Is an Emotional Support Animal Right for You

By Eleanor Kim

Pets have brought joy and comfort to pet owners for hundreds of years. The sheer presence of a happy-go-lucky dog or cat is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The benefits of pet ownership can go beyond mere companionship or responsibility, in fact, emotional support animals are able to, as their name indicates, provide emotional support and other mental health benefits.

Common ways in which emotional support animals could support their owners are:

  • Fostering emotional connectivity
  • Helping people during times of crisis
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Offering trauma support
  • Improving physical health (Lower blood pressure, decrease respiration rates, improve ability to cope with pain, etc.)
  • Lowering feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Reciprocating feelings of love and care

It is important to indicate the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals also provide emotional support to their owners; however, service animals undergo intensive training to perform specific tasks necessary to aid their owners’ needs. In contrast, emotional support animals do not need formal training and simply need to receive a certification from the state registry. In order to qualify for an emotional service animal, individuals must acquire a prescription from a licensed mental health professional indicating that the presence of an emotional support animal is necessary for the mental health of the patient.

In a time when all of us are at home and may be in need of more emotional support, emotional support animals may provide the help you need. If you are interested in receiving emotional support, whether that be through a support animal or through a mental health professional, we here at Arista Counseling are here to assist you.

If you or someone you know is looking for emotional support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

References:

Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479#definition

Picture Source:

https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/can-cats-dogs-live-together-peacefully

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Special Needs Children during Virtual Learning

By Eleanor Kim

With the abrupt transition to online learning last March, teachers, students, and parents alike were left to quickly adjust and find new ways of making virtual learning feel “normal”. While this transition may have come more naturally to some, there are still many families who are struggling to ensure that their children are getting a quality education in their homes. One demographic of online learners who are finding it exceptionally difficult are those who have special needs and learning disabilities. It is hard to spend hours focusing on a Zoom session, especially when special needs learners no longer have direct access to the specialized teachers and aids that help them learn in a normal school setting. Unfortunately, this additional stress during an already unprecedented time has taken a toll on special needs parents and it is important that parents are self-compassionate to themselves as they journey through this uncharted online learning experience. That being said, there are still many new strategies that parents can try to implement to assist their child’s distanced learning.

  • Ask teachers to offer “asynchronous” work in conjunction with any Zoom activities to allow your child more hands-on learning opportunities or request more one-on-one learning through break out rooms or personal Zoom meetings
  • If you are unable to remain with your child during their school hours, reach out to your child’s teachers and aids for an update on how they are doing and how you can help after school hours
  • Offer your child “fidget toys” during Zoom calls to help them remain focused on class material
  • If your child has a hard time staying seated during Zoom meetings, offer Bluetooth earbuds or headphones to allow your child the ability to move around while still remaining attentive and participatory during class
  • Incorporate time within your child’s schedule to stretch and relieve any additional stress or energy by going outside or having a dance break!
  • Make sure to schedule check-in meetings with your child’s school team (teachers, aids, counselor, etc.) to help your child express any frustrations or emotions they are experiencing during this difficult time.

Let your child know that it is okay to be having a hard time right now and that you are there to help them through it. Also make sure that you, the parent, are receiving the support you need while helping your special needs child with online learning in addition to any other struggles you may be facing during these unusual and overwhelming times. We here at Arista Counseling have many therapists and support options available for you.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_parents_can_support_children_with_special_needs_during_distance_learning

Image Source:

https://dynaimage.cdn.cnn.com/cnn/c_fill,g_auto,w_1200,h_675,ar_16:9/https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.cnn.com%2Fcnnnext%2Fdam%2Fassets%2F200810224242-20200810-online-learning-main.jpg

ADHD and the 3 Types

Mizuki Wada

Known to be commonly diagnosed in children and adults, ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that is characterized by the patient’s inattentiveness and impulsivity. However symptoms can differ from patient to patient and can be categorized into three general types.

The first type, primarily hyperactive also known as impulsive ADHD is generally linked with those who are restless. Some of the symptoms could include:

  • Restlessness
  • Impulsive speech and actions
  • Excessive talking
  • Overactive
  • Interruptive
  • Loud interactions

Type two is primarily inattentive ADHD formerly called ADD. This type includes symptoms of inattentiveness and does not include hyperactive symptoms. Some common symptoms could be:

  • Trouble paying attention
  • Difficulty in following through tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Shy
  • Disorganized
  • Careless
  • Slow in processing information

The final type is a combination of these two types. This type is a mix of both hyperactive and impulsive behaviors.

