Teenagers often have worries and intrusive thoughts that can lead to ongoing anxiety. One of the most common types is Generalized Anxiety. The DSM-V explains Generalized Anxiety Disorder as, “excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities such as work or school performance.” Anxiety can have physical and emotional effects that can feel like an endless burden. As adult mentors, educators, and caregivers, here are tips for how to help a teenager with anxiety.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 31, 2022 anger, anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, help for anxiety, mental health, social anxiety, teen anxiety, therapy for anxiety, treatment for anxiety, treatment for anxiety disorder0 comments
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
The anxious brain is conflicted as the mind can race, but inversely “blank out.” The frustration of not having a clear mind can lead to poor performance in school. Teens can start to lose concentration after school during homework or at work. Validate some of their worried thoughts by using logical thinking such as separating facts from fiction. Encourage creative outlets after mentally draining tasks. Teens can use journaling and stream of consciousness type writing to free these intrusive thoughts. Make sure there is a safe place for creativity as expression can be personal. Respect the privacy of your teen, but encourage them to share if comfortable.
Anger & Tension
Anger and irritability can unfortunately arrive during anxiety as a result of frustration. As we feel tense with worry, our bodies follow suit. Find what works best for your teen in the realm of movement. Sports are an obvious go-to, but yoga, tai chi and even light stretching can help. Giving your teen a time and space to calm down when angry will benefit you both. Talking about the anger when clear headed will improve your connection.
Sleep & Rest
Since one purpose of anxiety is to keep the brain and body on alert, there is a restless component that comes with anxiety. Frequently one can feel hypervigilant, especially when racing thoughts are added.
As a result, teens with anxiety may feel more tired and lethargic. Sleep becomes more crucial as anxiousness is prone to poor sleep patterns. Teenagers also need more sleep than their adult counterparts. Make early mornings less stressful by sticking to a more relaxing “down time” routine before bed. Find what type of nightly routine and sleep schedule works best. Remember that rest isn’t always sleep; meditation and taking breaks when acceptable can refresh the mind. A “mental health day” off school or work when appropriate can rejuvenate the soul.
One of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a sense of safety. The recent pandemic drastically affected schooling and activities. As a result, teens have had to learn to adapt to change and deal with disappointment. Teens especially crave the consistency of routine. Knowing what to anticipate in advance can help calm the anxious brain. Try to be realistic with expectations and set rules together. If you are uncertain of plans, be honest with your teen and come up with alternatives so that they know what to expect.
Using the 5 senses can be grounding to calm the nerves. For example, making a favorite meal together is comforting and incorporates all senses. Carrying a rollerball scent to smell, a fidget spinner to touch or sour candy to taste can be quick remedies when anxiety starts. Small changes of surroundings can also be refreshing, such as letting your teen rearrange and redecorate their room. There has been a resurgence in sensory items among teenagers. Being playful and letting teens enjoy video games and toys from their younger years also creates a sense of comfort.
There are many disorders that accompany anxious feelings such as Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, and OCD. Anxiety can also be a result of traumatic events or major life changes.
Social anxiety (social phobia) is common among teens. Based on data from The National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), an estimated 9.1% of adolescents have social anxiety disorder, with an estimated 1.3% causing severe impairment.
Therapy for teens with a licensed professional counselor gives space to divulge these complicated thoughts and emotions. Group Therapy for Teenagers is a unique opportunity to gain skills and new behaviors with the benefit of an expert-led experience while being accelerated through the lens of social learning that can only come from peer support. Group formats have been used to successfully manage a variety of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Remember to practice your own self care when anxious as we are a great influence in their lives. When children see us coping better, they experience positive results firsthand. Normalizing honest conversations about emotions will show teens how to develop into healthy adults.
Group Therapy for Teenagers: Teen Art Group
This in-person Group Therapy for Teenagers runs from September 26-November 14 at 6PM on Mondays. It takes place at our Monroeville location. The group will be led by Licensed Professional Counselor Rachel Taylor, author of this article.
Teen Group Therapy: Teen Art Group will help teens learn Social Skills, Depression Coping Skills, Anxiety Strategies, and How to Handle Anger all within the context of making art.
