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

World Kindness Day: How to stay positive in dark times

World Kindness Day: How to stay positive in dark times

By: Zoe Alekel

As Friday November 13, 2020 is World Kindness Day, it only felt right to talk about the impact that positivity and kindness have on our mental health. Keeping a positive mindset and attitude is seemingly easy when life is smooth-sailing. However, when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road that life comes with, it is a lot easier said than done. Maintaining optimism in difficult times can often seem impossible—at the least, it seems like a lot of work. If you are struggling to stay positive during a difficult time, especially during a pandemic like COVID-19, you can try to focus on the following:

  • Focus on what you can control: Remember there are things in life we can’t control, but the things we can control like how we decide to seize the day and how we treat others.
  • Limit your media intake: Social media and news media can put us in a rut when we are already feeling negative about the world. Make sure you don’t spend too much time on media and give yourself a break from negative news stories.
  • Invest in uplifting others: Acts of kindness can not only uplift others and change someone’s day, but it can also help keep you in a more optimistic mindset.
  • Set personal schedules and goals: By setting small daily goals for yourself, such as making your bed and brushing your teeth in the morning. You can start the day off accomplishing something and setting a productive mindset for the rest of the day.

Keeping these pointers in mind is important when trying to stay optimistic during a difficult time. Some additional ideas of ways to cope with a difficult time are:

  • Find a therapist or mental health professional: This can become an outlet to help you process the difficult time you are having and to get professional recommendations for keeping a positive mindset.
  • Find a hobby or a group to join with people that have similar interests as yours.
  • Invest in self-care: Make sure you are taking care of you! Do things that bring you joy, even if it is as simple as taking a warm shower, eating a meal you enjoy, listening to music, or calling a loved one or friend.
  • Take a few minutes every day to write down the positive events that happened during that day, or things for which you are grateful.

If you or someone you know is struggling with keeping positive or with 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/

 

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stronger-fear/202003/how-stay-positive-during-the-pandemic?collection=1151836

Image Source: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/bb/e7/2c/bbe72cda72203d29a2f24459962c6f7a.jpg

Borderline Personality Disorder: Misdiagnosed

Borderline Personality Disorder: Misdiagnosed

By Zoe Alekel

When struggling with your mental health, the last thing you want to hear from a doctor or therapist is that they don’t think anything is wrong. It can leave you confused, lost, hopeless, and alone. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because of the disorder’s symptoms and stigma. According to the Mayo Clinic symptoms of borderline personality disorder include:

  • Intense fear of abandonment—including real or imagined separation/ rejection
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness
  • Unstable relationships—idealizing someone one moment, then suddenly believing they don’t care or that they are cruel
  • Distorted view of self and self-image—including dissociation (feeling as if you don’t exist at all or if the moment in time isn’t real)
  • Impulsive and risky behavior—including rebellion, drug abuse, reckless driving, sudden decision making, unsafe sex and promiscuity, and sabotaging success or personal relationships
  • Suicidal thoughts, threats, or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
  • Mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days— including intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Inappropriate, intense anger—losing temper easily, acting out, intense irritability

The symptoms for BPD often look like other mental health conditions—contributing to misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis. Sometimes BPD has similar patterns and symptoms as bipolar disorder, which can also include severe mood swings. One study shows that 40% of people, who only met the criteria for BPD, were still misdiagnosed with Bipolar Type 2; which is likely due to the overlapping and similar symptoms of each disorder.

Another reason why BPD can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed is because of the myth that teens can’t have BPD. Many of the symptoms of BPD can be seen as “typical teenage behavior” as this is a crucial time in an adolescent’s life when they are developing personality and identity. Diagnosing younger adolescents with BPD is often avoided because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis. Some clinicians may fear that the client’s symptoms may only worsen with a BPD diagnosis. This can be very dangerous and harmful to the client who is not accurately being diagnosed, especially because it limits the resources they can receive for help.

BPD does not only appear in a specific age group or gender, and sometime can mirror other diagnoses or the experience of a typical adolescent. Health professionals and advocates must continue to educate and understand the reality of BPD, and know when to properly diagnose so their client can receive the help they need.

If you or someone you know is struggling with borderline personality disorder, 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://nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2017/Why-Borderline-Personality-Disorder-is-Misdiagnose

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

Image source: https://wakeup-world.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Genie-in-a-Bottle-The-Spiritual-Gift-of-Borderline-Personality-Disorder-1.jpg

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

COVID-19: Parenting in a Stressful Time

COVID-19: Parenting in a Stressful Time

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Parenting in confinement during COVID-19 has many challenges. For many, the home has become the office and the classroom, making it more difficult to be productive and motivated. During this stressful time in isolation, it can be very difficult to keep children occupied while also working remotely, dealing with finances, and navigating the danger of the coronavirus. However, by creating structure, setting boundaries, and encouraging open communication, parents can improve their family dynamic.

Parents are having to take on more responsibilities than ever before. Especially in a very uncertain time, it is normal for children and parents to feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. As a result, many parents and children are reacting to today’s stressors by acting out or regressing to behaviors long outgrown. Due to the additional stressors that come with COVID-19, parents are taking on too much which is causing parents to feel stressed, frustrated, and resentful. According to the APA’s Stress in America survey, “73% of parents report family responsibilities as a significant source of stress.” This can erode the feeling of mutual support and respect that is crucial to a healthy relationship.

