September 26th, 2009

What to Look for in a Psychologist in Manhattan

When it comes to your mental health, not any psychologist in Manhattan will do. You want to ensure that you are choosing a psychologist that will connect with you emotionally. Therapy can be one of the most successful ways to ease your mind, body and spirit of negativity surrounding all aspects of your life. From divorce complications to career confusion, from emotional instability to confidence issues, it’s important to understand that a psychologist can help you break through those self barriers and reveal a new you.

However, when it comes to choosing a psychologist, it is not usually as simple as flipping though the yellow pages and going with the boldest, brightest ad. It’s important to do a little research before starting out in therapy. This is because, although the journey to self improvement starts with you, the right psychologist can ensure you are on the correct path. They can provide comfort along the way and offer advice when you come to a fork in the road. Inevitably, the road to self-satisfaction is an individual journey but having a mentor can make all the difference in the world. Below we have listed five tips when hunting for a Manhattan psychologist.

  • A Question of Technique: When it comes to choosing the best psychologist for your needs, make sure you weigh your options carefully. Look for a psychologist who values the same ideas as you. There are several different ways to treat patients. Check out their website, testimonials and intentions to discover some of these techniques and values. While some patients prefer to work one on one in a standard office, others would prefer a more unconventional setting, such as outdoors. While some patients prefer to use the traditional methods of analysis, others like the step outside the boundaries. It’s completely up to how you react to certain situations and what you feel comfortable with.
  • Credentials: The question of education in psychology is somewhat debatable. Although we all know that knowledge is power, this does not mean you need to seek out someone with a Doctorate in Psychology. Most professionals will charge based on their credentials. There are two important factors to consider when it comes to ensuring your psychologist has the proper credentials. One is whether they have had any formal training. It’s important that all psychologists and social workers obtain an education from a respected (and accredited) college or university. The second critical factor is if they are licensed or not. Psychologists and social workers should be licensed by the state they are practicing in. Always ask for a licensing number before you start your session. Those with a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree will be licensed in order to become a ‘psychologist’. Clinical social workers will have an L.C.S.W number in front of their degree. Make sure you always ask about their licensing level as well as any additional associations or organizations that they are a part of.
  • Experience: Although many clients find success with a psychologist who is straight out of school, most would prefer to choose a psychologist in New York who has at least ten years experience in the profession. Your chosen psychologist should feel comfortable and confident providing you with guidance; often this degree of comfort is only attained through experience. Many patients will ask their psychologist about previous experience working with their specific condition as a way to see if they are a good fit.
  • The Financial Aspect: As mentioned above, many Manhattan psychologists will charge based on their credentials. Although money should be no object when it comes to your mental health, it often is: after all, how can you work towards a stress free life when the overdue bills continue to pile up? Most health insurance companies will offer a limited number of therapy sessions to their members. Check with your current insurance company to see the fine print. It is standard to offer 8-12 sessions with constant monitoring from the insurance company. Then, once your progress has been assessed, the insurance company will either authorize continued treatment or not. Of course, there are many cons that come with using health insurance to pay for your therapy sessions. For one, you are losing that confidentiality as your insurance company now has the right to audit your sessions. If you are worried about the finances involved in therapy, it is best to choose a therapist in Manhattan that accepts all insurance carriers. Out-of-Network providers allow you to claim your sessions back at the end of each month and offer a little more freedom and security when it comes to your mental health.
  • The Level of Comfort: Keep in mind that, when it comes to your mental health, it’s important that you are moving forward, not backwards. Everyone is different and it’s important to find the right fit. If you feel uncomfortable with your current psychologist, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to take a different approach and step away. Feeling comfortable with your psychologist is the first stepping stone towards a more confident you.
July 21st, 2009

Quote of the day

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

Will Rogers (1879 – 1935)

July 20th, 2009

Great quote

I recently came across this great quote by Joseph Conrad:

Facing it, always facing it. That’s the way to get through. Face it.

As a therapist, sometimes my job is to be with my clients as they ‘face it’. Which I take to mean looking at one’s situation in a cold hard light. That can be hard to do – but necessary. Because we all delude ourselves by telling little white lies. These lies can come in the form of:
It’s not that bad.
It’s not my fault.
Things will get better without me changing…I can just wait it out.

Through careful and kind counseling, I work with my clients to strip away the falsehoods and look reality in the face. And when one begins to ‘face it’, it’s good to have someone there to urge us on with encouragement and support – knowing that we are not alone. This is the gift of therapy.

Only by being honest and true, can we take a full assessment of our lives and then begin to make real and concrete changes. If we don’t, we end up just ‘doing what we’ve always done and getting what we’ve always gotten’.

