by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 14, 2018 bereavement, complicated bereavement, complicated bereavment, coping with loss, death of child, death of husband, death of parent, death of wife, divorce counseling, grief, grief counseling, grief counseling monroeville, grief counseling pittsburgh, grief therapy, grief therapy monroeville, grief therapy pittsburgh, healthy mourning, loss counseling, seperation0 comments
Grief and Loss, Beware The Traps of Grief, Finding Healthy Coping.
Grief is an emotional reaction characterized by sadness, hurt, hopelessness and intense longing for someone or something that is no longer a part of our lives. While there are many forms of grief, and we can even at times go through the grief cycle when are making significant changes in our lives and looking back imagining how much we would do differently if only we were equipped with what we know now. While depression may share symptoms with grief, they are different disorders. In other forms, we may experience a life transition, loss of a job, or lose a chance that we had hoped to gain. For the purposes and scope of this article, we will focus on the kind of grief which is experienced due to the loss of a loved one due to death or break up.
There is no time line on the normal or appropriate amount of time to grieve the loss of someone we love. Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual recommends that grief should become more manageable after one year for a first degree relative. Yet we also know that life will likely never be the same after, loosing a loved one, spouse, a child, a parent or friend. The agony of loss will be something that is remembered for many, many, years to come. Grief and loss are a process which can be worked through in an emotionally supportive therapy or grief counseling, but there are also pitfalls which accompany grief;
- Some traps of grief are that we imagine that we could have done something to change the ending of the story, this is true for all losses. Both a breakup or the death of a loved one can cause us to replay the events over and again in our imaginations, and even magnifying portions of the events, embellishing upon what we could have done differently.
- Grief can at times lead to many forms of guilt, when we magnify what we could have done differently, we then invariably feel guilty that we didn’t achieve those things, that we couldn’t save our person from dying or leaving a relationship. At other times, we may feel relieved for the loss and then experience intense guilt for the relief or for not feeling as much sadness as we imagine we should feel.
- Grief at other times can become complicated, our bereavement can take on unhealthy forms and even lead to complications such as depression, or lead us to reach for unhealthy attempts to bury our pain such as addiction, we may socially isolate, men in particular may be vulnerable to not activating their support network after a loss. This leads to greater distress and complications.
- Repressing our feelings or pretending that loss didn’t impact us, we as humans can be very clever in the production of all sorts of diversions which assist us in not managing our emotions, it is important to practice and enhance self-awareness during grievous times.
- Not knowing how to label emotions or losing hope that the sadness and grief can be managed and processed in a way that is constructive. Grief is something that we innately feel at some point in our lives but that we don’t often know how to manage.
Grief is a universal and human experience that may even be related to the depth of ones affection. We must allow ourselves to love, to hurt, and to heal, and it is the price that we pay for having ever loved at all.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 1, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, psychotherapy, searching for a therapist in monroeville, searching for a therapist pittsburgh, Therapy and Counseling For Anxiety, therapy for anxiety, therapy pittsburgh, wellness0 comments
Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health concern which brings many people into therapy each year. As many as 1/4th of people who seek treatment in counseling centers each year do so as a result of wanting to manage symptoms related to Generalized Anxiety Disorder or (GAD). Signs and symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are free floating thoughts and worries that are not related to a real imminent danger. Those who experience generalized anxiety disorder may find it difficult to distinguish between thoughts and fears which are related to a real possible danger or threat and one that is not. The thoughts, fears, and worries of Generalized Anxiety Disorder co-occur with physical somatic responses such as elevated heart rate, fatigue and restlessness, and or difficulty falling and staying asleep. Individuals who are experiencing this anxiety disorder may also be prone to irritability and may too have a higher incidence rate of other mood and mental health disorders including other anxiety disorders, or depression and substance abuse disorders.
A woman suffering from GAD may say something like “I was always on edge, it was difficult to pin point when the worrying started but it felt like it was one thing after the next. I was worried about getting into college, then how I would manage student and work life after, each test and paper caused me endless worry. It wasn’t just with school either, everything from traffic, to my parent’s health, I wasn’t even able to see the way it was effecting me until things became so bad that I wasn’t sleeping well and started to really feel down. Then I found a therapist and started working on treating my anxiety and along with that I was able to identify how much it had taken over my life.”
Some of the diagnostic criteria for GAD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, are as follows; Excessive worry for at least 6 months.