To help, creating some structure in your life, such as a routine and designating a workspace for children to do their schoolwork and homework can be an effective way to set boundaries and help a family cope with stress. Thanking your child for allowing you to do your work, is an effective tool as it positively reinforces your child to continue giving you the space you need to be productive.

Sharing and designating daily responsibilities can improve the quality of a parent’s relationship with their children. Working together as a family and designating different tasks is something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.

To help parents create a healthy family dynamic in the climate of COVID-19, the way parents talk to their kids may need to be readjusted as well. Initiating regular open conversations with their kids. Giving your children your undivided attention can help a family work together to better understand, acknowledge, and address any stressors children are experiencing. Calming your children’s fears is important.

Take advantage of this time together, it can be an opportunity for your relationship with your kids to grow, but don’t forget to take care of yourself! For support, discussing experiences with friends, relatives, or a telehealth mental health professional can be helpful. At Arista Counseling, we have a multitude of different therapists that can help 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://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/parenting-during-pandemic

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/managing-stress

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/little-house-calls/202003/parenting-during-covid-19

Image Source:

https://www.parkview.com/community/dashboard/dealing-with-parenting-stress-during-covid-19

Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/shopping

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200603/doped-shopping

CBT & DBT

Image result for cbt and dbt therapy

CBT & DBT

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.

 

References:

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/psychotherapy

https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/difference-dbt-cbt-therapies/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy

Anger in Children

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Children experience anger. This is an expected part of growing up and learning how to navigate life’s situations. However, when anger becomes overwhelming and distressing for your child and for your family it may be indicative of a greater issue. If your child has trouble controlling their tantrums or frequently experiences anger, you may consider addressing the emotion and helping your child control their anger.

Though every child is different, there are some warning signs that your child’s anger is out of control. These include the child displaying behavior that is dangerous to themselves or others, the child’s teachers reporting that the behavior is out of control, the behavior alienating the child from their peers at school and preventing social interaction (birthday party attendance, etc.), and the behavior disrupting home life. Additionally, parents should observe if their child feels badly about him or herself as a result of their inability to control their anger. This illustrates that the child is experiencing distress because of the lack of control over their emotions, and is a sign that their anger is beyond what is normal or expected for a child their age.

There are many different causes for this behavior. These causes may include anxiety, learning disabilities, trauma, sensory processing issues, or general distress. Triggers are also an important thing for parents to recognize if they are worried about their child’s anger. Identifying triggers or situations which result in anger can help discern the cause of the anger and ways in which it can be effectively managed. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are two treatment methods which professionals use to help a child manage their anger and teach the child coping mechanisms and emotional regulation.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a child’s anger expression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/anger-issues-in-children-and-teens/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/growing-friendships/201806/children-s-anger-management-strategies-work

https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/anger-overload/

https://childmind.org/article/is-my-childs-anger-normal/

Family Therapy: How to Maximize Your Experience

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Being a family member is a full time job, and sometimes it has the stress to match. Managing a family can be difficult and it is normal to sometimes feel lost and unsure of how to move forward. The goal of marriage and family counseling is to resolve these feelings and give family members the tools to communicate effectively with one another. It is not only a way to resolve problems, but an investment in the future wellbeing of your family.

A common reason for many to seek family therapy is behavioral problems of youth in the family. Research has shown that youth psychosocial problems are linked to the youth’s social systems, such as the family. By addressing concerns and miscommunications, youth often function better and learn healthy coping skills. Family therapy provides a safe space for all individuals to express their feelings with a trained professional who can mediate, interpret, and give plans for long term family success, rather than only resolving a specific problem.

Family is not limited to those who are genetically linked to you; it is often defined as anyone who plays a long term supportive role in one’s life. The support that family provides has an important role in keeping good mental health. Like many good things, family therapy is not always easy. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make it as beneficial as possible:

  • Give it a chance and be open to its success
  • Find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable
  • Have each family member prepare some questions or talking points prior to the session to ensure everyone gets to communicate

If you feel your family could benefit from family therapy, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. We have a wide network of professional help and experience. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx?hkey=1c77b71c-0331-417b-b59b-34358d32b909

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4490859/

https://healthypsych.com/family-therapy/

 

Changes to the Brain

 By: Katie Connell

                For a long time, scientists believed that changes to brain structure only occurred during infancy and childhood. By the time one became an adult, it was thought that brain structure would remain largely permanent and that no more changes could occur. However, in the 1960’s, scientists discovered that changes to the adult brain were indeed possible. One thing that verified this were brain changes that occurred to patient’s brains that were damaged in injuries and accidents. Damage that occurred in certain parts of one’s brain resulted in healthier parts taking over. With this discovery came insight into other ways that the brain could be changed, specifically in the realm of psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great example of a type of psychotherapy that can lead to long lasting changes to the brain. During a process called synaptic pruning, extra neurons (which transmit information) and synaptic connections (which permit neurons to transmit info) are eliminated to increase the efficiency of neural transmissions. One way this happens is by neurons being used more frequently. Those that aren’t used as much get eliminated, which improves the transmission of information. By repeated exposure and engagement in CBT (including thought shifting techniques and cognitive restructuring), neurons become strengthened, meaning less synapses and better transmission of neurons. Through the use of routine CBT, critical neural networks are able to change how we think and feel.

If you or a person you know is seeking CBT or other forms of therapy, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Please contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. 

Source:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886