Although these symptoms are categorized into different types, they all fit under the general disorder, showing the depth of this disorder and how symptoms could differ depending on the individual.

If you or someone you know is struggling with ADD/ADHD, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/attention-deficithyperactivity-disorder-adult

https://www.additudemag.com/3-types-of-adhd/#:~:text=What%20Are%20the%203%20Types%20of%20ADHD%3F%201,ADHD%20%28formerly%20called%20ADD%29%203%20Combined%20Type%2 0ADHD

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

ADHD: Why is it underdiagnosed in women?

By Argie Dabrowski

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent issues with concentration and attention, as well as frequent hyperactive and impulsive behavior. For many years, ADHD was believed to only affect young boys, but it is now known to affect both men and women of all age groups. Even today, though, ADHD is often underdiagnosed in girls, many of whom only get a diagnosis much later in life or not at all.

This underdiagnosis of ADHD in girls has multiple causes. Primarily, ADHD presents differently in girls than boys, with boys demonstrating symptoms more stereotypically associated with the disorder. When most people imagine ADHD, they think of a young child, calling out randomly in class, bouncing up and down in their desk, fidgeting, and unable to remain still. This image can make it difficult to pick up on ADHD in girls, who display it differently.

Girls tend to display more internal symptoms than external symptoms, as boys do. This is mainly through inattentiveness and daydreaming. Internal symptoms are more subtle and, therefore, difficult to pick up on in order to make a proper diagnosis. Additionally, girls with ADHD often display intense emotional responses, rather than typical impulsivity and hyperactivity. This can be misinterpreted as immaturity, so it is not often picked up on as a symptom of ADHD.

Oftentimes, as well, girls have co-occurring conditions that can cause ADHD to be overlooked. Girls and women with ADHD are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from depression and anxiety. Both of these conditions can present with some symptoms similar to ADHD, such as restlessness and issues with concentration. All these factors combined make it difficult for women and girls to get the proper diagnosis and treatment for their ADHD, but with awareness and education, this can change.

If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
psycom.net/diagnosing-adhd-girls-women/
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4195638/
bbc.com/future/article/20190530-why-is-adhd-missed-in-girls
childmind.org/article/how-girls-with-adhd-are-different/

Image Source:
healthline.com/health/adhd/4-signs-adhd-or-quirky#2

Shyness and Introversion

Shyness and Introversion

By Crystal Tsui

We all know someone who prefers to stay in rather than go out and party or someone who barely talk in a group setting. We may call them shy, quiet, or maybe socially awkward. But they may just be an introvert. Introversion and shyness are often times used together. However, shyness revolves around the fear of negative judgment while introversion is the preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. So it is possible for a person to be a shy extrovert, where the individual is afraid to speak up, fearing negative judgment, more so than exhausted in a certain social situation.

Despite the difference, there is also an overlap between shyness and introversion, e.i. many shy people are introverted. Some people are born with “high-reactive” temperaments that predispose them to both shyness and introversion. A shy person may become more introverted over time, motivated to discover the pleasures of solitude, other minimally stimulating social environments, and to move away from judgments. On the other hand, an introvert may become shy after continually receiving the message that there’s something wrong with them.

There’s a shared bias in our society against both shyness and introversion. Neither trait is welcomed in our society because studies have shown that we rank the fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likeable, and even smarter than slow and quiet talkers.

Here are 5 ways introverts can spend time that is deeply fulfilling and socially connected:

  1. Reading. Books transcend time and place. Studies have shown that reading fiction increases empathy and social skills.
  2. Enter a state of “flow” by doing work or a hobby that you love. Flow is the transcendent state of being, in which you feel totally engaged in an activity. People in flow don’t tend to wear the broad smiles of enthusiasm. When you watch them in action, the words “joy” and “excitement” don’t come to mind. But the words “engagement,” “absorption,” and “curiosity” do.
  3. Keep an informal quota system of how many times per week/month/year you plan to go out to social events and how often you get to stay home. This way you can plan which parties or get-togethers you can truly enjoy and which you don’t. So you are less likely to drive yourself mad thinking you should’ve stayed home.
  4. Have meaningful conversations.
  5. Spend time and show affection to the ones you love, whose company is so dear and comfortable that you feel neither over-stimulated nor anxious in their presence.

