Month: February 2016

a woman being consoled by an older woman while she holds her infant child

Understanding Postpartum Depression and How Therapy Can Help

Many of us may be familiar with the term “baby blues.” Considering how impactful the process of birth can be for mothers, many may feel stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired, or tearful after their child is born. However, there’s a difference between “baby blues” and the more severe mood disorder known as postpartum depression. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), as many as 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression. Unlike the more benign “blues,” this condition won’t simply disappear on it’s own. Postpartum depression can persist days, or even months after the baby is delivered, all depending on whether or not it’s treated. Postpartum, or PPD, can make it difficult for many mothers to get through the day, and can affect their abilities to take care of their babies or themselves. What’s more, PPD can affect any woman, regardless of ease or difficulty of pregnancy and labor, what number child has been born, and regardless of racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural boundaries.

Getting Help for Postpartum Depression

Karen Kleiman is the founder and executive director of the Postpartum Stress Center, LLC. Having researched postpartum depression extensively and written several books on the subject, Kleiman describes the condition thusly: “Postpartum women are bone-tired, exhausted from sleep deprivation, and inundated with chores and fretfulness even on the best of days. They are anxious to carry out the daily demands of a new and needy infant clinging to mommy for sustenance and shelter. New mothers hardly have time for lunch or a hot shower. For some women, without warning, things take a turn for the worse.” This “turn for the worse” she describes, is the symptoms of depression and anxiety which can potentially descend on mothers following the birth of their child, characterizing postpartum depression and potentially compromising their relationship with their child and family in the process.

However, getting help for postpartum can be tricky. As Kleiman explains: “Every postpartum woman is preoccupied, whether she is depressed or not. This is not the best time to insert a therapeutic relationship and time-intensive healing process. But if her symptoms of depression and anxiety are acute enough, if she is sick enough, if her thoughts are distorted enough, she needs help.” Too often postpartum depression is simply dismissed and therefore left untreated. In reality, the best thing to do when either oneself or a loved one is confronted with the condition is to seek immediate help.

Dismantling Taboos about Depression after Child Birth

Unfortunately, there seems to be somewhat of a taboo against mothers who express any sort of negative feelings about their babies or about motherhood, which only reinforces their silence. This taboo helps no one because it suppresses legitimate concerns and emotions based on what other people believe a mother should think and feel. Not all feelings pass easily, nor can we expect them too. That’s why resources like therapy exist to help. Kleiman argues against this idealistic perspective, stating that “We live in a culture that reinforces the notion that women should anticipate a smooth and euphoric progression into motherhood and until recently, this was the exclusive viewpoint depicted in the media. Even as healthcare related advertisements and various promotions continue to portray new mothers as radiant, airbrushed and unattainably blissful, some things are beginning to change.” It is this change that is essential to making help seem more accessible to women everywhere.

There are a number of resources available to help treat postpartum depression. The key is to encourage mothers struggling with PPD to use them without having to feel shame, regret, or discomfort. Seeking help for postpartum doesn’t mean one has failed as a mother nor does it mean that the individual has done anything wrong. Like other forms of depression, it is merely a condition which can follow hormonal changes or stressful events, and birth, while beautiful, is enormously stressful. Luckily, awareness campaigns for PPD and available treatment options have begun to gain momentum. That being said, there is still plenty of misconceptions that continue to take place regarding the condition and it is that misinformation that needs to be combatted in order to make diagnosing and treating PPD less stigmatized than it was previously.

Kleiman explains: “ When we are startled by high statistics, those involved both personally and professionally may misunderstand that when we talk about postpartum depression we are talking about women who experience a clinical depression, with symptoms that meet the criteria of a major mood disorder. Not the blues, not an adjustment disorder, not, oh she has a touch of the postpartum. We are talking about serious symptoms that require serious attention.” After all, postpartum depression doesn’t deserve shaming anymore than major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder do – which is to say none at all. Mental health is a serious subject which deserves to be treated seriously, and individuals struggling with depressive symptoms can and should seek therapy in order to treat and ultimately recover from their conditions.

