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Featured Articles

» Mental Health Library » Featured Articles
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Jennifer Lehr, MA, MFTSafety and Reactivity in Relationships
By Jennifer Lehr, MA, MFT
How many times have we begun a relationship, full of hope, only to have it crash and burn, or one party flee? Many of us have relational injuries from the past. This often manifests as a "fear of intimacy." Beneath this phrase, lurks not feeling safe in relationships. Our fathers may have had tempers, or our mothers may have been intrusive. A past partner may have been abusive, or perhaps their neediness or jealousy was a burden. A multitude of possibilities exist. Whatever the case, we found that relating to another could be costly. We learned to defend ourselves, to shut down, cover up, disappear, attack, or protect ourselves in some other way. We learned to not be too vulnerable, to only let the other in so far, or to run if we got scared. We learned to make ourselves safe by controlling the depth of the relationship in a variety of ways. See full article

Gwen Gruber, LCSWAre Eating Disorders Really Increasing in Middle Age?
By Gwen Gruber, LCSW
We live in a time where there is a tremendous obsession among many people to be thin. The aim of this article is to elaborate upon various aspects of this obsession, especially relating to my experience as a therapist. Carolyn Costin, MFT who is a well known author and practitioner poignantly illustrates in her book The Eating Disorder Source Book (2007) that eating disorders can strike at almost any age. Costin talks about how mothers used to call for treatment for their daughters; now she gets calls from daughters seeking treatment for their mothers. She talks about how Eating Disorders in midlife are becoming a growing area of concern. According to Costin, in the last few years cases of woman over 30 seeking treatment for an eating disorder has increased "400 percent." In my opinion an increase of "400 percent" is remarkable. See full article

Ondina Nandine Hatvany, MFTHelping Couples to Get Out of Negative Cycles
By Ondina Nandine Hatvany, MFT
I am often asked how I work with couples. This is probably as varied as the couples that I see, who are queer, alternative and traditional. However, if I had to pick a common area of focus, I would say it is to help couples free themselves from the claws of the negative cycles that they get caught in. In the first session, I usually ask the couple how they have tried to solve their problems. A typical response at this point is for each person to give me a long laundry list of what they think is wrong with their partner and what the partner needs to change. I call this the "The Blame/Shame Game.” It's a BIG trap and it keeps things very stuck! The 3 Steps to Get Out of the Blame/Shame Game: Step 1: Identifying the negative cycle... See full article

Gerald M. Stein, Ph.D.What to Expect in Your First Therapy Session
By Gerald M. Stein, Ph.D.
Going to therapy for the first time takes some courage. You are about to talk about some very personal things to someone who is a complete stranger. What can you expect? 1. First of all, expect to be at least a little bit nervous at the beginning. But even before you get inside the therapist’s office, you will have to fill out some paper work. You will also receive a written description of the therapist’s practice, including such details as whether the therapist accepts your medical insurance and how he handles that. Additionally, he will give you information about how your medical records are safe guarded and the extent to which those records are confidential. 2. The therapist should greet you, bring you into his consulting room, and sit face to face with you. Therapists generally want to convey "openness.” It is therefore rare for a therapist to sit behind a desk, with you on the other side. See full article

Kelly Romirowsky, PsyDTalk Therapy for Happier People
By Kelly Romirowsky, PsyD
Psychologists have made great strides in the assessment and treatment of all types of psychological disorders that cause distress and impair normal functioning. But what about those of you who are still functioning – you're going to work, doing the laundry, taking the kids to soccer practice – but you're just not as happy as you would like to be, or you're not on top of your game at work. You might not qualify for a diagnosis of a psychological disorder and probably wouldn’t even think you should talk to a professional. After all, you're not in crisis – you’re dealing with LIFE. Although the field of psychology will always be researching and discovering ways to treat the usual distressing stuff that brings someone into a therapist’s office, some psychologists are really switching their focus. See full article

Kelly Romirowsky, PsyDThe Sunday Night Ritual: Paying Attention
By Kelly Romirowsky, PsyD
What is Sunday night like in your house? Do you spend it trying to pretend tomorrow isn’t Monday? Do you make an endless to do list for the coming week? Do you get a stomachache just thinking about tomorrow? Do you pace your house because you can’t fall asleep? Or do you stay up until you’re bleary-eyed watching TV or surfing the web to keep your mind occupied? How ever you spend your Sunday night, for many of us, our Sunday night ritual could use a little makeover. Many people are spending lots of time and energy worrying about the economy, their bank accounts and how they will pay their next bill. Some are even feeling helpless and depressed as they go to a job they hate but can’t leave. See full article

