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Keeping It Together: How Post-Divorce Therapy Helps Families Heal

Divorce is an unfortunate reality for a lot of families in the country. Although some divorces may stem from abusive behaviors or infidelity, many are the result of irreconcilable differences, unresolved issues, or a relationship grown distant.

While the act of divorcing is primarily a choice made by the married couple, its repercussions extend beyond the couple – which is why family counseling is so important. In Westport, Connecticut, post-divorce therapy is available for couples and families going through the divorce process.

Life after divorce can be tough, tiring, and draining. However, with the right type of therapy, couples and families can find the strength to move on. Here are some benefits of post-divorce therapy.

Support

Divorce is an emotionally taxing time for everyone involved, from the couple in question to their children, and even their extended family. Post-divorce therapy can help people cope with the emotional and mental stress that comes with the divorce process.

Post-divorce therapy gives people the support to understand who they are as individuals outside of a marriage, or as individuals who are no longer part of a “nuclear” family unit. More importantly, therapy will also help people identify and understand problematic behaviors within themselves in order to correct these. This allows the family to cope with feelings of anger and anxiety in a healthy way.

Structure

Not only does divorce take up a substantial amount of emotional energy, it can also take over a family’s life. Negativity, frequent fighting, and abusive behavior can easily become the norm if positive structures are not put in place.

One of the things that can get a family through the process of a divorce is creating structure.  Providing or reinforcing structure can take the form of creating positive habits, implementing effective time management, and even something as simple as finding the time to talk to your children on a regular basis. Post-divorce therapy allows families and individuals to heal in a contextualized and structured way, minimizing the risk of negative behaviors from spiraling out of control.

Resources

Perhaps the most important part of post-divorce therapy is how it provides people with actionable resources to help them through the process. Therapy not only provides people structure and support during a session, it also helps people support themselves outside of the therapist’s clinic.

In post-divorce therapy, people will learn exercises that will maximize their mindfulness of others, inspire them to validate each other more often, and help regulate their emotions more effectively. The goal of post-divorce therapy is to let each member of the family know that they are heard, understood, and accepted. In this way, everyone involved can move forward in a positive manner.

At The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we believe that every individual deserves a chance at recovering from the emotional and mental stress of divorce, which is why our therapists take their time to get to know you so that they can create a comprehensive therapy plan that addresses your emotional needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you heal your mind.

happy couple

Couples Therapy: An Element of Long-Standing Relationships

At first glance, couples therapy sounds intimidating. Deciding to see a therapist, after all, involves admitting that things are not perfect in a relationship. Experts consider couples therapy helpful at any stage of a relationship, however. Seeing a counselor can teach couples communication skills and how to listen to their partner with fresh ears, for instance.

Some couples wait until an issue gets out of hand before they come to therapy. While it is normal for couples to experience conflicts and disagreements, regular relationship counseling can help couples overcome obstacles and improve their understanding of each other.

Improving Conflict Resolution

Most of the big issues that couples face started out small but festered. Therapy helps by equipping couples with the tools and techniques to improve the way they resolve an argument. Moreover, therapy teaches the couple that there are three sides to a conflict: the sides of both parties and the truth. With this way of thinking, couples can work together to come to an agreement.

More than viewing therapy as a solution to a crisis, though, couples would do well to consider it as an integral aspect of a healthy relationship. Knowing how to keep arguments from spiraling maintains the peace in a relationship, after all.

A Safe Space to Discuss Issues

Infidelity may be the most common reason why couples resort to therapy, but it could also help address similarly relevant issues, such as miscommunication, money trouble, and an unsatisfactory sex life.

A lack of communication, in particular, is a big concern for couples. And engaging in more conversations doesn’t necessarily improve communication. Effective communication stems from feeling heard, cared for, and respected. A therapist helps by studying a couple’s old communication patterns, then replacing them with positive ones.

Sensitive issues like a couple’s sex life, along with major life changes like career changes can destabilize a couple’s relationship and make them feel stuck. Therapy provides a safe space to discuss sensitive and complex issues and understand how the relationship may be failing to meet their expectations.

Understanding Different Perspectives

Couples bring different perspectives into their relationships. While it’s easy for one member to think from their point of view, they may lose sight of the overarching issue wherein both sides might be right and have a valid point.

When one person talks about their significant other, it’s possible for them to experience trouble understanding their partner’s views. Sometimes, they stick to their version of events which could cause mix-ups in communication.

A third party can help couples understand each other’s emotions and thought processes. With help thinking outside of their perspective, a relationship could come out stronger.

Arguments and disagreements are not necessarily a sign of a broken marriage; in fact, it could open the doorway to deeper levels of intimacy and connection. The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health provides couples therapy to deepen your understanding of your partner and address issues of discontent in your relationship.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Newly graduate students

Graduation Blues: Overcoming Post-College Depression

Life’s biggest transitional periods are accompanied by feelings of anxiety. This includes entering marriage, the infamous quarter-life crisis, empty nest syndrome, and retirement.

A less commonly discussed transitional phase is the change that follows after college. Students may feel nostalgic after having to leave behind the familiar academic environment — friendships with peer groups, being a part of a tight-knit community, participating in local interest groups, and attending parties.

It’s more than just heavy-hearted nostalgia for others, however. Sometimes, fresh graduates experience post-college depression, or the extreme sadness and impaired functioning during the transition from school to the workplace. A person’s inability to move from student life to adult life is an issue that requires serious attention.

Post-Graduate Depression Is Underreported

Therapists claim that post-college depression is understudied and underreported. Sheryl Ziegler, a licensed professional counselor, believes that young adults can be difficult to study and categorize from a research perspective. On a similar vein, some people shy away from talking about post-college gloom, because culture dictates that graduation is a “joyful time.”

Furthermore, studies about post-graduate depression are difficult to find. There is a multitude of studies analyzing the causes of depression among individuals between 18-25 years old, but data on the blues that students experience following graduation tends to dramatically dwindle.

The symptoms of post-uni depression include lethargy, pessimism, a general sense of hopelessness, and in some cases, substance abuse. Usually, those who experience the blues are unmotivated to find a job.

When Expectations Fail to Meet Reality

Statistics show that Millennials have the highest rates of depression and anxiety than any other generational group. Job hunting and workplace issues, in particular, fall high on their list of concerns.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh concludes that Millennials showing signs of depression are also prone to be more active on social media apps like Facebook and Instagram. The habit, however, only creates feelings of helplessness and the narrow view that everyone else has their life figured out.

Getting Out of the Post-Uni Slump

Suffering from depression while unemployed can make a person feel like they’re stuck in a slump. Seeking out professional help and talking to a psychiatrist in Westport is one way to deal with the situation positively and proactively. Experts also suggest overcoming feelings of depression through the following:

  • Being realistic – New graduates need to acknowledge the current market and where their skills fit in. It’s impossible to reach one’s professional goals straight out of college, after all.
  • Focusing on skills – People shouldn’t feel discouraged if their college successes fail to make an impact on the “real world.” It helps to focus on how past triumphs were achieved, and then think that current issues are just a new set of challenges to face and overcome.
  • Recognize improvements – Sometimes, life doesn’t go according to plan. Try to stay positive, though. Focus on areas of improvement to avoid making the same mistakes again.
  • Communicate with family and friends – Parents and peers can provide support to struggling individuals during major, life-changing transitions. It helps to be open about job hunting and the frustrations that come along with it.

If you’re experiencing post-college depression, you can count on The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health for help. We treat depressive disorders using evidence-based psychotherapy and techniques to improve your quality of life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Chronically Tired? Signs that Anxiety Might be Causing Your Fatigue

Do you remember the last time you actually watched a prime-time show without fighting the urge to fall asleep?

If you continuously lack energy because of an ongoing feeling of tiredness, you might be suffering from fatigue. Unlike the feeling of tiredness that comes with regular colds or some other viral infection, chronic fatigue is lingering, constant, and limiting. It can hinder your ability to be productive at work or to function at home. The constant feeling of exhaustion may render you unable to manage your daily affairs.

The usual culprits behind fatigue include anemia, allergic rhinitis, and fibromyalgia, among other medical reasons. Anxiety, however, can cause you to feel exceptionally tired all the time.

Sympathetic System Overdrive

The Web radio show host and clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow says anxiety drives the body’s sympathetic nervous system into overdrive.

Anxiety elevates blood pressure and increases the heart rate, it makes muscles tense, and it releases toxins into the system, causing inflammation. The way your body reacts to anxiety, therefore, is enough to make you feel fatigue and malaise.

Normal Tiredness vs. Anxiety

If you are otherwise healthy but still feel tired all the time, here are some signs to look out for to tell the difference between normal tiredness and fatigue induced by anxiety:

  1. You feel too tired all the time, even after a night’s sleep.

According to therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, if you are getting at least seven hours of sleep daily and still feel tired, it’s likely that something else is going on.

Gladys Frankel, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, says feeling drained all the time may mean that your body is constantly on “high alert,” as anxiety causes an intense surge of cortisol rushing through the body. It’s like your body is always preparing for something dangerous to happen, and that can be exhausting.

In addition, the author of Misdiagnosed: The Adrenal Fatigue Link, Dr. Steven Zodkoy, says tiredness, anxiety, and a hectic lifestyle are definitely connected. The problem is today’s stressors may be low-grade, but they are continuous. Take the constant buzzing of phones and being on social media 24/7. These are low-grade yet constant, which means they never give the body’s fight or flight pathway a chance to turn off or rebuild.

