Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Things to Discuss Before Marriage

Marriage is one of the most wonderful life experiences that two people can share.  However, a great marriage is based on much more than just love.  Below are ten important things for a couple to discuss before deciding to tie the knot.  Matching or being similar in these areas will make wedded bliss more likely.

1.   Life goals

2.   Spending/saving personalities

3.   Physical activity/energy level

4.   Children & Family

5.   Intellectual & Cultural interests

6.   Vocational interests/work ethic

7.   Friends

8.   Religion/ Spiritual interests

9.   Communication skills and styles

10. Roles and expectations

Monday, November 29, 2010

Awesome New Resource for Kids with Asperger's

Southeast Psych's own Frank Gaskill ("Dr. G") and University of South Carolina doctoral student Ryan Kelly have completed work on Max Gamer, a graphic novel about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who uses his special abilities to become a superhero.

The graphic novel is the first in a series of Max Gamer books, all intended to promote a positive view of Asperger’s.  While those with Asperger’s—or “Aspies”—are the main target audience for the series, Dr. G. believes anyone interested in superheroes or those with special abilities will enjoy the books.  “Max Gamer has special abilities, but rather than having them become burdens, they become ways to help himself and other people around him.  He’s awesome, just like most Aspies I know are awesome.”

Dr. Temple Grandin, the internationally-known autism pioneer, said of Max Gamer, “This comic would have helped me when I was a teenager who was being teased.”  She added, “I think it will help the smart Aspie kids to feel proud of themselves.”

Published by Hero House, a division of Southeast Psych, Max Gamer is available starting tomorrow through MaxGamerOnline.com.  Check it the website to see the making of Max Gamer and a great Aspie blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Moms Need Love, Too

by Dr. Barrie Morganstein

As a new mom, I am learning firsthand how hard it is to take care of a baby and take care of myself (not to mention also taking care of a husband and a dog). I have always been notoriously bad at getting to bed at a reasonable hour and my baby’s arrival has made it even worse. With our little bundles depending on us, our good health is even more important; here are some things that new moms can do to manage stress and feel good:

· Get out of the house. After my baby was born, I stayed in the house a lot. Although I needed the rest and recuperation, I definitely found myself going stir-crazy. Getting out of the house -- whether its outside for fresh air or to the mall -- will do a lot to lift your spirits and invigorate you.

· Get some exercise. As hard as it is to get up off the couch and as tired as you are, get moving. Walking slowly on the treadmill, doing a light yoga class, or even just stretching in your living room, moving your body will make you feel better physically and mentally.

· Keep in contact with friends. It can be helpful to speak to your friends and commiserate about your new parenting trials and tribulations. However, it can be just as helpful to simply talk about girl-stuff. Being a mom is just one of our many roles, so we may find pleasure in discussing things other than the kids (such as what happened on The Real Housewives of New York).

· Don’t be afraid to say “no”. We often try to be superheroes and take on too many obligations. The added strain and fatigue that comes with baby care makes you more vulnerable to stress and emotional overload. Nicely explain to others why you are not able to take on a certain project – supportive people will understand.

· Ask for help. Women are capable of a lot, but even Wonder Woman had a sidekick (not to mention help from the rest of the Justice League). Don’t be afraid to ask your Superman for help with whatever you need, whether it be baby’s bedtime, laundry, bills, etc.

· Remind yourself what a great job you are doing. We are often our worst critics; chances are you are not only keeping up with your new babe, but excelling in your new role.

· Get help if you need it. If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, talk to someone. Let your significant other, family member, or friends, know that you need some extra encouragement. A psychologist or counselor can also be a valuable addition to your support-network. 

Dr. Barrie Morganstein is a psychologist and new mom at Southeast Psych.  You can contact her at 704-552-0116.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now? The Basics of Central Auditory Processing Disorders

Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD) is a learning disability that is not very well known and is often under-diagnosed and misdiagnosed.  CAPD is also confusing because there are many signs and symptoms that are often attributed to other disorders, especially Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or severe anxiety.  Below are some of the most common signs that can suggest CAPD.  An individual with CAPD may…

  • have poor expressive or receptive language
  • have difficulty with reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, and/or foreign languages
  • have difficulty following long conversations
  • have difficulty following verbal directions, especially when involving multi-step directions
  • need extra time processing information
  • have decreased comprehension in noisy environments
  • have difficulty with phonics or speech sounds
  • talk less than peers
  •  “tune out” or seem to be in a “world of her own”
  • be less social because of comprehension problems

It is very easy to determine the presence of CAPD.  Many audiologists are trained to identify CAPD.  It is also very important to consider having a psycho-educational assessment completed by a psychologist to rule out the presence of other issues (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, other learning disabilities, etc.).  These professionals are also likely to help you determine the best approaches for intervention.  Some excellent books about CAPD are When the Brain Can’t Hear: Unraveling the Mystery of Auditory Processing Disorder – Teri J. Bellis, Ph.D. and Like Sound Through Water: A Mother’s Journey Through Auditory Processing Disorder by Karen J. Foli & Edward M. Hallowell.  

Dr. Barrie Morganstein is a psychologist at Southeast Psych who sees a wide range of clients and has a specialty in the assessment and treatment of central auditory processing disorders.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Parenting Stress: How to Take Care of Yourself

You know the saying, “If mama isn’t happy then nobody is happy.” There is some truth to this old adage and it applies to fathers too. It’s easy for parents to focus all of their attention and energy on their children and family and neglect to take care of themselves. However taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your family. It’s a lot like the emergency landing instructions that you get on airplanes. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first in order to be able to help others. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself.

