The Less Talked-About Side of OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Isabelle Siegel

When thinking about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), most people instinctively think of those who care about cleanliness and tidiness. In fact, it is not uncommon to use the phrase “I’m so OCD” to imply that one agonizes over neatness and order. This perception of OCD is not without reason, as many people with OCD do obsess over germs, contamination, and order and engage in excessive hand washing, cleaning, and ordering.

However, it is important to note that this is not the reality for many other sufferers of OCD. OCD is a wide-ranging disorder involving the presence of obsessions—“repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety”—and compulsions—repetitive behaviors performed to relieve the anxiety. These obsessions can take nearly any form, with contamination and order being only two of them. Some other common obsessions include thoughts about: losing control or going insane, harming oneself or others, unwanted sexual ideas or images, and/or religion. For example, it is well-documented that people with OCD may experience intrusive thoughts about homosexuality, pedophilia, violence and aggression, and/or suicide.

Many people with these less talked-about OCD “themes” take longer to realize that they have OCD because their symptoms are not in line with the stereotypical hand washing and tidying. These individuals often engage in different compulsive behaviors to alleviate anxiety. These behaviors may include mental compulsions such as repeated checking and rumination (that is, repetitively reviewing and evaluating one’s thoughts and their meanings). For example, the individual who obsesses about violence and aggression may repeatedly check that he/she has not unintentionally harmed those around him/her.

It is ultimately important to acknowledge this less talked-about side of OCD in order to encourage sufferers to acknowledge their symptoms and to guide them to get the treatment and help that they need. 

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD, 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.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/201002/rumination-problem-solving-gone-wrong
Image Source:
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm

Anxiety and Bullying

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Anxiety and Bullying

By: Vanessa Munera

Being bullied is not an easy thing to handle. It can be a traumatic experience for teens that are being targeted. Those who are bullied experience impacts in their lives such as feeling lonely, anxious, isolated, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, when a bully moves on to the next target, these consequences of bullying linger longer for the victim. After prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse effects. These victims will experience depression, eating disorders, and thoughts of suicide. In addition, victims of bullying can develop some sort of anxiety disorder. The top four major anxiety disorders victims of bullying can experience are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks and social anxiety disorder.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this occurs after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can develop due to events such as a car accidents or losing a close relative. This disorder can also show up after repeated abuse or even bullying. Children who are bullied may experience nightmares, flashbacks, withdraw from others, or are easily startled. Kids, who undergo long term and abusive bullying, have increased chances of developing PTSD.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Kids with GAD are often tormented with worries and fear that distract them for their daily life activities. Those with generalized anxiety have a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is not uncommon with victims of bullying. With GAD, physical symptoms may appear such as insomnia, stomachaches, fatigue, and restlessness.

3. Panic Attacks: Those who suffer from panic disorders must deal with unpredictable and repeated attacks. When suffering from a panic attack, the attack is usually with no warning and can cause physically symptoms. These symptoms include sweating, chest pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In fact, a part of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in panic attacks. When left untreated, the sufferer will begin to avoid going out or things they once enjoyed, in order to prevent another panic attack.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder: People who suffer from social anxiety fear being humiliated or seen negatively by others. Those with this disorder often worry that the way they look or act cause others to mock them. This can cause sufferers to avoid social gatherings to avoid being humiliated. In fact victims of bullying often develop social anxiety due to the repeated shame and public humiliation they experienced.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, 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/

 

References:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/bullying-and-anxiety-connection-460631

https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog

 

 

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

Stress and Anxiety: Differences Between the Two

By: Julia Keys

        It is normal to experience a certain degree of stress throughout the day, but when this stress becomes extreme, and with no discernible cause, it can start to become a problem.  It is important to distinguish the difference between everyday stress and clinical anxiety.

Although stress can be temporarily uncomfortable, it can motivate humans to get things done. There are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is beneficial to humans functioning. While it is not pleasurable in the moment, eustress contributes to a beneficial outcome. An example of eustress would be jitters before an exam or a particularly challenging workout. Eustress can enhance one’s performance. Distress, on the other hand, is a negative form of stress that is not usually beneficial to the experiencer. Some examples of distress could be legal problems or conflicts with a spouse.  Distress tends to negatively impact performance and can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression.

