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

Gaining Familial Support through Therapy

By Eleanor Kim

Starting therapy is a crucial step towards achieving emotional and psychological wellbeing. Therapy in conjunction with support and love from family members provides a sense of familiarity and comfort while receiving professional help. As the individual continues their therapy, it may be beneficial for all family members to consider family therapy as a means of familial support for their loved one during what may be a difficult or challenging time for the individual.

Family therapy is a form of therapy that allows family members to express their care for a family member who may be dealing with mental health or substance abuse disorders while also strengthening their own familial relations through proper communication. Family therapy will also allow family members to receive the support they may need while they learn how to best help their loved one and to address any questions or concerns they may have regarding their condition.

Family therapy is not limited to families dealing with psychological or addiction issues. In fact, family therapy is a great option for all families, especially for those who are seeking professional guidance while navigating through situations that may cause their family stress, anger, grief, or conflict. Possible matters include, but are not limited to, marital issues, loss, illness, grief, life style changes, and other environmental stressors. Family members will work on strengthening their empathy and understanding for one another as therapists assist individuals to express their needs or concerns in an open and non-judging environment. Family therapists will also guide family members throughout the process of understanding what their loved one is experiencing, as is the case in individual therapy. It is beneficial for both parties to communicate with one another in ways in which they can help one another throughout the recovery process.

At Arista Counseling, we have many therapists who are ready to help you and your family through any psychological conditions, substance abuse issues, or otherwise troubling matters that may currently be affecting your family.

If you or someone you know is seeking familial support or has considered family therapy, 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:

http://www.acenterfortherapy.com/family_issues.php

Image Source:

https://www.seekpng.com/ipng/u2a9o0y3w7e6w7a9_family-counseling-clipart-marriage-and-family-therapist-clipart/

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

Borderline Personality Disorder: Helping Yourself and Your Family

By Argie Dabrowski

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a Cluster B personality disorder. Like other disorders in this category, including histrionic, narcissistic, and antisocial personality disorder, BPD is characterized by unpredictable, dramatic, and overly-emotional behavior and thoughts. Specific to borderline patients is a persistent fear of abandonment by others, which leads to unstable relationships, suicidal gestures, self-damaging behavior, anger and emptiness, and even dissociative symptoms. For those with this condition, their symptoms not only interfere with their daily functioning but can also strain their closest personal relationships. Having a family member that suffers from a personality disorder can be a difficult and distressing experience. When it comes to coping with borderline personality disorder in family members, steps can be taken to help both them and yourself.

First of all, it is important to remember that it is not your job to treat and constantly provide reassurance for a borderline family member. You can still show that you love and care about them, but not to the point that it affects your own mental health. It may be difficult, but you should not put your own life on hold for someone else or be their punching bag, verbally or physically. At that point, it is imperative to step away from the situation and allow the person to seek help on their own. Professional help is available to them in the form of medication and therapy.

Although there are no BPD-specific drugs, medications can be used if the patient is experiencing symptoms of other disorders with their BPD. For example, some people with borderline personality disorder experience depressive episodes so they may be prescribed antidepressants, such as escitalopram or fluoxetine. Mood-stabilizers can also be used and if a patient also has psychotic features, they may be treated with antipsychotics.

Besides medication, there are also multiple types of therapy that can be used to treat borderline personality disorder. Dialectical behavior therapy is a treatment that is available and is used to treat BPD specifically. Through this therapy, patients work on their ability to cope with their intense emotional responses and learn the skills needed to deal with crises and other distress in a healthy manner. It is easy to be overwhelmed when faced with borderline personality disorder in family members, but help is out there.

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:
mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463
psychologytoday.com/us/blog/matter-personality/201312/borderline-provocations-part-ii-how-not-respond
mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20370242
psychcentral.com/lib/an-overview-of-dialectical-behavior-therapy/

Image Source:
pathwaysreallife.com/borderline-personality-disorder-treatment/

COVID-19: Divorce Rates

COVID-19: Divorce Rates

By: Alexa Greenbaum

Quarantined married couples are causing an increase in divorce rates during the coronavirus crisis. While accesses to courts are limited at this time, many professionals believe that there will be a rush to the courthouse when operations resume. For example, New York divorce attorney Marcy Katz stated, “when restrictions are lifted, I do not doubt that there will be an overwhelming number of filings.” This has been consistent with recent data. According to reports from a multitude of cities, husbands and wives have begun filing for divorce since emerging from government-mandated lockdowns.  

People, including spouses, are not accustomed to spending so much one-on-one time together. Through daily struggles, increases in fear, poor coping skills, and emotional and financial stress, these factors can take a toll on marriages, increase tensions, and ultimately negatively affect a relationship. Katz has also suggested that increases in divorce rates may also be because people are coming to terms with their mortality and want to make positive changes in their lives. Higher rates of domestic violence have also been reported from numerous sources during this time, which she explained is an additional component in many relationship breakups. This is because this time of uncertainty is causing conditions such as extreme stress and threaten the status quo, therefore encouraging many to make major life-changing decisions.

In response to an increase in divorce predictions, the AAML is conducting a nationwide survey to yield figures on just how widespread the lockdown breakdown of marriages.