It’s Important to Ask for Help when Needed

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, therapy can help. Speak to a healthcare professional about potential therapists and treatment options. With the proper help, it is possible to recover from PPD and resume a happy, healthy life with one’s family.

middle aged couple sitting at table eating a meal with wine

How Therapy Can Help Partners with an Eating Disorder

If you were asked to picture someone with an eating disorder, what would you see? Unfortunately, many of us might conjure an image of a young person, perhaps a teenager, who is female. Perhaps this person has developed an eating disorder in order to conform with social pressures to look a certain way or to meet some unattainable standard of beauty. Perhaps puberty has caused them to struggle with their self-image, resulting in this deprivational and harmful behavior. What many of us may not realize is that eating disorders have no exact age of onset or age limit. While it’s true that the development of eating disorders isn’t uncommon amongst the teenage/adolescent population, it is also true that, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, “Up to 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.”

Eating Disorders Affect Men Too

Further, it’s wrong to assume that eating disorders only affect women. While women are predominant in the number of reported eating disorder cases, eating disorders also impact approximately 10-15% of men. The accuracy of these number is questionable, mainly due to the fact that the occurrence of eating disorders is underreported in men because men are less likely to admit to and seek treatment for eating disorders. This is largely due to the fact that eating disorders are wrongly perceived as “women’s diseases” and therefore are irrelevant to and/or unlikely to affect men.

The fact of the matter is, many adults, both men and women, struggle with eating disorders, regardless of what stage of life they might be in. A large number of these men and women are also involved romantically and have families, which has caused an investigation into the impact that eating disorders might have on these relationships. Thus far, the majority of this research has been directed towards the impact that eating disorders might have in the parent/child relationship, but surprisingly little attention has been focused on the impact of such disorders on romantic relationships.

Eating Disorders vs. Romantic Relationships

Studies have found that eating disorders can cause the partners of those struggling to feel as though the emotional intimacy of their relationship is diminishing. Such disorders often cause an increased need for privacy or secrecy in order to be practiced. As the individual slips further into these consuming symptoms they might be, consequently, forfeiting the closeness they had with their partner and instead forging and uncomfortable distance.

Another common symptom of eating disorders is, ironically enough, a preoccupation with food. Individuals struggling with an eating disorder might find that they are constantly worried about food, including what, how much, how often, and when they’re eating. Such invasive and recurrent thoughts seldom leave any room for the person to think about anything – or anyone – else. Eating out is a common means of dating or spending quality time with one’s partner. Many people may go out to restaurants or events where food is a main feature, which a person struggling with an eating disorder may decline or go out of their way to avoid in order to avoid being confronted by food. As a result, they are compromising quality time with their partner due to their reluctance to eat or to be seen eating.

Moreover, eating disorders may negatively impact relationships physically as well. In addition to causing weight loss, eating disorders can also cause a loss of menstrual cycle due to calorie deficiency, known as Amenorrhea, and hormone imbalances. Both of these things can contribute to  decreased sex drive, compromising the intimacy of most romantic relationships. This can further distance partners from each other as they struggle to connect both in and outside the bedroom.

How Therapy Can Help

But how can one help? Is there a cure? Unfortunately, no. There is no set cure for eating disorders, but there are ways to help. If you or a loved one is struggling the best methods of responding to eating disorders is to educate oneself, be supportive, and seek help. Therapy, both individual and in groups, can greatly benefit persons with eating disorders. This is because therapy sessions provide patients with a person who understands the complexities of the issues involved in their disorder. In therapy, individuals can talk about their fears and concerns, cope with these feelings, as well as potentially learn new ways to be supportive towards one’s partner. For partners of afflicted individuals who need support themselves, group therapy sessions can be extremely helpful. This is because group sessions can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as offer feelings of support and understanding from others outside of the relationship.

