In recent times, social media has become a valuable source of information, support, and community for individuals seeking to understand their mental health. While it’s great to see awareness increasing, there’s a concerning trend of self-diagnosing mental health conditions like ADHD and personality disorders based on online content. In this blog post, we’ll explore the allure of self-diagnosis, the risks involved, and why seeking professional psychological assessment and testing is essential for accurate and personalized understanding.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 19, 2023 ADHD, ADHD / ADD, ADHD in women, adhd testing, psychological assessment, psychological testing, self diagnosis, self-diagnosis, social media therapy0 comments
The Appeal of Self-Diagnosing Mental Health on Social Media
In an era of abundant information, it’s natural for individuals to explore their symptoms and experiences online. Social media accounts often share relatable stories and experiences that resonate with readers, making them feel understood and less alone. These accounts provide valuable insights into various conditions, including ADHD and personality disorders, which may encourage individuals to consider whether they relate to those experiences.
The Risks of Self-Diagnosing Mental Health
While social media can be informative, self-diagnosis comes with significant risks. Many conditions, especially in mental health, have overlapping symptoms and complexities that require professional expertise to differentiate accurately. Relying solely on online content may lead to inaccuracies and potential misdiagnosis, which can have serious consequences on one’s well-being and treatment.
The Importance of Psychological Assessment and Testing
Professional psychological assessment and testing conducted by trained clinicians offer a comprehensive and accurate evaluation of an individual’s mental health. These assessments use standardized measures, interviews, and clinical observations to identify specific strengths, challenges, and conditions.
- Individualized Understanding: Every person’s experiences and challenges are unique. Psychological assessments provide personalized insights into one’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns, leading to tailored treatment plans.
- Accurate Diagnosis: Trained professionals have the expertise to differentiate between various conditions with similar symptoms, minimizing the risk of misdiagnosis and ensuring the most appropriate intervention.
- Validation and Support: A formal assessment provides validation for individuals struggling with their experiences. It can also help loved ones understand their challenges better, fostering a supportive environment.
- Informed Treatment: A professional evaluation leads to evidence-based treatment recommendations, improving the likelihood of positive outcomes and enhanced well-being.
While self-education through social media can be valuable, it is essential to approach self-diagnosis with caution. Psychological assessment and testing by a trained professional offer a far more reliable and accurate path to understanding one’s mental health. Let’s embrace the educational aspects of social media while acknowledging its limitations. Seeking support from qualified mental health professionals empowers us with the knowledge and tools needed to lead fulfilling lives.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms related to ADHD, personality disorders, or any other mental health condition, we encourage you to reach out to us at 412-856-WELL for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized support.
Remember, knowledge is powerful, but professional guidance is invaluable on the journey towards understanding and healing.
Interested in Professional Psychological Testing & Assessment?
If you are interested in our professional psychological testing and assessment services, please call us at 412-856-WELL or fill out the form below.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 15, 2023 CBT, cognitive behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, IFS, Internal Family Systems, Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy0 comments
At the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, we understand that every individual’s journey to mental health and well-being is unique. That’s why we offer a diverse range of therapeutic modalities to address a variety of emotional and psychological challenges. Among the many approaches available, you can explore several effective therapies including, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). These two therapies, CBT vs DBT, are often compared due to their distinct approaches and techniques, making them valuable tools in the mental health field. Additionally, we offer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Internal Family Systems (IFS). Each of these therapies has its own unique approach, making it important to explore the right fit for your specific needs and goals.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the cornerstones of psychotherapy, offering a structured approach to understanding and managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Our therapists work with you to identify negative thought patterns and empower you to replace them with healthier, more adaptive ones. CBT is effective for various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and phobias. Through CBT, you will learn practical strategies to manage your symptoms and become your own therapist.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, was initially designed for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) but has since been adapted for other conditions. This therapy combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies. Our DBT program teaches you to regulate emotions, improve interpersonal skills, and increase distress tolerance. DBT’s unique dialectical approach encourages acceptance of oneself and the need for change simultaneously, making it particularly helpful for those struggling with intense emotional instability and self-destructive behaviors.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is a mindfulness-based therapy that emphasizes accepting what is out of your control while committing to actions that enhance your life. Our therapists guide you in being mindful of your thoughts and feelings without judgment, helping you clarify your values and goals. ACT uses various mindfulness and behavioral techniques to help you let go of unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that stand in the way of living a meaningful life. This approach has proven effective for a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a specialized therapy primarily used for individuals who have experienced trauma. Developed by Francine Shapiro, EMDR facilitates the reprocessing of traumatic memories using bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements or tapping. Our EMDR therapy helps you process traumatic experiences, reducing their emotional charge and integrating them into your life story. While EMDR is well-established for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it can also be beneficial for other trauma-related issues.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
TF-CBT is a specialized therapy designed for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. Our TF-CBT program integrates cognitive-behavioral techniques with trauma-specific interventions, aiming to reduce trauma symptoms and improve overall functioning in young trauma survivors.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy
IFS is an innovative approach that focuses on understanding and harmonizing the various “parts” or subpersonalities within an individual’s mind. Our IFS therapy helps you explore and communicate with these inner parts, fostering self-awareness and healing. By acknowledging and working with these parts, individuals can achieve a sense of balance and self-compassion. IFS has been effective in addressing a wide range of issues, including trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges.