If you or someone you know is experiencing conflict with their partner from COVID-19 or another crisis, 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://abcnews.go.com/US/surge-divorces-anticipated-wake-covid-19-quarantine/story?id=70170902

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-31/divorces-spike-in-china-after-coronavirus-quarantines

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/singletons/202004/more-babies-or-more-divorces-after-covid-19

Image Source:

https://lawlawfirm.com/rising-divorce-rates-during-the-coronavirus

Addiction: How to Support a Spouse with Addiction

Addiction: How to Support a Spouse with Addiction
By: Isabelle Siegel

One hallmark sign of addiction is continued substance use despite interference with one’s interpersonal relationships. Addiction can take an immense toll on romantic relationships in particular, causing pain and suffering for both parties. The partners/spouses of people with addiction may feel as though they are helpless, unable to provide the support that is needed. However, there are steps that partners/spouses can take to support their partner/spouse and themselves.

Develop an understanding of addiction and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. Research “Substance Use Disorder” and its symptoms, taking note of which symptoms apply to your partner/spouse. It may be helpful to create a list of warning signs that your partner/spouse is using substances, as well as to learn what to do in the case of an overdose.

Support, but avoid enabling. Enabling entails making excuses for your partner’s/spouse’s addictive behavior, communicating to them that such behavior is acceptable and can be continued. Instead, stress the necessity of change while also practicing devotion and love.

Establish boundaries for your relationship. Many professionals suggest establishing a set of boundaries that must be respected. For example, you may want to tell your partner/spouse that he/she cannot use substances while in the house.

Be honest with your partner/spouse. Tell your partner/spouse how his/her behavior makes you feel. If your partner’s/spouse’s behavior is hurting you, tell him/her. It is normal to feel uncomfortable during these conversations, but they are important and even necessary for change.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support and never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs. If you feel that the relationship is putting your physical or mental health at risk, it may be necessary to end the relationship. It can be beneficial to seek therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health and to work through difficult emotions.

If you or a loved one needs support, 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/

Siblings with Disabilities

By: Isabelle Siegel

People readily consider the struggles experienced by children with disabilities as well as by their parents, but siblings’ experiences and difficulties oftentimes go unnoticed. However, growing up with a sibling with a disability is not without consequences. Having a sibling with special needs is associated with numerous challenges, but also numerous opportunities.

Challenges

Growing up alongside a sibling with a disability can be associated with many negative emotions, some of which include anger, guilt, jealousy, embarrassment, and fear. Siblings of children with disabilities often report feeling neglected by their parents and feeling forced to hide their own problems for the sake of their family or brother/sister. They may also undergo “parentification,” meaning that they take on the role of a parent to themselves or even to their sibling. Although this parentification is associated with increased maturity, it is also associated with increased emotional vulnerability and distress. Taken together, these negative emotions and challenges render siblings of children with disabilities at higher risk for developing psychological adjustment difficulties: that is, they are more vulnerable than the average child to anxiety disorders, peer problems, academic struggles, and more.

Opportunities

People are quick to assume that having a sibling with a disability is a purely negative experience. However, growing up alongside a sibling with a disability is associated with many positive emotions and opportunities. Siblings of children with disabilities report feeling immense pride, gratitude, loyalty, and love. They tend to be more mature, responsible, empathetic, and tolerant than the average child. These positive experiences are equally as important as the negative ones, and must be acknowledged in order to fully comprehend what it is like to have a sibling with a disability.

What Parents Can Do

In order to best help the siblings of children with disabilities, parents can take several steps. These include:

  • Making sure to spend one-on-one time with each child
  • Keeping the siblings informed about their brother’s or sister’s disability and its implications
  • Understanding both the negative and positive emotions associated with being the sibling of a child with disabilities
  • Getting siblings involved in psychological services such as therapy

If you or a loved one is the sibling or parent of a child with a disability, 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/

Sources:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/band-brothers-and-sisters/201406/siblings-children-disabilities
https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/child-adolescent-psychiatry/emotional-problems-facing-siblings-of-children-with-disabilities/
Image Source: https://raisingchildren.net.au/disability/family-life/siblings/supporting-siblings

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

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/

 

Caregiver Depression

Caregiver Depression

By: Maryellen Van Atter

Caring for another individual is no easy feat; just as parenting requires preparation, so does caring for a family member with an illness or disability. A seldom discussed topic is ‘caregiver syndrome’, also known as caregiver depression or caregiver burnout. It is estimated that 20% of family caregivers suffer with depression – in the general population, it is reported that 7.1% of all individuals suffer from depression. This means that caregivers experience depression at a rate more than double the average person. Despite the prevalence of this condition, it is rarely talked about and sometimes viewed as something shameful. This should not be: caregiving is a difficult job and the first step to feeling better is acknowledging that it’s okay to feel the way you do. Just as there is no ‘perfect’ way to parent, there is no ‘perfect’ or ‘right’ way to be a caregiver.

Everyone experiences depression differently, but a few common signs are a loss of interest in things that you once found enjoyable, a change in sleeping patterns, and feeling irritable, hopeless, or helpless. These symptoms can persist even if you have placed a loved one in a care facility. Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective at managing caregiver depression and helping caregivers to feel more satisfied with their lives. Additionally, antidepressant medications can provide symptom relief; combined with psychotherapy, this can allow caregivers to explore their feelings and manage their caregiving responsibilities.

        If you or someone you know is struggling with caregiving responsibilities, 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-depression-silent-health-crisis