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


Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

Picture Source:

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


References,ADHD%20%28formerly%20called%20ADD%29%203%20Combined%20Type%2 0ADHD

Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

Depression: Living with Major Depressive Disorder

By: Zoe Alekel

Have you been experiencing persistent sadness, anxiety, or feelings of emptiness? Even hopelessness, irritability, guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies—these are all symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). More commonly, MDD is known as depression. Dealing with this diagnosis is not easy because of how long these symptoms can last and how invasive they feel.

The Mayo Clinic defines MDD as “A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living” (Mayo Clinic). It is important to consider contacting a doctor or a therapist to discuss these symptoms, as they can become more severe and invasive with time.

Some ways you can reach help are:

  • Call a local counseling or psychological center.
  • Call a psychiatrist in your area that can help provide medication if needed.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one for support.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that the earlier the treatment begins with a therapist or a psychiatrist, the more effective it can be. Depression can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination. Additionally, meditation and mindfulness can help develop coping skills for those experiencing depression. If you are experiencing depression, it is important to remember that there is hope and there is a way out of the darkness you are experiencing.

If you or someone you know needs support with depression, please contact our psychotherapy office 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


Image Source:

Virtual Learning: Back to School…Online!

     Living through a global pandemic has put school districts, as well as family members, through an abundance of stress and anxiety as we begin to turn the corner into our not so typical “back to school” season. Parents are presented with the hard decision of whether to send their child into the classroom (if offered that option) or risk the possibility of having to cut their hours at work in order to be at home to help facilitate their child’s virtual learning experience. Some common signs of anxiety to look out for are feeling nervous, an impending sense of danger, trouble concentrating or thinking of anything other than the present worry, and having the urge to avoid things that trigger your anxiety. Here are some tips to help take care of your mental health this upcoming school year!  

Stay Involved With Decision Making                                                                     Going back to school always involved decision making, so going back to school with COVID-19 makes planning much more necessary. To help reduce anxiety, start early to ensure you have all the necessary resources to give your child to have a successful school year (especially if they will be experiencing the classroom from home). Always ask questions if you feel unsure.

You Can’t Manage Everything                                                                               Not everything is predictable. Remember to take everything on a day to day basis and remind yourself that you are doing everything you can for your child in these unforeseen times.                                                                            

Communicate                                                                                                           Continue to research resources if needed and to reach out to your child’s school if you have any questions. Reach out to other parents in the community who are in the same situation you are in for further support. They can be good to share ideas with, but also to talk to about any doubts or worries! Establish a support system that you can contact if you ever need help.

Self-care                                                                                                                           Always remember to take time for yourself for hobbies or spending time with family and friends. Take part in activities you enjoy and that take your mind off of current worries or stressors.

If you or someone you know needs support with anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy office 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

Source: :                                Image Source:

Therapy: What is Music Therapy?

Therapy: What is Music Therapy?

By: Keely Fell

Music therapy is a relatively new form of therapy being used across the nation. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is described as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program”. (AMTA) To be considered a qualified music therapist, an individual must attend a school that is currently accredited by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Upon completion of a degree, an individual will then take the National Examination Certification Board for Music Therapists, which will then give them the title of Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC). While there are other certifications that an individual can acquire, most states will only recognize individuals with the MT-BC certification.

Music therapy can be used for a wide array of interventions, some of those being: stress management, pain relief, promoting the expression of feelings, physical rehabilitation, memory enhancement, and enhancing cognitive functioning due to early delays. The integration of music therapy into schools, rehabilitation centers, assisted living centers, hospitals, and hospice care is growing rapidly throughout the nation.

The integration of music therapy in hospitals has been growing rapidly as well. Using music to sooth patients before medical procedures, as well as using singing, instrument playing, lyric discussion, and forms of song writing to “allow the patients to reconnect with the healthy parts of themselves”. What was recorded is that with the use of music therapy, patients were able to achieve acute pain relief which then allowed them to rest.

Studies have shown that the brain reacts to music in a very different way than it reacts to anything else. When music enters the brain the first mechanisms that are triggered are the release of dopamine in the pleasure centers. Moving past just making an individual feel good, research has shown that music is associated with an increase in immunity-boosting antibodies, which means that music is also improving an individual’s immune system. Doctors have recently studied the use of vibroacoustic therapy in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, by using “low-frequency sound” to produce “vibrations that are applied directly through the body. The rhythmic pulses allow for stabilization of the disorientation.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, 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 .