With Therapy Recovery is Possible

In essence, therapy can help restore hope. By educating and offering a means of securely expressing one’s true feelings, therapy can oftentimes be the most successful means of helping oneself or one’s partner overcome their disorders. While there is no one, set cure, recovery is absolutely possible. Furthermore, by journeying to recovery together, couples can begin to feel closer to one another and, through this process of mutual healing, strengthen their relationship.

For more information about setting up an appointment with one of Proliance Center’s Boca Raton therapists, please call us today @ 800-378-9354.
blonde woman embracing her dog

Things You Should Know About Service and Therapy Animals

Service animals can be an excellent means therapy through company and support. In fact, they’ve become so popular that nowadays we seem to be seeing more service animals around than ever. That being said, it’s interesting that there are plenty of misconceptions around as to what exactly service animals are. First and foremost, it’s worth noting that there is a distinction between therapy animals, support animals, and service animals.

Types of Animal Therapy and Assistance

Service animals are trained to assist individuals who have a disability. They are alternatively known as assistance animals or by titles associated with their tasks. For example, many of us have heard of guide dogs, whose job it is to guide a person who is blind or visually impaired.

Conversely, emotional support animals provide therapeutic support to individuals with mental-health-related disabilities. These dogs can be kept in housing even when there is a “no pet” policy and they may travel with their owners on airplanes. Aside from this, owners of emotional support animals have no special rights to be accompanied by their animals anywhere where they might not be generally allowed.

Therapy animals, however, differ from both support and service animals by providing support to people other than their handlers. These animals are frequently invited to visit libraries, schools, hospices, hospitals, and assisted living communities due to the benefits that their services provide. Despite these benefits, therapy animal handlers have no special rights to be accompanied by their animals anywhere where animals are not allowed.

Common Misconceptions about Therapy and Service Animals

In addition to the misconceptions commonly held about the differences between these types of animal assistance, there are others which frequently occur. One such misconception is that therapy animals need to be legally registered or have some kind of certification or I.D. In reality, there is no legal certification process or registration for therapy or support animals. There are websites where one can procure official-looking vests and documentation for assistance animals but these items are not mandatory as there is no mandatory form of certification required by the government.

Such misunderstandings about service animals are understandable, however. Laws concerning animal assistance can be very confusing. Because of this, it’s worth going over some commonly held misconceptions about service animals to clarify exactly what it means to have one and how they can benefit individuals in need:

Are Assistance Animals Covered by Legislation?

Assistance animals fall under the jurisdiction of three federal agencies.

  • The Justice Department takes care of the Americans with Disabilities Act which covers the access of service animals to public places like restaurants, train stations, and hospitals.
  • The Department of Transportation covers the Air Carrier Access Act which stipulates passengers with psychiatric problems have the right to have service and emotional support animals on commercial airplanes.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development covers the Fair Housing Act which controls access of assistance animals to rental housing, apartments, and condos.

Do I Have to Reveal the Nature of my Disorder to Bring my Service Dog into a No-Pet Zone?

In short, the answer is no. According to federal law, you can only be asked one of two questions about your service animal:

  • Does your dog provide a service?
  • What is your dog trained to do?

Thus, you are not legally required to reveal the nature of your disorders unless you consent to doing so.

What if a Restaurant Owner or Other Proprietor Insists on Seeing Proof that My Dog is Trained?

You are not legally required to provide any proof beyond your word that your animal is service trained. If they continue to insist (especially in a manner that may be deemed aggressive or belligerent) they may risk infringing upon the Americans with Disabilities Act which protects the rights of individuals who are in need of the services of an assisting animal.

Do Assistance Animals Need to Wear a Vest or Do Owners Need to Carry Identification?

No because there is no official federal or state mandatory certification process for assistance animals. As a result, neither service animals nor emotional support animals are required to wear vests.

Can a Snake be a Service Animal?

In short, no. Only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals. That being said, according to the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act animals such as snakes may qualify as an emotional support animal.