At the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, we provide you with a variety of therapeutic modalities to support your journey toward mental health and well-being. Your path to healing is unique, and our experienced therapists are dedicated to helping you find the right approach that aligns with your specific needs and goals. Your journey to well-being starts here, and we are here to guide you every step of the way.
Ready to Get Started With Therapy?
Ready to embark on your therapeutic journey with CBT, DBT, or other therapies? Reach out at 412-856-WELL or complete the form below.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 12, 2023 always be positive, fake happiness, forced happiness, good vibes only, toxic positivity0 comments
In a world that often seems relentless and challenging, the mantra of “always be positive” has become a resounding echo in our ears. We’re bombarded with motivational quotes and social media posts exhorting us to “look on the bright side” and “stay positive.” Positivity, in and of itself, is a valuable trait, but when taken to extremes, it can morph into something insidious known as “toxic positivity.” In this blog, we’ll dive deep into what toxic positivity is, how it manifests, and why it’s essential to strike a balance between embracing positivity and acknowledging our authentic emotions.
Toxic positivity is the excessive and often unhealthy promotion of positivity to the detriment of authentic emotional expression. It’s the notion that no matter how dire or painful a situation may be, one must maintain a positive mindset at all costs. While the intention behind promoting positivity is usually well-meaning, toxic positivity invalidates and suppresses genuine feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, or pain. It sends a message that these emotions are unacceptable or unworthy of acknowledgment.
Manifestations of Toxic Positivity
- Invalidation of Feelings: Toxic positivity often begins with phrases like “Don’t be so negative” or “Look at the bright side.” While these may be well-intentioned, they can make someone feel guilty for experiencing emotions other than happiness.
- Minimizing Pain: People who engage in toxic positivity may downplay others’ struggles by saying things like “It could be worse” or “Just think positive thoughts.” This can be hurtful and dismissive of genuine suffering.
- Forced Positivity: Encouraging someone to “smile” or “be happy” when they’re going through a tough time can add pressure and make them feel guilty for not meeting unrealistic expectations.
- Avoidance of Negative Emotions: Toxic positivity often encourages suppressing or ignoring negative emotions. This emotional avoidance can lead to emotional repression, which can have long-term negative consequences.
The Dangers of Toxic Positivity
- Emotional Suppression: Constantly striving to be positive can lead to emotional suppression. When we bury our authentic emotions, they tend to resurface later, often in more intense ways.
- Isolation: People who are consistently met with toxic positivity may feel isolated and unheard. They may hesitate to share their struggles, leading to feelings of loneliness.
- Inauthenticity: The pressure to maintain a facade of positivity can lead to a sense of inauthenticity. This can harm relationships and our sense of self.
- Failure to Address Problems: Toxic positivity discourages addressing real issues. When we brush problems under the rug, they fester and can become more significant challenges.
The Importance of Balanced Positivity
While the dangers of toxic positivity are evident, it’s essential to clarify that embracing positivity is not inherently harmful. It’s the excessive and exclusive focus on positivity that becomes problematic. A balanced approach acknowledges that life is a tapestry of emotions, and it’s okay to experience a full range of feelings.
Embrace Authenticity: Authenticity is a cornerstone of emotional well-being. It’s crucial to recognize and validate our feelings, both positive and negative.