Life’s too short. Change and personal growth can be difficult. But the alternative is stagnation. And a stagnant life can be full of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, etc.

Are you ready to face it?

July 8th, 2009

Mourning for a celebrity

With all of the grief surrounding the recent celebrity deaths, it has made me think of an incident that happened to me a few years ago.

I used to work with a woman who was obsessed with People Magazine. She would pour over each week’s issue and revel in the lives and problems of Brittney Spears, Cher, Madonna, etc. You know the type. She lived vicariously through celebrities and would tell anyone who would listen about how she worried about these people.

One day I overheard her talking about how anxious she was about the problems facing Brittney Spear’s younger sister who had recently become pregnant. Now, mind you, I had worked with this woman for over 3 years. We sat beside each other in very small cubicles. And finally I had enough. (Everyone has their limits.)

I turned to her and casually said: “Do you know my sister’s name?”
She stared blankly at me.
Why do you ask? she’s says.
Well, you seem to know everything about Ms. Spears and her family…I was wondering if you knew anything about me and my family?
She admitted, that she did not know my sister’s name.

Childish of me? Of course. And I regretted it.

But I think there is a lesson there. Many times we become overly involved in the lives of those who entertain us, forgetting that there are REAL people in our lives who might also be interesting, and who might actually be interested about us in return.

I will mourn Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and all the other celebrities who have recently passed away. Each in their own way, touched my life. But they reached out to me from a distance. They did not know me – but I am grateful for their contribution to my life.

But it makes me wonder. Does my doorman have a sister? Maybe I should ask.

July 2nd, 2009

A tip for dealing with Anxiety

Many people come to me complaining of overwhelming anxiety. They complain of worry, fear, a sense of overwhelming dread. They describe how their mind spins like a hamster in it’s wheel…living and reliving the possible negative outcomes of their worry.

I’ve noticed that they are able to describe their fears in vivid detail. This is usually because they have spent so much time dwelling on it. And here in lies the problem. The more time we spend relishing our fears the bigger they become.

A nice technique that I give these clients begins with a question: What if? What if you DIDNT feel like this? What would that be like?

Imagining a different way of thinking breaks the cycle. It allows the mind to create something different. In therapy, I work with my clients to see what life would be like without the anxiety and fear – and it is this imagined reality that we work to make more vivid and real. We make that image very clear, and the more clear it becomes the more we can begin to embrace it and perhaps allow it to become an option.

I often say imagination is our strongest asset. We must begin to use it to our advantage or our natural tendency will be to use it for our destruction.

Try it today. What have you got to lose? You may have spent hours and hours making your anxieties and fears and worries as large and vivid as possible. Try using the mind’s wonderful tool of imagination for the opposite effect.

Now clearly, I’m not saying that just by doing this your problems will be solved. That would wishful thinking. But it does allow balance – and that is what good mental health is all about.

June 29th, 2009

Rain, Rain – Go Away!

Like most New Yorkers, I think I have had enough rain in the past month to last for the rest of the year. So far, in the entire month of June, we’ve only had 3 days without rain. And if you go back further, there have been only a handful of dry days in the last 3 months. And cold! Average temperatures for the area are far below normal.
Wet. Cold. Gray. A perfect formula for depression.

The local weather looks like it was designed for one of those commercials for an anti-depressant medication. (Ever notice how the weather improves in those commercials, right after they introduce the product?)

There is a great amount of research out there about the connection between mood and weather and I definitely see it in my practice. Since my clients and I are always out in the weather, it is typically the first topic of any therapy session.

Since it looks like there may be no end in sight – I thought it might be helpful to pass along some tips for combating those bad weather blues.

1. Find the beauty in it. If there were no cloudy days – we would never appreciate the sun. Take a moment and really absorb the beauty of rain and the awesomeness of storms. They can be quite breath taking!
2. Focus on the positive and surround yourself with positive people. Enough already with the complainers and negative talk about the weather. Focusing on the clouds just make them worse and allows depression to feed on itself.
3. Turn on the lights. Now, I may be the ‘greenest’ therapist in the world (no office, no electricity, etc) and I really believe in being eco-friendly. But, Edison invented the light bulb for a reason! Use it. Blasting the lights a few hours to combat those blues won’t sink the planet, and it might just give you a pick me up.
4. Get out there! You wont melt – get outside and move around. If you know anything about me – I’m a big proponent for moving your body and using that mind / body connection.
5. Finally, realize that there is a strong connection between the gray weather and your bad mood. That realization can be powerful. It tells you that there is a reason for your lethargy and grumpiness. And it tells you that it is temporary. Don’t be a victim to the weather. Make a conscious choice to focus on the positive and improve your mood.

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