Managing Countertransference in Mental Health Professionals

Managing Countertransference in Mental Health Professionals

By Fiona McDermut

            Although mental health professionals are trained to treat a variety of disorders and psychological distress, we cannot discount their own psychological reactions. Therapists are human too, and they experience similar ups and downs to the people seeking their help. Additionally, many therapists feel a secondary wave of emotions when they can strongly identify with a client’s obstacles. For many people, it is difficult to react to others without involving personal emotions—it is no different for psychologists. In the world of mental health, this reaction based on personal mentality is known as countertransference.

            A therapist’s ability to work objectively with a client is dependent on the management of their own countertransference. Although therapists may develop strong emotional opinions about situations in their clients’ lives, it is important to always decide what is in the best interest of the clients.

Some examples of countertransference in practice include:

  • Disclosing too much personal information to a patient
  • Having unclear boundaries in the patient-doctor relationship
  • Being overly supportive or critical of the client
  • Any other actions in which the therapist allows their personal emotions to interfere with providing proper treatment

            Identifying with a patient’s strife is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important for mental health professionals to feel empathy, and to fully understand a client’s situation in order to develop a comforting therapeutic environment. However, this becomes unproductive when this empathy turns into extreme distress in the therapist and/or interferes with providing high quality care.

Luckily, there are two main ways in which mental health professionals regularly work on managing countertransference:

  • Participating in individual or group supervision or consultation with other therapists
  • Seeking therapy of their own which provides an outlet to discuss and handle personal emotional needs without projecting it onto the patient.

The role of the therapist is ultimately to help the patient, not create more stressors in the client’s life. If the therapist or patient feels that this cannot be done successfully, it may become necessary to terminate the relationship and pursue treatment with a new therapist.

If you or someone you know is experiencing countertransference, 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://psychcentral.com/health/countertransference#overview

Image source:

https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/psychotherapy-concept-psychologist-patient-with-tangled-untangled-mind-metaphor-doctor-solving-psychological-problems-couch-consultation-mental-health-treatment-flat-vector-illustration_19960102.htm

Why Men are less likely to Seek Mental Health Services

By Jenna Chiavelli

Why Men are less likely to Seek Mental Health Services

Recent research studies have found that men are less likely to seek mental health assistance compared to their female counterparts. Men are also less likely to disclose a mental health problem to friends and family. This isn’t because men are immune to mental illnesses but rather something larger is deterring men from reaching out for help. So what can psychologists attribute this to? The answer is toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity refers to harmful social norms about how men should behave that lead to misogyny, homophobia, violence, and mental health issues. In our society, we typically categorize women as the emotional figures and men as the strong and brave figures. Due to these social norms, people assume that men do not need mental health services as it is perceived as unnatural for men to discuss their emotions and feelings. Men themselves see seeking help as a sign of weakness, tarnishing their masculinity.

The media contributes to this societal problem as well, as a majority of mental health advertisements are targeted towards women and feature women. This further perpetuates the idea that mental health is a women’s issue, rather than a human issue. It is time we stop gendering mental health and remove the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

Why it Matters

In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women. White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020. It is abundantly clear that there are men struggling with mental health conditions, so much so, that they believe suicide is the only answer. If we continue to feed into toxic masculinity, men will continue to avoid help when they need it most. So what can we do about it?

Ways to Help

  1. Educate yourself and others – mental health problems are medical problems that can impact anybody regardless of gender.
  2. Talk openly about mental health – sharing personal experiences with mental health problems can make others more comfortable talking about their own experiences.
  3. Show compassion for those with mental health problems – showing compassion for those suffering can help reduce feelings of shame.  
  4. Check on the men in your life – Men are less likely to share their feelings compared to women, so work on having honest conversations with the men in your life. Let them know that you are there for them and stay alert of any concerning changes in behavior.

If you or someone you know is seeking 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/

Sources

https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-race-good-health/201902/mental-health-among-boys-and-men-when-is-masculinity-toxic

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COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of College Students

By Celine Bennion

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us in more ways than just illness itself. From strict isolation measures to mask mandates, several necessary health protocols have changed the way we carry out our daily lives. This is especially true for college students who were forced to transition to online learning, shifting the established routines they once knew.

At the onset of the pandemic, students residing on campus were forced out of their dorms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Without a place to stay on campus, they moved back home, forcing a drastic change in living situations. Even commuter students had to adjust to new norms, as they were no longer allowed to study on campus. With siblings also engaged in online school and parents working from home, their learning environment quickly changed from a quiet classroom to a bustling household. These changes posed several challenges, as many students found it increasingly difficult to stay focused in lectures and successfully absorb the material they were presented with.