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
Oct 3: Social Skills: Healthy relationships and make bracelets for friends
Oct 10: Depression Coping Skills: Jeopardy game
Oct 17: Anxiety Strategies/Discuss Group Topic choice
Oct 24: *Group topic Choice and craft*
Oct 31: Halloween!-Mask Craft and discuss different “sides” of self
Nov 7: Anger: role plays
Nov 14: Closure *Apples to Apples type game to review Group Skills *discuss future groups
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)
Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality ([1st ed.].). New York: Harper.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 14, 2022 cell phone addiction, cell phone anxiety, mental health, social media, social media addiction, social media usage, social media use0 comments
With as much critical and cautionary information that says social media is bad for mental heath, social media and online content has become an integral part of many social, commercial and human interactions. In behavioral psychology, we know that the more we pathologize and make taboo any given behavior or construct by prohibiting it, the less we are able to provide harm reduction strategies and even to help others to adopt ways of using social media which are socially and psychologically enhancing.
The average American user of social media spends 2 hours and 4 minutes per day interacting with social platforms, with that in mind, it is safe to say that social media is here to stay. Here are therapist recommendations for how to use social media in a way that supports wellbeing.
Beware of ‘All or ‘Nothing’ Thinking
Let go of the notion that it is all bad. All or nothing thinking is a cognitive distortion which imagines that by fully using social media platforms, you are engaging in something unhealthy or bad. The truth is, whether it is Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, most people who use social media are not addicted or spending endless hours of their day engaging with this platform. According to American Society of Addiction Medicine, Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Many people are using social media in their spare time to learn, interact, and engage with others and their content.
30 Minutes is a Good Aspirational Goal
Social media use varies by country and by generation with more social media use consumed by younger generations. Users in the Philipines rank the top of social media use with 3 hours and 43 minutes of use per day and Americans at about 2 hours and 4 minutes per day. Mental health researchers have long cited that too much social media consumption also is correlated to poorer mental health outcomes. But let us realize that there is a ‘sweet spot’ using social media for 30 minutes per day is a sign of healthy amount consumption. Whether you are checking out travel Tik Toks, Recipes, or Fit life or Mom life, there is a lot to see and even learn on the web when done with a well balanced perspective!
Social Media is a Complement to a Social Life
There are many ways that social interactions and friendships can be accelerated, formed, and solidified on social media. Connecting with people from your past, sending a friend request to a friend of a friend who seemed nice, sharing an invitation, are all easy on social media. While provoking new friendships and sharing a pic or a memory to solidify current relationships are all great, social media connections are a complement not a replacement for in person meetings, calls, and time spent connecting with people you can about.
Looking Back on Memories
Remember all of the content, pictures and stories that you share today will be your memories in the future. Make beautiful memories that will allow you to smile and appreciate a moment of nostalgia looking back on them. Pictures and videos do well to be stored on social media in addition to other physical and digital forms. Some people talk about the dangers of sharing pictures without remembering all that can be very beautiful about using social media as it is intended to be used.
The take home point is that social media is a complement to a well balanced life that should be appreciated for its benefits and used reasonably. The next time you feel the need to judge or criticize someone else’s use of social media use, maybe you could spend some time thinking about your own use and what your use says about you. With all things, when you are dug in on a specific topic, there is usually a reason why, and that reason is usually not a healthy one. With most things, moderation and an attitude of appreciation wins. As always, may the memories you create be happy, healthy and full of meaning.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 2, 2022 adult therapy, anxiety, CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive distortions, coping skills, counseling, depression, Emotional Health, emotional intelligence, emotional iq, exercise for gratitude, goals, gratitude, mental health, personal growth, therapists0 comments
Our therapists are here to offer mental wellness support with specific interventions to treat all major mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, grief and trauma as well as relationship issues or any life stressors that you are dealing with. We teach you new coping skills for a variety of relational, emotional, and psychological issues so that you can enjoy your life.
While each counselor has their own specialties and approaches to therapy, there are several key things that most therapists want you to know.
Read on for 10 things your therapist wants you to know.
