- Children and Adolescents
- Eating Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Relationship Problems
- Substance Use and Abuse
Anxiety, often called “stress,” is our body’s response to a perceived threat. We all experience anxiety from time to time. However, anxiety can become a problem when it is persistent and unmanageable and begins to interfere with life. Whether it is felt suddenly and “out of the blue” in the form of panic or chronically in the form of worry, there are ways to learn to cope with anxiety and reduce its harmful effects in your life. Therapy can help you learn about the sources of your anxiety, and how to reduce and manage your anxiety.
Clients younger than 18 years old are almost always referred by a parent or teacher. Treatment includes the individual child or adolescent and focuses on the contexts in which problems occur. Treatment of many children and adolescents includes work with the family and sometimes with the school. Our child psychologists have training in this specialty, and our school psychologist is certified in Pennsylvania to work closely with schools and parents in development of educational and treatment plans.
Behavior management training helps parents learn strategies they can use at home to reduce their child’s behavior problems and improve their child’s social skills. Training usually can be completed in 6 to 12 sessions and involves practice assignments. Behavior management training is one of the most effective treatments for children who argue, refuse to follow directions, and fight with siblings or peers. Behavior management training is one of the most effective treatments for children who are shy or who have strong fears that interfere with their healthy adjustment.
Disordered eating patterns include a wide range of unhealthy eating behaviors, negative self-perceptions, and efforts to cope with feelings such as fear, sadness, inadequacy, and lack of control. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by intense fear of becoming fat, inaccurate perception of one’s size and shape, restrictive eating patterns, and medical problems associated with dangerously low body weight. Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binges (eating enormous quantities of food at one time, and feeling powerless to stop) accompanied by extreme methods of compensating for caloric intake (self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, and excessive exercise are three examples). Eating disorders may be life-threatening. Although most sufferers are female, men, too, can have this disorder. College students are particularly vulnerable, but people of all ages suffer from eating disorders. Recovering from disordered eating patterns involves making changes in self-evaluations, expanding options and skills for coping with stress, and changing the ways in which one “uses” food.
While we have all felt “blue” or “down” at times in our lives, and “up” at other times, mood disorders represent the extremes of the normal continuum of our mood. When feelings of sadness and hopelessness or extreme elevated mood and irritation begin to last beyond a week or two and interfere with life and relationships, you may be suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, the two most common mood disorders. One out of every six adults will experience a depressive episode during their lifetimes. Psychotherapy has been shown to be very effective in helping with most depressive episodes.
We all develop unique ways of perceiving, relating to and thinking about ourselves and our environment. We call these our personality traits. When these ways of experiencing ourselves and our relationships to others become persistent and inflexible, they often become maladaptive and begin to cause distress to us or the people close to us. It may seem that you are your own worst enemy because you so often unintentionally contribute to your own problems. Recognizing these patterns, sorting them out, and learning healthy and more successful strategies is the goal in treatment of personality disorders.
Relationships are essential to our emotional well-being and happiness. However, they are delicate and require ongoing work to maintain. They can also be a major cause of a range of emotional health problems when they go wrong. Small differences combined with poor communication skills can easily cause a pattern of constant arguing and relationship conflict. Distance develops, we grow apart, feelings of trust deteriorate, and a vicious cycle of negativity can develop. Therapy can help you learn to identify the interpersonal patterns that get you in trouble. Genuinely and clearly expressing your feelings, as well as listening to and understanding the concerns of your partner, lead to happier and healthier relationships.
Most individuals at some point in their lives use alcohol or some other substance which can directly affect mood, perception, or mental functioning. The use of pain killers (narcotics), anti-anxiety “tranquilizers,” stimulants, and sleep aids have greatly expanded the range of “substances” that are available. And most “mood altering substances” have the potential of becoming abused.
Professionals specializing in substance use (signified as a Certified Addiction Counselor), work with individuals who are concerned about the role that their use of some substance has in their lives. The initial step is to collaborate with the individual to evaluate the pattern of use. Unpleasant circumstances that occurred while using a substance commonly serve as the motivational basis for seeking professional services—whether mandated by the court, pressured by family members, or personally motivated. Treatment involves making changes in behavior, understanding contributing factors, and monitoring progress in healthy directions. The involvement of partners, family, and supportive resources are typically important elements. The specialty of Substance Use and Abuse can also include services for family members, partners, and employers who are experiencing the impact of someone else’s use of substances.
Trauma is a broad term that includes many different types of overwhelmingly negative experiences, such as exposure to a physical and/or sexual assault, an abusive relationship, a military or combat situation, an accident, or a natural disaster. Such experiences can result in ongoing fear, sadness, anger, guilt, shame, memory loss, relationship difficulties, sleep problems, and/or a sense of feeling permanently changed or damaged. Recovering from trauma is a highly personal experience. Many people find it helpful to build a greater understanding of the traumatic experience, and to consider options for rebuilding senses of safety and trust. Stress management and relaxation skills often play an important role in recovery.