Doris Bersing, PhD

Anxiety and Mindfulness

Copyright : nejron

These days, we all are under steady pressure, stress, and with constant stimuli, anxiety really has gone “viral”. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. It can make us limit our activities and can make it hard to enjoy our life and have meaningful and close personal relationships.

Anxiety is having too much fear and worry. Some people have what’s called generalized anxiety disorder. They feel worried and stressed about many things. Often they worry about even small things and it is s much more than being very nervous or edgy. An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.

Although Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely used to treat anxiety and anxiety disorders by changing our thoughts and cognitive patterns, many specialists have found that healthy thinking and mindfulness can help us prevent or control anxiety. CBT attempts to replace maladaptive thinking by examining the patient’s distorted thinking and resetting the fight-or-flight response with more reasonable, accurate ones. The anxious person and the therapist work to actively change thought patterns. In contrast, instead of changing thoughts, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the anxious person and his or her thoughts. (Read More)

In mindfulness-based therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. Instead of avoiding distressing thoughts, he or she opens up to them in an effort to realize and acknowledge that they are not literally true. Mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose” and involves a conscious direction of our awareness.  It seems that awareness and mindfulness go hand-to-hand but Wildmind differentiates them”…We sometimes … talk about “mindfulness” and “awareness” as if they were interchangeable terms, but that’s not a good habit to get into…one may be aware one is irritable, but that wouldn’t mean one was being mindful of my irritability. In order to be mindful one has to be purposefully aware of oneself, not just vaguely and habitually aware. Knowing that  one is eating is not the same as eating mindfully…”

Margaria Tartakovsky, M.S says about mindfulness practice “…Mindfulness is one effective practice that helps to relax the mind and body…” according to Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., and Wendy Millstine, NC, in their book Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind, mindfulness is: … an awareness that is sensitive, open, kind, gentle and curious. Mindfulness is a basic human capacity. It arises from paying attention on purpose in a way that is non-judging, friendly and does not try to add or subtract anything from whatever is happening. Ms. Tartakovsky had summarized 3 practices to calm your anxiety from Brantley and Millstine’s book.

UCLA research center in mindfulness  defines mindfulness as “… paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience …” The UCLA research center in mindfulness is full of resources and information, as well. (Visit them)

Use all this information and resources and start today and stop the worrying that interferes with your daily life, remember chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective.  If needed talk to your physician or look for psychotherapy to help you out. Good luck and stay cool!


Understanding Fear: What Are Phobias?

Understanding Fear: What Are Phobias and How Common Are They?

Phobia: From the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”
Phobias: a persistent (and often irrational) fear of an object or situation.
Greek physician Hippocrates (470-410 B.C.E.) first described phobias; 500 years after Hippocrates, Roman doctor, Celsus used the word hydrophobia for a patient who feared water.

NOW:  400 different types of phobias recognized by the medical profession.


Top 10 Phobias: Percent of US Population


1 Fear of public speaking – Glossophobia 74 %
2 Fear of death – Necrophobia 68 %
3 Fear of spiders – Arachnophobia 30.5 %
4 Fear of darkness – Achluophobia, Scotophobia or Myctophobia 11 %
5 Fear of heights – Acrophobia 10 %
6 Fear of people or social situations – Sociophobia 7.9 %
7 Fear of flying – Aerophobia 6.5 %
8 Fear of confined spaces – Claustrophobia 2.5 %
9 Fear of open spaces – Agoraphobia 2.2 %
10 Fear of thunder and lightning – Brontophobia 2 %

3 Categories of Phobias

Specific Phobias

Persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. (examples: Spiders, Flying, Water, Heights, or contracting a specific illness)
Typical age of onset: 7
Affects: 19.2 million American adults age 18 and over.