- Talking to a friend is not a replacement for therapy—therapy is strategic, focused, and an application of scientific methods to heal. Friends can offer support and connection but can’t replace therapy.
- Therapy is a safe place where you can be yourself without feeling judged. We won’t judge your story.
- Healing doesn’t happen from attending a weekly appointment. You heal by applying the skills, solutions and methods that you discuss in therapy during all of the hours in between sessions.
- It is ok to tell us anything and everything you are experiencing or have experienced: feelings, thoughts, intentions, behaviors etc. You’d be surprised that what you are sharing is something we have most likely heard many times before and it is not shocking.
- We’re not irritated by reviewing the same information over and over. Change takes time and practice.
- Setbacks are just learning opportunities — we won’t be disappointed in you.
- It may get worse before it gets better. Talking about tough emotions, situations and past traumatic experiences may be painful at first but is necessary in order to process them and change.
- The opposite of depression isn’t happiness. Often times folks who experience clinical depression make an assumption that they continue to be depressed or are not getting better even after symptoms decrease because they are “not happy” (with life/career/partner). The marker they use to determine depression is happiness vs unhappiness. When people learn that happiness takes work, it can be freeing for them and they have an easier time accepting their progress.
- Therapy can be challenging. It is not easy. But first work on developing a therapeutic relationship with your therapist. Once you have a solid foundation, you are able to work through so much. Be patient with the process.
- We won’t say hello in public unless you do first.
It is an honor and privilege to be a part of this life journey with each and every client we see.
Interested in Starting Therapy?
If you are ready to start therapy, you can call us a 412-322-2129 or fill out the form below.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 6, 2022 boundaries, burn out, caregiver fatigue, digital detox, Habits that make us happy, holistic health, meditation, mental health, nature therapy, outdoor yoga, relaxation, rituals for self care, rituals to reduce stress, self care, self care strategies for mental wellbeing, stress management, therapists, wellness, yoga0 comments
American Counseling Association has dedicated April as Counseling Awareness Month, a time of advocacy for the profession and celebration of the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as they seek to facilitate the growth and development of all people. This year’s theme—The Future is… Self-Care, Advocacy and Inclusion #BurnBrightNotOut—is focused on some of the avenues that will help ensure a brighter future for counselors, their clients and the counseling profession.
With the state of the world today and in coping with the last two years, many of us are simply burnt out. You’ve probably been searching social media or the internet looking for how to avoid burnout—well, you’re in luck! We asked our therapists how they personally avoid burnout and they shared their tips with us. They truly are practicing what they preach.
Therapists’ Personal Tips for How They Avoid Burnout
- “Having boundaries where I don’t bite off more than I can chew.”
- “Keeping a good portion of my energy for myself and my life so I’m not running on empty for what I need in my own life.”
- “Balance within my life: tending to myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. Making sure I connect to these areas and feed them!”
- “Bike riding (indoor and outdoor).”
- “Prayer to help me with clients and for God to watch over my clients.”
- “Downtime for jigsaw puzzles, reading, HGTV, cooking, and my other flow activities.”
- “Exercise and guided meditations. I also try to make self care part of my every day routine.”
- “I try to dedicate the end of the day to at least one self-care activity that ‘cleanses the stress of the day away.’ This varies from day to day but usually always consists of watching an episode of a show with my husband, and then reading before bed. I try to keep screen time to a minimum since I provide sessions via virtual therapy.”
- “I refrain from checking my email when I am not in the office (with the exception of emergencies) and block time on my schedule each day for a self-care activity.”
- “Getting a yoga class in. Yoga helps me to stay centered and grounded.”
- “Going to my own personal therapist.”
We hope you can apply some of these therapist-implemented tips to your own life.
When counselors get the self-care they need, they burn brighter and avoid burnout. To learn more go to American Counseling Association, Counseling Awareness Month.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 14, 2022 bipolar disorder, Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, depression, manic depression, medicine, mental health, mental health awareness, mental illness, mood swing, preventing suicide0 comments
As a therapist I have had many clients who were diagnosed with or in the process of being identified as having Bipolar I Disorder. Similarly, I recognize experiences with acquaintances whose personalities seemed to dramatically change over time. Before learning more about bipolar disorder, I wondered what had caused these changes, was it me, them, or had our relationships simply changed.