Kelly Romirowsky, PsyDThe Sunday Night Ritual Part 2: Talking Back
By Kelly Romirowsky, PsyD
We are all familiar with that dreaded Sunday night ritual many of us have developed in response to knowing tomorrow is Monday. In part 1, I asked you to take notice of what you were feeling physically and emotionally and what thoughts were racing through your head on Sunday night before bed. The reason for doing this is we can't change what we don't recognize. As uncomfortable as it is to imagine or pay attention to what it feels like, it's important to get to know the ways in which you're handling the stress. Is your usual reaction to sit in front of the TV for hours to distract yourself, to busy yourself with housework, or to talk to your friend about your woes until you're blue in the face? Many people choose to avoid focusing on what it is that bothers them about this time. See full article

Roberta Rachel Omin, LCSWThe Place of Money in Our Lives: Addressing the Economic Crisis with Our Children
By Roberta Rachel Omin, LCSW
This economic crisis is unprecedented in our personal history. This is a period of precarious security, lost jobs, mounting foreclosures, dwindling retirement accounts, and overextended credit. Although Westchester is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, we are still affected. People are being laid off in many businesses. All of us are re-evaluating and modifying the way we have been living. We have less disposable income and have to be more cautious about how we spend it. For many of us, nothing is too far. However, forecasters state this deep recession will be here for a while. Parents have spoken with me about their concerns regarding talking with their children about the economy and its impact at home. See full article

Karen Rose Molenda, M.A., LMFTRe-Commitment in Midlife Marriage: A Letter to Couples, Part I
By Karen Rose Molenda, M.A., LMFT
So often it is the very qualities that in the beginning you love in your partner that later appear as their largest limitations and are the focus of constant resentment and bitterness between you as a couple. Perhaps he was so wonderfully laid back and had such a relaxed attitude about life that he beautifully complemented your anxiety and need for a fast-paced life. Perhaps it was he who soothed and comforted you when you were distressed, but now you find yourself describing this quality in him as unproductive, non-aggressive, or apathetic. Remember when you loved her outgoing, positive, confident sense of herself--how thankful you were that you had a woman who could take some of the pressure off of you in social gatherings when you experienced difficulty and discomfort at conversing in large groups? Perhaps now you experience that same quality as flirtatious, insincere, and sometimes evasive. These qualities within your partner have not changed. What has changed is your perception of the value of that quality within your life. See full article

Karen Rose Molenda, M.A., LMFTRe-Commitment in Midlife Marriage: A Letter to Couples, Part II
By Karen Rose Molenda, M.A., LMFT
Now that you have dedicated yourself to reflecting on the past and have resurrected some of those early memories and feelings, it is so important, even in this time of grave indecision and emotional turmoil, to look closely and carefully at your partner’s strengths. It is so easy yet so damaging to focus on a limited piece of your partner’s character that seems to be causing difficulty in your marriage. It is human nature to want to ignore any facts that may contaminate or dilute one’s desired outcome. It is so natural to want to come to a decision and therefore to select only those facts that will contribute to a quick and emphatic conclusion. There is always the temptation to eliminate as quickly as possible the stress inherent in decision making as well as to bypass the grief that often follows by making rapid determinations in order to put it behind and get on with life. See full article

Karen Rose Molenda, M.A., LMFTRe-Commitment in Midlife Marriage: A Letter to Couples, Part III
By Karen Rose Molenda, M.A., LMFT
If you and your partner decide that having reflected on your past and having developed plans to reconstruct your present you wish to commit to re-envisioning your future together, my heart and my respect reach out to you. One of the greatest tasks for individuals in midlife is to re-envision their marriage. I want you to understand that you and your partner will feel at times like a small boat being tossed about on a very large sea--seeing neither the land you left nor the land you hope to settle. I want you to understand and accept that you are far from being solely responsible for the burdens weighing on your marriage at this time of your life, and to value that in critical ways you and other contemporary couples face more challenges than ever before experienced in marriage. See full article

Patti Geier, LCSWThe Dark Side of Prescription Drugs
By Patti Geier, LCSW
A great deal has been written about alcoholism and drug addiction over the last two decades. However, information regarding prescription drug abuse and addiction only seems to surface when someone famous has a problem and needs treatment or dies. Historically, prescription drug addiction has been the most underreported drug abuse problem in the nation (National Institute of Drug Abuse). It is also the least understood. Addiction to and withdrawal from prescription drugs can be more dangerous than other substances because of the insidious nature of these drugs. Two types of the most commonly abused drugs are opioids and benzodiazepines. Opioids are generally used to control pain. Benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers, are used to manage anxiety. See full article

Patti Geier, LCSWCouple Therapy for Lesbians and Gay Men: The Basics
By Patti Geier, LCSW
I recently received a call from a woman who was interested in couple therapy. She and her partner were planning a wedding and thought it would be a good idea to have pre-marital counseling "to iron out a few problems." After a few months in treatment, they agreed that the work they accomplished benefited them as a couple and as individuals. They felt ready to begin the next chapter in their lives. I offer this example because it is so different from what I usually see. In my work with couples I have found---whether they are lesbian, gay, or straight---that by the time the couple comes to treatment, they are unable to talk to each other without fighting. Communication has broken down and their relationship is tense, volatile, and destructive. See full article