Additionally, because students could not be present on campus, they were no longer able to engage in everyday social interactions. Meeting up with friends to study, attending club meetings, and participating in sports were no longer an option after transitioning to remote learning. These fundamental social interactions are vital for college students to maintain their wellbeing and to properly develop as individuals.

The major academic and social changes that transpired due to the pandemic led to a serious rise in reports of mental health challenges. According to a 2020 Active Minds survey on college students, about 75% of respondents indicated that their mental health had declined during the pandemic. Students specifically reported increased levels of anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and stress. With the many changes that students quickly had to manage, these feelings are understandable.

The rise of mental health challenges has prompted numerous universities to initiate changes to the psychological services that are offered to students. Many students have access to Telehealth counseling sessions and other mental health resources through their university. These resources allow students to obtain proper assistance for navigating their personal challenges.

It is essential that universities acknowledge the struggles their students are facing and make appropriate changes to support them through this difficult time.

If you or someone you know is seeking 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/

Sources:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/education/2021/09/13/nj-colleges-covid-student-burnout-stress-mental-health-toll/5716116001/

https://online.maryville.edu/blog/stress-in-college-students-recognize-understand-and-relieve-school-stress/ (photo)

Social Media: How Social Media Use Impacts Mental Health

Social Media: How Social Media Use Impacts Mental Health

By Celine Bennion

As you scroll through Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it may seem as though everyone you know uses at least one popular social media platform to share and connect with others. Social interaction is a key element for proper functioning and survival of humans. With modern technology, people can stay connected even when separated by physical distance, especially through social media. Despite their ability to maintain vital connections, social media platforms are known to engender mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as overall negative feelings in users.

As social media has gained popularity, more individuals find themselves bypassing face-to-face social interactions and scrolling through social media profiles instead. This lack of genuine social connection can create feelings of loneliness, increasing the likelihood of users developing mental health issues. Additionally, social media platforms can harm one’s self identity, creating pressure to live up to others’ expectations or perceptions.

Social media is a stage for constant comparison to others. Whether it is related to appearance, materialistic items, or personal accomplishments, users can easily find themselves longing for what others possess. Modern editing software that enables users to easily distort their features in photos creates an unrealistic basis of comparison for those who believe this appearance is natural. Additionally, it is very uncommon for users to post about negative events in their lives, creating a false perception of a “perfect life” as others view their profile.

If social media is often causing individuals to feel bad, why do they continue using it? A major contributor to continued social media usage is the fear of missing out, or FOMO. FOMO occurs when individuals feel that they may miss out on connections such as jokes, invitations, and connections. This fear can cause significant anxiety, especially for those who thrive off of connection with others. Additionally, biological implications are involved in users’ attraction to social media platforms. The continuous presentation of novel content triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that elicits feelings of pleasure. This fluctuation in dopamine levels leaves users craving the pleasurable feelings associated with scrolling, giving social media an addictive nature.

As you scroll through social media platforms, it is important to be mindful of the content you are consuming and discontinue interaction with content that causes negative feelings to arise.

If you or someone you know is seeking 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/

Sources:

https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364393/

https://lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/2021/september/the-effects-of-social-media-on-mental-health

https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/2021/10/15/challenge-offers-2-500-stay-off-social-media/8469387002/ (photo)

Psychotherapy: Benefits of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

By: Jasmyn Cuate

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that focuses on helping people recognize and change negative thinking patterns into positive, healthier ones. This method is an action-oriented approach helping to overcome any psychological problems or mental distress. The goal of REBT is to help people respond rationally to situations that would cause stress, depression, or other negative feelings. How does it work?

The ABC model is one concept of REBT. The model suggests that we may blame external situations for our unhappiness and it is our interpretation of these situations that truly causes the psychological distress. ABC stands for:

  • A: Activating event, when something happens in your environment
  • B: Belief, describes your thoughts about the situation
  • C: Consequence, which is your emotional response to your belief

With REBT, your therapist will help you learn how to apply the ABC model in your daily life. Your therapist may help you identify the activating event before encouraging you to figure out which belief led you to your negative feelings. Once you’ve identify the underlying issue, your therapist will work with you to change those beliefs and your emotional response towards the issue. Before changing your belief, a process called disputation takes place where your therapist will challenge your irrational beliefs using direct methods such as asking questions which causes you to re-think or have you imagine another point of view that you may have not considered before. REBT can help with Anxiety, Social anxiety disorder, distress, Depression, Disruptive behavior in children, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Psychotic symptoms.

