Month: September 2012

What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Marriage Therapist

The decision to seek help from a marriage therapist is never easy for couples.  It often comes at a time when your relationship is most vulnerable and at risk.  Therefore, it is important to choose your marriage therapist wisely in order to have the best, most successful experience possible.  Here at Proliance Center, we value certain criteria in our marriage therapists to ensure that you received the highest quality care.  Some of these factors include education, experience, personality, professionalism, and empathy for others.  In addition to these factors, there may be other criteria to consider that will make your experience not only better, but more personalized.

It may not seem important, when the survival of your marriage is at stake, but convenience can often play a significant role in you and your partner’s experience in seeing a marriage therapist.  Issues to consider may include proximity, ease of scheduling, cost, or comfort within the office setting.  All too often, couples may decide to terminate therapy too early because it is no longer convenient.  When you take these issues into consideration before choosing your marriage therapist and plan ahead, you are less likely to terminate too soon for the wrong reasons, therefore having a more successful experience in the end.  At Proliance Center, we work with you to provide the most convenient and comfortable experience possible by providing you with a centralized location, a variety of scheduling options and a comfortable, private setting.

Reputation is another important factor in choosing a marriage therapist.  Take the time to ask around among trusted friends, family members, or professionals for recommendations.  When someone you know has had a successful experience with a particular marriage therapist, that recommendation often holds more weight than a review read online or in an advertisement seen in the newspaper.  You are also more likely to commit to the process of seeing a marriage therapist when it has had a positive impact on the marriage of someone important to you.

Faith is a factor that is important to many couples seeking to see a marriage therapist.  It is always advised for a couple to assess the role they would like their faith to play in their therapy experience and seek help from a marriage therapist professional that can work with them to emphasize their faith through therapy.

These are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a marriage therapist.  At Proliance Center, we welcome any questions you might have about marriage therapy and are more than willing to share our philosophies, style, approach, and experiences with you so that you can make an educated, confident decision in choosing your marriage therapist.

Does Marriage Counseling Work If One Partner Won’t Work At The Issues?

A common problem that couples and couples counselors face in marriage counseling occurs when one member of a couple is willing to work on the relationship and the other is not.  Many people may think that if they can’t convince their spouse to join them in marriage counseling, that it won’t work.  Fortunately, this is not always the case.  The approaches in marriage counseling are constantly being redefined to account for challenges and find ways to provide help to those who need it, regardless of their circumstances.  While marriage counseling works best when both partners agree to participate together, there can always be an alternative approach if needed.

At Proliance Center, we approach marriage counseling from a Systems perspective.  What this means is that we believe that although the couple is made up of two individuals, they exist together as a working system, where each individual affects the other.  Similar to the system of a family, when one member makes a change, it changes the dynamic of the whole family, or system.  Therefore, in marriage counseling, the same rules apply.  If one member of the couple makes a positive change, it has the potential to positively change the couple.

It is not uncommon here at Proliance Center for marriage counseling to take place, or at least begin, with just one member of the couple.  In these situations, the therapist works with the individual to help them make positive changes in themselves as well as their approach to their spouse, which can result in a shift in the marital relationship.  Marriage counseling Sessions are often focused on improving individual communication skills, defining goals for the relationship, and addressing how the individual might contribute to existing problems.  What we often find is that the changes the individual makes can either “rub off” on their spouse, or in some cases, be an inspiration to their spouse to begin attending marriage counseling.

The important aspect to recognize is that couples counseling can be provided in a variety of capacities and there is no mandatory structure in order to see results.  Here at Proliance Center, we can assess your needs and work with you based on your capabilities in order to help you make progress and positive changes.  

Treating Severe Manic Depression

Manic Depression is an old term for what is now called Bipolar Disorder.  Presently there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but with proper treatment most people with bipolar disorder can get control of their mood swings and live a comfortable life.   This is also true for people with the most severe forms of Bipolar Disorder, though long-term treatment will be needed to maintain control of symptoms.  The most effective treatment plan includes medication and psychotherapy for preventing relapse and reducing the severity of symptoms.