Empathy and Support: Instead of dismissing someone’s struggles with positivity, offer empathy, and support. Sometimes, just lending a listening ear can make a significant difference.
Mindful Positivity: Positive thinking can be a powerful tool, but it should not be used to suppress or invalidate emotions. Use positivity as a means to navigate challenges, not ignore them.
Seek Professional Help: If you find yourself struggling with toxic positivity or have difficulty managing your emotions, consider seeking the assistance of a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and strategies for healthy emotional expression.
Toxic positivity is a well-intentioned yet harmful phenomenon that discourages authentic emotional expression. Embracing positivity is valuable, but not at the expense of suppressing genuine feelings. The key is to strike a balance, recognizing that life’s emotional tapestry includes both light and shadow. By promoting emotional authenticity and offering support to those who are struggling, we can foster healthier and more compassionate relationships with ourselves and others.
Have you ever experienced a day when certain parts of your body simply ache? Or have you found it challenging to sit still, caught in a repetitive behavior like leg shaking? Our bodies communicate with us in various ways, offering insights that we must learn to understand. Let’s explore the mind body connection, acknowledging how the mind and body influence each other.
At times, body discomfort may not be directly related to mental health, but it’s crucial to recognize that mental health diagnoses can significantly impact bodily functions. To begin fostering a healthy mind body connection, we should start by considering our diet. Proper nutrition is essential for providing the energy our bodies need. Remember the saying, “You are what you eat!” Opting for balanced meals increases our energy levels and satisfaction. Western diets, known for their high fat content, can lead to sluggishness. Prioritize regular, nutritious meals throughout the day to maintain gut-brain communication, which affects our overall function.
Hydration is equally important. Without proper nourishment, we hinder our chances of success. Dehydration directly affects the brain, and severe cases may even lead to loss of consciousness.
Our bodies thrive on the nutrients we consume, much like a child benefits from a varied diet. Just as a diet high in sugar can deprive a child of essential nutrients, our bodies’ regulating systems respond to what we eat. Our choices impact insulin levels and overall regulation. Doctors often caution against excessive sugar intake, as it not only affects mood but also disrupts our natural regulatory systems.
To achieve peak performance, feeding our bodies positive nutrients is paramount. For individuals grappling with mental health challenges, eating might seem daunting. However, remember that even consuming something small is better than nothing. Start small, aiming for consistency over time. Repetition paves the way for habits to become routines. By consistently integrating nutritious meals into our daily lives, we forge stronger mind-body connections.
Enhancing the mind body connection involves a variety of approaches. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are powerful tools for boosting mental well-being. These techniques encourage individuals to slow down, look inward, and prioritize relaxation. Quieting the mind fosters a heightened sense of self and a deeper connection with regulating systems. Slowing down allows us to foster self-awareness and create a stronger sense of balance.
Our bodies are intricate messengers, and understanding their cues is vital for overall well-being. By nurturing our bodies through mindful nutrition and holistic practices, we can strengthen the mind-body connection. As we learn to interpret and respond to our body’s signals, we pave the way for a more harmonious and enriching life journey.
Written by Psychotherapist Edisa Music, MA.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 15, 2023 anxiety, Anxiety and Stress, anxiety disorders, anxiety treatment, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, social anxiety, stress, stress management, stress responses, therapy for anxiety, worry0 comments
As a Therapist at the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, I frequently encounter a prevalent concern among clients – the pervasive presence of stress and anxiety in their daily experiences. Without a doubt, stress and anxiety can be unsettling, and they can feel particularly intense when they appear to pose a threat to one’s well-being. However, in instances where immediate safety isn’t at risk, feelings of unease are often linked to triggers that threaten emotional or psychological equilibrium.
Anxiety itself can fall into one of three categories, namely: worry, stress and anxiety. You might be interested to know that 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety condition and if you are one of them, you are not alone. Let’s dive into each category and identify the components of each.
Worry: Cognitive Component of Anxiety
The first category is the most common and that is the form of anxiety caused by worry. Worry is what happens when your mind dwells on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong. It’s the cognitive component of anxiety, and occurs basically in your mind, not your body. When we think about an uncertain or unpleasant situation — such as paying the bills, being on time for an appointment, or how we’ll do on a test at school, etc. — our brains become stimulated. In this case worry calms our brains down by giving it a focus, and is likely to lead us to problem-solve or to act, both of which are positive things. In essence, worry keeps us safe. The key to remember regarding worry, is that it is helpful, only if it leads to change. If not, it may lead to a more complicated second category condition, such as Stress.
