Substance Dependence: Decriminalization – Bergen County, NJ


By: Samantha Santo

In a world where there is a War on Drugs it is hard to look at substance dependence and addiction through an unbiased eye.  People who are dependent on drugs tend to be looked at as horrible people who do not care about themselves or the people around them.  The War on Drugs began in order to decrease illegal drug use and addiction.  In doing so, people who are dependent on drugs are being criminalized, sent to jail and losing all rights.  This is unjust because people who are dependent on drugs aren’t horrible people; they are people who suffer from a horrible condition.

Many view addiction as a brain disease because even when people work to stay sober, there is often a compulsive drug-seeking feeling.  The War on Drugs can be beneficial if instead of criminalizing people who are substance dependent, we help them to free themselves of their addiction.  Instead of sending a drug offender to prison, it would be more beneficial to send that individual to rehab.  That way there is more of a chance at recovery and a better, more positive life.

Drug addiction is very serious and should be handled carefully.  If you are struggling with any kind of addiction, the psychologist, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan offices at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920. Visit for information.


Stress: Relieving Stress – Bergen County, NJ


By: Kimberly Made

Living in a fast paced world where sometimes it’s hard to even catch our breath, it’s easy to see why so many people seem to be overwhelmed by stress.  

Many are shocked to learn that stress is actually your body’s way of protecting you. When your body senses danger, it releases hormones meant to prepare you to take action. For example, in a stressful situation, adrenaline is produced and pumped through your body. The tone in your muscles increases, preparing you to jump into action at any moment. Your heart rate speeds up so blood can flow more rapidly through your tissues. You might realize that when you’re under stress your breathing speeds up. This is because your body is trying to make more oxygen readily available to you in the event of a crisis. Even your thinking speeds up during stressful times to prepare you to plan your way out of any situation that may arise.

As helpful as these changes might be when danger is lurking, they might not be as useful otherwise. Here are some helpful tips for keeping your stress under control:

  1. Take some time to do something that you find relaxing. Whether it’s reading a book, watching a movie, or just spending time with your friends, it is important to take time away from daily hassles and focus on yourself.
  2. Take a deep breath. This sounds easy enough, right? Taking a deep breath can help you to put everything on pause for a moment and become calm.
  3. Exercise.  Whether it’s going out for a daily jog, taking up yoga, or riding a bike, exercise can help decrease your stress level.
  4. Meditate. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and try to go to your “happy place”. Try to envision all the scenery, smells, and sounds of your favorite place.
  5. Think positively. You know what they say: “Laughter is the best medicine.” Finding the humor in a nerve-racking situation can not only take your mind off of the situation, but it gives you the opportunity to step back and put things into perspective. This can often help find a solution to whatever may be the stressor at the time.

If you are following these steps and still find yourself struggling to regulate your stress, feel free to contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists for an evaluation.

Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920

More detailed information can be found at



Bressert, S. (2006). Stress Management Basics. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2014, from

Ponton, L. (2006). 20 Tips to Tame Your Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2014, from

Tartakovsky, M. (2011). 6 Ways to Stress Less at Work. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2014, from


Teenagers and Parents: Facilitating Understanding and Communication – Bergen County, NJ


By Irada Yunusova

Teenage years are a classic period of struggle for adolescents and parents. Between social and academic pressures, individuals are forced to make decisions that they may not feel entirely comfortable making. Although the human brain is not considered fully developed until approximately 25 years old, teenagers are held accountable for their decisions.  For a parent, it may be difficult to find a balance between providing a teenager with freedom or assistance. Compassion and understanding may be key for working through issues and pressures together.

In order to better understand how to help your son or daughter, it is important to first understand what he or she is going through. Beginning in Middle School years, teenagers may come into contact with drugs and alcohol, regardless of their friend groups. Sexual pressures also arise, even in the form of advances from friends. Although it is impossible for a parent to make his son’s and daughter’s decisions, it is important that there is a safe, open environment at home that facilitates honest discussion of issues. In the 21st century, teenagers are also constantly exposed to social media, and it is important that they understand social media privacy and safety issues. Parents are encouraged to remain understanding, but to set fair boundaries, such as “no texting during dinner.” The life of a teenager may be complicated by technology and drugs, but discussion and trust are important tools.

