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Health Psychology

Overview

Man talking to his psychiatristWe work individually with you, or together with you and your family, to help you manage physical problems, to slow down or prevent health issues from becoming worse, and to reduce disability due to acute injuries or chronic diseases. Our goal is to improve your well-being and to assist you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We work with all ages with medically complex issues, including infants and toddlers (and their families) who present with issues such as pediatric feeding disorders or failure to thrive.

This counseling includes a variety of concerns that impact both physical and emotional well-being such as:

Cancer and Life-Threatening Illness

We understand the emotional pain and worry when you hear that you have cancer or a life threatening chronic illness. We can help you deal with the emotional and physical challenges that these diagnoses bring. We also understand the anxiety and feelings of helplessness that your family and friends may experience. We can be there with you to help you cope with this array of feelings you may experience, ease marital or family strain, and assist you in clarifying your desires regarding the variety of treatment options available to you. Talking with a therapist who understands how a life threatening illness affects you can help in preparing for medical procedures, managing the stress of treatment and rebuilding hope.

Coping with Disabilities

Life is difficult when you have a disability. Dealing with changes in abilities, changes in expectations you have of yourself and that others have of you, as well as dealing with the frustrations you may experience in activities of daily living, can be overwhelming and disheartening. We are here to help you find ways to live a healthier, happier and more capable life.

Eating Disorders & Weight Management

FOOD! It smells good. It tastes good. It is part of most family and social gatherings and of holiday celebrations. It is offered as a reward for doing something good or as a comforting distractor in the face of physical or emotional pain. Food is essential for life.

We are bombarded with magazine ads and television commercials which present brilliantly colored images of food being prepared, served or consumed by “beautiful” people as part of social or family gatherings, holiday celebrations or for personal comfort or pleasure. We see images which equate feminine beauty with being thin, small and delicate. Weight loss is celebrated as a path to health and well-being, as well as to beauty and social acceptance.

There is intense pressure, especially for women, to diet in order to conform to an unrealistic standard of beauty. The more a person has internalized the notion that fat is bad and that thin is beautiful., the more that person will strive for thinness and be distressed about his/her weight.

Conflicts about food, weight and body image dominate the lives of some of us, leading to the development of emotional eating and eating disorders. The search for a path to beauty, social acceptance, business success and/or power through our relationship with food can lead to long-term emotional and physical problems.

Our therapists can help you to establish a realistic body image, to explore the thoughts and emotions associated with your eating patterns and to identify maladaptive and self-defeating eating patterns. They can support you in planning and initiating changes which lead to a more balanced and satisfying life.

Infertility & Pregnancy Challenges

The Emotional Challenges of Infertility

One out of every six couples in the United States is coping with infertility. Yet, when you are affected by it, it can be a very lonely experience, creating tremendous physical, financial, and emotional challenges for the individual and couple.

You might feel…

sad, depressed, guilty, helpless, preoccupied, isolated, resentful, angry, lonely, worthless, ashamed, anxious, fearful, jealous, pessimistic

You may experience…

    • loss of interest in usual activities

    • strained relationships with your partner, family, friends, and/or colleagues

    • difficulty thinking of anything other than your infertility

    • changes in your sleeping and/or eating patterns

    • difficulty making decisions

    • feelings of isolation and loneliness

Issues you may face…

    • Which treatment is appropriate for us? For how long?

    • Should we try third party assistance (donor egg or sperm, surrogacy, gestational carrier)?

    • What if my partner and I have different ideas about the direction we should take?

    • How can my partner and I continue to try to enjoy our life together during this difficult time?

    • Can we cope with a multiple pregnancy or selective reduction?

    • What can we do when our friends and family don’t understand what we’re going through?

Help is available

Talking with a mental health professional experienced in infertility can help you begin to . .

    • gather the appropriate information that you need to make treatment decisions.
    • prepare for and cope with the medical and surgical treatments.
    • understand and cope with your emotional reactions to infertility.
    • reduce the strain that infertility can put on your relationships.
    • learn how to control the stress, anxiety and depression that often accompany infertility.
    • communicate more effectively with family, friends, your physician and his/her staff.
    • cope with the losses that infertility presents.
    • create a joyful, rich life for yourself.

Insomnia & Sleep Difficulties

Sleep is essential for your physical and emotional well being. Many people are not aware that sleep loss has been associated with heart disease, hypertension, obesity, depression, irritability and impaired performance. We work with you to find solutions that will help improve your sleep and give you the rest you need for your health. The sleep experts at our practice use behavioral and psychological approaches to help you sleep better throughout the night. We are available to help you with all different types of sleep related problems including:

1) Chronic Insomnia Chronic Insomnia leads to many additional problems. Being deprived of the sleep you need leads to stress and irritability, trouble concentrating, greater absenteeism, and significant safety issues in the work place and on the road. Our structured program will help you identify the underlying causes of your insomnia, and put you on the path to conquering them. This program will also look at your environment, your behaviors around sleeping and help you develop more sleep inducing routines.