Know Your Service Animal Rights

Assistance animals can be excellent companions and benefit individuals with a variety of medical needs. However, it’s important to be informed of one’s rights and limitations when having an animal for any assisting purposes. This can help with avoiding legal altercations and ensuring that persons with assistance animals receive the maximum therapeutic benefit from their constant companions.

Couple sitting up in bed, arguing

How Couples Therapy Can Improve A Relationship

Love is an amazing, wonderful thing, but just as with anything else, it can have its fair share of ups and downs. Unfortunately, the intensely personal and emotional nature of love makes it so that when we experience those occasional “downs” they seem truly painful. In relationships we learn to develop a system of trust so that we help our partners with the stresses of their daily lives and they help us. However, what happens when this relationship of mutual reliance and communication falters? Every couple argues from time to time, but when mediation becomes difficult, therapy can help.

Why Do Couples Argue?

But why might we feel prone to argue? There’s a scientific explanation between the tension that can sometimes be caused by proximity. According to psychologist and psychotherapist Tamara McClintock Greenberg,  “Our bodies are powerful conduits of emotions. And as we have evolved together, we have learned to be very sensitive to the emotional states of those we are close to.” In other words, tensions may arise once we become more attuned to our partners emotional state. The result? If they’re upset, we’re upset, and that anger and sadness is not only reflected in ourselves but becomes magnified.

In fact, in the early years of marriage, the people we decide to spend the majority of our time with can affect us a great deal in terms of our cortisone levels which impacts how much stress we experience. As Greenberg explains: “In general, too much cortisol is considered unhealthy. In response to stress, corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF), through a complex network, controls the release of cortisol, which then acts on the immune system.” What does this mean? In essence we need to manage our stress to decrease the impact of cortisol levels. This can be difficult when we’re impacted by the stress and discomfort of our loved ones. This is especially problematic when we consider that we tend to “match up” with the stress levels of our partners.

Longevity Influences Proximity

The longer a relationship lasts the more attuned we become to our partners. This connection isn’t just metaphoric, its biological. The longer couples are together to more similar their cortisol responses become. Unfortunately this attunement comes with an obvious downside: “cortisol attunement during conflict discussions among married partners was associated with decreased marital satisfaction, which is disappointing by itself, but also potentially connected to poor health.” This reciprocal stress is known as “co-regulation” which occurs when our stress levels correspond to those of our partners, particularly if they’re elevated.

Clinical psychology graduate Holly B. Laws and her colleagues conducted a study examining how cortisol levels converge in the early years of marriage. Through their research, they found that “spouses’ physiological stress responses, as indexed by cortisol, become increasingly similar as their relationship matures.” That being said, despite their studies, the mechanisms behind this process are still not yet fully understood. However, Laws claims that “It is possible that spouses show this increasing correspondence because of shared experiences they have together, and it is possible that there is a process of mutual influence within the relationship that results in cortisol patterns that are more similar as time goes by.”

In other words, we become more prone to reflecting our partner’s emotional states, including stress, due to the fact that since we are spending our time with them we are sharing the same experiences and thus developing some of the same emotional responses. After all, if we are doing the same things with our partner at the same times for any length of time we will eventually adapt physiologically as well as psychologically to this newly established routine. Think of it this way: if both individuals are eating unhealthy foods they are both likely to experience negative physiological changes as a result, versus if both partners are eating healthily then they are likely to become more fit and more healthy as a result. This same logic can be applied to emotional states and their reciprocation amongst partners. If we are experiencing the same situations we are more likely to, over time, develop similar responses as we adapt and attune ourselves to our partners.

Can We Protect Ourselves? Therapy Can Help

This attunement can have both positive and negative effects but, with regards to the more negative effects, like the increase in stress hormones, is there any way we might be able to protect ourselves? This is where therapy can help. With relationships come proximity, but unfortunately, that proximity can also result in a failure to establish or maintain boundaries. Boundaries are important for any healthy relationship but unfortunately over time some individuals may find that if they don’t firmly reinforce their boundaries they seemingly vanish. This can lead to increased conflict within the relationship.

