Archives for September, 2011
We just returned from Seattle where just about every corner has a coffee shop. I read that Seattle has 226 cloudy days a year. I’m pretty sure that the gray skies of Seattle require lots of perking up, thus lots of caffeine. Our hotel room had unusually excellent coffee and a French press. It was so good that of course, we had to find the same brand of coffee for ourselves and bring some home. It probably won’t taste as good in New Mexico, with 310 sunny days a year, as it did in Seattle. However, with coffee on my mind, it was interesting to read the results of a recent study described today in the New York Times. This involves more than 50,000 nurses who were asked to provide detailed tracking of diet, exercise, physical health, and mental health. Among many of the variables being monitored, the amount of caffeine consumed and mood were tracked.
Last week Chuck wrote a blog about what questions you should consider asking your therapist. He was talking about the importance of feeling mutual trust within the therapeutic relationship. Today, I want to continue a discussion of the therapeutic relationship. The other day, I was sitting on a curb in Santa Fe waiting for a parade. Beside me were a bunch of little kids. There was a long wait and finally a few firemen marched by. That was the parade. When the firemen reached the bandstand, there were several speeches, and then they started to put flowers down in front of the bandstand in honor of 9-11 firefighters who died.
We’ve written about the fact that certain therapies work well for the treatment of anxiety whereas other approaches have little support in the literature for their effectiveness. Therefore, we always encourage you to ask for treatments that are backed by solid research. But getting the right therapy is just the first step. Another issue arises when you start working with a therapist. Namely, how do you know that you’ve found the right match for you? Usually, people feel comfortable with their therapists. They feel connected with and heard by the professional they’ve chosen to work with. That’s because “most” therapists are reasonably kind, skillful, and good at listening.
We all get upset from time to time. And sometimes, we let things roll off our backs. Other times, especially when we’re overtired, stressed, or vulnerable - it's not so easy. Here are three examples. Maybe you’re feeling a bit stressed and someone says, “Those are interesting shoes.” Pretty benign comment right, but the shoes you are wearing are sort of weird and you’re feeling a bit off. So whether or not the comment was meant to be positive or neutral, suddenly you’re filled with feelings about your now ugly shoes. You might spend the rest of the day trying to hide your feet from others and you’re distracted with thoughts about what sorts of shoes would be “less interesting.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious emotional problem that involves: Obsessions: Intense worries, thoughts, and images that pop into the mind and create a great deal of distress. Worries about becoming contaminated with germs are an example of a particularly common obsession. Compulsions: Various behaviors or actions that temporarily reduce the distress obsessions cause. For example, people with contamination obsessions would be likely to wash their hands excessively to deal with their worries about becoming contaminated.
When we write books we review hundreds of research studies—combing the literature for evidence based treatments as well as interesting new possibilities. We spent many months preparing and writing our last book on child psychology and development. We took a huge amount of material and clinical experience and organized what we (and many reviewers) believe is an original way to conceptualize childhood and child psychopathology. So, one afternoon, after a grueling day of working at home sitting in front of the computer screen, we decided that we needed a change of position (and our tired eyes, aching backs, and sore behinds agreed). We were spending way too much of our recent life writing about people and their problems. Although we do get many emails from people who read our books and benefit from them, it’s not the same as having someone in person in your office who gets better, and feels better. So, in a moment of pure madness, we decided to go back into a limited psychology practice. We want to work with kids and their families and put to use some of the techniques we’ve been writing about.
Earlier this week, we wrote about seven signs that someone might need professional help. Parents often ask the same questions about their kids. They don’t want to send their kids to be evaluated if there’s nothing to worry about; after all, consulting a mental health professional costs time and money, and could cause a little anxiety in the process. By the way, we usually suggest a quick check in with the pediatrician first because signs of what appear to be behavioral, emotional, or learning issues can be caused by physical problems and medical providers often know who to go to for mental health help. Since the signs differ a little for kids versus adults, here’s a list of seven signs that tell you if your child needs further assessment: