Birth Order – Bergen County, NJ

Birth Order

By Laine Podell

The order that you were born in relation to your siblings can be used as a predictor of traits and characteristics of your personality that are likely to develop.  Each trait suggested aligns with aspects of common family dynamic patterns.

Take the first-born child. They are often given the most responsibilities because as the oldest they are expected to step up into a leadership role. This may include babysitting the younger siblings or cousins. As the oldest they are also the “first” for everything. Being the first child to obtain a license means the first to have to help parents with running errands or carpooling. This natural responsibility falls upon the first born and causes them to become natural leaders. A leadership mentality translates into the workplace and social life.

Next is the middle-child. This child has to manage the influence from the older sibling as well as the responsibility of the younger. Often they become a chameleon of sorts, stuck in the middle and learning to fall into multiple roles. They are often strong at handling mediation and conflict in the workplace and are able to get along with a variety of personalities in their social life.

Finally is the last-born child. Sometimes, the last born can be over-shadowed by the older children’s more pertinent needs—helping a child with high school exams takes priority over playing with coloring books and board games. This creates an attention seeking child, for instance becoming a class clown. More so, the word “charmer” is often mentioned in regard to youngest children. Taking advantage of their position as the baby of the family the last-born child knows what it takes to get their way, even if that means using manipulation.


Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s and the DSM-V – Bergen County, NJ


By Laine Podell

After the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders one of the changes most covered by the media was the “disappearance” of Asperger’s Disorders. However, mainstream media portrayed a skewed message. To say that Asperger’s has disappeared, implies those previously classified as having Asperger’s lost their diagnosis, and that is not accurate. Rather, the term has been removed and those with a prior Asperger’s diagnosis are now to be considered on the spectrum for Autism Spectrum Disorder. This merge does not trivialize or eliminate the validity of the diagnosis; it is rather just an edit.

Yet major news sources, including coverage from Fox and CBS, have the public believing this disorder vanished from the world of mental health. For instance one headline read “Asperger’s syndrome will be dropped from the latest edition of the…DSM-5”.  It is important to recognize the distinction; eliminating an illness from the DSM-V is quite different than altering the terminology. The new diagnosis of mild Autism Spectrum Disorder does not change the person behind illness.

It is important to point out that the media was correct to bring attention to this issue. The change does have an effect on certain issues, including insurance reimbursement. Although the news may be coloring their stories in a way that is deceiving, the change did occur and is important to be recognized.

At the end of the day, when debating the changes to the DSM-V, be sure to have the information beyond the headlines.



Cannabis- The Disadvantages of Marijuana Use- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna

Disadvantages of Marijuana Use

Disadvantages of Marijuana Use

Continued from post below:

Aside from the hype and popularity that Marijuana has today in our society, for medicinal purposes and recreational reasons, it has been found that cannabis is capable of causing one’s physical health to suffer if consumed by smoking-which usually it is. Marijuana can damage the respiratory system and can lead to problems such as chronic bronchitis and lung issues. Anything that is inhaled that’s not pure will cause damage to the respiratory system; smoking definitely is not recommended for people suffering from severe or chronic health issues. Cannabis can also alter the mind with the main component THC in negative ways as well.

THC can cause short term side effects that include:

  • Changes in appetite.
  • Dependency issues.

*“9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among people who use marijuana daily ( 25-50 percent).” {}

  • Heightened Paranoia if stress is present; or if an individual is more prone to paranoid/ anxious thoughts.
  • Short term memory loss.
  • Some say Marijuana is a “gateway” drug that leads to using more serious drugs.
  • Less motivation and Drive in an individual’s behavior.

 Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite, anxiety.
  • Long term memory loss
  • Drug cravings, all of which can make it hard to stop.

 “Research shows marijuana may cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. Heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to non-marijuana-using peers.”

  • For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.” {.gov}

If you or a loved one happens to be experiencing some negative consequences from smoking marijuana or possible addiction, then it is important to recognize this, and refrain from smoking cannabis; especially if it is illegal and compromising your mental and physical abilities. If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey, feel free to call our Paramus office at 201-368-3700 to make an appointment with one of our own therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists to receive help.