Fear and Worry Statistics

Percent of things feared that will never take place 60 %
Percent of things feared that happened in the past and can’t be changed 30 %
Percent of things feared that are considered to be insignificant issues 90 %
Percent of things feared in relation to health that will not happen 88 %


AKA Social Anxiety Disorder: a persistent fear of being judged, watched and criticized by others, or of public situations leading to embarrassment or humiliation.
Typical age of onset: 13
Affects: 15 million American adults age 18 and over.
The lifetime prevalence rate for developing social anxiety disorder is between 13 and 14 percent.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People suffering from social anxiety disorder can experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:
• Being introduced to new people
• Being in large groups of people
• Being teased or criticized
• Being the center of attention
• Being watched while doing something
• Meeting authority figures
• Most social encounters, especially with strangers
• Going around the room, or table, in a circle and having to say something
• Eating or drinking in front of others
• Writing or working in front of others
• Being the center of attention. Interacting with people, including dating or going to parties
• Asking questions or giving reports in groups
• Using public toilets
• Talking on the telephone

Physiological Symptoms
The physiological symptoms that can accompany social anxiety may include:
• Constant and intense anxiety
• Intense fear
• Racing heart
• Turning red or blushing
• Excessive sweating
• Dry throat and mouth
• Trembling
• Swallowing with difficulty
• Muscle twitches
• Panic attack


Agoraphobia: intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult, leading to avoidance of such situations. (example: Traveling in a car, bus, airplane, elevator, or being in a crowded area)
Typical age of onset: 20
Affects: 1.8 million American adults age 18 and over.

Diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include a severe fear or anxiety about two or more of the following situations:
• Using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or car
• Being in an open space, such as a parking lot, bridge or large mall
• Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store
• Waiting in a line or being in a crowd
• Being out of the home alone

Celebrity Phobias

Scarlett Johansson: Ornithophobia – The fear of birds.
Orlando Bloom: Swinophobia – The fear of pigs.
Megan Fox: Bacteriaphobia – The fear of germs and bacteria.
Billy Bob Thornton: Chromophobia – The Fear of bright colors.
Madonna: Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning.
Oprah Winfrey: Chiclephobia – The fear of chewing-gum.
Nicole Kidman: Lepidopterophobia – The fear of butterflies.

Phobias You May Not Have Heard Of

Anablephobia- Fear of looking up
Anuptaphobia- Fear of staying single.
Bibliophobia- Fear of books.
Cathisophobia- Fear of sitting
Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
Genuphobia- Fear of knees
Hellenologophobia- Fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology.
Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms
Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers.
Meningitophobia- Fear of brain disease.
Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.
Phobophobia- Fear of phobias or fear.

Victory for Same-Sex Marriage in Florida!

same-sex marriage in floridaNational Center for Lesbians Rights (NCLR) announced that moments ago, a state trial court in Miami just issued a decision striking down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordering Miami-Dade County to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Anti-LGBT opponents have announced they will fight NCLR all the way to the Florida Supreme Court to overturn this victory. Their press release, says “…At NCLR, we have spent more than a decade fighting for the freedom to marry. We have had incredible victories over the last year alone in our cases in New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Tennessee, and now Florida. We are proud to stand beside Equality Florida Institute, the six plaintiff couples, and our co-counsel in the challenge to the State of Florida’s discriminatory marriage laws…” Well done, Kate Kendell and her team!  Read the Press Release

Elders, Mental Illness, and the Expertise Gap

Copyright : fotoluminate

Copyright : fotoluminate

The US population is aging rapidly. Advances in medicine have led to the expectation that the US population of seniors will grow from12.4 Million in 2000 to 19.7 million in 2030 (US Census data). As the oldest baby boomers become senior citizens in 2011, the population 65 and older is projected to grow faster than the total population in every state. Twenty-six states are projected to double their 65-and-older population between 2000 and 2030. The impact of this anticipated population increase, which has been described by some as an “age wave” and by others as an “aging tsunami,” would be felt in every aspect of society. This “tsunami” predicts that humane healthcare will soon be financially out of reach or simply unavailable for tens of thousands of elderly Americans. There is an urgent need to expand training opportunities for geriatric care providers to meet the growing demand for psychological, medical, and social services. Older adults are commonly represented in the current literature as presenting co-morbidity of many conditions and illnesses about what we will talk a little more further along but we need to  say that meaningful and engaging aging happens as well but it is often underscored. A great number of older adults lead a meaningful life, a healthy one where they take advantage of  exercising, changing dietary patterns, seeking information, relying on spirituality and/or religion, and engaging in life, I would also like to stress the positive coping skills of many other older adults.

However, mental health issues among the elderly have reached epidemic proportions and are expected to worsen in the next few decades.  Elders with mental illness find more difficult dealing with adjustment in lifestyle, such as isolation or loss of independence, and this is complicated by medical conditions or physical diseases. The most common diagnoses in gero-psychiatric patients include depression, dementia, psychosis and anxiety.