Stress: Physiological Response to External Demand
Stress is a physiological response to an external event or force that places an excess demand on one’s distress tolerance resources. The cycle of stress begins with a stressor, an event that interrupts the nervous system’s neutral flow state. Think of how the natural stress response system may have operated for our prehistoric ancestors. Imagine a predator jumps out of the bushes prompting a behavioral response, activating the fight, flight, or freeze response, firing up the limbic system’s release of stress response hormones of cortisol and adrenaline, and prompting the tendency to run away, engage and defend, or collapse in a freeze state. This situational stress experience is known as an “acute” stressor because it’s an isolated incident, and usually, once that threat has passed, the body returns to its usual baseline function, and life proceeds as expected.
Chronic Stress and Its Impact
Chronic stress, on the other hand, occurs when your body stays stuck in this fight-or-flight mode continuously, due to having no immediate resolution, as with financial stressors or relationship difficulties. Chronic stress is known to be linked to health concerns such as digestive issues, an increased risk of heart disease, and a weakening of the immune system, which can leave one vulnerable to physical illness. This makes sense considering that the body has limited energy resources available for dealing with stress.
The Confluence of Worry and Stress into Anxiety
The body has two immune systems: one for responding to external threats outside the body, and one for dealing with internal threats from inside the body (bacteria, viruses, etc). When both two immune systems are called to action simultaneously, the body must prioritize its resources to meet the most pressing need first, which in this case, is to resolve demands of those present external environmental stressors. Chronic stress hormone release can eventually have a detrimental effect on the brain, since too much of these hormones can be toxic to the hypothalamus, the organ that directly influences the autonomic nervous system. It can also be abrasive to the hippocampus, which is part of the brain responsible for long term memory storage. Over time, it can even change the genetic encoding of the body’s cells*. When stress and worry combine, over time, it may culminate in an Anxiety condition, the third category.
Understanding Anxiety: The Fusion of Cognitive and Physiological
Anxiety has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress), which means that we experience anxiety in both our mind and our body. It’s important to note that there is a difference between feeling anxious — a normal part of everyday life — and having an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a serious medical condition that includes stress and worry.
Managing Stress and Anxiety: Seeking Support
Anxiety can often be subdued with certain anti-anxiety medications, which are usually prescribed while working in tandem with a therapist to help illuminate and ultimately alleviate the source of the worries and stressors that chronically activate the stress response system. Once the body has been restored to homeostasis, medications can be effectively replaced with other structured stress release activities, which can serve to regulate the autonomic nervous system’s natural response to threats that activate its arousal response system.
*Research in the Harvard Stress Report supports the findings that high stress conditions can have a negative effect on genetic expression. In the experiment, cortisol levels of two groups were compared. The control group, who were a group of experienced relaxers regularly practicing stress reduction activities, produced measures of regular cortisol levels in the blood. The experimental group on the other hand, produced very high levels of cortisol in their blood streams. After practicing a structured stress reduction plan for 6 weeks, the high cortisol levels of the experimental groups had significantly reduced, and researchers noted a positive effect on gene groups known to be involved in cellular regeneration. Changes in the expression of 1,561 genes were counted as a result of the relaxation training.
Looking for Help Managing Stress and Anxiety?
Worry, stress and anxiety are not an indictment. If you are finding yourself somewhere on the worry/stress/anxiety spectrum, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 412-856-WELL or by filling out the form below. We will connect you with a therapist who can work with you to explore options and help you design a plan for reducing your anxiety.
Written by: Ron Schulz, LPC.
Benson, H. & Proctor, W. (2010) Relaxation revolution : improving your personal health through the science and genetics of mind body healing
Dusek et. al ( 2008) Genomic counter-stress changes induced by the relaxation response. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 21;12(2):e0172845. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172845. eCollection 2017. PMID: 28222131
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 7, 2023 anger, anger counseling, anger issues, anger management, anger management counseling0 comments
Am I made to be angry? One of my parents was so angry all of the time, I don’t want to be like that. I’ve heard anger is genetic, doesn’t that mean I will be like that too? Will my kids be angry if I am angry? People who struggle to control their anger frequently ask, ‘Is anger genetic?’ The answer is, it’s complicated. Both genetics and learned behavior play a role in determining whether or not someone may struggle to manage their anger. Additional external factors could also influence an individual’s ability to manage their anger effectively.