“DrugFacts: Marijuana.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2014.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cannabis Use- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna

Medicinal Marijuana: Advantages & Disadvantages

Medicinal Marijuana: Advantages & Disadvantages

Marijuana consists of dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which contains the psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as other similar compounds. Marijuana is currently the most widely used illegal drug in the United States.  Its use for medicinal and recreational purposes has been hotly debated. Starting with California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, several state governments have been approving the use of marijuana if recommended by a physician. Recently, the state of Colorado became the first to legalize recreational marijuana use, and more states are joining including New Jersey; where cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes. In order to get cannabis for medicinal treatment one must be approved by a doctor and follow strict regulations implemented by the law of the state. As cannabis becomes more prominent issue in our society, it is important to consider the potential effects its use could have on one’s health. With the legalization marijuana spreading through the states it’s easy to see that there might be major advantages of Marijuana use:

Some Advantages of Marijuana use:

  • Cancer patients suffering terrible symptoms from chemotherapy use marijuana to relieve the pain and nausea that the chemotherapy creates. It also helps with loss of appetite.
  • MS patients may experience reductions in pain and spasticity as a result of Marijuana use (National MS Society)
  • Marijuana may have anti-seizure properties and is used for relief by some patients suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders. (Jones
  • Certain strains of the cannabis plant have anxiety-reducing effects and may improve for some patients suffering from insomnia.
  • Marijuana can cause reduction in depressed mood and encourage positive affect in patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (Spiegel), Some doctors recommend the use of it to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). (Ellison)
  •  Marijuana has been shown to help pain relief in patients suffering from Fiber Myalgia
  • Cannabis can lower intraocular pressure to treat glaucoma if  traditional medicines do not work (Glaucoma Research Foundation)

There are many mixed opinions when it comes to the topic of cannabis, and whether it actually benefit people overall or if it’s just as dangerous as other drugs in its class. If you or someone you know is experiencing medical issues and feels that cannabis could be a solution, and live in a state where it’s medicinally legal and distributed, Discuss your diagnosis with a doctor. Discuss whether it complies with the rules of your state and whether you can be prescribed medical marijuana. Speak with a therapist or doctor to see if it could potentially be the answer for you or a loved one.

Feel free to contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists for an evaluation to see if you should move forward with meeting someone who specializes in Marijuana cases in the state you currently live in or if there are other alternatives.

To see the Disadvantages of Cannabis use continue reading the post above!


1.Ellison, Katherine.”Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 22 May>.

2.”DrugFacts: Marijuana.”National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.>. – Spiegel

4..Dobman & Kleiman. “Journal of Clinical Oncology.” Marijuana as Antiemetic Medicine: A Survey of Oncologists’ Experiences and Attitudes. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.>.

Fear of Failure-A Steppingstone to Success- Bergen County, Nj

By: Laine Podell

Fear of Failure

Fear of Failure

Often people hesitate to work towards their goals and dreams due to fear of failure. Imagining the worst possible scenario before even giving it a try is detrimental. To overcome this fear we must redefine what it means to fail.

With any goal—from starting a business to trying to lose weight—it is frustrating to have setbacks and feel as though you are failing. However, at least to some degree, there will always be obstacles in a plan. What is important is having the strength to get back up after falling off track. To help build up this strength, constantly remind yourself along the way that it is normal to have missteps.

In fact, failing is not only inevitable but also beneficial. With every error, recognize what went wrong and use it as fuel to improve your plan the next time around. Each mistake is a lesson to help us reach our goal in the end, and with the greatest level of achievement.

Yes, failing can be painful. But that pain is only a short-term bump in the road. Try looking beyond that bump to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Failure can now be redefined as a steppingstone to success.

If the fear of failure is causing impairment in your life, professional counseling is a valuable resource. If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey, feel free to call 201-368-3700 to find out more information or make an appointment with one of our own counselors, therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists.


The Power of Compassion- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna


Positive Psychology:Psychotherapy & Compassion

What is compassion? For dozens of year’s clinical research has focused on elucidating on the psychology of human suffering. Suffering, an unpleasant part in life, often also has a lighter side, which unfortunately research has paid less attention to in prior studies: this being compassion.

How does compassion differentiate from altruism and empathy?