Elderly suicide currently accounts for 20% of suicides in the U.S. – the highest suicide rate in the country compared to other age categories.[1] One in four elderly over 85 years old is diagnosed with dementia and one in two with Alzheimer’s Disease.[2] A landmark report estimated that by 2030 the number of elderly who suffer from a mental illness will grow to approximately 15 million;[3] and in California alone the projected number of elderly persons diagnosed with depression will reach 1.2 million by 2025.[4] A lack of access, education, and awareness lead many older individuals and their doctors to accept depression and mental illness as a normal part of aging when it is not. Among the elderly, mental health conditions are frequently untreated or inappropriately treated; more than one in five older persons with mental disorders are given an inappropriate prescription and are at increased risk for inappropriate medication treatment.[5] As a result, many older persons with mental disorders have a lower quality of general health care and associated increased mortality.[6]

However, researchers expect there will not be enough gero-psychologists trained to handle the increasing demand for psychological services from this age group. The National Institute on Aging estimates that 5,000 full-time, doctoral-level gero-psychologists will be needed by 2020 to accommodate the increasing demands of aging baby boomers. In 1991, slightly more than 700 psychologists who spent at least half of their time working with older adults were listed in the National Register of Health Service Providers. Along with the need for more gero-psychologists, the number of adults with mental disorders and behavioral health problems in 2030 is expected to reach 15 million–four times the prior census. In addition, older adults have the highest rates of suicide of any age group.

Experts agree that adequate staff is the most important factor in good patient care. However in spite of the growing demand for elder care, the education system and the pool of medical and mental health care providers with appropriate geriatric training are extremely inadequate.[7] A lack of training and institutional support has resulted in the 27% decline in certified geriatricians since 1998.[8] In 2005, there was one geriatrician for every 5,000 Americans 65 and older.[9] Nationally, geriatric mental health specialists comprise one of the smallest groups of health care professionals. By 2010, an estimated 5,000 psychiatrists, 19,000 gerontological nursing specialists, and over 50,000 social workers will be needed to provide mental health care for elderly patients.[10]

The “expertise gap” is among the greatest challenges to mental healthcare for the elderly,[11] and the effects are already apparent in many regions of the country where two out of three skilled nursing facilities failed to meet the state’s minimum nursing staff requirements[12] and a majority of surveyed primary care physicians considered themselves only “somewhat” (66%) or “not very” (20%) knowledgeable about geriatric mental health issues.[13] Even many specialists, internists and emergency room doctors said they felt “unprepared” to deal with depression and other mental health and end-of-life issues of elderly patients.[14] Of the 145 medical schools in the United States, only 9 have departments of geriatrics; most teaching hospitals graduate internists with as little as six hours of geriatric training. Only about 10% of U.S. medical schools require course work or rotations in geriatric medicine. While many more offer geriatric courses as electives, fewer than 3% of medical school graduates choose to take those courses. In nursing there is no gero-psychiatric certification and only one-third of masters level programs offered a course in aging.[15]

The integration of mental health services in the system of care for the elderly has proven to raise the quality of care to patients and support the larger network of care facilities to increase access to, and build capacity in mental health services. Research demonstrates that the integrated mental and medical health service arrangement achieve a higher level of access to mental health care[16] and is associated with better health and treatment outcomes at a lower cost.[17] Traditional models of service and professional training programs are frequently costly, disjointed and ineffective due to their inability to incorporate contemporary research findings and evidence-based practices into usual care.[18]

There is an undeniable need for professionals who would develop a humanistic and comprehensive approach to care for elders and to see the aging process as a fulfilling part of life as well as to offer a different, humanistic approach to approach aging and to treat those older people afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and mental challenges, while implementing the best practices with seniors diagnosed with these phenomena. These professionals will challenge their attitudes towards aging and their attitudes for working with older adults. They will attempt to develop a humanistic-existential perspective to the creative and meaningful phases of aging and the possibilities of growth and development in later life. In particular, they will be able to articulate the relationship of the humanistic tradition to this specific subject and the importance for a new paradigm that encourages unfolding wellness versus the Cartesian dichotomy of mind-body separation.

Wellness is an alternative to the split between health and illness because people move along the continuum toward optimal wellness at each stage of life by way of their own efforts. As Dr. Judah Ronch says in his book Mental Wellness in Aging: “… People have more options than to be sick or healthy; they do not have to be sick in order to take advantage of the means to improve wellness. …this is an especially important outlook for aging as a process — people can have an array of illnesses as they age and yet enjoy wellness and a good quality of life.”