In Greenberg’s experience, she states that “Many women I see in therapy who report conflicted romantic relationships tend to have trouble setting boundaries with partners.” However, she agrees that this is one way that therapy can be most beneficial. By learning to establish or reestablish boundaries, therapy can show us how to not take our partner’s stress as personally even when we are trying to help them. Internalizing those negative emotions is a common temptation but a dangerous one. Initially, it might seem selfish to separate ourselves from the emotions of others and focus on our owns but this is very important. Therapy can show us how to to separate ourselves from the stress of our loved ones, which can benefit us emotionally and physically, as well as better enable us to support the ones we care about without commiserating.

paper that says "train your braing!!!" pinned to a chalkboard

Train Your Brain with Individual Therapy

Our brains are our bodies executives. We cannot function without them and they dictate every word we say and every action we take. But just as even the highest ranking executive can be trained to do things differently if the need arises, so can we train our brains using therapy to react in a manner best suited for our mental, physical, and emotional health. Dr. William Klemm is a senior professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University. He explains the executive functions of the brain in further detail by revealing that the “The human brain contains a distinct network that serves as its executive agent.” This network, as he describes, is responsible for regulating the many “top down” neurobehavioral functions which our brains control and determine. Deficiencies in the function of this network, as Dr. Klemm explains, can underlie a number of neuropsychiatric conditions, including memory loss. Therefore, according to Dr. Klemm: “The ability to regulate emotions and direct rational actions is typically associated with success in life, and inability to do so often leads to dire consequences.”

Can Therapy Help Train our Brains?

Luckily, therapy can enable us to train this network so that it may develop a more robust capacity for executive control. What does this mean? Essentially, therapy can help us train our brains to better serve our own happiness by helping us take back control. Dr. Klemm suggests that some of this training takes place at home and at school, where our minds are developed, but another such means of applying this assistance can be achieved through therapy. Therapy can help by acting a supplemental means of communicating, better understanding oneself, and learning to orient one’s goals and ambitions toward self-improvement.

Therapy can not only help us train our brains but in some cases may even expedite this process. After all, many of us see more improvement once we discuss our concerns with a therapist in a comfortable, nonjudgmental setting versus perhaps opening up to the same degree when we feel as though others might judge us. This poses the question of how long exactly does it take for us to alter our executive control? The answer varies from person to person and there is no set timeframe that is considered “right” versus one that can be considered “wrong.” What Dr. Klemm has found, however, is that when it comes to issues of memory loss, one’s memory capacity can potentially be expanded in a short period of time thanks to therapeutic implementation and “training”.

Memory Training Improves More than Just Memory

Interestingly, this may mean more than we realized. Dr. Klemm states that “To pursue this possibility in a specific context, researchers have hypothesized that inappropriate or maladaptive behaviors might be reduced by effective working memory training based on emotion-laden stimuli.” In other words, by starting with our emotional memories, ones that might trigger us to behave or think in a way that can be harmful or, as Dr. Klemm puts it, “maladaptive behaviors,” we can aim to ultimately improve our overall thoughts and actions which may have developed as a result of this stimuli in the first place. Therapy sessions can be the best place to determine to what extent we are negatively influenced by our past experiences and what emotional responses we might have to certain recollections. It is through exploring these relationships that we can better understand how to move forward in our thinking and afterwards in how we behave as a result.

Better Executive Control Means Better Self Control

Dr. Klemm has examined several studies in which emotional memory training has benefited the individual participants. This training has helped them develop the ability to better regulate their emotions which then allows them to be more successful in their daily lives and interactions. Dr. Klemm explains: “The emotional working memory training produced benefits that transferred to the emotional response task. Trained subjects not only regulated their emotions better but also developed greater brain-scan activity during the emotional task in the predicted brain regions of interest, the executive control loci.” In other words, not only did this training improve their emotional responses but also improved the participants’ overall brain function. In doing this, this “training” can help afflicted individuals learn to overcome their past trauma and emotional triggers to reclaim the executive function of their brains which can then be focused on their goals, aspirations of self-improvement.