Empathy is described as an emotional experience of another person’s feelings. It is, in a sense, an automatic mirroring or understanding of others emotions. Pure empathy can be shown in various ways: if one is witnessing a loved one cry over a loss of their puppy that just died and made you cry as well; this is when empathy appears externally. Altruism can be correlated with empathy in some ways because when one performs actions of altruism, it is selflessness in purest form; it’s a positive characteristic trait to have, whether it is followed by compassion or empathy. A donation to a charity can be an example of an act of altruism; it is an action that benefits someone else.

  • Compassion can involve both empathic and altruistic behavior because it is an emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help others.

Compared to other positive emotions, compassion has been predominantly neglected. Likely because, until psychology defines an emotion, it is extremely difficult to measure or study it. Often when something is not clearly defined, easily understood, measured or weighed, it is as though that idea does not exist. However, compassion and love do exist, they are real feelings just as real and important as anger and anxiety is. Although we cannot measure compassion as we could in tests performed for anxiety, mood disorders, depression etc. It is believed that we’re born with compassion but betrayal, abandonment and rejection displace it with other feelings like anger and resentment.

  • “A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that this is just true, that both animals and humans might have what Dacher Keltner from the University of California calls a “compassionate instinct,” a natural response that ensures survival.”
  • In The Descent of Man and Selection In Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin argued for “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive.” In another passage, he comments “communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” Compassion may indeed be a naturally evolved and adaptive trait. Without it, the survival and flourishing of our species would have been unlikely.”

In an approach to Western psychological tradition, our greatest thinkers and researchers have focused on understanding hysteria, obsessions, psychoses, compulsions, depression, anxiety, impulsive anger, personality disorders etc. On the other hand, very little scientific research or theoretical thought has gone into understanding positive emotions or the psychology of human strengths and well -being.

The reason a compassionate lifestyle can lead to healthier psychological well-being can be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving. In a brain image study conducted by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institutes of Health, it appeared that the act of giving is pleasurable just as much as receiving is; this study displays that the “pleasure centers” in the brain, i.e., the parts of the brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, and sex), are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves! Thus, giving to others habitually increases over all well being, above and beyond what we experience when we spend money on ourselves.

In addition, Leading researcher in positive psychology, and APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Martin Seligman, a pioneer of the psychology of happiness and human flourishing, suggests that connecting with others in a meaningful way helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; furthermore has shown that it may even lengthen our life spans.

“Sometimes we imagine that we can find happiness outside of ourselves-in wealth, success, fame, work, or relationships. The truth is that the extent to which we are happy depends mainly on our emotions. Even if we together with someone close to us in a very beautiful setting, if we ourselves are feeling extremely anxious or angry then we certainly won’t be happy. On the other hand, if we’re feeling very strong love or compassion, then we can be happy even in difficult external circumstances.”

  • Different forms of compassion: Paul Ekman, PhD, a world-renowned expert on facial expressions has classified compassion into the following forms:
  1. Emotion recognition: knowing how another person is feeling.
  2. Emotional resonance: Feeling the other person’s pain
  3. Familial Compassion: Planted through the caregiver-offspring bond is the seed of all compassion.
  4. Global Compassion: refers to feeling part of the whole.
  5. Sentient Compassion: Extended to all living things.
  6. Heroic Compassion: Is a form of altruism in which a person takes a risk

In the psychotherapy field, those who support compassion as a therapeutic tool, can believe that it helps patients gain not only self control and mental clarity, but also the capacity to observe others, feel their pain and respond with kindness, acceptance and compassion. This doesn’t just improve the relationship one has with themselves but also relationships with others.

 If lack of passion is causing stress or anxiety, Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey and Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy, where psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists with years of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques that can help you conquer current struggles. Call (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit for more information.


Listening: A Multifaceted Skill- Bergen County, NJ

By: Laine Podell


Listening: A Multifaceted Skill

One of the traits many people look for in a partner is good listening skills. But what does it actually take to qualify as a “good listener”?

Imagine the following scenario—someone gets upset because they feel their partner is not listening to them. The partner counters by repeating the most recent lines that were spoken, to prove they were indeed listening. This response shows they heard the words, not that they were being a good listener.  There are many other factors we must consider besides hearing, to recognize good listening skills.