1) Do one thing every day that makes you happy. You deserve and need time for your own enjoyment. Carve out at least 15 to 30 minutes a day where you are doing something that you enjoy that’s just for you.

2) Know your limits and stick to them.  It is okay to multitask sometimes, but we also need to know when enough is enough. Cut back on things that aren’t necessary and make your life more manageable.

3) Practice what you preach. You help your kids eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, encourage them to be physically active and take care of any illnesses they have. You need to take care of your physical needs as well. Poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, lack of physical activity and illness are all vulnerability factors to stress.

4) Put things in perspective.  It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and think that everything is important. Step back and take a look at what really matters to you. This will help you let go of little stressors and annoyances and instead focus on the big picture.

5) Remember you are a role model.  By taking good care of yourself and managing your own stress you are setting a positive example for your children. Good self-care brings happiness to the whole family.

Dr. Amanda McGough is a licensed psychologist with Southeast Psych in Charlotte. She treats children, adolescents and adults.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is Recovery From an Eating Disorder Possible?

In working with families that have a loved one struggling with an eating disorder, one of the most common questions asked is about recovery. Can a person truly recover? 

The short answer to this question is: Yes, a person can fully recover with appropriate treatment. Research has demonstrated that while some people may struggle lifelong with an eating disorder, a majority of people can make a full recovery.

Here are four factors that can help lead to a full recovery:

1. Early Detection. Like other illnesses, the sooner a person begins treatment, the better likelihood of recovery. The longer a person engages in eating disorder symptoms, the more difficult the recovery can be.

2. Treatment Team Approach. Since eating disorders are complex illnesses that involve both medical and psychological issues, treatment should involve a therapist, physician and dietician. All of your care providers should have experience in treating eating disorders.

3. Type of Therapy. There are many different types of therapy for eating disorders. Choosing a therapy supported by research promotes the best chance for recovery. For children and teens, this therapy is called Family Based Treatment or the Maudsley Method. For adults, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the treatment of choice.

4. Appropriate Level of Care.  It’s imperative that a person receive care at the most appropriate level based upon their symptoms. This can be outpatient, day treatment or inpatient care. Your treatment providers should help you determine which level is appropriate.

Intervening early with a treatment team approach using a proven and research-supported therapy model at the appropriate level of care increases a person's chances of a full recovery from an eating disorder.

Dr. Heidi Limbrunner is a licensed psychologist with Southeast Psych in Charlotte. She specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.  You can contact her at 704-970-4791.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sports Injuries Don’t Just Hurt the Body

Most of us who play a sport consider “athlete” as one aspect of our identity.  How important playing a sport is to us can greatly affect how we deal with an injury.  While healing the body is important, the injury to our identity as an athlete can be equally significant.  Some of the possible psychological impacts of sport injuries include:

Temporary loss of identity:  Many athletes connect the way people view them (popularity, respect) to their role in sport.  During the rehabilitation process, there may be a constant comparison to things that they could do, and the way that others used to view them.  These negative thoughts may work against them in their efforts to heal the body.

Feelings of isolation and being left out:  Athletics presents an important social role, and as a result, injured athletes may feel left out of the interaction with teammates, both competitively and informally.  This loss may be as significant as what we would consider a true “loss” such that a grieving process may take place. This will be especially true in the situation of a career ending injury.

Decrease in self-esteem:  For many athletes, self-esteem is connected to performance ability and achievement.  Injury for some athletes may have a significant impact on self-image and long term goal achievement.  This decrease in self-esteem may carry over into academic performance and personal relationships. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, other possible psychological impacts include anger, guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, helplessness, and depression.  Each of these concerns may contribute to an athletes’ ability to recover well and return to post injury performance, which again can result in depressive symptoms and repeat the psychological pattern.

Here are a few things that parents and coaches can do to help injured athletes heal their minds. 

* Help athletes to acknowledge and recognize the trauma and loss that has occurred, and provide support as they experience the grieving process.  Athletes (and even coaches) sometimes engage in denial regarding the true impact of a sports injury.  This denial can result in additional injuries or negative psychological impacts.

* Provide encouragement and support during the rehabilitation process.  Due to many of the psychological impacts of sport injury, athletes may not be as motivated to engage in the rehab process.  Providing support and acknowledging the barriers may be helpful.

* Normalize their experiences of fear of re-injury.  Athletes may be apprehensive to express their concerns and fears.  Allow them to recognize that fear is a normal reaction, and that they are not alone in that experience. 

* Particularly for career-ending injuries, help athletes re-orient to alternative options.  Many athletes, particularly those who have been playing sports since early childhood, have not had the opportunity to fully develop other identities and options.  Exposing them to those possibilities is important in helping them to feel as though they have a path and some direction. 

* Finally, some athletes have such a difficult experience following a sport injury that counseling or professional support may be necessary.  Keep an eye out for signs of more significant psychological concerns such as increased isolation, poor concentration, changes in appetite, and feelings of hopeless or worthlessness.  These signs indicate that there is a need to go beyond the training room in the healing process.   

Dr. Nyaka Niilampti is a licensed psychologist at Southeast Psych with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and a master's in sports psychology.  She sees clients of all ages and specializes in performance enhancement, relationship concerns, diversity issues, and the treatment of anxiety and depression.  She can be contacted at 704-552-0116.