[1] Mentally Healthy Aging: A Report on Overcoming Stigma for Older Americans. US Department of Health and Human Services & SAMHSA, 2005

[2] The Mental Health Workforce: Who’s Meeting California’s Needs? California Workforce Initiative, February 2003

[3]Consensus Statement on the Upcoming Crisis in Geriatric Mental Health: Research Agenda for the Next 2 Decades, Archives of General Psychiatry, 1999

[4] The Mental Health Workforce: Who’s Meeting California’s Needs? California Workforce Initiative, February 2003

[5] Mentally Healthy Aging: A Report on Overcoming Stigma for Older Americans. US Department of Health and Human Services & SAMHSA, 2005

[6] Ibid.

[7] Consensus Statement on the Upcoming Crisis in Geriatric Mental Health: Research Agenda for the Next 2 Decades, Archives of General Psychiatry, 1999

[8] Wanted: Geriatricians. Dani Dodge. Ventura County Star, September 5, 2004

[9] Geriatrics Lags in an Age of High-Tech Medicine. Jane Gross. The New York Times, October 18, 2006

[10] The Mental Health Workforce: Who’s Meeting California’s Needs? California Workforce Initiative, February 2003

[11] Bartels, Stephen, et al. Evidence-Based Practices in Geriatric Mental Health Care. Psychiatric Services, Vol. 53, No. 11, November 2002

[12] Nursing homes: Stronger Complaint and Enforcement Practices Needed to Better Ensure Adequate Care. U.S. General Accounting Office (Testimony before Senate Special Committee on Aging), 1999

[13] Halpain, Maureen, et al. Training in Geriatric Mental Health: Needs and Strategies. Psychiatric Services, Vol. 50, No. 9, September 1999

[14] Decision Making at a Time of Crisis Near the End of Life. David E. Weissman. The Journal of the American Medical Association, October 13, 2004; 292: 1738 – 1743.

[15] The Mental Health Workforce: Who’s Meeting California’s Needs? California Workforce Initiative, February 2003

[16] Bartels, Stephen, et al. Improving Access to Geriatric Mental Health Services: A randomized trial comparing treatment engagement with integrated verses enhanced referral care for depression, anxiety, and at risk alcohol use. American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 161, No. 8, August 2004

[17] Bartels, Stephen, et al. Evidence-Based Practices in Geriatric Mental Health Care. Psychiatric Services, Vol. 53, No. 11, November 2002

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ronch, Judah L. &Goldfield, Joseph A. (2003). Mental Wellness in Aging: Strengths-Based Approaches. Baltimore, MD. Health Professions Press, 2003

Depression: A Terrible Truth and a Tale of Courage

Copyright : iqoncept

Copyright : iqoncept

When you read the statistics on the mental health phenomena, they will tell you that mental health is extremely prevalent in the adult population. An estimated 44.3 million American adults experience a diagnosable mental disorder each year. Approximately 18.8 million adults have a depressive disorder and over 19 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Millions of other people are dealing with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance abuse and other mental health problems. Mental illnesses can cause a person to have major difficulty functioning at their job, as a parent and in all areas of their lives. It is imperative for adults to be aware of their mental health and the mental health of their loved ones.

From these numbers, it seems like having a mental illness is an issue that everybody portraits, a norm, thus if it is so common, what that really means? perhaps that the abnormal is becoming normal? That the system is screwing us all? or that the paradigm should shift from diagnosing to preventing, re-vamping? Healing? Is it as the allergies in California,  something you develop sooner or later once you have landed here? Is it, really, that prevalent or we are misusing and/or abusing diagnoses?

When abusing or misusing diagnoses we are increasing the stigma that is already linked to mental illness. There is the sense of general stigma  from being different, weaker, suffering from depression, being a loser, having low self-esteem, ADD, not completing tasks, having anxiety or panic attacks, or to that matter any mental disorder found in the voluminous DSM V.

Once diagnosed or complaining about having a mental “issue”, well intentioned people would look at you and say things, like: I too have been sad but if you work hard, you’ll get out of it…well sometimes, you do not; or they will suggest you just try to lead a healthy and balance life, find your purpose, your meaning in life, follow your passion…Really? Some people cannot even get up and go, none the less find a passion to keep going. The stigma and the paralysis to act hits you really hard.