Is Anger Genetic?
According to Denson and his colleagues (2014), individuals who are genetically predisposed towards aggression, try harder to control their anger. However, the study also stated that individuals who are genetically predisposed to anger, also struggle to control the part of their brain that is in charge of emotions. This means that although anger itself cannot be genetically linked to others, it does show that self-control may have more of a genetic basis. Individuals with low self-control may struggle to act appropriately in various settings/situations leading to arguments or violence.
Does this mean that people with a predisposition for anger can’t overcome their anger?
No, individuals can still develop healthy coping skills and seek professional help to manage their anger effectively. This process of developing healthy coping mechanisms can take time and practice for individuals to help improve their self-control in various settings.
Are certain personality traits more prone to anger issues?
Yes, in some cases personality traits such as low agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism can make certain individuals more susceptible to anger issues. This does not mean that people with these characteristics are more likely to be angry, but these characteristics do impact their ability to interact in situations.
Is Anger a Learned Behavior?
Although genetics play some role in the ability to self-control, there is also additional environmental factors. For example, in childhood if you witness angry behaviors within the family or within their house, you will observe them and begin to repeat them as you get older – because you don’t know better. Individuals who see anger and aggression at a young age struggle to know healthy and effective coping skills or de-escalation techniques – as they were not demonstrated in their childhood. Thus, not an option for an individual to learn and use later on in life.
How to Control Anger (regardless of genetics and learned behavior)
Anger is a normal emotion to feel, it does serve a purpose in helping individuals navigate the world they live in. However, some individuals struggle to control their anger and self-control. If you find yourself wanting to get more help and support, please look into anger management counseling.
Denson, T.F., Dobson-Stone, C., Ronay, R., von Hippel, W., & Schira, M.M. (2014). A functional polymorphism of the MAOA gene is associated with neural responses to induced anger control. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(7), 1418-1427.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 1, 2023 communication, communication exercises, connection, conversation, conversations for couples, couples communication, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, questions for couples, questions to ask my partner, questions to ask your partner, relationship counseling0 comments
Relationships thrive on open communication, vulnerability, and a genuine desire to understand and support each other. While it may be easy to discuss everyday matters, diving into deeper questions can strengthen the emotional bond between partners. If you and your partner feel comfortable having these conversations and exploring questions for couples together, you can uncover new dimensions of your relationship. In this blog post, we will explore six thought-provoking questions to ask your partner that can help you gain insight into their thoughts and feelings. Sit down, ask your partner these questions, and embark on a journey of exploration and connection.
6 Questions for Couples
- What are your expectations of me in this relationship? Setting clear expectations is essential in any relationship. By discussing each other’s expectations openly, you can avoid misunderstandings and work towards mutual growth and support. Talk about your emotional needs, communication styles, and what you both envision for the future. Understanding each other’s expectations helps build a solid foundation for your relationship.
- How do I make you a better person, and why? In a healthy partnership, both individuals should encourage personal growth and support each other’s aspirations. Reflect on how your partner positively influences your life and vice versa. Acknowledging each other’s positive impact fosters appreciation and builds a sense of purpose in the relationship.
- What little things can I do to enhance our relationship? Small gestures can have a significant impact on the relationship’s quality. Discussing these simple acts of kindness or thoughtful behaviors creates opportunities for both partners to show love and care regularly. It might be as simple as leaving love notes or cooking each other’s favorite meal. These little things can create lasting memories and strengthen your bond.
- Do you feel like you became a better person after meeting me, and why or why not? The dynamics of a relationship can lead to personal growth and transformation. Discuss how your partner’s presence has influenced your life and vice versa. Share the positive changes you have experienced since being together. Recognizing this growth fosters appreciation and reaffirms the value of your relationship.
- Was there any time during our relationship where you thought we wouldn’t make it, and why? Every relationship faces challenges, and it’s crucial to address moments of uncertainty openly. By discussing tough times, you can gain a deeper understanding of each other’s emotions and perspectives. Understanding how you overcame obstacles together reinforces your resilience as a couple.