Teenagers also feel numerous pressures from academics, clubs, and work. Teens may feel as though excellence is demanded and anything sub-par is simply inadequate. According to recent studies, the average teenager chooses paid work over studying, even if they are not dependent on that extra income, and chooses technology over sleep. Parents can assist their sons and daughters with time management, providing them with the freedom to make their own decisions within certain confines.

It seems as though open communication is at the heart of most solutions for dealing with teenagers, however communication can be a challenge in itself. It’s suggested to “just listen and sympathize.”  Parents also have to remember that even if their teen seems to roll their eyes, slam the door, or rebel in some way, they still need his or her parents. Gaining independence is a part of growing up, and sometimes distancing oneself from parents is required. However, compassion and unconditional love will ensure that he or she will come back to you when they need advice, attention, or simply love.

If you are finding communication with your teenager challenging, feel free to contact Arista Counseling & Psychological Services at 201-368-3700 to set up an appointment with a mental health professional in Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY.


Profile Photos: How accurate are our first impressions? – Bergen County, NJ

profile picture

By Irada Yunusova

“First impressions count.” “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Both of these seemingly reasonable, yet somewhat conflicting, sayings instruct us on how to evaluate others. With the widespread use of social media and dating websites, our first impressions of others are often formed from a small two by two photograph, which we often assume tells us the whole story. Are we wrong?

Psychology researchers recently considered the impact of a profile photograph’s impression on the way individuals are evaluated.  Alexander Todorov’s research team at Princeton University presented participants with an online survey to view headshots of individuals and then rate them on personality characteristics, including attractiveness, competence, creativity, cunning, extraversion, meanness, trustworthiness, and intelligence. The photographs were all taken in similar lighting, but some dimensions of the headshots were varied, such as facial expressions. Researchers found that the participants’ personality ratings changed as drastically for virtually any changes in photos of the same person as much as if it were a photograph of a completely different person.

In another study with a similar interest, participants rated headshots of individuals with different contexts. Scenarios varied vastly, with some photos claimed to be used for an online dating profile, while others were auditions to play a movie villain, and some were of people allegedly running for political office. Preference for pictures of the same individual varied based on the context, further demonstrating the fault in our impressions of profile photos.

Both studies also considered the time it took for individuals to make a personality judgment based on a profile picture. Shockingly, preferences for specific images developed after a fraction of a second. Perhaps the saying “first impressions count” should be revised to account for the immediacy of our decision-making.

Although the ability to make decisions quickly is a vital biological advantage, it is important to remember that not all quickly drawn conclusions are accurate. Often times, the conclusions people draw of others are barely based in reality. Facial expressions, context, and various other dimensions of a photograph can color our perception of the individual’s personality. Instead of basing assumptions solely on a headshot, it is important to try to see the whole picture.


Relationship Advice: What Behaviors to Avoid on a First Date – Bergen County, NJ


By Irada Yunusova

            First impressions, first dates, and first kisses are all very exciting. However, the goal of a successful relationship may not be realized if the first date does not go as smoothly as desired. Some people who may struggle with relationships do not realize that certain behaviors they engage in during their first date may be the source of the problem. Avoiding the undesirable behaviors discussed below, drawn from patient’s shared experiences, may lead to greater success on first dates.

 Over complimenting your date may make them believe you think little of yourself or that you are fishing for compliments.

  1. Not being able to accept a compliment may come off as having low self-esteem or fake humility. Do not sabotage or minimize compliments by saying “Oh, please I’m hiding a lot under this dress” or “I need to work out more.”
  2. Over-planning can create unrealistically high expectations that make the real date less satisfying. Also, getting upset over a date not going as planned may make you come across as controlling or neurotic.
  3. Drinking excessively is a major turn-off. Although alcohol is considered a social lubricant, over-consumption or consumption of drinks with high alcohol content may distort the way you want to portray yourself by influencing your actions and by giving off the impression that you are not well put-together.
  4. Being clingy turns off the other individual on the date. Instead of texting the date immediately or over-touching during the date, living in the moment and allowing the relationship to progress organically is much more effective.

 Relationships are a vital aspect of life. If you are struggling with dating or relationships, you might find helpful guidance by contacting a mental health professional at Arista Counseling & Psychological Services in Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY. Feel free to contact us for a free phone consultation at 201-368-3700 or 212-996-3939 in order to set up an appointment with one of our licensed therapists, counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists.