Patti Geier, LCSWThe Truth About Lesbian Bed Death
By Patti Geier, LCSW
A couple concerned about the lack of sexual desire and activity in their relationship, came to see me for a consultation. They had been living together for two years, loved each other and had no problem being affectionate. Sex, however, seemed to have fallen by the wayside after the first year. The couple had been avoiding the issue, but once it was raised, they realized they needed help. I offer this example because the couple happens to be heterosexual. What is Lesbian Bed Death? Lesbian bed death is a term coined by sociologist, Pepper Schwartz in her book, American Couples (1983). Although her methodology was challenged and her results questioned, the term Lesbian Bed Death became a catchphrase that is still used today. Does Lesbian Bed Death Really Exist? Lesbian Bed Death is a misnomer, if not a myth. See full article

Maxine Sushelsky, LMHCSelf Care Tools For Transitions: A Mental Health Perspective
By Maxine Sushelsky, LMHC
Transitions challenge us on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual. You might feel physically fatigued, unusually energized, or alternating between these two states. Your thoughts may be in overdrive, or you might feel mentally stalled. A myriad of feelings are likely to surface, including depression, sadness, loss, disappointment, fear, anxiety, anger, excitement, and hope. You might feel different around various people in your life; you might notice people treating you differently. You might want or expect different things from your relationships than in the past. On a spiritual level, you might find yourself questioning or changing your religious or spiritual beliefs. I’d like to provide some tools for taking care of yourself from a mental health perspective. See full article

Maryann B. Schaefer, Ph.D.Optimism and Health
By Maryann B. Schaefer, Ph.D.
How many times has someone said that you have a bad attitude, which pushes people away? How many times have you read that your attitude can impact on your physical health, as well as the quality of your life? There is a growing body of research which examines the effect your attitude has on your health, your sense of well-being, and even on your longevity? Some studies have revealed that individuals who view events through a prism of optimism generally have a more positive sense of their own well-being, are less likely to experience anxiety, are less prone to depression, and live longer and healthier lives. See full article

Debra Milinsky, LCSWCoping with Stress and Change
By Debra Milinsky, LCSW
Life is a problem-solving process... Even under the best of circumstances adjusting to changes and transitions are sometimes overwhelming, exceeding a person's usual ability to cope and adapt. Learning to anticipate responses and consequences, and to acknowledge and manage disappointments as these arise, are hallmarks of maturity and cornerstones of resilience. Troubling emotional and physical symptoms are more likely to develop when changes are unexpected, occur simultaneously, or are unremitting without opportunities for recovery and repair. In some cases, these stressful circumstances and experiences can trigger bouts of clinical depression or severe anxiety, which can upset relationships and impair performance at work or school. See full article

Maxine Sushelsky, MA, LMHCTransitions at Midlife
By Maxine Sushelsky, MA, LMHC
Midlife can be a time of upheaval and uncertainty. People might find themselves re-evaluating everything--themselves, their relationships, their careers. They often feel a sense of regret for paths not taken or parts of themselves never developed. They might feel a desire to pursue these discarded paths or explore undeveloped parts of themselves. Past trauma, hurts or other memories might surface or re-surface. People often find themselves drawn to new and unexpected ideas, interests, careers, or ways of being. For example, a person who has been goal-oriented or achievement-oriented for the first part of their adult life, at midlife might feel drawn to engaging in creative work or doing things simply for enjoyment without worrying about achieving a particular outcome. See full article

Abby Caplin, MD, MAThe most important question you should ask yourself if you are living with chronic illness, and three steps you need to take...
By Abby Caplin, MD, MA
People often feel intimidated when they visit their doctor. After all, doctors have worked hard: an undergraduate degree filled with science prerequisites, four years of medical school, then three to ten more years of grueling subspecialty training, often in world-renowned hospitals. They know so much about the human body and have studied for years. And of course they are so busy... Why shouldn’t people feel intimidated? The truth is that doctors do have a knowledge base and a relatively common standard of medical practice to which they adhere. But each person is unique, and illness is uniquely expressed in each individual. See full article

Terry Tempinski, PhDAnxiety: Friend or Foe?
By Terry Tempinski, PhD
We have all known the experience of being anxious, worried, and even panicked. While these symptoms can become overwhelming and debilitating, the good news is, generally speaking, anxiety is not difficult to treat. Let me explain. No one likes to be anxious. I am here to help you appreciate your anxiety as a very good friend who is trying to call your attention to a source of inner turmoil. Typically, anxiety is not difficult to treat because it is only a symptom. Its exploration in the course of psychotherapy offers clues as to the source of the problem, and once that cause is understood, and the work of resolving the underlying cause begins, the anxiety tends to remit. See full article

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