- What specific part of me do you never want to change? By asking this question, you are inviting your partner to reflect on the attributes, characteristics, or traits that they hold most dear about you. It goes beyond physical appearances or external aspects and delves into the deeper aspects of your personality, values, and essence. Moreover, this question fosters a sense of acceptance and appreciation for who you are as an individual. It allows your partner to express their unwavering love and admiration for the core essence of your being, reinforcing a sense of emotional intimacy and connection in the relationship.
Engaging in these questions for couples can be an exciting and enlightening experience. Make it a fun game by writing the questions on pieces of paper and picking them randomly. Alternatively, set aside dedicated time to discuss each question in-depth without distractions. Create a safe space for vulnerability, honesty, and non-judgmental communication.
Benefits of Deep Conversations
Exploring these questions for couples can yield numerous benefits for your relationship, especially when you engage in meaningful questions to ask your partner:
- Strengthening Emotional Intimacy: Discussing these questions fosters emotional intimacy as you open up about your feelings, fears, and dreams.
- Building Trust: Honest conversations build trust and demonstrate your commitment to understanding each other deeply.
- Improving Communication: Engaging in meaningful discussions enhances communication skills and promotes active listening.
- Reinforcing Appreciation: By acknowledging each other’s positive impact, you cultivate appreciation and gratitude.
Deepening your connection with your partner through thoughtful questions for couples can be a transformative experience. By discussing questions to ask your partner about expectations, personal growth, relationship enhancements, challenges, and admiration, you will gain valuable insights into each other’s inner world. Embrace these conversations as an opportunity to grow together, strengthen your bond, and create a deeper understanding of your unique connection. Remember, communication is the key to a thriving relationship. So, sit down with your partner, ask these questions, and embark on an exploration that will enrich your love and connection in profound ways.
Written by: Autumn Walsh, LSW, MSW and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist.
Interested in Exploring Questions for Couples During Couples Therapy?
If you are interested in exploring deeper questions for couples while in the container of couples therapy, please call us at 412-856-WELL or fill out the form below to get started. Our experienced Couples Therapists can help you to strengthen your relationship.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 1, 2023 Albert Ellis, faulty beliefs, irrational thinking, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, REBT0 comments
Have you ever felt deeply hurt by someone’s actions, leading you to question how they could betray your trust despite your kindness and dedication to them? In moments like these, it’s natural to wonder what causes such emotional pain and turmoil. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), a spinoff of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), offers valuable insights into the human mind and its response to activating events. Developed by Albert Ellis, REBT delves into how our beliefs about the world can be the root of our suffering during challenging situations. In this blog post, we will explore the ABCs of thinking in REBT and focus on three main irrational thought patterns that contribute to our emotional distress.
The ABCs of Thinking in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
In REBT, the ABCs of thinking represent the fundamental components that shape our emotional responses to events:
A – Activating Event: This is the event or situation that triggers an emotional reaction. For instance, when someone lies to us and causes hurt, that becomes the activating event.
B – Belief about the Event: Our beliefs about the activating event heavily influence our emotional responses. These beliefs can be rational or irrational, and they play a significant role in determining the intensity of our emotions.
C – Consequence: The emotional consequence or impact we experience is not directly caused by the activating event, but rather by our belief about the event. This is where the true power of our thoughts lies.
Three Main Irrational Thought Patterns
- “I must do well.” – This belief suggests that we must always excel and never make mistakes. However, the truth is that as humans, we are bound to falter and face challenges. It’s essential to recognize that making mistakes is a natural part of life and an opportunity for growth.
- “Others must treat me fairly.” – This common belief can lead to disappointment and heartache when others don’t treat us as we expect. In reality, the world is not always fair, and people may not reciprocate our kindness or actions. Understanding this can help us accept that we cannot control how others behave, but we can control how we respond to their actions.
- “I must get what I want.” – This belief puts immense pressure on us to achieve our desires at any cost. However, life doesn’t always align with our wishes, and it’s okay to face disappointment. Rather than being paralyzed by the fear of not getting what we want, we can reframe our thoughts to embrace the idea that it’s okay not to get everything we desire. It allows us to find new opportunities and show resilience when facing setbacks.
