Ask The Therapist

Trichotillomania

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! 

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What it’s Like to Be a 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!

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & its Treatment

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

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“Whole Brain” Parenting

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

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Say a Big NO to New Years Resolutions

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

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

 

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

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