The person experiencing the anxiety is not able to control the worries or change the focus of their thoughts. Additionally these worries are accompanied by physical sensations or somatic responses including at least 3 of the following; Restlessness, Fatigue, Concentration difficulties, Irritation of Mood, Tightness in the Muscles, Sleep Cycle Disruptions including Difficulty staying or falling asleep. Remember these symptoms cause significant distress in social, family, or work life and are not caused by another disorder or use of substances. Only a licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you to discern whether you are exhibiting or experiencing the full range or concerns which may mean you qualify for a diagnosis which will then help to guide the treatment for the anxiety disorder.
Treatment for generalized anxiety disorder often involves many therapy and counseling options. Many forms of psychotherapy including, cognitive behavioral therapy, psycho-dynamic therapy, brief solution focused therapy, acceptance therapy, gestalt therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, are all valid methods to treat anxiety disorders and manage the symptoms associated with it. In other instances, counseling may be used alongside medication therapy, integrative medicine, including mindfulness and meditiation, to achieve a significant and long lasting reduction in the symptoms of anxiety.
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh and Monroeville
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
4108 Monroeville Blvd
Monroeville PA 15146
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 28, 2017 co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, divorce, educational, marriage counseling, meditation, mental health, parenting, psychology, psychotherapy, therapist, therapists, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness0 comments
Our licensed professional counselors are here for the community offering evidence-based therapy, marriage counseling, family counseling, child therapy, art therapy, premarital counseling, all by top rated clinicians. Our team of therapists has over 150 years of experience between us, we offer therapy to heal from Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and our Couples Therapists can treat a full range of relationship issues from conflict communication, to intimacy enhancement, and parenting concerns. In all of our centers, we also provide a menu of comprehensive wellness services. We offer wellness support including health treatment options from our certified nutritionist, kinesiologist, clinical herbalist who specialize in offering the people of The Greater Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania communities providing wellness solutions for mind, body, and spirit. Be well with us!
Contact us at our Pittsburgh location 830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa, 15233 Our Pittsburgh center is located in the northshore of the downtown Pittsburgh. Therapy near Northside, Southside, Brighton heights, Lawrenceville, Shadyside, Bloomfield, Strip District, and Mt. Washington. Our hours are from 7-am-8 pm Monday through Sunday. We accept UPMC, Highmark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United, Magellan, Aetna, and Comp Psych as well as Out of Network, Self Pay, and Sliding Scale options.
For a therapist near you – Call us at 412-322-2129Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenOctober 9, 2015 counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, personal growth, popular culture, psychology, psychotherapy, wisdom0 comments
Tick, tock, tick, tock, allowing the sands of time to unfold into minutes, hours, days, years, reaching way back to the earliest memories that can be recollected; let us imagine that you are 5 years old again and enjoying those endless hours of playtime. When thinking of the word “playtime” what comes to mind for you? What is it that you enjoyed doing with that pure and unadulterated childlike bliss? Maybe you liked to bake or paint, collect insects, be a teacher in your classroom of dolls? Way before we knew whether we were good at something, or whether our talents and interests could make us money or gain us praise, social standing; way back then we followed our passion by the elegantly simple act of tinkering, entertaining, creating, learning with sheer delight. It is no wonder that as adults we long for those times when for most of us, things we just that simple, following ones bliss. As children most of us were free to simply enjoy what felt right and not take the time to consider what we were good at, what would pay the bills, what image we would like to portray as our life’s work, the time of innocence before road blocks and hurtles.
We explore these questions not to simply evoke the sensation of nostalgia but because our creative pleasures indicate something about our innate gifts and capacities. Each of us is born with purpose and potential and the more greatly we create a life which is aligned with the sharing of our pleasures and talents the more at peace we tend to be. Even if we have chosen a career simply for the financial opportunities we have gained we should still make time to regularly connect with that which we can become submerged in, the kind of creative play which takes our eyes off of the clocks and into our minds eye. What is that for you? For me, as young as 5 years old, I enjoyed writing, creating heaping piles of poems. What about you? Did you like to play the keyboard? Did you love to paint upon the easel? Did you enjoy playing in the kitchen and kneading dough? Did you construct toy trucks and cars? What was your passion or pleasure as a child? As adults some of us note with an air of melancholy, I have no energy, I am exhausted, I am not sure what the meaning of my life has become. If you struggle with these questions much like many others, maybe it would help to consider when did you take the time to connect with the inexhaustible wellspring of energy which is found through our passion. When we paint, draw, throw the ball around, we are not depleting our energy, we are in fact connecting with the part of our self which is bounteously full of enthusiasm and childlike joy.