The Power of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
REBT provides us with a valuable tool to challenge our irrational beliefs and replace them with healthier thought patterns. By recognizing and disputing these faulty beliefs, we gain emotional freedom and a better understanding of our responses to activating events. Through this therapy, we learn to approach situations with more balanced and rational thinking, leading to reduced emotional distress and improved well-being.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a powerful approach that helps us identify and challenge irrational beliefs, enabling us to respond to activating events with greater emotional resilience. By recognizing that our beliefs, not the events themselves, shape our emotional responses, we can free ourselves from unnecessary pain and suffering. Embracing the principles of REBT empowers us to cultivate a healthier mindset and navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and positivity. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes, acknowledge that life is not always fair, and understand that not getting everything we want is part of the journey towards personal growth and fulfillment. So, let’s practice rational thinking and embrace emotional freedom as we continue our journey through life.
Written By: Stephanie Wijkstrom, LPC and Founder of the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 24, 2023 epigenetics, generational trauma, inherited trauma, intergenerational trauma, transgenerational trauma0 comments
Recent research suggests that following traumatic experience, ensuing psychological, emotional, or physical responses may not merely be confined to survivors. Rather, trauma can be likened to a disease, which has the capacity to spread throughout our families, social circle, culture, and even epigenetics over the course of time. The phenomenon, known as intergenerational trauma, has most notably been studied through accounts from survivors of historical/cultural events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, war, displacement of American Indians, etc. Many of these studies cited children of these survivors exhibiting some of the same trauma responses and even diagnoses as their parents without ever having experienced the trauma firsthand. The reality is that following generations have the capacity to transmit this trauma of the past into the present, so the question remains, where does it end?
In a nutshell, trauma occurs when an individual experiences (directly or indirectly) severe, lasting, harm. This can produce any number of symptoms including anxiety, sleep disturbance, avoidance, cognitive or physical disconnect, negative automatic thoughts, hypervigilance, somatic discomforts, flashbacks, panic, and more.
Individuals who remain in “survival mode” following trauma often model behaviors and messages grounded in their trauma to those closest them. Imagine a POW who has been subjected to severe torture and neglect, is rescued, and eventually finds himself raising his own children further down the line. These children witness their father shutting down at the mention of war-related content or discussion. He does not show or disclose emotion, but instead drinks heavily to cope. Their father is highly distrustful of others and is overly protective of his children, to the point of authoritarian parenting.
In turn, his children adopt beliefs such as, “the world is unsafe and unpredictable,” or “feelings are best kept to oneself.” They adopt avoidance-based coping strategies, isolate within their small family circle, and don’t do well outside of a highly structured and controlled environment. While this will certainly not be the case for everyone who has experienced a trauma, it’s important to consider the possibility that this phenomenon might be at play within our own family system so that we can best intervene from an accurate transgenerational perspective. It’s important for people to understand the historical nature of their symptoms and to know that this is something inherited and part of a larger, systemic problem.
Treating Intergenerational Trauma
Here are some effective ways to address intergenerational trauma and foster healing:
- Find a Safe and Supportive Space: It’s crucial to find a therapist who creates a safe environment where you feel heard, accepted, and understood without judgment. This safe space will be the foundation for your healing journey.
- Recognize Family Patterns: Take a closer look at the effects of generational trauma within your family, such as constant chaos, hyperarousal, or avoidance. Understanding these patterns can help you break free from their influence.
- Visualize Family History: Use a genogram as a helpful visual tool to trace how symptom patterns have been passed down from one generation to the next. This can provide valuable insights into your family’s trauma legacy.
- Embrace Family Systems Therapy: Consider engaging in Family Systems Therapy alongside individual therapy. This approach offers insights into how each family member’s actions impact others, promoting a deeper understanding of family dynamics.
- Develop Healthy Coping Strategies: Learn grounding techniques and effective nervous system regulation methods to help break the cycle of trauma. These coping skills can empower you to face challenges and build resilience.
- Communicate about Trauma: Open and healthy communication about trauma is essential to prevent its continuation in future generations. Sharing feelings and experiences can foster understanding and healing.
- Explore Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: For caregivers, exploring Parent-Child Interaction Therapy can be beneficial. This therapy provides real-time guidance, helping parents interact with their children in adaptive and nurturing ways.
- Seek Evidence-Based Treatments: Be proactive in seeking evidence-based treatments that align with your unique needs. Utilize the power of research-backed therapies to facilitate your healing journey.