Benefits of REBT:

  • Reduce feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, and distress
  • Improves health and quality of life
  • Better social skills and school performance

REBT helps you understand that you are worthy of self-acceptance no matter what even if you or others are struggling; there is no need for shame or guilt because everyone makes mistakes and it’s normal to feel some discomfort. REBT gives insight that others are also worthy of acceptance even if their behavior involves something you don’t like. Overall, REBT helps you have a healthy emotional response on learning from a situation and moving on. This allows you to understand that negative things will sometimes happen in life therefore there is no rational reason to always expect it to be positive when faced with a situation.

If you or someone you know is seeking for cognitive behavioral therapy or rational emotive behavior 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/

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-2796000

Eating Disorders Part 2: Black Women with Eating Disorders

By: Abby Erasmus

Black women in America have a unique experience; their intersecting identities make them one of the most discriminated- against groups in America, resulting in mental health issues. Eating disorders (ED), for example, are not new within the Black community. Black women live with EDs at similar rates to all ethnic and demographic groups- but often times in the shadows. The majority of ED studies focus on white women. This ignores the fact that ED causes and manifestation can be different in other populations. Further, the most commonly researched ED is Anorexia Nervosa (AN), yet AN is not the typical ED experience of Black women. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Bulimia nervosa (BN) are the most common EDs among Black women, with Black girls being 50 times more likely to engage in BN behaviors than white girls. Because BED and BN aren’t frequently researched, they’re harder to correctly diagnose in patients; it is thus highly unlikely Black women will be diagnosed with an ED at all. To increase the likelihood that Black women will be correctly diagnosed and receive treatment, it is important to know the key symptoms of BED and BN. Listed here are some key symptoms:

BED: Recurrent, persistent episodes of binge eating & absence of compensatory behaviors like purging. The binge eating episodes are associated with 3 or more of the following: eating more rapidly than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts when not physically hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment of how much one is eating, feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty after overeating.

BN: Recurrent episodes of binging that are characterized by eating an amount of food within a 2- hour period that is definitively larger than what most people eat in that time period, accompanied by feeling unable to stop eating/ control the amount one is eating & recurrent compensatory behaviors like: self- induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, excessive exercise, and more.

Additionally, stigma exists in the Black community in regard to receiving help due to complex stereotypes, histories, etc., and stigma in regard to EDs is dramatized as they are labeled a white woman’s problem. Once we call attention to ED prevalence and manifestation in the community, stigma will be reduced both within and outside of the community. This will then increase the likelihood that Black woman will receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for their ED. Further, when providers are made aware of the daily micro and macro aggressions that can result in poor mental health and potentially maladaptive coping mechanisms like an ED, providers will be prepared to address such issues during sessions. The nuanced narrative of EDs within the Black community must be disseminated.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating 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://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/new-dsm-5-binge-eating-disorder

https://www.centralcoasttreatmentcenter.com/blog-1/invisibility-of-eating-disorders-in-the-black-community-its-more-than-the-eating-disorder-stereotype

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519712/table/ch3.t16/

Beyond “Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate”

Burnout; what it is and how to prevent it

By Katie Weinstein

When push comes to shove, stress becomes burnout. This can lead to detrimental effects on our physical and mental health, so it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning to occur. Burnout is a gradual process that is defined as an extended period of stress and exhaustion that feels like it isn’t improving. Some signs of burnout are losing interest and motivation to a point in which you become disengaged, which can cause a cynical and resentful attitude. Burnout also affects physical health, causing changes in appetite and sleep and frequent headaches.

The causes of burnout include work, lifestyle, and personality traits. Lack of recognition in a chaotic or high pressure environment can make someone more susceptible to burnout. Some ways to improve work related burnout are to outsource or share responsibilities and to set boundaries for off times such as not checking email. Another cause of burnout can be caregiver burnout, since it can be very tiring to care for a child. It’s important to remember that it does not make you a bad parent or friend to ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs a break. Additionally, a perfectionist attitude and pessimistic view on things may lead to burnout, it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning so that you can practice stress managing techniques and find time to do things that you enjoy to prevent burnout. 

Knowing the difference between a burnout and being overly stressed is essential for mental health. It is important to limit contact with negative people and reach out to supportive friends and family in order to shape a more positive attitude and prevent burnout.