Need to train your brain? Therapy can help. Contact our office for appointments @ 800-378-9354.

Understanding the 3 Major Types of Therapy: CBT, ACT, DBT

What do you think of when you hear the word “psychotherapy”? Chances are it might not be good. After all, any word which contains within it the word “psycho” immediately brings to mind a number of negative connotations. This is thanks, at least, in part, to various films and tv shows that depict therapists as villains or figures of malice. But what exactly is psychotherapy? To begin with, it’s nothing to be afraid of. Psychotherapy, in essence, is talk therapy. Reframed, its revealed to be far less intimidating than it might seem. During a session of psychotherapy, an individual meets with a therapist within a safe and confidential environment to better understand their feelings and behaviors and gain skills with which to cope. These conversations are frequently lead by the therapist and cover a wide range of subjects pertaining to the patient’s past and present. Sessions will also explore the patient’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, and/or relationships in an effort to provide greater insight and clarity into their lives.

Psychotherapy has been shown in numerous studies to help with a wide array of mental illnesses. The treatment is both popular and versatile, able to be used for individuals as well as groups, including families.

There are three main types of psychotherapy: CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Here, we’ll explore each of these forms of psychotherapy and what exactly they entail, as well as how they might benefit individuals in need. Knowing the difference between these treatments can help you and your therapist decide which might be best for you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In previous posts we’ve discussed a treatment known as CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is one of the most popular forms of psychotherapy. This is because in CBT focuses primarily on exploring the relationships between and individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Doing this can help the patient identify unhealthy patterns of thought and what ways these patterns may be causing them to engage in self-destructive behaviors.

In addressing these patterns, therapists and their patients can work together to develop more constructive ways of thinking. Doing this can enable the individual to develop healthier behaviors and beliefs. After all, the defining principles of CBT are identifying negative, false beliefs and testing then restructuring them. Because of this it has been shown to be an effective treatment method for a number of disorders including: depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Less well-known but no less effective, ACT is a psychological intervention which focuses on using acceptance and mindfulness strategies alongside commitment and behavior change strategies to ultimately increase an individual’s psychological flexibility. What this accomplishes is that it grounds patients in the present moment and teaches them to be fully conscious. It also teaches them to adapt their behavior according to their chosen values. For example, if in a given situation one’s behavior is contradicting their values the best course of action would be to cease or change that behavior. Conversely, if a behavior is in accordance with one’s values, like volunteering in an offer to be more helpful, then the best course of action would be to continue that behavior.

Through ACT patients can begin to realize how their actions may be in conflict with their own desires and goals. Therapists use various exercises and examples to demonstrate how an individual might establish healthier relationships between their thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical experiences. In doing this, patients develop a clearer sense of their own personal values and what level of commitment is required on their behalf in order for their behavior to truly change.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

In the beginning, DBT was developed primarily for individuals who frequently contemplated suicide and also possessed a borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, over the years, DBT has evolved to treat people with a variety of mental illnesses, but most people treated with DBT are usually diagnosed with BPD as a primary illness. There are a lot of similarities between DBT and the more popular CBT with one notable difference: Rather than focusing on struggling with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, individuals are encouraged to accept them. DBT emphasizes validation, allowing patients to come to terms with their problematic thoughts, emotions, and actions so that change no longer appears to be impossible. This allows the therapist to be able to create a gradual plan for recovery.

In a typical DBT session, the therapist’s role is to help their patient find a balance between acceptance and change. Another essential part of DBT, like CBT, is learning new methods of addressing their unhealthy thoughts and behaviors using mindfulness and developing new and effective means of coping. Improved coping strategies is a significant aspect of successful DBT treatment and can help individuals avoid dangerous behaviors and thoughts in the long-term on their road to recovery.

Older business man sitting at work desk while looking up into the air as if he is thinking to remember.