Treating severe manic depression is best done by someone with extensive experience in using medications to treat mental illness.  This person is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) and in treating severe manic depression it is usually a Psychiatrist (also known as a Psychopharmacologist).  In treating severe manic depression not everyone responds to medications in the same way, so several different medications may need to be tried before the best course of treatment is found.  Throughout the process of treating severe manic depression, if a person’s symptoms change or if side effects become serious, the doctor may switch or add medications.

Some of the types of medications generally used in treating severe manic depression include mood-stabilizing medications, neuroleptics and anti-depressants.  Often the first choice in treating severe manic depression is to use a mood-stabilizing medication.  These include but are not limited to: Valproic Acid or Divalproex Sodium (Depakote), Lamotrigine (Lamictal), Gabapentin (Neurontin), Topiramate (Topamax), Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) and Lithium (sometimes known as Eskalith or Lithobid).  All of these except Lithium are anticonvulsants.  Anticonvulsant medications are usually used to treat seizures, but they also help in treating severe manic depression.

Another class of medications sometimes used in treating severe manic depression is the neuroleptics. Olanzapine (Zyprexa), Aripiprazole (Abilify), Quetiapine (Seroquel), Risperidone (Risperdal) and Ziprasidone (Geodon) are some of the neuroleptics that may be prescribed for treating severe manic depression.

Additionally, antidepressant medications are sometimes used in treating severe manic depression, particularly the depressive symptoms found with it.  However, in treating severe manic depression, people who take antidepressants are often placed on a mood stabilizer too. The reason for this in treating severe manic depression is that taking only an antidepressant can increase a person’s risk of switching to mania or hypomania, or of developing rapid cycling symptoms.  However, for many people in treating severe manic depression, adding an antidepressant to a mood stabilizer is no more effective in treating the depression than using only a mood stabilizer.

In treating severe manic depression we at Proliance Center take into consideration that individuals may have trouble sleeping and will usually sleep better after getting treatment for their bipolar disorder.  However, if the sleeplessness does not improve, we may suggest a change in medications, or if the problem still continues, we may prescribe sedatives or other sleep medications.

In treating severe manic depression those taking medications for bipolar disorder should be closely monitored for new or worsening symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, or any unusual changes in mood or behavior. Additionally, those individuals should not make any changes in the medications or take any herbal or natural supplements without talking to the prescribing doctor.  The reason for this is because of the serious risk of interactions with other medications.

In addition to medication, psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, can be effective in treating severe manic depression at Proliance Center.  This is important in providing support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families.  There are several different psychotherapies that are helpful in treating severe manic depression.  These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family-Focused Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Social Rhythm Therapy, and Psychoeducation.

In treating severe manic depression it is important to keep in mind that people with bipolar disorder often have thyroid gland problems.  For this reason in treating severe manic depression it is important to have a doctor check thyroid levels carefully.  This is because too much or too little thyroid hormone can lead to mood and energy changes.  As a result, in order to keep thyroid levels balanced a person with bipolar disorder may need to take thyroid medication in addition to medications for bipolar disorder.

Finally, for cases in which medication and/or psychotherapy do not work in treating severe manic depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be useful. ECT, formerly known as “shock therapy,” once had a bad reputation. But in recent years, it has greatly improved and can provide relief for people with severe bipolar disorder who have not been able to feel better with other treatments.

Treating Sleep Terrors

What are sleep (night) terrors?

I am often asked about treating sleep terrors, since few things are as frightening to an unknowing parent to observe, as are sleep terrors (night terrors) in their child. Treating sleep terrors is considered when a child who is supposed to be sleeping just “jolts up” quickly with their eyes wide open, sweating, breathing fast and with their heart racing.  They have this look of fear and panic as if they have woken up from a nightmare, and will likely be screaming and crying.  What is worse for parents is that during these episodes, which can last about 5 to 30 minutes, it will seem as if their child is awake, but they will appear confused, will not be consolable and won’t recognize you.  If you do manage to wake your child up during a night terror, he/she is likely to become scared and agitated, mostly due to your own reaction to the night terror, especially if you were shaking or yelling at him/her to wake up.  This is what prompts a parent to think about treating sleep terrors.

