This blog is focused primarily on the needs, requirements, and expectations of mental health professionals and their collaborative partners such as primary care physicians, teachers, criminal justice professionals, human service workers. The public at large is welcome to participate because members of the public are the most important stakeholders in the mental health of our communities. As mental health professionals our primary ethical commitment is to our patients, their families, and their communities.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What are disruptive behavior disorders?

This information comes from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality:

What are disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs)?
DBDs are disorders in which children or teens have trouble controlling their emotions and behavior. Their behavior may be very defiant, and they may strongly conflict with authority figures. Their actions may be aggressive and destructive. All children have mild behavior problems now and then, but DBDs are more severe and continue over time.

 DBDs can start when a child is young. Children or teens with a DBD who do not receive treatment often have serious behavior problems at home, at school, or both. They are also more likely to have problems with alcohol or drug use and violent or criminal behavior as they get older.

Examples of DBDs include oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Children or teens with this disorder may have an angry or irritable mood much of the time. They may argue often and refuse to obey parents, caregivers, teachers, or others. They may also want to hurt someone they think has harmed them.

Conduct Disorder - Children or teens with this disorder may act aggressively toward people, animals, or both. They may bully or threaten someone, start physical fights, use weapons, hurt animals, or force sexual activity on others. They may also destroy property by fire or other means, lie often, or steal. They may stay out late at night, skip school, or run away from home. They may also lack compassion and not feel guilty about harming others.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder -  Children or teens with this disorder may have outbursts of aggressive, violent behavior or shouting. They may have extreme temper tantrums and may start physical fights. They often overreact to situations in extreme ways and do not think about consequences. Outbursts happen with little or no warning. They usually last for 30 minutes or less. After the outburst, the child or teen may feel sorry or embarrassed.

How common are DBDs? What causes them?
DBDs are one of the most common types of behavioral disorders in children and teens. „

  • Out of every 100 children in the United States, about 3 of them have a DBD. 
  •  More boys than girls have a DBD. „ 
  • DBDs are more common among children aged 12 years and older. 

The cause of DBDs is not known. Things that increase the risk for a DBD include: „

  • Child abuse or neglect „ 
  • A traumatic life experience, such as sexual abuse or violence „ 
  • A family history of DBDs 

Having a child or teen with a DBD can be very stressful for parents, caregivers, and the whole family. But, there are treatments that may help

For more information click here

Many of the therapists who are members of the Brockport Mental Health Professionals Association work with children, teens, and their families who are dealing with Disruptive Behavior Disorder problems.

Future articles will describe treatment options.

"Parenting" isn't a job, it's a relationship

Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik has done more than just 'think of the children', she wrote a book – and it rules favorably for free play and the end of scholastic parenting. Gopnik's latest book is "The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us about the Relationship Between Parents and Children"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Can adolescent defiance be channeled for good?

From the New York Times on 09/12/16

Since there have been teenagers, there have been adults trying to control them. The Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the Stubborn Child Law in 1646, allowing parents to have their defiant teenage sons put to death. The Bible suggests stoning them to death. But what if adolescent defiance is not a demon to be exorcised, but a power to be harnessed? 

The brains of adolescents are notoriously more receptive to short-term rewards and peer approval, which can lead to risky behavior. But researchers and educators are noticing that young people are also more sensitive to notions of social justice and autonomy. Teenage rebellion can be virtuous — even wholesome — depending on the situation.

A new study out today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that teenagers make wiser choices if they are encouraged to reimagine healthy behavior as an act of defiance.

For more click here.

Most of the Brockport Mental Health Professionals Association members work with adolescents.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Racism is bad for your health

From the Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley on September 8, 2016:

Researchers compared the racial biases of nearly 1.4 million people nationwide to death rates in more than 1,700 US counties. Their findings suggest that blacks and, to a lesser degree, whites who reside in overtly racist communities are more prone to dying from heart disease and other circulatory diseases.

For more click here.

Racism is not a psychiatric disorder in and of itself. Social groups often take pride in their group and feel and think they are superior to others. 

Individual racism can be distinguished from institutional and structural racism where  a culture and system are rigged by the group in power to oppress and dominate the minority group. Individuals tend to act out the beliefs and values of their reference groups. It may be more helpful to think about racism as a cultural phenomenon with individual behaviors and beliefs being a symptom of more deep seated dysfunctional norms, values, and beliefs.

Mental health professionals are not only concerned with the dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of their clients but also with the emotional systems in which these individuals participate such as their families, communities, states, nation, and religious and civic organizations.

Are some communities, organizations, institutions, and political and religious groups more racist than others? Could we then say that some communities, organizations, institutions, and political and religious groups more mentally healthy than others?

Mental health professionals are not interested in enhancing the mental health of individuals, but with families, communities, organizations, institutions, and cultures as well.

For more click here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Are some children more likely to develop narcissistic personality disorder?

From Scientific Amercian on September 1, 2016:

Some individuals are indeed more susceptible to developing a narcissistic personality. Narcissism is characterized by self-centeredness (“It's all about me!”), grandiosity (“I'm better than you!”) and vanity (“Look at me!”). It involves multifaceted psychological traits, motives and needs that influence how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Given this complexity, developing this form of extreme self-love is not as simple as inheriting a particular gene or experiencing a specific event. Instead becoming a narcissist likely involves an intricate mix of genetic and psychological or environmental factors.

For more click here.

Narcissism to some extent is normal but can become more of a problem when it interferes with a person's functioning and relationships. The diagnostic and statistical manual, edition 5, describes a psychiatric diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Personality disorders are repetitive patterns of dysfunctional behavior which the individual manifesting symptoms is often unaware of. Personality disorders are best treated with long term psychotherapy.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Benefits of psychotherapy from one client's perspective

This open letter to her former therapist by Patricia Blumenthal appeared on The Huffington Post on 09/03/16.

To read the whole letter click here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Spiritual meditation helps with migraine headaches

Most psychotherapists are trained in what is referred to as the "bio-psycho-social model." This means that behavioral health is based on biological, psychological, and social factors. In the last 20 years there has been a growing awareness that spirituality and religion also play an important part in people's health and so the "spiritual" has been added to the model which now has become the "bio-psycho-social- spiritual model."

While most psychotherapists do not intend to help their clients with religious issues unless they are pastoral counselors, increasingly psychotherapists do inquire, when appropriate, about their client's interior spiritual life. Recent research has found that spiritual meditation helps patient's with their migraine headaches.

Here is a quote from the study description in Science Daily of a study which appeared in Behavioral Medicine:  Migraine frequency decreased significantly in the Spiritual Meditation group compared to other groups. Headache severity ratings did not differ across groups. All four groups showed decreased analgesic medication use over time -- however, medication usage for migraine headaches had a sharper decline in the Spiritual Meditation group compared to other groups.

This study seems to indicate that incorporating a client's spiritual beliefs and practices into their mental health care can be beneficial for their mental and physical health.

For more click here.