2) Discomfort and/or anxiety with Continuous Pressure Airway Pressure treatment (CPAP) CPAP can cause great discomfort and anxiety. Learning to adjust to using it can be challenging. Our treatment for clients needing to use CPAP machines is aimed at slowly increasing their comfort with the machine with the goal of being able to sleep well throughout the night. We guide you through relaxation training and systematic desensitization to help lessen your discomfort with CPAP.

3) Depression and anxiety that interfere with sleep Living with depression or anxiety is difficult enough without being exhausted. It is hard to take on the challenge of each day when you don’t have the energy to do so. We help you to address psychological concerns that interfere with your sleep utilizing our expertise in both psychology and in sleep medicine. Many people with depression or anxiety often have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Together we find solutions to enable you to achieve a more restful sleep.

4) Coping with symptoms of chronic illness or pain that impact sleep Physical problems often interfere with the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, it is difficult to sleep well. Medications that you take may also have a side effect that contributes to your sleep difficulties. We partner with you to find workable solutions that will help you sleep well so you can awake feeling refreshed.

Men's Health Issues

Emotional well-being often affects, or is affected by, physical health problems. Physical health stressors affecting emotional health may include cardiac problems, impotence, sleep disorders or chronic disease such as HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the impact of an athletic injury may lead to changes in self-image, self-esteem, life-style and emotional well-being.  Stressors of daily living which might lead to or interact with physical health concerns include care-giving, death of a loved one, family or job transitions or juggling the varied – and often conflicting – expectations/demands of others.  The challenge is to acknowledge and successfully cope with emotional health issues while also treating physical conditions.

Our therapists can help you meet life’s many challenges with resilience. They will work with you to develop ways to strengthen coping skills, identify resources for easing pressures, and provide personal support.

Pain Management

Chronic pain destroys lives. Living with continuous pain can lead to great emotional and physical suffering. We understand that the experience of chronic pain impacts many areas of your life and well-being. We also know that different people respond differently to pain, and that talking with a therapist about pain management does not mean that your pain “is in your head” or that “your pain is not real”. Our goal together is to help you stop enduring a painful life, and start living a better pain-managed one.

Post-Partum Depression

Many women experience the “Baby Blues” following the birth of a baby. As their bodies and hormone levels change back to pre-pregnancy levels, they may experience episodes of crying for no easily apparent reason, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, sadness and decreased concentration. These symptoms, although distressing to a new mother and those who care about her, usually fade away without intervention within a few days or a week or two.

Post-Partum Depression may at first resemble the Baby Blues, but the symptoms are more severe and last longer. A new mother may also feel hopeless and worthless; she may lose interest in her baby; she may feel like giving up. These symptoms may eventually interfere with a mother’s ability to care for her baby and herself and to handle other routine tasks. Post-partum Depression can appear at any time, usually within the first year after childbirth. To protect your health and the health of your baby, call your doctor if signs and symptoms grow more severe after two weeks following childbirth.  A combination of medical treatment and counseling can help you get well.

Fathers may also experience a form of Post-Partum Depression.  Paternal Postnatal Depression may develop gradually during a child’s first year of life. If untreated, this depression can significantly affect a man’s marriage, career and family life, as well as undermine his child’s development.  Counseling for depression will help men feel better and function more effectively.

Our therapists can help you overcome your depression and meet the challenges you are facing with resilience.  They will work with you to develop ways to strengthen coping skills, identify resources for easing pressures, and provide personal support.

Stress Management

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone feels stressful moments. It is normal to feel stressed from time to time. Chronic stress may lead to a barrage of physical symptoms, such as feeling tense and on edge, fatigue, concentration difficulties and sleep disturbances. 

A certain amount of stress and worry can be helpful. It can be an important “signal” or it can be “noise.” As a “signal”, stress indicates we have a legitimate problem to address or we are headed into a dangerous situation; it alerts us to take some action. “Noise” stress is a barrage of negative thoughts or worries which make us uncomfortable, but do not have negative long-term consequences. (“Will it matter in 10 years?”) They relate to smaller day-to-day concerns, such as arriving on time or completing assigned tasks. It is important to separate the two kinds of stressors, to initiate action on the “signals” and to put the “noise” in perspective.

Stress may become so intense and long-lasting that we feel as if our lives are “out of control.” Repetitious, intrusive worries may show up against our will and cause us to feel anxious and upset.  Such worrying takes on a life of its own and we may feel increasingly overwhelmed.

Our therapists can help you identify, understand and deal with the stressors in your life. You can learn to identify stress signals and to manage your stress more effectively, leading to a happier and more productive life. 

Women's Health Issues

Emotional well-being often affects, or is affected by, physical health problems. Physical health stressors affecting emotional health include reproductive problems, menopause, abuse or chronic disease such as fibromyalgia and lupus.  Stressors of daily living which might lead to or interact with physical health concerns include care-giving, death of a loved one, family or job transitions or juggling the varied – and often conflicting – expectations/demands of others.  The challenge is to acknowledge and successfully cope with emotional health issues while also treating physical conditions.

Our therapists can help you meet life’s many challenges with resilience. They will work with you to develop ways to strengthen coping skills, identify resources for easing pressures, and provide personal support.

We are currently accepting new clients. Day, evening, and Saturday appointments are available.

We also offer consultation, training, and workshops in the above areas.

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