  1. You feel tired before a social event

If you feel “sleepy” right before a major gathering, you might have social anxiety. People who don’t have social anxiety tend to feel energized by human interaction. Meanwhile, those who have social anxiety may feel physically or mentally drained before, during or after being around a large group.

  1. You experience a host of other malaise.

Anxiety goes hand-in-hand with many symptoms, so any weird issues your body might be experiencing could be a result of anxiety. Hershenson says that people struggling with anxiety are likely to encounter symptoms such as migraines, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and even simple stomach pains, on top of chronic fatigue.

If you suspect that anxiety is causing your chronic fatigue, check with a reputable psychiatrist in Westport. The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health is home to experienced professionals providing comprehensive, tailored mental health services to individuals and families.

To learn more or to set an appointment, call toll-free at 1-888-745-3372 or fill out the form today.

Learning How to Manage Your Emotions Leads to a Happier Life

Mental and behavioral disorders have links to a person’s emotional sphere. Even when they’re not the main cause of distress, it’s still inevitable that the conditions will affect how a person feels about themselves and other people.

This is why at The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health we focus on helping children, teens, and adults learn how to manage their emotions through dialectic behavior therapy or DBT. Our facility at Westport, Connecticut is equipped with adequate rooms and materials for DBT sessions. We hope that through these interventions, you can learn to be the master of your emotions.

A Focus of Dialectic Behavior Therapy

DBT is therapeutic in nature. Although its first purpose was to treat borderline personality disorder, psychiatrists soon realized its effectiveness for other types of mental and behavioral disorders, like depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, and PTSD.

In our DBT sessions, you will experience one-on-one therapy or group learning activities, depending on which program you choose. Regardless of the type, though, our entire DBT Program has one goal: to teach practical skills that will make you constantly mindful of your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

Strengthen your Mind and Be “Present”

Being a cognitive-behavioral treatment, the key areas that DBT develops in patients is mindfulness. It refers to a person’s awareness of his or her thoughts, emotions, urges, and actions. It is the set of answers to the questions, “What?” and “How?” Think of it as the “collection of data” stage.

Learning this skill enables you to take a step back and look at your circumstance with a clearer eye. Without awareness, it’s not possible to manage — even change — emotions.

Notice that the principle of mindfulness aligns with the rehabilitation process of people dealing with addictions. Before they can do something about their problem, they need to be aware and acknowledge that there is, indeed, an issue to address.

Avoiding Distress is Not the Answer

Psychiatrists and therapists will tell you that the best way to deal with emotions is to accept and tolerate, not avoid them. Tolerance in this respect, however, doesn’t mean letting emotions cloud your decisions. It’s more about accepting that you’re currently in a challenging situation and then choosing to do something about it.

This is distress tolerance, a common approach to mental health treatments. Through DBT, you will learn how to bear negative emotions skillfully.

Managing Emotions: How Do You Do This?

There is a generic answer to this question: when you experience a negative emotion, and you feel the urge to succumb to certain behaviors or addictions, stop and take the opposite action. This is the active and practical application of mindfulness, distress tolerance, and changing emotions. If you master it, you’ll be able to choose the path to happiness over depression, anxiety, anger, and so forth.

It’s not quick or easy to learn how to manage or change emotions. The unwavering support of family and friends, as well as the guidance of experienced therapists who care about you overcoming your disorders, will be of great help.

Allow us to help you succeed in this journey. The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health offers four modes of treatment to accommodate different levels of need. To learn more about these programs, contact us today.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills to Help You Enjoy the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy for many people. Some, however, dread and struggle through this time as the whole holiday experience can be exhausting. While it may not be possible for people to control the situation around them, they can practice individual Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills to navigate through the difficulties of the season and make the holidays enjoyable.

If you want to create a more stress-free and enjoyable season for yourself and others, keep these skills in mind.

Participate

This core mindfulness skill is about completely immersing yourself in what you’re doing at the moment. Practicing this skill allows you to gently let go of distractions so you can get back to who you are during the holiday season.

Always remember that you can participate either in misery or stress or in the various opportunities for joy that the season brings to people.

Build Positive Experience (BPE)

BPE begins with being mindful of positive events happening around you. People sometimes miss opportunities for connection or fun as they drown in their worries and problems. Take advantage of the positives that are possible this season. Some things you can do to build positive experiences are:

  • Watch time-honored films
  • Listen to your favorite holiday music
  • Schedule times for community functions, get-togethers, and other events

Attend to Relationships (A2R)

Relationships are similar to plants. When you do not water them, they wither and die. So, take the time to practice A2R. Send pictures or cards to your loved ones. Alternatively, connect with people by Skype, phone, or in person. The important thing is to let the important people in your life know that they matter to you.