First is providing undivided attention. While having a conversation, if you are simultaneously watching a baseball game or flipping through a clothing catalogue, you are not being the best listener you can be. Find a time when both parties can provide their complete attention.

Next, remember that listening involves two senses—hearing and seeing. Of course you must hear the words, but communication is largely about body language. A good listener additionally looks for nonverbal cues to properly understand what is said. Facial expressions and posture are two examples of cues which are an important part of connection.

 Finally, hearing is meaningless until the words are processed and understood. Absorb what was said, and provide a response when appropriate. If you do not understanding something, ask the person for clarification. Sometimes it may take interpreting, while other cases may be more straightforward.

 Always remember that listening is multifaceted. If communication is an issue in your relationship or family, professional counseling may be beneficial. If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey, feel free to call 201-368-3700 to find out more information or make an appointment with one of our own licensed professional counselors, therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists who have helped many with troubles such as yours.

How to Get Inspired and Stay Motivated- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna

How to get inspired and stay motivated in life!

How to get inspired and stay motivated in life!

It can be hard to manage daily struggles and that is why it is important to get inspired and stay motivated. If you feel anxious, depressed or any feelings that are causing mental distress, inspiration can change the way you feel or think about life. If you find something that inspires you it keeps you motivated. Thus, when you’re motivated you will have a higher chance of succeeding in life and reaching the goals that will make you happy and reduce some mental struggles that you or a loved one might be facing.

How can you get inspired?

Inspiration can come from many things in life. An individual can be inspired by a book and its teachings, a scholar, education, belief systems or by a friend that started working out and is getting the results they want by taking action. Inspiration drives motivation; it makes a thought turn into action and fulfill the goals and future dreams people have in their lives.

So to answer the question as to how to get inspired one must take into consideration that every individual is different on what makes them feel happy and what drives them  to be motivated. However, if you feel that it might be taking you a little more time to find inspiration to give you the motivation you need here are some tips:

  • Set one goal: This goal can be anything. Find a deal going on at a local dance studio in your area and take dancing lessons! Try something new and out of your element; sometimes this can inspire you to understand what you really enjoy doing in life. This can be in work settings, school environments and at home. Example: before work have a half hour every morning for yourself to have coffee and read a magazine or book you like: do something leisurely before you begin a long day! It’s good to set a goal and make sure that you dedicate time to it.

Give yourself a time frame: You have less time to procrastinate and not fulfill the goal if you know when you want to achieve the goal. Though, If you like the new activity in your life and it inspires you to be more motivated then keep doing it! Self discipline is hard and if you achieve this goal at the end you can set more goals and have higher self esteem! Only handle tasks you can handle, don’t overload yourself.

  • Get excited and build anticipation: Yes! Get excited, plan a trip if you can, even a day trip to the beach in the near future. Have the date planned ahead of time so you have something to look forward to and get excited about! When people know that there is something other than their daily routine schedule in life, they are more likely to be motivated. The thought of the date and the exciting event planned can preoccupy your mind and help keep bad thoughts and hopelessness from arising.
  • Take a risk & don’t restrict yourself: Believe in yourself and take a risk. If you don’t take chances and risks in life you will most likely not see your full potential. What is defining your life? Your job title? Your marital status? Your friends/ family?

YOU have to define yourself. All of these aspects stated are important if discussing what consumes most of your time and overall lifestyle. Yet, allowing yourself to take risks allows you to detach yourself from areas in your life that might restrict you from feeling inspired by something new, and gives you more leverage to attach yourself to other new ventures. These new ventures could potentially be scary but improve the quality of your lifestyle. Thus, work, family and friends etc. can still be priorities and bring happiness in your life. However, an individual’s title in their career and whether they’re married or single is not all that shapes a person; but their other passions and hobbies shape them too. Motivating yourself to take more risks can lead to potential gains in every aspect in your life. Note that with risk taking you might not always succeed in the risky undertaking, but try not to let the chance of failure stop you. Failure happens to everyone at some point in their life and it can be a huge life lesson, and motivate you to change for the better.

 If you don’t take chances life can be stagnant and lead to less motivation and the feelings of being inspired. Take a risk and get excited to live the life you want and deserve!