People with clinical anxiety such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), experience levels of distress and worrying that are more intense than everyday stress.  Whereas stress feels caused by external factors, anxiety tends to be generated internally. Oftentimes, people with anxiety will feel stress and anticipate negative outcomes before the anticipated event even happens.

Here are some key differences between stress and anxiety:

  • Stressor
    • Normal stress occurs in response to external stressors such as a fight with a friend or a job interview
    • People with anxiety oftentimes cannot find the source of their stress and therefore just getting through the day can be immensely stressful
  • Intensity
    • Stress is fleeting
    • Anxiety is ongoing and can last weeks, months, or even years
  • Symptoms
    • Stress is oftentimes accompanied by worrying, which subsides quickly
    • Anxiety can cause troubling symptoms such as dizziness, trembling, headaches and nausea
  • Impairment
    • Anxiety can be overwhelming and debilitating to the point where one may start to avoid necessary everyday activities that make them anxious

If you are struggling with anxiety, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting  Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hack-your-anxiety/201903/curious-about-the-difference-between-stress-and-anxiety

http://www.ulifeline.org/articles/439-anxiety-vs-anxiety-disorders

Source for Picture:

https://www.google.com/search?q=stressed+out&rlz=1C1OPRB_enUS649US649&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwit6L2FlKDiAhUPneAKHdScCscQ_AUIDygC&biw=1600&bih=708#imgrc=4edKR-6nq6vvrM:

 

Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive? 

Am I Too Sensitive?

By: Julia Keys

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

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

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

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

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

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

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

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

 

Sources:

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

https://hsperson.com/

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Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

Image result for disordered eating habits

Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

By: Julia Keys

Our culture is obsessed with weight, thinness, exercise, and beauty. Studies show that women under the age of 19 are particularly vulnerable to the problematic effects of social media; about 60% of girls have a desire to lose weight even though they are within the healthy weight range ( Morris & Katzman, 2003). As a result, many people have developed unhealthy ways of eating and exercising for dealing with the pressure to look a certain way. These habits can seem minor at first, but can quickly develop into an eating disorder. While disordered eating habits do not meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder, they are still unhealthy and potentially damaging.

Signs of Disordered Eating Habits:

  • Self-worth or self-esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
  • A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range, but continues to feel that they are overweight
  • Excessive or rigid exercise routine
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
  • A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home

It is important to recognize the signs of disordered eating and try to eradicate them before they become potentially harmful. Clinicians advise to quit fad diets because they are extremely restrictive and often result in binge eating. Obsessive exercise focused on “fat-burning” or “calorie-burning” should also be avoided and replaced with physical activity that is more focused on enjoyment. Another tip psychologists give is to avoid weighing yourself every single day. Weight can fluctuate about 2-5 lbs. a day, so fixating on a specific number in order to be healthy isn’t helpful. If disordered eating habits suddenly get worse, or start to impact one’s daily functioning, one should seek help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with 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.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201402/disordered-eating-or-eating-disorder-what-s-the

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

Source for Picture:

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Addictions in College

By: Julia Keys

     Ever hear the old saying “work hard, play hard”? Unfortunately, this saying is taken to the extreme across many college campuses in America.  Unhealthy behaviors like binge drinking and drug use are normalized due to the party culture that pervades college life.  According  to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 50% of college students binge drink (drinking three or more drinks in one sitting) and about two thirds of those with a valid prescription for an ADHD medication such as Adderall or Ritalin, share their pills with their friends.  Other drugs that are common on college campuses include benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Klonopin, which are prescription medications and helpful when used properly, but are often abused, and illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

What causes college students to participate in these behaviors?