Having mental illness depicted in a negative side and represented in the media inaccurately and giving hurtful representations of its causes and consequences increase the stigma and discourage people suffering to seek help. NAMI StigmaBusters  is a network of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world that seek to fight misleading representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes. They seek to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. Their goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive a NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online.

In a candid tale of her own depression, Dr. Elizabeth J. Griffin, MD, a pediatrician tells of her 40-year battle with severe depression, and the stigmatization she fell under. She says “Depression is overwhelming and overpowering, and it crushes its prey…’ Severely depressed persons grow convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that our families would be better off if we were dead. We believe that only by suicide can we help them salvage whatever remnants of their lives we have not already destroyed, even if we actually have done nothing that would hurt them or anyone else….’ I believed that everyone felt and thought this way to some extent. I once explained some of this to one friend, a compassionate and extremely intelligent physician. He looked at me in amazement and said, “You do know, don’t you, how completely foreign everything you just said is to me?” In fact, learning just that was a real eye-opener for me, “a light-bulb moment.” Read her story  Dr. Griffin has very interesting points to guide people in the process of “how to talk about depression:

  • “…People with depression need someone to speak up when we cannot, especially to explain our illness to our loved ones. Most of us are too frightened and ashamed to talk about it. Unless we learn how to be open about depression, the stigma will remain, and people who need treatment will continue to avoid seeking it.
  • If you have depression, tell someone you can trust and seek professional help. It is available—and it can help. Depression does not have to last forever; you really can get better with time and treatment…’
  • If someone you care about is depressed, tell him you do care, that you love him, and that you want to understand and help. Tell her how important she is to you and what you admire about her. Tell him you want him and need him in your life, and that things will get better. Ask her to hang on until they do. Beg him to promise that he won’t do anything to hurt himself, that he will not commit suicide…’
  • You may save the life of someone you love….”

As mental health providers, we are supposed to be the catalysts of personal growth, soul search, and redemption, we should never give up, labeling, or cast out people who are going through the dark night of the soul, redeeming one person is redeeming the world. Actually, this represents the traditional Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam that is the precept of the Jewish ethical principle that every person is worth saving. The Jewish path of walking through life, is a path of healing. Tikkun olam, the repair of the world, is a macrocosm of the tikkun atzmi, the inner process of healing. Healing, by definition, is the attempt to bring balance to both the inner and external healing processes and that, instead of labeling and pathologizing our clients, should be the role of the clinician. But more about Tikkun Olam in my next post. For now, let’s be a container for those who suffer from depression without judgement or biases, but with the right intervention,  a listening ear, and a compassionate heart.

How to talk about depression
o People with depression need someone to speak up when we cannot, especially to explain our illness to our loved ones. Most of us are too frightened and ashamed to talk about it. Unless we learn how to be open about depression, the stigma will remain, and people who need treatment will continue to avoid seeking it.

o If you have depression, tell someone you can trust and seek professional help. It is available—and it can help. Depression does not have to last forever; you really can get better with time and treatment.

o If someone you care about is depressed, tell him you do care, that you love him, and that you want to understand and help. Tell her how important she is to you and what you admire about her. Tell him you want him and need him in your life, and that things will get better. Ask her to hang on until they do. Beg him to promise that he won’t do anything to hurt himself, that he will not commit suicide.

You may save the life of someone you love.

– See more at:

Se Habla Español: Native Language in Psychotherapy for Latinas y Latinos

Copyright: Nito500

Copyright: Nito500

Although a high percentage of all human communication is nonverbal and sometimes too much emphasis is placed in the verbal content during the therapy session, having therapy in a non-native language carries certain challenges to the client as well as to the therapist.

In a study conducted  by Gretchen Foley MD and Julie Gentile, MD, they found “…an estimated 60 to 65 percent of interpersonal communication is conveyed via nonverbal behaviors… many nonverbal behaviors are unconscious and may represent a more accurate depiction of a patient’s attitude and emotional state… all nonverbal behavior must be interpreted within context…” for which I think it is important also the mastery of the verbal content. This dual focus, calls for a real understanding of the body language by the clinician but also an understanding of how culture, race, ethnicity express in different “tongues” and nuances.

