Sunday, April 12, 2009

How do you REALLY feel?

Do you really know how you feel? That sounds like a weird question, but I ask people that in therapy sessions and sometimes they don't really know how they feel about certain things. I think that is a key question that everyone must ask themselves throughout the day. We must understand that all feelings are okay and that sometimes we may make decisions based on feelings rather than on reason or fact. If we can stop and think logically about how we feel, then it might be easier to understand and control our feelings in certain situations.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Medication Management

I have many clients who opt to take medication in conjunction with psychotherapy. I feel that each client is responsible to rate their functioning levels and to determine if medication is right for them. The client often wants my opinion on this matter and I am neither for nor against medication. I tell the client it is solely their decision but I will help them to figure out what is best for them.

I often have clients enter therapy who have already been prescribed medication by their primary care physician for mental illness. Why do physicians do this? They refer patients to all kinds of specialists for all kinds of conditions, why not refer a client to a mental health specialist??? I make a point to spend time with my clients to explain why going to a mental health specialist such as a Psychiatrist is very important. I ask "If you had diabetes, cancer or a heart condition would you go to a specialist?" They always answer "Of course!" So why wouldn't they go to a specialist for a mental condition? We discuss that a Psychiatrist is a specialist for a reason and that they only deal with mental illness. They also prescribe blood work to follow some levels of medication in your system.

An example:
A man goes to his primary care physician for signs of depression. Over the course of about 6 months, the man is prescribed about 3 different medications that "weren't working", as reported by the client. The client was in therapy (not with me) and the doctor continued to recommend medications without referring to a mental health specialist. The last time, he was prescribed a cocktail of medications. Well, because the client wasn't properly diagnosed and because the doctor obviously didn't have extensive experience with mental illness, the client had an adverse reaction to the drug combination and became suicidal. Thank goodness he was able to reach out for help and was admitted to a psychiatric unit where they immediately rearranged his medications and gave him the proper diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

This was not the first or last story I have heard on this topic. I am happy to use this forum to educate others to make sure they see a mental health specialist who will give them the proper diagnosis and medication. I realize there are certain taboos regarding mental health professionals but sometimes we have to realize it could save your life!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Challenge Yourself

Are you the type of person who sits idle and thrives on consistency and repetition? Or, do you tend to take risks and challenge yourself? I don't necessarily mean a challenge in a competition, but challenging yourself to create a change in your life. Doing something outside of your comfort zone is a challenge for some people. All kinds of feelings are created and come to the surface when challenging yourself. You may feel anxious, excited, doubtful or proud. Some people keep their challenges a secret, like if they are dieting. Others may announce it to the world like getting engaged to be married. Being mentally ready for a personal challenge is very important in order to succeed. Positive self talk and self encouragement are also good qualities to have when preparing for a challenge. Make sure you give yourself ample time to adjust to the change that may come after the challenge is successful. This may require that you select people in your life that will support the change. If you really sit and think about it, you have probably challenged yourself recently or are planning to challenge yourself in the near future. People tend to challenge themselves around the new year. It's called the New Year's Resolution.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Why Me"

What brings many clients to my office is what I call the "Why Me" Syndrome. This is when a person feels that one bad thing after the other keeps happening to them. They are unable to cope with multiple issues at once and feel that the world is caving in on them. In a case like this, I feel it is important to prioritize what to start coping with first. If the person can organize their situations and choose one thing at a time to deal with, life might not feel as overwhelming. Some people need guidance in this department. I always suggest writing things down so their mind doesn't feel all jumbled and it is easier to organize yourself if it is in front of you. Some people resist writing it down because then it becomes real. The client in this position often uses the phrase "Why me?" quite often but once a plan is in place on what to start coping with first, the client usually feels a huge weight lifted off of their shoulders. This type of client tends to take on some issues that really aren't even their issues to deal with. For example, a mother might feel it is her responsibility to take care of or deal with her adult daughters problems. In this case it is important to help the client realize that although she can support her daughter during a difficult time, it is not the clients responsibility to resolve the problem. It is very important for clients to have patience and not to expect results right away. Being frustrated due to slow progress could add to the "Why me" syndrome. So, just to recap: if you have the "Why Me" Syndrome, write down all the current situations that you are unable to cope with, organize and prioritize your list from most important down, then start to tackle each situation. Make sure you get the support you need and try to conquer only your own issues, one at a time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting To Know and Understand Yourself

One of the biggest challenges in life can be to understand why we do the things we do. It can take a lot of soul searching to get at the deep feelings people have and to understand the actions they take on a conscious and unconscious level. It's important to listen to criticism and use it to their advantage to change or correct their behaviors. First, people must recognize that they may be projecting their feelings towards others in a negative way. Then they must be willing to change their behavior not only because of others peoples reactions but because they want to change. It takes courage to learn where the feelings are coming from and then to actually change their behaviors. Of course, this may be a difficult task to accomplish on your own. This is when psychotherapy would be beneficial to assist and guide the person through the process of getting to know and understand themselves.

Monday, December 15, 2008

About Me

I have been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for over 10 years. I have worked in several different agencies with many different populations. Currently I am employed at a special education pre-school and I have a private practice in Commack, New York. I consider my private practice a general practice due to the many issues that I have helped client's deal with. I have extensive experience working with children of all ages and with parents on many types of parenting issues. I have also worked with clients who suffer from depression, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, life transitions, couple's problems, sexual identity issues, and OCD. I am also a Certified Hypnotherapist who can incorporate hypnotherapy with psychotherapy if appropriate. I consider my practice eclectic and I believe in therapy goals to keep the progression ongoing.