Image result for cbt and dbt therapy


By: Vanessa Munera

When it comes to psychotherapy, there are different types. Psychotherapy is also known as “talk therapy”. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Psychotherapy is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties”. This is when an individual speaks with a therapist or psychologist in a safe and confidential environment. During these talk sessions, you are able to explore and understand your feelings and behaviors, and develop coping skills. In fact, research studies have found that individual psychotherapy can be effective at improving symptoms in a wide array of mental illnesses, making it both popular and versatile treatment. There are different types of psychotherapy that can assist people. The most common types of psychotherapy are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, is a form of therapy that consists of focusing on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. This type of therapy helps patients gain control over and accept unwanted thoughts and feelings so that they can better manage harmful or unwanted behaviors. CBT is usually used to treat conditions related to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and social skills. As a matter of fact, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for these conditions, as well as improving brain functioning. CBT can benefit people at any age, such as a child, adolescent, and adult.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy that was originally designed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over time, this type of therapy has been adapted to help treat people with multiple different mental illnesses, but it is mostly used to treat patients who have BPD as a primary diagnosis. Although DBT is a form of CBT, it has one big exception: it emphasizes validation and accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors instead of struggling with them. DBT allows patients to come in terms with their troubling thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that they have been struggling with. Studies of Dialectical Behavior Therapy have shown effective long-term improvements for those suffering from mental illness. DBT also helps lower the frequency and severity of dangerous behaviors, utilizes positive reinforcement to promote change, and helps individuals translate what they learned in therapy to everyday life.



Anxiety: Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety: Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Tatyana A. Reed

Social media is very prominent in today’s society and nearly everyone has a social media account; whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Although social media can be great for promoting things, it is also negatively promoting an Anxiety Disorder which is also known as Social Media Anxiety Disorder. According to, “Social Media Anxiety Disorder is a mental illness that is related to generalized social anxiety, which is acquired when social media interferes with the mental and physical health of a human being.” This can mean that the idea of not being able to check your social media can cause you extreme anxiety. Your anxiety may rise because of the number of likes you’re receiving on a picture, the number of repost on your tweet, or just not getting as many views on your story. Since this new form of anxiety is now increasing, ever climbing with more technology, most people have never heard of the disorder. In this article we will delve more deeply into the topic.

According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), below are some symptoms of Social Media Anxiety Disorder:

  • Lying to others about how much time you spend on social media
  • Unsuccessfully trying to stop or reduce your use of social media
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Neglecting work or school to comment on Facebook or Twitter
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to access social media
  • Overwhelming need to share things with others on social media sites
  • Having your phone with you 24 hours a day to check your social media sites
  • Severe nervousness or anxiety when you are not able to check your notifications
  • Negative impacts in your personal or professional life due to social media usage

At first glance, the symptoms probably seem like they would have no physical or mental effects on a person. That’s a false assumption. For starters, being on a phone constantly will affect your eyes by drying them out which then leads to headaches and vision issues. Furthermore, sitting on your phone all day, instead of being active, can cause issues with weight, lower back problems, and neck strain. Using social media constantly can also feed into OCD, depression, and feelings of loneliness, according to ADAA. We think social media is all about being able to connect and share happy things with others but many people subconsciously begin to compare their lives or physical selves to others.


If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from SMAD, 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


ePainAssist, Team. “Social Media Anxiety Disorder: Causes: Symptoms: Treatment: Recovery Tips.” EPainAssist, 15 Apr. 2019,

Fadar, Sarah. “Social Media Obsession and Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, Nov. 2018,

n/a, n/a. “Social Media Anxiety Disorder All Occasion.”, 2009,

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)

By Tatyana A. Reed

As the weather seems to slow down and we shift from bright sunny days to cold winter nights, some of us may notice a sudden change of mood that comes with this weather shift. This change of mood is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “S.A.D is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.”

Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.


  • People with SAD may have trouble regulating seratonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood.
  • People with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin.
  • People with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D.


Getting Treated

  • Medication: if someone suffers from S.A.D they can be helped by taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). However, like all medication there are side effects, make sure to speak with your doctor about this first.
  • Light therapy: the feelings of S.A.D can be lessoned by sitting in front of a light box that emits 10,000 lux of cool- white- fluorescent light for 20-60 minutes. The light is said to replace the loss of light from daylight savings
  • Therapy: it is best to talk with a psychologist, counselor, or someone in the mental health field when feeling different types of emotions that may be negative such as sadness or anger. Seeking help is the first step to eliminating S.A.D.