Aside from the language, family connections are very important, and non-language based integration issues arise. Language in its verbal or non-verbal form is fundamental for psychotherapy, so people have to feel comfortable with the language as it touches emotions. Sometimes if your “hosting” country language is good enough, it can be therapeutic in itself to work through issues pertaining to the “hosting” country.

In the United States the number of Latinos and Latinas is growing exponentially and already in 2010, one in five Americans identified as Hispanic–with cultural ties to Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador. In some areas of the country, such as Texas, Hispanics may outnumber Caucasians by 2035, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As this population grows, psychologists can expect to see increasing numbers of Latinos in their waiting rooms, classrooms and research labs. We need to close the gap for Latinos y Latinas.

Sadie Dingfelder wrote on the American Psychological Monitor magazine “…for many Hispanics who seek psychotherapy, their first contact with a mental health professional is also their last–50 percent never return to a psychologist after the first session. Caucasians drop out at a rate of about 30 percent, in comparison. Several factors play into this access disparity–including the cost of health care for a disproportionately low-income population … Dingfelder quoted Dr. Elizabeth Fraga, a Latino-focused practitioner and full-time lecturer at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who says”… many Latinos quit therapy simply because they do not feel understood” …some Hispanics are not completely comfortable speaking in English, and sometimes the values of psychotherapy–or the therapist–are antithetical to those of the Hispanic client.” For example, says Fraga, Latino cultures tend to value a family’s health more than that of its individual family members and may view a psychologist’s suggestions for self-care–such as taking a short vacation alone–as selfish….” Read the article

Unless all clinicians gain some familiarity with Latino culture and language or have an interest in becoming familiar with it, it is going to be difficult for Latinos to find people who may help them.

One of the goals of therapy is to create a trusting relationship and healing environment in which our clients can reveal themselves and engage in what is often challenging and hard work. When working with Latino clients, one must come to know and respect the unique expectations that are in part shaped by culture and world view, and integrate this understanding into the therapeutic approach and if we can manage their native language, we could really create a stronger therapeutic alliance and hit the jackpot. Haga una cita: se ha·bla es·pa·ñol

Latinas’ Challenges to Come Out of The Closet

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

In the Latin culture the role of women is sometimes defined narrowly and women are brought up to be “super” moms and dedicated wives. The family pressure to keep a clean home, raise well-mannered children and be fabulous cooks can be a little overwhelming. You can add onto that pressure that to be a good “wife” and “mother” implies being heterosexual, and find the right “husband” not the right wife.

Latinas,  are professionals, blue collar workers, students, artists, and they all face their own struggles, successes, and secrets.  For we Latinas are as diverse, as shallow, and as deep as our dominant-culture counterparts. Our stories of immigration and oppression are gripping, but they are not only stories of discrimination or acculturation to tell, we also have our gender struggle stories to tell. Some are wives and mothers, yet individuals, too and some of us are lesbians and proud of it. Yet our culture and family does not welcome, always, our “coming out of the closet”. Our stories are as wide and as varied as the hues we come in.

Even the Spanish language conspires against those women who called themselves lesbians or bi-sexuals, because most of the counterpart words in Spanish have a negative connotation. Activists at the Human Rights Campaign had written that “…Although “gay” has the same meaning in Spanish as in English, the word “lesbiana” still has negative connotations. Many Latina women who love women, however, are purposely using the word to reclaim it from those who would use it against them…” (Read More)

On another article HRC states “… Although Latina/o Americans come from various cultural backgrounds, many who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender share similar experiences and challenges. Some, who were raised Roman Catholic, must reconcile themselves with the church’s teachings that acting on one’s homosexuality is sinful. Language differences often make finding resources and support difficult, and a lack of LGBT Latinas/os in media and entertainment perpetuates invisibility. Fortunately, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of Latinas/os are coming out…”

Find more resources for Latinas y Latinos “coming out of the closet” on HRC: Guía de Recursos Para Salir Del Clóset


Same Sex Couples: More Stability? More Resilience? More Trouble?

Copyright : Mahdees Mahjoob

Copyright : Mahdees Mahjoob

Research has shown that behavioral differentiation of the sexes is minimal in children. Sex differences emerge primarily in social situations, and their nature varies with the gender composition during socialization. Patterns of mutual influence can become more symmetrical in intimate male–female dyads, but the distinctive styles of the two sexes can still be seen in such dyads and are subsequently manifested in the roles and relationships of parenthood.