If you or someone you know is dealing with social anxiety or suffering from a disruption of their social life, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.quietrev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/QR_ebookMay8-2015.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=0

https://live.staticflickr.com/627/21427437162_910d54e08e_b.jpg

Memory in Children: Do Games Help Improve Memory in Children

Memory in Children: Games Help Improve Memory in Children

By Crystal Tsui

There are many types of memory; episodic, working, procedural, sensory, and so on. But for children, the most important type of memory that they should be exercising is working memory. This is because working memory, a form of short term memory, is where information is consciously stored in the mind at any given moment. We use working memory to be able to remember something long enough to do something with the information.

How does this apply to children? Well, children with better working memory can:

  • Apply previously learned information to new situations
  • Stay focused and on-task
  • Follow complex and multi-step directions

Their attitudes change and they are better-behaved and less likely to daydream and act out during class.

A study in Japan studied eight year old students completing a 10 minute task every day for two months. The students had to recall the second number in a four number sequence and the results showed that there was a 12% increase on their IQ scores than the control group. The study also reports the results on adults had the same effect, although not as dramatic. In conclusion, yes, memory games do improve working memory in children.

Here is a link to an article that lists a bunch of games you can play with children and it includes directions for each game. https://childhood101.com/short-term-memory-games/

If you or someone you know has trouble with attention, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Citations:

https://childhood101.com/short-term-memory-games/

https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/working-memory-games/

https://www.health.com/syndication/healthy-woman-collapses-rare-brain-condition-icu

http://www.sweetadditions.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Memory-Games.jpg

 

Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive

Am I Too Sensitive?

By Julia Keys

Has anyone ever said to you in passing, “you’re so sensitive”? Our society seems to shun sensitivity without truly understanding or appreciating it. Stereotypically, a “sensitive person” is portrayed as irrationally emotional or ready to cry at any moment. In reality, sensitivity is defined by psychologists as the amount someone reacts physically, emotionally, or mentally to external and internal stimuli. Researchers have actually coined a term for someone you may describe as “sensitive”: the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Highly Sensitive People, (HSP), process their external and internal environments with more attention than typical people. About 20% of the population are estimated to be a HSP. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that HSP evolved from people that needed to be hyper vigilant in their environments to survive. Nowadays, we do not need as much extra attention to survive, but HSP are still affected by their high level of sensitivity.

It is easy to think that HSP and introversion are interchangeable traits, however there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. HSP are not always introverts, they may like being around other people, but certain social environments can be overwhelming to their senses. Also, introversion refers to one’s preference for spending time alone versus spending time with others while sensitivity is how one processes sensory input. Although some HSP are introverted, there are definitely a fair amount that are extroverted as well.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby
  • Gets more anxious than typical people when there a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • Easily disturbed by violence or graphic images
  • Feels the need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where they can have relief from overstimulating environments
  • Makes it a high priority to arrange their life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  •  Notices or enjoys delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art
  • Has a rich and complex inner life
  • Was shy or sensitive as a small child

Being an HSP can sometimes cause distress. HSP can have feelings of anxiety or stress when they are in environments that are overstimulating. Certain environments that may be enjoyable for neurotypical people such as parties, outside markets, or concerts may present too much sensory input for an HSP to enjoy. As a result, some HSP may struggle with isolation or loneliness.

On the other hand, the Highly Sensitive Person can also benefit from their heightened sensitivities to stimuli. HSP tend to be observant and perceptive, picking up on small details that others would not. As a result, many HSP are highly creative and innovative. HSP are also naturally empathetic, making them sensitive to others’ emotions and needs. HSP that balance their attention between a healthy internal and external environment reach their highest potential.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress being a HSP may bring, and are seeking stress management, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/live-life-creatively/201906/the-creative-power-the-highly-sensitive-person

https://hsperson.com/

 

Source for Picture:

https://www.google.com/search?q=ripple+in+a+lake&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibsYD2ztDiAhXymOAKHRgYCNoQ_AUIECgB&biw=1280&bih=561#imgrc=q1KPhEKi3gC5dM:

 

 

Video Games – Advantages and Disadvantages

By Dara Kushnir

Ever since its creation, people have debated whether video games are a help, a hindrance, or useful in moderation. Below presents evidence from the most disputed aspects of this argument as well as additional factors to consider:

Content. Countless studies show that violence in video games diminishes empathy and exacerbates behavioral problems. After playing even 30 minutes, less activation was found in the prefrontal portion of the brain (involved in concentration, inhibition, and self-control) and more in the amygdala (emotional arousal)1. People who play violent video games may expect others to be hostile, influencing how aggressively they themselves react in the future2.
Conversely, prosocial, nonviolent video games can promote empathy and helpful behaviors, even teaching empathy3, asthma management, rehabilitating stroke patients, learning resiliency from failures4, and being a therapy tool in moderating certain phobias5. Preschool children have also shown improved motor development and cognitive behavior5.  Children who play cooperative video games display fewer emotional problems and problems with peers whereas those who play solitary games do well academically6.