If you or someone you know is experiencing burnout or high levels of stress, 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 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/burnout

Mental Health during Pride Month

By Charlotte Arehart

With June finally starting, this means that it is officially Pride Month! Pride Month is celebrated in June in the USA and many other countries. During Pride Month, we celebrate and recognize the impact that  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer LGBTQ+ individuals have on their communities. We celebrate their history, whether it be locally, nationally, or internationally. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health. There are a plethora of statistics about LGBTQ+ individuals and mental health, including the fact that members of the community are less likely to seek treatment for mental health, substance abuse, and eating disorders. This is largely due to fear of being discriminated against because of their sexuality. Pride Month is the perfect opportunity to prioritize and learn more about mental health for LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are many barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals face when it comes to finding mental health treatment. Many mental health centers lack culturally-competent or diverse staff and/or treatment. It was not very long ago that homosexuality and bisexuality were themselves considered mental illnesses. This was thought to be true until the 1960’s. Gay men and lesbian women were frequently forced to undergo “treatment” for their sexuality against their will, such as aversion, conversion, and even shock therapies. Also damaging to mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for bullying, and sometimes even hateful violent crimes. The best way to help the LGBTQ+ community regarding mental health efforts is to support the community not only through words but through actions. By reducing the stigma around mental health and making LGBTQ+ individuals feel as comfortable as possible, hopefully we can make mental health treatment more accessible for everyone. Luckily, the vast majority of mental health professionals today are accepting and positive towards the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone deserves to have efficient, effective, and professional mental health no matter how they identify as individuals.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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:

Image Source: https://lgbt-speakers.com/news/top-10-lists/10-lgbt-speakers-for-pride-month-2021

The Importance of Mental Health

By Charlotte Arehart

When thinking about their health, most people only consider the physical state of their bodies. However, it is important that we take our mental health into consideration as well. Not only are these two aspects equally important, but they are actually very closely related. People who have poor mental health are at greater risk of having poor physical health. For example, people who experience depression are at a 50% increased risk of dying from cancer and a 67% increase for heart disease. Stress and anxiety also have a huge impact on the body, affecting the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, as well as the gastrointestinal system.

Since mental health is so important, why do people usually disregard it? Many people are afraid of the stigma that surrounds mental health. Since you cannot always “see” mental health problems, some people view them as “not real.” Many people fear that others will look at them differently if they seek mental help. They do not want to be seen as emotionally weak. People are especially worried that seeking mental help with affect their careers, however this is not true. In fact, taking proactive steps to help mental health will reduce possible repercussions for the future. It is better to address the issue sooner rather than later, since unchecked mental health symptoms usually worsen over time. If you are experiencing mental health troubles, by no means are you alone. Many mental health issues are actually more prevalent than one would expect. By realizing that there are tons people who are experiencing something similar to them, people may feel better about reaching out for mental health.

If you or someone you know needs mental health 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.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health

https://www.pdhealth.mil/news/blog/reducing-self-stigma-mental-health-important-physical-health

Image Source: https://www.hrcsb.org/may-mental-health-awareness-month/

Physician Burnout during a Global Pandemic

By Eleanor Kim

Physicians and nurses around the world have been at the front lines fighting the coronavirus and saving the lives of those infected. Now more than ever, citizens are coming to realize the importance of those within the medical field and the bravery that comes with entering medicine. That being said, there has been an immense amount of pressure placed upon healthcare workers, often causing stress, anxiety, and depression. At the end of the day, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are humans and can feel the effects of burnout during such a heightened and high stakes moment in medical history.

Burnout is when someone becomes overwhelmed by the demands of their daily life, becoming emotionally and physically exhausted and creating a sense of depersonalization and weakened personal accomplishments. Burnout is a common occurrence among physicians and nurses given the great amount of pressure that comes with saving lives. That being said, these feelings of burnout have skyrocketed given the additionally taxing nature of current frontline medical work such as the stress of isolating from friends and family, the extended hours of work, the tragic lack of medical supplies, and the fear of contracting or spreading the virus, to name a few. Physicians are also left to deal with the other struggles and anxieties that the past year has brought upon the general population regarding economic, political, racial, and other personal effects of the pandemic.

During these elongated periods where healthcare workers are left sleep deprived, improperly fed, and overall anxious about the current status of the pandemic, they are exposed to both mentally and physically long lasting effects. In 2020, there have been a record number of physicians who have reported feelings of burnout and other mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic. Should these issues go untreated, there is an increased risk for depression, self-medication, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Burnout is more than just stress; it is a mental health crisis and should be treated as such.

If you or someone you know is feeling the effects of physician and healthcare worker burnout, 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/.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/05/17/doctor-heal-thyself-physician-burnout-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/

Image Source:

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/04/14/more-than-a-third-of-medical-staff-suffered-insomnia-during-the-covid-19-epidemic-in-china/