Bipolar I Disorder was once called manic depression because a person with this diagnosis often swings from extreme highs and lows as part of mania and depression phases. Typically, mania involves extreme increases in energy levels and reduced sleep needs, risky and impulsive behaviors, poor decision making, restlessness, and irritability among other symptoms. During a manic episode, a person may feel invincible, on top of the world, and as though nothing can stand in the way of success.
And after, depression occurs as part of a cycle—what goes up, must come down. As good as the mania feels, the depression feels equally bad, including extreme symptoms of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness/helplessness. Both mania and depression symptoms may occur for several days as part of a repeated cycle. A person can become psychotic during each phase, seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there. Likewise, a person may experience suicidal ideation during each phase of bipolar disorder, wanting to end their cycle of pain, poor decision making, and confusion about what happened.
Without treatment a person with Bipolar I Disorder can cycle more regularly between mania and depression, also experiencing more extreme symptoms of each. Examples could be a person quitting their job, filing for divorce, or trying to end their life. Bipolar I Disorder can be difficult to diagnose. This is because mood swings may look different for different people. Additionally, symptoms of mania, including jumpiness, anxiety, and restlessness, may be confused with a generalized anxiety disorder. Distractibility can be confused with ADHD. Depression can look like a simple depressive disorder.
Diagnosis and treatment for a bipolar disorder may not occur until a trained mental health professional observes the significant and long-lasting symptoms of mania and depression as part of a recurrent cycle. Likewise, obtaining a history of similar symptoms among family members can be critical for making a bipolar diagnosis. Additionally, knowing a history of recent trauma as potentially triggering the beginning of the mania/depression cycle might be helpful.
The good news is that there is help to better regulate mood swings and return to a more stable lifestyle. As with any other medical condition, taking medications has proven beneficial for feeling more in control of mania/depression symptoms. Mental health therapy, including individual therapy, couples/marital therapy, and family therapy, has been proven helpful for understanding the impact of having bipolar symptoms, including how we perceive ourselves and are perceived by others.
Supportive therapy can help people with a bipolar diagnosis learn how to create balances between working excessively, staying up late, doing drugs, drinking too much alcohol, and building financial safeguards for preventing overspending. Establishing a supportive circle of friends, professionals, and community resources is usually part of feeling better about self and the world. Keeping mood diaries through various apps can help people monitor potential mood swings.
I look at the world today as being more humane and supportive of people with a mental illness like Bipolar I or II. However, it remains essential that a person with manic/depression symptoms recognize the advancements in treatment of this disorder and reach out for help.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh is here to help if you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Please contact us at 412-322-2129 if you need support.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mental health, mindfulness, psychotherapy, therapists, therapy, wellness0 comments
Melissa Taylor, LMFT, MS is a very enthusiastic and compassionate professional that believes in the power of combining counseling and physical activity when working through personal issues. As a marriage and family therapist, Melissa works through family system issues that may influence a person’s current life situation, relationship issues, and emotional instability. As individuals, we have grown up with different family dynamics, viewed many family relationships and observed different ways of communicating that influence present time relationships and how we cope with issues. Family patterns exist, so Melissa helps people identify and understand those patterns, and then learn how they influence current problems. Melissa has worked for years with adults and adolescents that have been abused, abandoned, felt depression and anxiety, or struggle with current relationships; therefore, she is very comfortable working with individuals, couples and families that are dealing with past and current difficulties. She encourages self-care practices through counseling and exercise to build self-esteem, trust, communication and coping skills, to improve their own lives. Melissa is a psychoanalytic therapist that also provides CBT and other family system theories in her work. She encourages clients to trust her and themselves in the counseling process to work together towards healing and personal goals.
Melissa has lived in multiple states to complete her education and build her career while learning different cultures. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Kentucky, and completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She also had the privilege of completing a Master’s degree in Kinesiology at LSU in Baton Rouge, which allows her to integrate physical activity for clients in their therapeutic treatment process. She has provided therapy in Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas and now Pennsylvania. She has worked with Rape Crisis Centers, FQHC’s, Inpatient and Outpatient locations, integrated healthcare centers, and group practices. Melissa has experience in different levels and types of mental health care and has learned how mental health symptoms affect all populations.