If you or a person you know is struggling with S.A.D, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit for more information.


Koblenz, Jessica. “11 Things About Seasonal Affective Disorder That Psychologists Wish You Knew.” Reader’s Digest, (PHOTO)

National Mental Health Institute. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,


When Fears Become Extreme

By Diana Bae

With Halloween coming next month, spooky decorations and fake spider webs begin to appear and spark a little bit of fear in all of us, as we prepare for the scares to come. Feeling afraid or scared is normal because fear allows us to be alert and safe in case of possible danger. However, when the fear persists and starts intruding our lives, it may be a phobia.

Phobias are severe fears that cause persistent anxiety over certain circumstances or objects. They can come at small to large intensities and cause distress. Some common phobias include animals (spiders), social situations (public speaking), and even the natural environment (heights).

However, there is a chance that these phobias will develop into a harsher anxiety disorder and cause distressing panic attacks. Trying to handle phobias without assistance can backfire and produce stress and anxiety due to avoidance. Thus, with the proper treatment, a person can learn how to face the phobias and reduce their feelings of panic and fear.

Arista Psychological and Psychiatric Services understands the difficulty of overcoming phobias alone and, thus, are dedicated to help those seeking for treatment. If you or someone you know would like to set up an appointment for our counseling services, contact us at our offices in Paramus, NJ (201) 368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY (212) 996-3939. Also, please visit our website



Image Source:

Groupthink and Conformity

Groupthink and Conformity

By Crystal Tsui

Have you ever been in a group and did not agree with the group’s decision, but had to agree because they would reject your idea?  Irving Janis, a social psychologist, first coined the term groupthink to describe this situation. His main aim was to understand how a group of individuals collectively come up with excellent decisions one time and fail at other times. Groupthink happens when a group of people with good intentions, but they make irrational decisions that are spurred by the urge to conform. Group members value harmony and coherence above rational thinking and refrain from expressing doubts and judgements or disagreeing with the consensus.

Irving Janis observed the following eight patterns of groupthink:

  1. Illusions of Invulnerability: when the group displays excessive optimism and takes big risks, the members of the group feel that anything they do will turn out to be successful.
  2. Collective Rationalization: when the group rationalizes thoughts or suggestions that challenge what the majority is thinking
  3. Belief in Inherent Morality of the Group: the belief that whatever the group does will be right. This causes the group members to overlook the consequences of what they decide.
  4. Out Group stereotypes: is the belief that those who disagree are opposing just to oppose the group
  5. Direct Pressure on Dissenters: the majority directly threatens the opposing group member by telling them that they can always leave the group if they don’t agree.
  6. Self-Censorship: the opposing individual believes that if they are the only odd one out then they must be the one who is wrong.
  7. Illusions of Unanimity: Silence from some is considered acceptance of the majority’s decision
  8. Self-Appointed Mind Guards: Members of the group who take it upon themselves to discourage alternative ideas from being expressed in the group.

There are numerous studies supporting the fundamentals of groupthink and conformity. One famous study was the Asch Conformity experiment. Solomon Asch gathered his participants to take a vision test where three lines at varied lengths were compared to one other; which was longer. The participants were asked to identify the lines with matching lengths. Ninety-five percent of participants answered every question correctly. Then Asch placed actors in the groups, who confidently volunteered the same incorrect answer. The accuracy dropped to 25 percent, indicating that 75 percent of the participants went along with the group’s incorrect answer for at least one question.

An Emory University neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, found that when we take a stance different from the group, we activate the amygdala, a small region in the brain associated with the fear. We don’t like to be rejected so we refrain from speaking up against the group, which supports Janis’ pattern of groupthink: Direct Pressure on Dissenters. Professor Berns defined this situation as “the pain of independence.” Many government decisions are cited as a result of groupthink, such as the Vietnam War or the invasion of Iraq.

Groupthink also fosters a strong “us vs. them” mentality that prompts members to accept group perspectives in the heat of the moment, where there is also a strong pressure from the outside to make a good decision. An example in literature is George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the animals make a nonunanimous decision to rid the farm of humans. There were animals there that quite adored being loved and owned by a human, however, those animals had to agree because the leader of the animals would punish them otherwise.

After periodically experiencing groupthink, an individual may become shy and become more introverted. They may be afraid to speak and include their own ideas in fear of the group rejecting their idea.

If you or someone you know have social anxiety and fear of speaking up, 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 .