Monday, May 14, 2012

I am 42!!!

Counseling Corner, since its inception in April of 2010, has had the mission of providing important mental health information to its readers in a clear, straightforward manner. It has covered topics from Social Networking for Dummies (Novermber 2010) to Handling Road Rage (April 2010) to lighthearted topics such as Let's Get Flyered Up! (June 2010). More recent topics have covered suicide prevention, stress management and Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Please feel free to explore my Blogspot site, and watch for new Blogs to be posted here -->

I am proud to say that this is my 42nd blog, (and consequently its' my 42nd year!) and my mission still remains the same: To let you know about important mental health concerns is a clear, understandable way, with no psychobabble. If you have a specific topic you would like me to discuss, or have  question, please feel free to contact me at I would be happy take requests.

Thank you for your loyalty and kind comments over these last two years. I hope to continue to entertain and educate you for many more years to come!


Monday, May 7, 2012

This is your brain.....

Motorcycle accidents. Football. Military Combat. Falls or accidents at work. Boxing. What do these three things have in common?

They are all ways that the human body and brain take a beating. 

But what you may not know, aside from the physical toll that these injuries can take, the stakes are even higher. The facts is that brain injuries can lead to serious mental illness, including depression, memory deficits, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, impulsivity, increased substance abuse, acting out, and even suicide. In addition, undiagnosed brain injuries may account for some learning disorders and other cognitive deficits. Some psychological problems have a physical basis or can be worsened by such an injury

The recent suicide of Junior Seau, NFL superstar, has brought this issue into the spotlight once again.  Let's talk about some facts regarding brain injuries, and how this increasingly alarming issue is being addressed by the NFL, the Military and high schools around the country. .

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), brain injury is defined as a disruption in the functioning of the brain. This disruption can be long-term or temporary, and can have effects that last anywhere from a few hours, to a lifetime of permanent impairment. The brain injury occurs when there is an injury, called an "insult" that is severe enough to impact the brain. This injury, sometimes referred to as a "Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)" differs from other types of brain injuries, such as stroke, tumors, infection, substance abuse, hypoxia or other illnesses.

Diagnosis of brain injuries can vary from a simple physical exam, to an MRI or other neurological testing and assessment. The most important thing to remember is, that while most falls and bumps on the head do not lead to a traumatic brain injury, early detection and treatment is a key to full recovery. When in doubt, get checked out!

Many psychologists are now being trained to assess injuries in sports and to make return to play recommendations. A trained health care professional is the most qualified person to conduct this evaluation, whether is be a physician trained in assessment of neurocognitive functioning, or a licensed psychologist.

Treatment for brain injuries, sometimes referred to as "Cognitive remediation" can range from simple reading and memory exercises to help the brain recover, to intensive cognitive therapy, and strategies to help memory and with daily activities, such as using a daily planner, making lists, using timers and visual cues, and using the computer to help keep track.

Recovery from a brain injury, traumatic or otherwise, is unique to each individual. This is based on a multitude of factors, such as location and severity of the injury, and the course of treatment and support are critical in the recovery and rehabilitation process. In many cases, especially in the case of violent crime, accidents and military trauma, the brain injury often overlaps with Post traumatic stress disorder, which can further worsen symptoms. This can also complicate the diagnostic and treatment course for both disorders.

Here is a small sampling of efforts to address brain injuries in various areas...

*Players are fined for head-to-head hits
*The NFL has committed to spending up to 100 million over the next 10 years in research into the long term impact of brain injuries
*Chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been found in players in post mortem studies of the brain.
*Helmet safety is being examined
*Review of the three-point stance

*The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania (BIAPA) has formed the BrainSTEPS program to ensure that children returning to school following a brain injury have the support and training they need
(the BrainSTEPS fact sheet can be found  here
*PA has introduced legislation which would require a player who has sustained a concussion or brain injury to not return to play unless cleared by a licensed health-care provider
*Trained licensed health care professionals, including psychologists, can make return-to-play decisions

*The military has stepped up efforts to detect and treat head injuries before soldiers return to combat
*Soldiers are screened to develop a baseline to compare against at points along their career to help detect brain injuries

If you have suffered a brain injury and are struggling, go to  your local doctor or emergency room. To help a loved one cope following an injury, ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

5 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

Maybe you have someone in your life like this: That "friend" who always has to "outdo" you or put you down; The co-worker who always takes credit for your work; That cousin who calls and you feel exhausted when you get off the phone; or that parent who constantly makes comments about your spouse, your life choices, or your home. Research shows that we all need relationships and that good ones are good for our mental health. But what about those other people, the ones who, after a long conversation or day at work, leave you feeling depressed, depleted and drained?

We all have difficult people we encounter every day in our lives. Today's Counseling Corner will hopefully give you some tips and ideas to deal with these people and minimize their negative impact on your life.  There are many more than these 5, but it's a great start.

1. The first, most important thing to do when dealing with a difficult person, is to accept them for who they are.  Easier said than done, right? For sure. But if you can do this one simple, but extremely difficult step, it will improve your happiness, and decrease your frustration SIGNIFICANTLY.  Understanding that we cannot change people, and we can only be responsible for our own behavior, can change your life - for the better. Trying to change others into what you want them to be, will only make YOU a more difficult person to deal with.

2. See the best in others. If you focus on the negative, you will only see the negative in people. It's like the old saying "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". When you only see the negative, all of your interactions become focused on this aspect of the person. If you can see the positive, the person will be more appreciated, your relationship will become deeper and more meaningful, and the level of conflict will decrease.

3. Keep it simple, silly (KISS them!).  Keep conversations simple and neutral in topic. If you have that one uncle who always tries to bait you into a debate about politics or that friend who always talks about her personal problems and won't take any advice, change the subject to something more immediate, such as what they are doing for the weekend, or how their family is doing. Changing the pattern of communication can go a long way to making improvements in relationships.

4. Own your part of the negativity. Most relationships are created through a "dynamic" between two people. There's an old saying "It takes two" could not be more true. But don't beat yourself up, nobody is perfect and we can all find room for growth and improvement. Just be aware that when you own, and consequently change, your end of the dynamic, the other person may respond with increased negativity and try to push your limits.

5.  There is a Zen proverb that says "Let go or be dragged". There occasionally comes a time that you need some space, time or distance when relationships become too intense, draining or negative. If you can't be around the person without them baiting your or bullying you, it may be time to move on. It's perfectly fine to cut ties, and to let them know why without any expectation of understanding or change on their part. If this is your co-worker or supervisor, you may actually need to switch jobs. It's OK to move on and it's not a sign of any failure. 

These are just give quick tips for handing difficult relationships. Couples or family therapy can be a great way to gain assistance in changing relationships for the better. If you are having difficulty in your relationships, ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST!


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