How Therapy can Potentially Treat Memory Loss

I’m sure from time to time we’ve all experienced lapses in our memory. Perhaps we’ve entered a room and forgotten the reason why, or we’ve forgotten to pack something we meant to for a trip. However, if these lapses are recurrent and frequent then it might be more than mere forgetfulness at work. Memory loss can range from mild to extreme. After all, there’s a difference between forgetting to buy milk at the grocery store and forgetting something far more important like a doctor’s appointment or skipping a meal because we’ve forgotten to eat. As with many other ailments, the key to treating memory loss is to strike immediately as a problem is identified. Waiting longer means that it will only get worse. Memory loss is not something that will simply resolve itself over time, luckily there are a number of treatments available to help treat memory loss and keep it from worsening.

Using Therapy to Treat Memory Loss

Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler is a board certified health psychologist, neuropsychologist, board-certified sports psychologist, and trauma therapist with over 35 years of experience. In 1990 Dr. Stoler suffered a stroke while driving, resulting in a head-on auto collision at 60mph. Since then, Dr. Stoler has undergone brain surgery and sustained two more concussions. Dr. Stoler uses her experience and expertise to help educate individuals on brain health and fitness as well as how to recover from significant trauma. She also discusses how to overcome memory loss as a result of either injury or disease. According to Dr. Stoler, there are three methods of treatment in total: “conventional, complementary and alternative. This classification is based on insurance reimbursement. Almost 98% of conventional methods are covered by insurance, while at least 50% are covered by complementary and 0% for alternative approaches.”

Fortunately for individuals suffering from memory loss, therapy is classified under conventional methods, meaning that for the most part it can be covered under insurance. Two of the most successful therapies used to treat memory loss are Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Cognitive Therapy

While both are covered by most insurances, these treatment methods are actually quite different. Cognitive Therapy is conducted by a Speech and Language Pathologist and assesses the treatment of cognitive skills. These include memory and attention and executive function, which refers to an individual’s ability to plan, sequence, organize, problem-solve, decision-make, initiate, and be self-aware. Cognitive Therapy trains patients to develop compensatory strategies for their lapses in memory or whatever cognitive decline they might have experience. In other words, developing techniques to help circumnavigate around daily challenges. For example, if one frequently forgets daily tasks, they might set reminders around their house to jog their memory. Dr. Stoler calls this “Making strategic adjustments to your environment,” which “enables you to be more efficient and focused in daily function.” In doing this, Cognitive Therapy aims to educate patients about their condition and provide successful coping methods to allow them to be able to act independently and be self-confident.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The other form of therapeutic treatment is one we’ve previously discussed: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Conducted by a licensed mental health professional like a psychologist or social worker, CBT encourages the patient to take an active role in determining their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Dr. Stoler summarizes the role of this therapy by explaining that it “helps people change how they think, feel, or act in order to improve their mood, reduce stress, or achieve other important health and life goals. Some goals may be specific, such as reducing worrying or procrastination, whereas others can be more general, such as figuring out why one’s life seems to lack meaning, passion or direction, and figuring out what to do about it.”

CBT commonly follows three primary trains of thought. The first of which is that how you think, your cognition, can and does change your behavior. This illustrates the relationship between thought and action which are seen as working together rather than being separate, independent entities. The second realization is that how you think can be modified and altered. No pattern of thought is immutable and fixed. As our brains acquire new information they adapt accordingly and our beliefs and behaviors change according to how our minds develop. Finally, CBT suggests that you can achieve your desired behavior by changing the way you think. In other words, intentional changes in thought pattern from negative to positive can help us become better versions of ourselves and can help us achieve the changes in our behavior that we aspire to make.

Treating Memory Loss with CT and CBT

Both CT and CBT when applied towards memory loss, either from trauma or from illness, can help individuals afflicted learn how to cope with their conditions as well as how to overcome any challenges they might face along the way. Although labelled “conventional”, these methods of treatment can be highly effective and successful means of dealing with memory loss and certain forms of cognitive decline.

To schedule an appointment with a Boca Raton Therapist, please contact our office directly.
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