  • Greek Life
  • Independence/living on one’s own for the first time
  • Peer pressure
  • Pressure to do well in school

Signs of Addiction

  • Abnormally red, glassy, or dilated pupils
  • Red, irritated nostrils
  • Needle or track marks
  • Weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Sudden increase in irritability, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, recovering from an addiction, or suspect  you are developing an addiction, please contact your college’s counseling center or Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to a licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.clearviewtreatment.com/blog/signs-drinking-drug-student/

https://addictionresource.com/addiction/college/

Source for Picture:

https://www.google.com/search?q=college+addiction&rlz=1C1OPRB_enUS649US649&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiAqfzYpp7iAhUmc98KHcOdCOkQ_AUIECgD&biw=751&bih=687#imgrc=2eCXqhQrMcdqpM:

Sleep Difficulties? Here are 5 questions that will Help You Figure Out Why.

By Sally Santos

We all have gone through this. We have had a long day and we can’t wait to get in to bed to rest. But the moment you rest your head on the pillow you find yourself wide awake and staring at the ceiling. So then you ask yourself “why can’t I fall asleep?” Consider these 5 questions:

Do you take your phone to bed?

  • We spend all day with our phones tending to every notification that we receive. That can become a habit. So when you bring your phone to bed and you see your phones light up you are going to want to see what it is. So every night before you go to bed try to keep your phone away from your bed or at least set it on Do Not Disturb Mode. This ensures that your phone won’t ring for every notification

How much caffeine are you drinking?

  • If you are someone who consumes a lot of caffeine during the day and find yourself not being able to sleep at night consider consuming less caffeine or stop completely.

What do you do during the evening?

  • Avoid having a late meal. If you eat right before you go to bed that might keep you awake because your body is working on digesting your food.
  • If you are someone who works out try working out earlier because after you work out you may have increased energy and that may prevent you from sleeping at night.
  • If possible try avoiding difficult conversations before bed.

How are you using your bed?

  • If you are someone who works or studies in bed, you may be confusing your body. Instead of your body associating your bed as a place for rest it is associating it as a place of work.

Is there something specific that you are worried about?

  • Maybe you are going through a stressful situation and the thought of it is keeping you up at night. Try learning a relaxation method such as breathing gently or meditation.
  • If the situation is serious seek professional help you problem-solve the situation. You might be helped by relaxation techniques, hypnosis or sleep medication.

Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201901/how-calm-your-racing-mind-so-you-can-sleep

Image:

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/no-sleep

If you or someone you know is having sleep issues, speak with one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists. Contact us at our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 respectively to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Video Games – Advantages and Disadvantages

By Dara Kushnir

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help 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 us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Schizophrenia

By: Dianna Gomez

Schizophrenia is generally known to be a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Schizophrenic individuals most often have had a break with reality. When the average person hears the term ‘schizophrenia’ they immediately associate the illness with things such as hallucinations, hearing of voices, etc. Although these are accurate possibilities, there are several additional types of schizophrenia that many people aren’t aware of that people suffer from all around the globe. There are a total 5 subtypes of schizophrenia including: paranoid, disorganized, residual, catatonic and undifferentiated.

Paranoid: delusions (beliefs that may seem real to the person suffering but are not actually happening) such as believing the government is spying on them. Another symptom seen in this subtype is auditory hallucinations (hearing voices that are not real). Most often, these voices are not kind. They encourage the person to hurt others, hurt themselves, etc. These people may also see things that aren’t truly there (ex: seeing the devil).

Disorganized: in addition to having hallucinations and delusions, people with this type of schizophrenia have problems with disorganized speech (ex: speaking but not making any sense/word salad), disorganized thoughts (ex: quickly jumping from one topic to the next).

Residual: people with this type of schizophrenia mainly struggle with a lack of initiative, poor self-care/hygiene, poor social performance, underactivity, passivity, poor non-verbal communication (facial expressions, eye contact, etc). These people do not experience nearly as many hallucinations and delusions.

Catatonic: disturbances in a person’s movements and/or immobility. Catatonic individuals can maintain very unusual body positions/poses for extended periods of time. If someone were to try to move them, their limbs would be extremely resistant against efforts to be altered.

Undifferentiated: people with this type suffer from 2 or more types of symptoms listed above. They may have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior, etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from schizophrenia, 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 t0 set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.