Does my child have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD) in children over the age of seven, is characterized by behaviors, seen in at least two settings (usually in the home and school) which involve trouble keeping mental focus and attention, and difficulty controlling behavior or verbal impulses.  These behaviors are causing troubles with grades, completion of school work and home chores and are frustrating to the child and his caretakers and teachers.  Frequent shouting out of answers and leaving the seat in class, continual lost school papers and homework are often signs of Attention Deficit Disorder.  Behavior therapy has been shown to be most effective for ADHD,  and with parental involvement, provides lasting changes for this disorder. This treatment includes the child,  the parents and often the teacher(s).

Dr. Barkley, a leading researcher on ADHD, has  found  there are several features typical of those having this behavior disorder:

  1. There is an overlap with conduct and oppositional  behaviors
  2. Family members may have conduct and addiction problems
  3. The ratio of males to females is 3:1
  4. It may be caused by an acquired brain injury

Is my child depressed?

A Depressive Disorder can be either Unipolar: with extremely sad mood and loss of interest in activities, or Bipolar: a fluctuation (over time) between sad mood and extremely elevated or irritable mood. Both states are accompanied by significant difficulties in several areas of life such as interpersonal, work or school.  In children, Bipolar Depression is much less common than Unipolar Depression and can be confused with impulse control or behavioral disorders.    There is convincing evidence of both genetic and environmental influences on the development of Depressive Disorders. The family connection of major depression is higher in children than in adults. Children of depressed parents have about a six-time risk for depression.  Also, having a depressed caregiver poses an additional environmental risk to the child as they suffer the stress of a less responsive primary caretaker. It has been noted that children with depression or dysthymia, a milder form of depression, are socially withdrawn, easily upset and show disinterest  in others.  Higher levels of anxiety are noted to be present in depressed children.  If you have a family history of depression and you note changes in your child’s interest level, mood and behaviors, it is important to have him seen by Dr. Barone or other qualified child mental health professional in order to determine the best course of action to help your child.

What does psychology research tell us ?

There is a large body of research which points to cognitive behavioral therapy as beneficial for many types of adult and adolescent problems.  Other research suggests behavioral therapy is most effective with children demonstrating conduct problems and acting out behaviors associated with Attention Deficit Disorder.  Interpersonal therapy has also shown very good results with depression in adults.  In vivo, or “real life practice” of skills is noted to be very effective with anxiety disorders.   All of the research points to one key factor as most important  in positive results from therapy;  that is the therapeutic relationship.  The therapeutic relationship is the helping relationship that is formed between the client and the therapist.  The factors that form a therapeutic relationship  are a combination of the therapist’s knowledge and skills in the field of psychology and human behavior and the genuine caring and compassion as well as high regard that the therapist feels toward the client.

There are many reasons why folks seek psychotherapy.   Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, family conflicts or problems with anxiety or depression.  Other times, it is a  response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition.  Many seek the advice of a therapist to pursue their own personal exploration and growth.  Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges.  Psychotherapy can help address worry,  interpersonal conflict,  grief and loss,  stress management, body-image issues, and addictions.  Psychotherapy is right for anyone  interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in patterns of living.

Do I really need psychotherapy? I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you  have successfully steered through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out support when you need it.  In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they might need a helping hand;  that self-awareness is admirable and is the first step to changing an unhappy situation.  Therapy  can provide long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support,  problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues from depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, stress management, pain management and creative blocks. Many folks find that counselors can be an asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family conflicts, marriage issues,  and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution.  The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn.

Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

What is therapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals.  It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes.  A written treatment plan is developed by the client and therapist. This plan will outline the problems and goals of treatment and serve as a guide and a measure of progress.

Psychotherapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term,  addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth.  There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors.  It is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions.  For therapy to be most effective,  you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions.  People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards change and create greater awareness in their lives.  Here are some things you can expect from your psychotherapist:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance

Is medication a substitute for therapy?

In some cases a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the right course of action.  Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you.  It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication.  Instead of only treating the symptom,  therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress.  You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?

To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier.  Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician or the insurance company?

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist.  No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself, the therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.