Dear Journal – Bergen County, NJ


By Laine

Keeping a diary can be beneficial for a variety of purposes. It is often referred to as “expressive writing” and is a great therapeutic self-help technique. Diaries are easy, convenient, and inexpensive. They are available as your companion any time and any place.

One of the uses of a journal is goal setting. Many professionals have found that putting down your goals in writing increases the likelihood that you will follow through to achieve them. Written records feel concrete, as opposed to thoughts, which seem abstract. The more detailed you are about your goals the better.

On the other hand, journals may be used as a safe space to share private thoughts. For instance, it may be healing to write about negative aspects of life or feelings that are concerning you. After some time you may be able to recognize thought patterns, or emotions consistently resulting from specific settings or scenarios. You can try to embrace those that give you positive feelings and minimize those that evoke negative feelings.

Furthermore, after experiencing trauma many people hesitate to tell anybody about the occurrence. This may be due to fear of reliving the experience or the shame and embarrassment of admitting what happened. If you are not ready to tell your story aloud, try writing it down. This is a private way to let out your feelings and avoid bottling up distress. This can be used as a steppingstone which can help you to gain the courage to eventually share your story with another person.

In certain cases the act of writing may be cathartic, especially when releasing negativity. Some people do not go back to re-read their entries, but simply feel better after completing them. Other times with positive entries, reviewing your previous writing can motivate you, and keep your optimism high.

A psychotherapist is a great resource if you need to share what is recorded in your journal, or are ready to discuss a concern or trauma. 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.

Finding the Right Therapist: Healthy and Successful Client-Clinician Relationship – Bergen County, NJ


By Laine

While searching for the right psychologist or psychiatrist many people state they are looking for someone they will “click with”. Feeling a connection is very important to develop a trusting relationship with your therapist. In addition to having a strong rapport, there are other qualities to be aware of. In order to ensure you are receiving the most beneficial treatment, there are certain aspects to require from your clinician, and others to avoid.

Although a therapist is someone who is there for you, it is not someone you should become dependent upon. Recognize that your therapist should be teaching you independence, and how to continue improvement on your own once treatment has stopped. Proof of this comes from having a treatment plan—and one that eventually will come to and end due to the learned independence. It should be about learning to take the skills you work on in therapy, and gaining the ability to apply them on your own.

On the other hand there are certain red flags you may want to avoid in a clinician. Signs to be wary of include the following:
– Odd practices that go against scientifically accepted norms and methods
– Pushing of political, religious or social views
– Lack of training or degrees
– Talking down or preaching behavior

Finally, the line between professional relationship and friendship should not be blurry. No matter how close you feel to your counselor in session, the relationship should remain in the office. This of course means no socializing, and also includes keeping communication appropriate.

If you are seeking treatment and are in Bergen County, New Jersey, feel free to call us at 201-368-3700 to make an appointment with one of our own licensed professional counselors, therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists.

Abuse & Neglect: Lifelong Effects of Childhood Abuse or Neglect – Bergen County, NJ

By: Samantha Santo


Childhood is the foundation of everything.  The events that occur during childhood will have an everlasting effect on a person’s future.  There are four different types of abuse that will affect a child well into adulthood.

  1. If a child is emotionally abused, he or she is more likely to become depressed in adulthood.  They are also more likely to consume alcohol during the week which will affect their work schedule and relationships.
  2. If a child experiences emotional neglect, he or she may not necessarily become depressed during adulthood, but will become very negative and will not have a positive outlook on life.
  3. When a child is physically abused he or she is more likely to be impulsive and self-destructive as an adult.  This will lead to harmful weekend drinking and difficulty achieving abstinence.
  4. Children who experience physical neglect tend to be antisocial in adulthood and develop addictions to drugs and alcohol.  As adults they tend to drink during the week and over the weekends and develop alcohol-related problems.

If you or anyone you know has experienced any type of abuse or neglect during their childhood, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy.  If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey call 201-368-3700 to make an appointment with a highly qualified licensed therapist, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist who can help.

