anyone who is able to provide some emotional support for you. There is no shame in reaching out, and you don’t have to be alone.

 

 

By: Laura M. Wheeler, M.A.Ed., LPCC, LMFT

Managing Expectations to Have a Rational Holiday

Dec 28, 2017 in Ask The Therapist

How many of us have heard “this year will be different” or “ everyone will get along” and this will be the “perfect Christmas” just to be let down and eternally frustrated at the first sign of dissension, or at the initial flutterings of an argument. It doesn’t take much to ruin the picture that we have in our heads related to the expectation of a perfect holiday.
The truth is, there isn’t a perfect holiday. There are always things that go wrong, and there are always weeds in the garden, no matter how much we wish and hope that there aren’t. We
know, without a doubt, the things that go wrong, or the issues that come up that typically derail our hopes of having the perfect Christmas leading us to become frustrated, blow up, or totally
withdraw and give up.

The most important thing that we can do this time of year is to identify what expectations we have and evaluate what those are based on as well as the overall rationality of the expectations
that we identify. If we go through life expecting that there should not be weeds in the garden, or that things should always be the way I want them to be, we are going to eternally frustrated
It is easy to get away from the meaning of the holidays and get stuck on the way we believe things should be. The more that we focus on what should be, the further we move away from
what is right in front of us and what we do have.

As Shakespeare said: There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. If we do our best to try to focus on what is right in front of us and what we do have, and recognize what our expectations are, we can better prepare ourselves to remain rational throughout the holiday season and minimize our tendency to overreact to our expectations not being met.

 

Gregory Pollock, M.A.Ed., LPCC-S

Choosing the Right College

Dec 16, 2017 in Hot Topics

Aside from the holidays, it is starting to be the time of the year that high schoolers choose a college. The whole process can be very intimidating. There is a lot of pressure to choose the “right” college. How do you know which one to go with? What happens if you choose wrong?

 

Choosing the right school the first time can save you some trouble later. One of the first things you should think about to narrow your search, is to ensure that the school has what you want to study. Another thing to think about is where the school is in proximity to where you currently live. Sometimes people choose to move away for school, others commute. If you do choose to live on campus, a very important thing to keep in mind is which school feels like home. The means which school has the atmosphere, people, and resources you know you will thrive on.

 

Know that even if you do end up feeling like you chose wrong, you can always transfer to another school. It is a very common thing for students, up to 1/3 of undergrads transfer at least once. If you find yourself feeling that you would be a better fit somewhere else, whether it is socially or financially, you have the right to switch. Sometimes, the school does not have anything to do with it. People may find they want to change their major, and their school does not offer what they need anymore. You cannot be afraid to take a leap and do what you think is best for yourself.

 

College can be intimidating, but if you educate yourself before you make a decision, you will end up succeeding.