When the topic of treating sleep terrors comes up, it is important to keep in mind that for the most part, occasional sleep terrors aren’t usually a cause for concern.  In fact they can simply be mentioned to your doctor at the next well-check.  However, treating sleep terrors should be considered or at least mentioned to your doctor sooner if they become more frequent.  Treating sleep terrors can be considered if they routinely disrupt sleep or the sleep of other family members. Treating sleep terrors can be considered if they cause you or your child to fear going to sleep. Treating sleep terrors can be considered if they lead to dangerous behavior or injury.  Finally, treating sleep terrors can be considered if they appear to follow the same pattern each time

What can cause sleep (night) terrors?

The following things can cause sleep terrors and make one question treating sleep terrors:  sleep deprivation, fatigue, stress, anxiety, fever (in children), sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings, and lights or noise.  Sleep terrors can also occur with conditions that affect sleep, such as:  abnormal breathing patterns during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea), migraines, and head injuries.

Sleep terrors can also occur with the use of certain drugs or medications:  some antihistamines, sedatives, and sleeping pills.

What Is Involved In Treating Sleep Terrors?

In general, treating sleep terrors is not necessary. If your child has one, stay calm and simply wait it out.  Instead of trying to wake up a child having a sleep terror, it is usually better to just make sure your child is safe, comfortable and helped to go back to sleep.  Shaking your child or shouting will likely make things worse, especially if the child does wake up.  If this occurs, they may really become scared and agitated.  This is why it is best to help them get back to sleep without waking them up, this way they won’t remember the scary episode.

If the sleep terrors are associated with an underlying medical or mental health condition or another sleep disorder, treating sleep terrors is aimed at the underlying problem. If stress or anxiety seems to be contributing to the sleep terrors, your doctor may suggest meeting with a therapist or counselor for treating sleep terrors. Cognitive behavior therapy and relaxation therapy may help in treating sleep terrors.

Medication is rarely used in treating sleep terrors, particularly for children. If necessary, however, use of benzodiazepines or some antidepressants may be used in treating sleep terrors by reducing there occurrence.

If sleep terrors are a problem for you or your child, here are some things you can do on your own to help:

Making a safe environment is important when treating sleep terrors. Close all windows and exterior doors at night. Consider placing alarms or bells on the doors. Block doorways or stairways with a gate.  Remove tripping hazards such as electrical cords. Put sharp or fragile objects out of reach.  Finally, if your child has sleep terrors, don’t let him/her sleep in a bunk bed.

Getting more sleep is important when treating sleep terrors, since fatigue can contribute to sleep terrors. Try an earlier bedtime, or a more regular sleep schedule.

Making a routine bedtime ritual is important when treating sleep terrors.  This should be regular, relaxing quiet, and calming activities such as: soaking in a warm bath before bed, reading books, or doing puzzles. Meditation or relaxation exercises can also help.

Eliminating Stress is important when treating sleep terrors.  Identify those things that cause you or your child stress, brainstorm possible ways to handle the stress, or get help. If notice that your child seems anxious or stressed, talk about what’s bothering him or her.

Looking for a pattern can be helpful in treating sleep terrors. If your child has sleep terrors, keep a sleep diary. For several nights, note how many minutes after bedtime a sleep terror episode occurs. If the timing is fairly consistent, wake your child about 15 minutes before you expect a sleep terror episode. Keep your child awake for five minutes, and then let him or her fall asleep again.

Finally stay calm and positive. However scary and disruptive sleep terrors may be, they aren’t a serious condition and will usually go away on their own.

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