Time. Despite the noteworthy benefits, it is crucial to understand that these benefits apply to those who play for less than or equal to an hour. Excessive time is linked with behavioral problems, poorer social skills, and peer conflicts. A recent study revealed that playing for less than an hour reduces ADHD symptoms, has a calming effect, and is not associated with delinquency7 8. Less than one hour of gaming strengthens motor skills and leads to higher achievement scores. However, playing more than one hour increases ADHD symptoms and lowers grades, which means the difference between a “B” and an “A” grade9.

Motivation. One . One study argues that people play video games to meet their motivational needs rather than for the content itself10. Those who are more aggressive play violent video games rather than cause aggression. Violent video games were not associated with aggressive behavior. Those who play for enjoyment or catharsis (releasing anger) play violent video games, although it is unclear if playing actually helps. The researchers suggested that people seek out video games to meet their motivational needs rather than the violent content itself. More research is still needed.

Personality. People with certain personality traits can be predisposed to aggression after playing violent video games. One study states that the “perfect storm” of personality traits using the Five-Factor Model is high neuroticism (easily upset and angry), low agreeableness (little concern for others and their feelings), and low conscientiousness (act without thinking)11. These traits make individuals more susceptible to violent games and media.

Player abilities. Another study argues that regardless of video games’ content, frustration from failing sparks aggression12. When a person’s competency or ego is questioned, through a challenging game or failing to master the controls, they enjoy the game less and react with more aggression. This reaction is not limited to video games; people react with frustrated aggression playing sports and other activities, especially if they lose or play poorly.

 

Source:
(image) http://guides.library.ucla.edu/videogames
All articles are sourced in text.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from a video game addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

ADHD in Teens: Why Adult Support is Essential

By Stephanie Osuba

Common symptoms of ADHD lead people to believe that students that have been diagnosed willingly choose to not complete assignments or be inattentive during class. However, symptoms like forgetfulness, procrastination, distractibility, poor time management, and having a difficult time writing are exactly what prohibits a student from achieving academic success. By definition, these teens cannot manage their time on their own, not even with all the motivation in the world. And although these students want to be treated normally, it is important to intervene in order to teach them how to manage their ADHD and their lives.

Wanting to be “normal” often prevents these students from seeking the help that they need with assignments and time management. While school counselors mean well with their open office doors, it’s important to recognize when a student with ADHD is falling behind. The student, even if a need for help is stated, will often not follow through with appointments due to the lack of executive control and interfering symptoms like distractibility and impulsivity. Setting up a comprehensive academic plan with the teen takes the efforts of parents and teachers who constantly check in to make sure he or she is on track. How you can support a student with ADHD:

  • Promote independence: the end goal is to have the teen be able to keep track of assignments, organize himself, be able to take notes, study well, and mange his time by being able to break down projects. Have the student come up with his own plan for the school year and check in if it seems off base. Once a well-oiled routine is put in place, check in regularly.
  • Intervene early: always prompt students to solve academic problems immediately. It’s better to catch small mistakes and setbacks early on than to wait until they snowball out of control.
  • Provide guidance: you should aim to collaborate with the teen in finding solutions to any problem that arises, however, most need direct instruction at first. They need to be shown exactly what the outcome needs to be before they can decide on the best way to arrive at the desired solution.
  • Take the lead: students should be under adult supervision at all times. At school, it’d be teachers and counselors and at home it’s their parents or guardians.
  • Gradually withdraw supports: adult supervision shouldn’t be completely withdrawn until the student proves capable. Symptoms can cause poor executive function well through college because it largely interferes with academic skills no matter their age.

Source: M.D., M. B. (2018, September 24). The Pivotal Role of Adults in Teen ADHD Care. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/child-development-central/201809/the-pivotal-role-adults-in-teen-adhd-care 

If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/