For more information on therapy, visit

Learning to Navigate Life Changes- Bergen County, NJ


By Elana Seidman

Change can be scary. Whether it’s positive changes such as getting married, having a child or graduating from school or negative changes such as the end of a relationship or losing a loved one, many people tend to feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed when it comes to the thought of change. But why does change have to be so daunting?

Consider the following analogy; you step up to the swimming pool and dip your toe in. The water feels cold and for a brief moment you consider turning right around and sitting back down in your lounge chair. Then you remember that when you were sitting in your lounge chair you were hot and sweaty, so you decide to dive right in. The initial plunge is freezing, and perhaps for a moment the feeling of cold water takes your breath away, but as you rise to the surface and gauge your surroundings, the water seems to warm up and you begin to enjoy floating around comfortably in the refreshing pool. This is not because someone turned up the temperature in the pool, but rather because your body adjusted to the temperature.

Learning to adjust and embrace change, rather than reject and refrain from it are important traits that will come in handy when faced with life changes.

Here are a few thoughts on how to cope with change and appreciate that change is in fact a good thing:

  • Understand that the initial discomfort and unfamiliarity that comes along with change is only temporary. Expect discomfort, but also expect to adjust.
  • Accept that adjustment doesn’t happen overnight. While it may not happen right away, you will eventually become comfortable with your new surroundings. Learn to embrace this adjustment period rather than viewing it negatively.
  • Embrace the change and all the amazing things that come along with it. Face the transition with a positive attitude.

It is important to understand that for something new to happen, we must always experience a loss in another area of our life. We must all learn that change, as well as all the ups and downs that come along with it, is inevitable. If you or a love one is struggling to cope with recent life changes, contacting a mental health professional at Arista Counseling and Psychological Services in Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY may be the first step. Contact us for a free phone consultation at 201-368-3700 in order to set up an appointment with one of our licensed therapists, counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists. Help is just a phone call away!


ADHD: Symptoms in Adults – Bergen County, NJ


By Irada Yunusova

Although the visual of a hyperactive kid bouncing around in his seat is the cliché often associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the symptoms of ADHD may prevail into adulthood and arise in different fashions. The subtle signs of adult ADHD may be overlooked because many of the symptoms seem like ordinary inconveniences everyone must face, such as boredom and daydreaming. The extent and frequency of symptoms must be considered in order to diagnose individuals and improve the life functioning of afflicted individuals. Five indicators of adult ADHD are discussed below.

1. Dissatisfaction with Reading

Many adults with ADHD do not draw satisfaction from reading books because books require a lot of attention. They may notice themselves going through the motions of reading without actually taking in the information, causing them to miss details that prevent continued interest. Adults with ADHD may enjoy websites and magazines more because they do not required as much ongoing attention.

2.Interruption during Conversations

Although adults with ADHD understand the proper etiquette of conversations, where individuals take turns in listening and speaking, they may find the balance difficult. Many adults do not have the attention and working memory to hold a thought in their mind while simultaneously listening to someone speak. Interruption may appear to be the only solution to prevent forgetting one’s comment. Some individuals identified challenges with communication as a cause of their marital problems.

3. Hyperactivity

This common identifier may present itself differently across individuals. Adults often times may describe themselves as restless, on edge, or tense. Diagnosing ADHD may be complicated by the fact that not all individuals with ADHD are hyperactive. In addition, those who were hyperactive as children may no longer be as adults.

4. Challenges with Focusing

Individuals with ADHD may find it more difficult to keep their attention on a given task. This may make them reckless drivers, where occurrences of speeding and traffic accidents may be common-place. Adults may also find themselves struggling with career performance because noise and phone calls may be a source of distraction.

5. Difficulty with Organization and Task Completion

Adults with ADHD may have difficulty organizing and balancing responsibilities, such as bills, their job, and children. Individuals with ADHD may have trouble starting a task and often procrastinate both in their home and work environments. Distractibility and inattentiveness may lead to tardiness in the completion of tasks.

Although adults with ADHD may have struggled for years, identifying this problem may improve their chance of finding treatment as adults. A combination of therapy and medication can help improve daily functioning and life satisfaction. If ADHD is causing distress, contacting a mental health professional at Arista Counseling and Psychological Services in Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY may be the first step. Feel free to contact us for a free phone consultation at 201-368-3700 in order to set up an appointment with one of our licensed therapists, counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists. Help is just a phone call away.