If you believe you need or can benefit from DBT in Westport, CT, schedule a DBT session with The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health. We will work closely with you to create and implement a personalized treatment plan.

Contact us today.

Startup Business People Working on Laptop

Gentle Introspection Helps with Workplace Anxiety

Workplace anxiety can manifest in various ways for every individual: whether it’s an intense worry over an imminent deadline or a shapeless feeling of creeping dread, these mental stresses invite unpleasant thoughts that most people have little control over.

Such situations often develop into a second layer of anxiety caused by attempts to quell the initial anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle, and the compounding negative feelings can lead to full-on panic attacks. This is all very real and something that many people experience every day.

Psychiatrists in Westport, CT suggest that breaking this self-destructive cycle is possible through gentler methods of meditation. We break this down into two important principles to help you manage workplace anxiety better, at least until you can consult a professional for help.

Validate Your Feelings

You might be afraid to admit to your co-workers that you’re plagued by anxiety. This might be due to pervasive notions that anxiety disorders aren’t as real as physical pain like migraines. On the contrary, the National Institutes of Health reports that anxiety disorders are pervasive medical conditions affecting as many as 1 in every 5 Americans.

Acknowledging that your feelings of anxiety are just as real and painful as physical conditions allow you to take better care of yourself.

Acknowledge Anxiety as Part of Yourself

Psychologists have advocated for a more compassionate approach to dealing with anxiety for quite some time. Yes, this means having compassion for yourself, and not treating your feeling as “the enemy.”

Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) is a new and innovative form of therapy that hinges on the neutral and non-judgmental observation of your negative thoughts. The technique essentially helps individuals re-orient their negative feelings towards anxiety into realizing that those feelings are part of their being — that they should not be resisted or pushed aside but accepted instead.

Anxiety is a medical condition that can inhibit a person’s ability to function normally, and our treatment programs are designed to help you manage it better. Contact us today to receive the professional help you need.

An Anxious Child

Words and Actions to Calm an Anxious Child

Anxiety is a common mental disorder in the United States, and it affects even children. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), this disorder persists among 25.1% of children ages 13-18 years old. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) adds that symptoms could appear as early as 7 years old. These numbers mean that one in four children show signs of anxiety and bear the possibility of carrying the disorder towards adolescence.

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health understands how anxiety can have a huge impact on a person’s life. This can affect their ability to function in an everyday setting, such as in public places, at the workplace, in school, or in social gatherings. Our psychiatrists in Westport, Connecticut help children learn to manage their anxiety so that in the future, they may lead a balanced and happy life.

How do Children Manifest Anxiety?

Anxiety is a form of stress that stems from the worry or fear that something is about to go wrong. It’s easy to see why young children are prone to it. As they begin to explore the world outside of their home, they may encounter people, things, places, and circumstances that are unfamiliar and threatening to their young minds.

What to Do and What to Say

If you have an anxious child who suffers from mild to severe panic attacks, what you need to do is help him or her manage their fear. You can do and say the following:

  • “Can you draw me a picture of it?” This gives your child an outlet and helps him make sense of their fear. Turning their fear into a character demystifies it, which helps to reduce anxiety.
  • “Imagine that we’re blowing a balloon.” Sit with your child and encourage them to take deep breaths. Doing this together emphasizes your support without enabling the fear.
  • “Let’s pretend you’re a superhero.” Encourage your child to face his or her fears; and that, like their favorite superhero, they are stronger and can conquer those fears.
  • “Say, I am strong! I am brave!” Teach your child to say a self-encouraging chant when he feels afraid.
  • “It’s okay to worry.” According to psychologists, removing a trigger reinforces a child’s fear. The best way to approach anxiety is to teach children to acknowledge it. Tell your child it’s okay to worry for 10 minutes; but after the time is up, he can put this “character” in a box or a room and set it aside for the meantime.

Dealing with anxious kids is a delicate matter that we can help you with. At The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we help not just the children but their parents and guardians as well.

Contact us and learn more about our treatment program.

Looking for help is sign of strength

Individual treatment is often termed as psychotherapy, and is meant to help people with their emotional issues, which can range in order of their severity or intensity. The main aim of this form of therapy is to change the quality of life by defining the path of life clearly, and bringing in more clarity. Whether it is the problem of repressed childhood that you are facing, or an emotional breakdown due to divorce, failure or loss of a loved one, a professional psychologist can help you revive your mental health through systematic counselling.

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Get the most out of your work day

There are many emotional issues that find a corner in our heart, and refuse to die down. With time, these issues can transform into a sort of emotional tumor that impacts negatively on our daily life, such as lack of concentration, enthusiasm, self respect, will to change, encouragement, and so on. These issues can spiral into our lives in various ways and gets channelled into other zones, which can create problems in the relationships, professional life, and health.

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