On the other hand, research has found that same sex couples develop, in general, a certain resilience that brings more stability to their lives, there are always exceptions but for instance, Drs. John & Julie Gottman, founders of  The Gottman Institute, an institute in Seattle, WA dedicated to an ongoing program of research that increases the understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated.

The Gottmans undertook a 12-year study that revealed same sex couples developed more resilience than some straight couples. have a commitment to assuring that lesbian and gay couples have resources to help strengthen and support their relationships. Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman made a key contribution to research on daughters of lesbians: her work showed that daughters with lesbian moms do just as well as those raised by straight moms. Dr. John Gottman conducted the first longitudinal study of its kind of gay and lesbian relationships using multiple methods and measures. He was able assess the emotional strengths and weaknesses of the relationships, and to learn what makes these relationships more or less stable.Read More About The Study

Same sex parenthood is not an isolated case, studies estimate that between 1 and 9 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is lesbian or gay. There are approximately 594,000 same-sex partner households, according to the 2000 Census, and there are children living in approximately 27 percent of those households. However, we do find many challenges when it comes to fight homophobia and raising a family, one of the biggest challenges facing same-sex parented families is that they must live in a culture that supports heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and beliefs, which can affect these families in a variety of ways. A second complication is that these families are usually part of a blended family and include children from previous heterosexual marriages. Some of these families may deal with disagreement from other family members about the authenticity and validity of their family patterns. Lack of support from a previous heterosexual partner or the other biological parent can cause major conflict and distress within the family system. Today, there are many therapists available who specialize in gay and lesbian issues and provide a safe, nonjudgmental and understanding environment for the family. Frequently, gay and lesbian parented families will seek therapeutic help for guidance, support, and recognition that they may not be receiving from the broader social arena. The AAMFT suggests that psychotherapy could help. (Read More How Therapy Can Help)


Therapy for the Elderly

Copyright : Aaron Amat

Copyright : Aaron Amat

Many of us have the impression that old people are sad, depressed, and/or grumpy but it turns out not to be particularly accurate. Many older adults and seniors can lead a very happy life. However, what about those who had experienced multiple losses, heartaches, and little access to therapy?

Moreover, for many of the elders with whom I work, emotional distress is their own business, sometimes a source of shame, and for sure something not to share with “strangers” like the therapist.  Others think therapy is for young or younger people to what even Sigmund Freud noted that around age 50, “the elasticity of the mental process on which treatment depends is, as a rule, lacking,” adding, “Old people are no longer educable.” (Never mind that he continued working until he died at 83.) and as an article in The New York Times by states: “…In years past, too, there was a sense among medical professionals that a patient often could not be helped after a certain age unless he had received treatment earlier in life… ‘that’s been totally turned around by what we’ve learned about cognitive psychology and cognitive approach — changing the way you think about things, redirecting your emotions in more positive ways,” said Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and professor of human development at Cornell, and author of “30 Lessons for Living.”

Treatment regimens can be difficult in this population. Antidepressants, for instance, can have unpleasant side effects and only add to the pile of pills many elderly patients take daily. Older patients may feel that they don’t have the time necessary to explore psychotherapy, or that it’s too late to change.

But many eagerly embrace talk therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral techniques that focus on altering thought patterns and behaviors affecting their quality of life now. Experts say that seniors generally have a higher satisfaction rate in therapy than younger people because they are usually more serious about it. Time is critical, and their goals usually are well defined. Read Ellin’s  article

Alternative Therapies for Mental Illness

Copyright : chachar

Copyright : chachar

Searching for more information about how much or how little the public look for alternative therapies when suffering from mental illness and distress, I found an article titled Surprising Alternative Treatments for Mental Disorders. The article claims what I suspected “…The use of alternative treatments for mental illness is growing in popularity due to concern over the side effects of some medications and a general mistrust for pharmaceutical companies. Let’s look at some of the natural ways people are treating disorders like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

9.6 million Adults (18+) in the U.S. with a serious mental illness; 52.6% of those with a serious mental illness who used prescription pills to treat their condition in the past year; 36.2 million of Americans who paid for mental health care services in the span of a year.

While a combination of medicine and therapy can help many individuals suffering from a mental illness, some people are seeking other methods of treatment. What options are out there? This article explains how the so called alternative therapies “medicine douce” like Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Bio-feedback, Reflexology, Yoga, nutrition and nutritional supplements can help. Actually $34 billion are spent per year in the U.S. on alternative medicine for general use.

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