In summary, intergenerational trauma is a significant aspect of how our past experiences can affect our present and future. It’s not just limited to individual survivors; its impact can reach across generations, influencing our families and communities. Understanding this concept empowers us to address its effects and break the cycle for a better tomorrow.
Written by Michelle Reiser, MS.
DeAngelis, T. (2019). The legacy of trauma. Monitor on Psychology, 50(2). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/02/legacy-trauma
Wolynn, M. (2016). It didn’t start with you: how inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle. New York, Viking.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 23, 2023 anger, anger counseling, anger issues, anger management, anger management counseling, overcoming anger0 comments
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by anger that you cannot seem to shake it off? Overcoming anger is a universal emotional journey that everyone encounters. However, for some individuals, managing this intense emotion becomes a challenging task. At times, uncontrolled anger can lead to destructive and impulsive behaviors, causing personal and relational turmoil in your life. It’s essential to explore ways to overcome these anger issues and find inner peace and harmony.
What is Anger?
Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage” (American Psychological Association, 2022). It serves as a response that allows us to fight or defend ourselves when we feel attacked. In reasonable amounts, anger can be a crucial emotion for decision-making. However, unaddressed anger can lead to other problems.
What Causes Anger-Related Problems?
It is important to acknowledge that anger is a normal emotion. However, it becomes problematic when it feels uncontrollable and starts influencing your behaviors negatively. Anger can be triggered by various reasons, such as being denied something, facing past traumas, experiencing relationship or work issues, or encountering external events like traffic or canceled plans. If left untreated or ignored, anger can lead to erratic behaviors, violence, abuse, addiction, or even legal troubles.
Is There A Cure for Anger?
You might wonder if there’s a cure for your anger issues. While the technical answer is no, there are ways to manage its intensity and impact on your life.
You might wonder if there’s a cure for your anger issues. While the technical answer is no, there are ways to manage its intensity and impact on your life.
Tips for Overcoming Anger
- Acknowledge and Address: Ignoring anger won’t make it disappear. In fact, it can lead to emotional outbursts, anxiety, or depression. Avoiding the issue might also drive individuals to cope with anger in harmful ways.
- Communicate: Suppressing anger without proper communication can intensify the emotion, leading to hostility and impatience. Share your feelings with trusted individuals or consider therapy to understand and express your emotions effectively.
- Identify Triggers: Figure out what specifically triggers your anger. Identifying recurring triggers without resolution can hinder your ability to remain calm and composed in various situations.
- Practice Positive Coping Skills: Engage in activities that help deescalate anger positively. Some individuals benefit from attending anger management counseling courses to develop additional coping skills.
In conclusion, understanding and overcoming anger issues is a vital step towards improving our emotional well-being and enhancing our relationships with others. While anger is a normal emotion that can serve a purpose, uncontrolled and untreated anger can lead to harmful consequences for both ourselves and those around us. The key to managing anger lies in acknowledging its presence, identifying triggers, and developing positive coping mechanisms.
Remember that there is no quick fix or cure for anger issues. Instead, it is a continuous journey of self-awareness and personal growth. By communicating our feelings effectively and seeking appropriate support, such as therapy or anger management courses, we can work towards managing the intensity of anger and its impact on our lives.
Overcoming anger is not about eliminating the emotion entirely, but rather learning to respond to it in healthier and more constructive ways. Through patience, practice, and perseverance, we can develop the skills needed to navigate through anger and find greater inner peace and emotional balance.
Ultimately, taking the initiative to address and manage our anger can lead to a more fulfilling and harmonious life, allowing us to build stronger connections with others and make sound decisions even in challenging situations. Let us embrace the journey of overcoming anger and strive for a more positive and empowered emotional state. (American Psychological Association, 2022).
Seeking Help for Overcoming Anger?
If anger is taking a toll on your life and relationships, know that support is available. Whether you need guidance in anger management, coping strategies, or understanding the underlying causes, we’re here to assist you.
Take the first step towards a healthier emotional state by reaching out to us at 412-856-WELL or filling out the form below. Our team is dedicated to helping you find effective ways to manage anger and regain control over your well-being. You don’t have to face this alone – let us be your ally on your journey towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.
American Psychological Association. (2022). Control anger before it controls you. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control