Melissa recently moved to Pittsburgh from Texas and enjoys exploring her new city with her husband and two young children. She enjoys playing and teaching her children, Zumba and other exercises, and cooking with her family. Melissa is very energetic and is always seeking new experiences for herself and her family.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 6, 2018 meditation, mental health, mindfulness, personal growth, Uncategorized, wellness, wisdom, yoga0 comments
We love wellness and always are committed to bringing to you all the latest and often times most historically revered practices to sustain and support emotional, physical and spiritual health. This month we are highlighting Frankincense. Some of you may be familiar with the giving of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, in ancient times, these were gifts offered to kings and royalty, they even mention them in the Christian Bible as offerings brought to baby Jesus Christ by The Three Wise Men. Why all of the spotlight on Frankincense? Well in indigenous cultures, Frankincense was treated as medicine to reduce symptoms and even cure diseases of inflammation.
Modern Science is exploring the many benefits of Frankincense, some studies offering evidence that this can be used to cure everything depression, anxiety, and even certain forms of cancer. While we can not conclude the effectiveness of these treatments because it has not been supported of verified by the food and drug administration plant oils and herbs offer a wonderful route to healing and treating our bodies holistically.
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 Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 30, 2017 counseling, mental health, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, therapy, wellness, wisdom, yoga0 comments
A Pennsylvania State of Mind
When it comes to taking care of yourself, your mental health is just as important as your physical fitness. In fact, it’s considered imperative that you treat your mental well-being with the same concern and respect as your physical health… and for good reason. Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses can be just as taxing on your body as physical illnesses like the flu.
For that reason, mental health days are gaining ground as legitimate steps to better overall wellness. In the past, taking time off from work or responsibilities at home in order to care for yourself has carried a kind of stigma. Those who have been smart enough to recognize the need for a break and brave enough to take it may have been erroneously criticized as weak. In actuality, a mental health day (or weekend or week or month) can help manage stress and emotions, helping us perform better at everything we do, from parenting children to making sales at work.
But what is a mental health day? Where do you go? What do you do? What activities actually help improve your state of mind and your overall well being? Well, that depends on your specific circumstances. How many mental health days you need, how often you should take them, and what type of activity you choose will be based on the issue you are struggling with and how it is affecting your day-to-day life.
If you are feeling anxious about your finances, taking a day off to draw up a budget and de-stress with a yoga class may be just the ticket. If you’re grieving deeply after the loss of a loved one, however, one day of rest may not be enough of a break to work through your depression. And you may not be able to do it alone. If at any point in your mental health journey you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Your psychologist or psychiatrist can help you navigate your feelings and emotions and map out a plan to get you back on track.
When planning your next mental health day, there are a few activities you should avoid, like staying in bed all day or purposely isolating yourself from your peers. While sleep and “me time” are both imperative to your mental health, as a general rule, avoidance is an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Instead, do something that makes you feel productive but not stressed. Look for ways to get active, enjoy your hobbies, and promote meaningful social interactions. Whether you’re breaking a sweat, reading a novel, or having lunch with a friend, you’ll trigger your “relaxation response” and counteract the cortisol (stress hormone) that is causing you to feel worried, distracted, or sad.
According to one study, Pennsylvania residents have a lower prevalence of mental illness and greater access to care than those of most other states. That may be because Pennsylvania residents have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to mental health boosting activities. You can take advantage of the great outdoors with a day hike or a weekend retreat in one of the state’s many parks or nature preserves. Spend some time on the lake, soaking up the sun or fishing at the water’s edge. Or, if you’re in the mood to learn, visit a museum or historic site. Go alone or with family and friends, and consider disconnecting from technology for the duration of your trip.
No matter how you decide to care for yourself and your mental fitness, recognizing the need to pursue your state of mind with the same vigor and urgency you would your body is the first and most important step. From there, there will be a plethora of options that will allow you to reduce your stress, cope with depression, and manage anxiety… in Pennsylvania or any other part of the world.