It’s a wonder that any of us would ever stop doing that which has the potential to bring us such enjoyment. Often as teens and adults we begin to deviate from this kind of playfulness in search of being mindful of our time and not wasting it on that which is not useful. Some were shamed for their gifts, told by teachers of parents, “you don’t want to be ______, be educated in this, leave this behind now.” Often we are very sensitive about our talents, the most passionate are acutely in tune with the emotional world of ourselves and others. So we put away our paintbrush or drumstick and pick up our time card, marching on to the time piece of humanity. The most joyful people are often those who find a way to merge their passion into their life’s work, “The master of the art of living makes no difference between work and play, for him they are both the same.” The artists may serve as our teachers, to be like those, those who embrace an inner calling or take up hobbies in that which proffers them abundant connection with that creative part to themselves.
In tribal cultures, when a sad or anxious man or woman comes to the Shaman, the shaman will ask, “tell me my friend, so you are sick?” the tearful woman looks to the ground as she explains, “yes, yes, I am sick, I am so sad and I so often worry, I have no energy for life.”
The shaman, he brightens, “Oh, no worries, this is a problem that I understand! Tell me this my friend, when did you stop singing, when did you stop dancing? When did you stop laughing with life?”
In closing my friend, I ask of you to consider this question, if you were allowing yourself the opportunity to play, no judgement, no criticism, just melting into the opportunity to enjoy that which is amusing, that which is creative and unharnessed, that which brought you hours of entertainment as a young child, what is it that you would be doing?
In love and playfulness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCC
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 13, 2014 couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychology, sexuality0 comments
“All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.” Milan Kundera
With the kickoff of Gay Pride weekend, sexual orientation is something that may be on the minds of many here in Pittsburgh. Particularly I would like to examine the nature of bisexuality, as some may call it, “one foot in/one foot out” or as other scholars may tend to think, a more realistic reflection of the nature of sexual attraction? We all can recall the intonations of female pop singers who declare “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Thank you Katy Perry, but it seems you aren’t the only one! No discussion of sexual behavior can begin without the mention of Mr. Alfred Kinsey, of whom some of the more savvy readers or psychologically studied may already be quite familiar. The 1948-52 benchmark study which examined things such as subject’s sexual behavior and sexual attraction. Findings conclude that 10% of the population is admittedly homosexual with as many as 33-46% exhibiting some bisexual tendencies. Interestingly the outliers are those who note complete homo or heterosexuality, according to Alfred Kinsey’s renowned study, Bisexual thought and feeling is more normative than entirely homo or hetero orientation. (Kinsey, 1948) Given these statistics, for what reason does the bisexual orientation hold a precarious position within the thoughts of both hetero and homosexual lexicons, in fact more recently some are seeking to oust bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
In working with psychotherapy clients in my private practice, I have had many clients “come out” as bisexual, I am often one of the only people with whom an individual has shared such news. In addition to exploring this with the client, there may often be an internally stigmatizing effects for what had formerly been “a secret.” Could easily enter into a litany concerning how important it is to promote openness regarding a human’s ability to be whatever it is that we may be, along the colorful spectrum of plausible identities and modes of being. Yet there is sometimes an understandable kernel of shame for some men and women regarding their own exploration of same sex behavior, this may be particularly true for those who now report being heterosexual but have had a homosexual experience within sexual exploration in years past.
It is important to draw a distinction between sexual attraction, sexual behavior or contact, sexual identity. In more recent studies, according to the Kinsey institute “Data collected from a national sample of 13,495 men and women between 2006 and 2008. The study attempted to differentiate between sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as homosexual ranged from 2% to 4% of males, and about 1% to 2% of females. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as bisexual is between 1% and 3% of males, and 2% to 5% of females. About 4%–6% of males ever had same-sex contact. For females, the percentage who have ever had same-sex contact ranges from about 4% in the GSS, to 11%–12% in the 2002 and 2006–2008 NSFG.”
In working with Bisexual clients it is a trend where some individuals report having experienced criticism from hetero or homo sexual long term partners for having participated in same sex relationships in the past. Simultaneously, some men and women report that they have been emotionally injured by jealous accusations wondering if they are able to have plutonic friendships with same sex acquaintances. There seems to be something about bisexuality which encourages some to presume that with the declaration of this sexual orientation one suddenly has become an insatiable sex addict rather than an open and explorative human. Yet, this is in startling contrast to Kinsey’s work which proclaims there are many bisexual men and women in the population. Once again, I wonder at the gap which exists between the reportedly significant number of bisexually oriented number of men and woman in the greater population. Stigmatizing effects may be greater for men than woman as there is a cultural phenomenon which seems to allow for women to be more intimate in their interactions with other women, perhaps remnants from the mother being the earlier caregiver and expected to be physically nurturing. Males may have an idea that their sexuality is less malleable as men one average relate in a contrasting way compared to women, despite the multitude of ways that this may be injurious to both genders.
