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» Provider Directory » Find a Therapist » Connecticut » Collinsville Therapists » Therapist Profile


Cara Lattizori Nguyen, Psy.D., LLC


Am I Depressed or Sad?

Emotions serve an important biological function that is directly linked to the survival of a species, including humans. Understanding this helps to recognize why they impact us so intensely at times and are difficult to ignore. Think of a fire alarm: it sounds the same tone and raises the same level of heightened attention whether it is due to an actual fire or faulty wiring. In the same way, our feelings may be related to actual (or perceived) threat in the environment or imbalances in the level of neurotransmitters (chemicals released by our brains to regulate our system) or hormones. Sometimes problems with emotions are a combination of factors, such as in situations that lead to chronic stress which develops into depression, anxiety or other emotion based problems later on.

It is important to recognize emotions for what they are; transient, temporary bodily states that trigger responses in your body. They are an important source of information for you, but they do not define who you are. You are not an angry person, a sad person, a scared person. You are someone who is experiencing these emotions and you will experience others in the future, including happiness, joy or curiosity.

Tolerating "negative” emotions (sadness, anger, and anxiety) is a difficult job, at times made more difficult by the meaning that we and others attach to them. For instance, if we confuse being angry with being "mean” or "intolerant” we may overlook information about our environment that may require action. If others are mistreating us, it is ok to feel angry about this and to respectfully take steps to protect ourselves. Often, when we find a balanced, assertive response to our environment, anger diminishes and we feel calmer. Alternatively, if we always try to "stuff down” or fight anger, we may find that we become hopeless, bitter and sad.

So, how do we know if our emotions have developed into more than sadness, irritation or realistic worries? The simple answer is that they are negatively impacting our lives by keeping us from functioning on the level to which we aspire. If we are too worried to concentrate at work, too sad or unmotivated to enjoy or even participate in things that we love to do, it may be time to seek help; either from friends or a professional.

What Is a Psychologist?

With the exception of "School Psychologists,” a Psychologist in the state of Connecticut, is an individual with a Doctorate degree in Psychology (Ed.D., Ph.D. or Psy.D.) who has completed at least one year of internship, has at least one of year post-doctorate experience, has taken and passed an examination on the laws of Connecticut related to psychotherapy and has taken and passed an examination for Psychologists (similar to the idea of a bar exam for lawyers.) In order to refer to oneself as a Psychologist in Connecticut, one must be licensed by the state of Connecticut. Complaints regarding Psychologists or any professional with a license in Connecticut may be made to the Department of Public Health.

Psychologists in Connecticut cannot prescribe medication. Individuals who are able to prescribe medication are Psychiatrists, who hold a medical degree (M.D.) or those with a particular nursing degree (APRN.) Psychologists can be found in many different specialties, and provide many services that are also offered by other professionals, which can include: individual therapy, group therapy, marriage and family therapy, consultation and coaching.

A main difference between Psychologists and other disciplines is the area of assessment. Psychologists receive specialized training in Cognitive assessment (IQ tests, etc.), Neuropsychological assessment and Personality assessment. While other disciplines may be able to administer some instruments, Psychologists are recognized as receiving training in advanced assessment measures and are often called upon by schools, courts and clinicians to assist in providing diagnostic information and treatment recommendations.

What Can I Expect in Therapy?

Therapists are not all the same. We have different approaches, specialties and levels of experience. Some of finding the right therapist is finding the right match for you and your style. Don’t be afraid to "shop around” if you are not comfortable with the therapist you have chosen.
My approach to therapy is non-directive; in other words, I want to foster your ability to solve problems in your life by exploring them together, rather than seeking to impose arbitrary standards. I am willing to provide information to you to provide a context for decisions as you face them. My overarching goal in therapy is to help empower you to solve problems and by doing so learn to deal more effectively with issues that may occur in the future.

Benefits from therapy can include improving coping skills, increasing feelings of relaxation or positive moods, and overcoming fears or anxiety. It can also be a useful way to learn new styles of coping with stressful or painful experiences in our past and help make us strong when facing problems in the future. Therapy does involve some risks as well. Sometimes, you may experience strong emotions during sessions, particularly if you are facing difficult or painful memories or events in your life.

How Can I search for a Psychologist or Therapist?

There are many ways to search for a therapist, but it can be an understandably tricky process. There are internet sites available to help facilitate finding a name and contact information, but it is often difficult to know how to distinguish between providers. An important person who may be able to provide guidance is your family doctor, who often has a list of mental health professionals to refer clients to in the area.

If you are concerned about finding a reputable practitioner, there are some reasonable steps you can take to determine a therapist’s competence. In Connecticut, in order to practice independently without supervision, one must hold a license. You can search certain providers’ names to determine if complaints have been made and substantiated in the past. Another thing to keep an eye out for is membership in professional organizations which often serve as "watch guards” for providers by establishing ethical guidelines, and provide continuing education opportunities for members. The professional organization most Psychologists are affiliated with is the American Psychological Association or APA.

Cara Lattizori Nguyen, Psy.D., LLC, Collinsville

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Collinsville, CT 06019

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Last Modified: 3/30/2020  

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