If you are experiencing feelings or hopelessness or not feeling fulfilled, Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey and Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy, where psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists with years of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques that can help you conquer current struggles. Call (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit for more information.


  • Babauta,Leo. “Zenhabits : Breathe.” Zenhabits RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May

Anxiety: Fear or phobia? – How to tell when a fear crosses the line, and what to do about it

By: Davine Holness

how to cure a phobia

Phobias tend to be of things that posed a threat to our ancestors

Fear is a basic part of human existence. Everyone has something that scares them or causes anxiety. Fear is adaptive: it evolved to protect us from harm. However, once fear reaches a certain extreme level, it does more harm than good. That is where phobia comes in.

A phobia is a fear of a specific object or circumstance. It is a fear that causes enormous anxiety. What differentiates it from regular fear is that it is usually irrational causes marked impairment in functioning or marked distress. Fear is inconvenient at worst, whereas phobia gets in the way of one’s life.

On the bright side, it is possible to overcome the crippling fear and anxiety that accompany a phobia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has brought us a highly effective treatment: exposure therapy. This can be daunting because it encourages the individual to expose himself or herself to what scares them the most. However, this is done in gradual steps, and ideally with a therapist helping the individual relax and reassess his or her thoughts. For instance, a patient with an overwhelming fear of flying might spend the first therapy session simply imagining being on a plane. Step by step, the patient works his or her way up to taking a ride on a plane. Facing your fears helps you learn not to associate the stimulus with the immediate fear that is your usual response. With time and hard work, exposure has been shown to free people from the shackles of their phobias, fears and anxiety.

If you are suffering from intense fear, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey and Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy, where psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists with years of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques can help you conquer your fears. Call (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

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Fader, J. (2014, May 5). Three Ways to Face Your Phobia. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 28, 2014

Daydreaming: Stifling Focus or Improving Creativity? – Bergen County, NJ


By Irada Yunusova

                It is common to find yourself lost in thought, unaware of your surroundings. As many as 96% of adults report having at least one bout of daily fantasies. Although some individuals identify daydreaming as a problem, it is an integral part of brain functioning and has many positive aspects. Modern psychology even identifies daydreaming as a creative process and a mental workout which strengthens the brain’s ability to mentally juggle tasks. An ongoing focus of research, the neural basis of daydreaming can help elucidate positive and negative aspects of mind wandering.

Neuroscientists first studied the neural basis for daydreaming while analyzing brain scans of research participants completing various mental tasks of memory and attention. The researchers noted that certain structures of the brain were more active during periods of daydreaming and were “turned off” when participants shifted their focus to cognitive tasks. The linkage of the frontal cortex, the limbic system, and several other cortical areas of the brain involved in sensory experience have come to be known as the brain’s “default network,” and are considered the basis of daydreaming. During daydreaming, the default network generates its own stimulation, generating “stimulus independent thought,” descriptive of the disconnect from the outside environment. The brain also utilizes the “executive network,” associated with complex problem solving, when the mind wanders.

Both positive and negative aspects of daydreaming have been identified. Recent correlational studies have found that the content of the daydreams may impact life satisfaction, where higher levels of life satisfaction are associated with daydreams focused on close family and friends, and lower levels of satisfaction are associated with daydreams about past or potential romantic partners, strangers, or fictional characters.  Studies have also found that daydreaming about faraway places or situations may lead to poorer memory than daydreaming with themes closer to current reality. Maladaptive daydreaming, defined as an extensive daydream that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that people envision in their own minds, can be a serious issue. Although individuals may find themselves constantly obsessing over a certain issue, this “tunnel vision” may prevent effective brainstorming, and daydreaming may facilitate the full-range access to memory banks. Mind-wandering can also help get to solutions that the conscious mind cannot see, leading to “Eureka moments”.

Daydreaming may be an uncontrollable process requiring continued research. Forums, blogs, and therapy may be helpful in instances of maladaptive daydreaming, if the individual is worried that mind wandering is interfering with his functioning.  However, the positive aspects of daydreaming are clear, and it can be utilized to expand creative facets and improve life satisfaction. The next time you find yourself daydreaming, instead of trying to snap back to reality, maybe you can find exploring your mind’s musings both helpful and enjoyable.