What does all of this mean, well the take away point is that bisexuality is a valid orientation. Sexual orientation is in fact a malleable proffering yet we must as a culture, a city, be mindful of how much pride is afforded for those who exercise sexual, sensual, and loving freedom of being. How much shame can we turn towards bold and loving glory? In sharing peace, and love for what has been a benchmark year in Pennsylvania with the granting of marriage equality for ALL LOVERS TO UNITE becoming husband and husband and wife and wife! What a glorious opportunity and brightening of the future for all! If you would like to celebrate this weekend journey out and show your support for equal rights and equal love, check out this link which will lead you to the extensive list of Pittsburgh Pride events! http://www.pittsburghpride.org/
In loving equality,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., and Martin, C. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders. Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., Martin, C., and Gebhard, P. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.Learn More
“A New Year, A New You!” and many other such positive affirmations are floating about the cool air, sentiments which promote longed for change during this momentous time of the year. This is indeed a very appropriate time for consideration and setting action to goals with no task being too great or too small for one’s devotion! Following are some tips and suggestions which I have compiled throughout the year and I offer them to you in an earnest hope that you all may enjoy the contentment and good health to which you aspire.
Enjoy Sex, Wine, and Rock&Roll! A unit or two of alcohol enjoyed in good company and without the prohibitive factor of having to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery is one of many in the myriad of great ways to unwind from time to time! Most of us work hard and if you want to drink a little, why then you very well should! While you are at it, make sure to enjoy some time blissfully frolicking in the abundant pleasures of your physical and sensual body, to be performed safely, and consensually at all times! Music, well that should need no greater explanation—the pleasure we are able to feel from hearing a favorite melody or band may very well be evidence of the divine’s love for humanity!
Everything in moderation including moderation! Rigidity exerts deleterious effects upon the spirit, make room in your life for some indulgence! Want a second piece of pie or to sleep in an extra hour-we must allow ourselves the occasional enjoyment of such niceties!
Take a multi-vitamin! Many of you may have been hearing this since you were very small but more and more scientific evidence is mounting to suggest that in some instances anxiety, depression, and even symptoms similar to schizophrenia can be invoked from the long term effects of being vitamin and mineral deficient! A vitamin is a simple fix which offers infinite protection to your whole physical and ultimately emotional system!
Eat well, rest well, be well! Yes, and yes again! Fruits, veggies and plenty of rest are the corner stones of a strong physical self. With these factors alone you will be well on your way to the best version of you! If you are mentally or physically having a hard time resting, examine this closely and seek to lay to rest that which is preventing you from rest!
Cultivate greater love for yourself! Whether you are in love with what you see when you close your eyes and look inside or when replaying the life and web of relationships that center you or even when simply looking in the mirror. Work on respecting yourself inside and outside! It is important to engage in positive dialogue with yourself and to keep in mind that we will most always be striving for some hallmark beyond the present but it is essential to remain aware and poised in the infinite now!
Lay the past to rest! It is indeed a time to put to rest all that it is no longer serving us, what will best serve you by remaining but a memory for contemplation as we forge the New Year 2014? Allow your heart, intuition, and logic to guide you towards your personal answer to this wizened question and then enjoy the lightness and freedom which comes from the necessary shedding of the old skin. Traveling towards the future untethered from burdens is certainly an act which will serve all of your tomorrows!
Open yourself to new experiences! Step fearlessly into the unknown, nothing stays the same forever and the more that we make room in our lives for the new, the greater our potential for transformation. Whether you are one who revels in novelty or feebly attempts to maintain the familiar it is always invigorating to see or feel something new!
Seek your inner opposite! It is in fact an ever evolving, life-long process to know yourself. I will still encourage you to undergo inner examination and then look for what hidden characteristics remain unexpressed by your current manner of being. We often find our best balance by merging in such a way!
Fall passionately in love! Life becomes simply sensational when we uncover room for passion, whether that is in the form of an idea, theory, project or a person, the thrill of exhilarated and focused attention will be the feeling which sets your sails in full motion adding meaning and bliss to your life!
Choose compassion over being right So many relationships suffer because our egos become gridlocked in the pattern of trying to be correct instead of being understanding and loving towards our partners and loved ones! Keep this in mind and always remember it is our kindness and care which nurtures those that surround us!
Nurture the buds and blossoms- The buds and blossoms are the yearnings of light and intention in your spirit as well as a relationship to the natural universe. The earth and greater universe support and sustain all animal life and we are always benefited by admiring and relating to it!
A wish for a happy healthy and well balanced new year to all of you out there in cyberspace!
Stephanie McCracken MS, LPC, NBCC
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233