Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E, Manahawkin, NJ 08050,
Telephone (609)709-2043 and (609) 494-0009.

Driving directions: Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72 E After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Mill Creek Commons.Then, immedately turn right again and go past the Lyceum II Gym. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building,which will be the only building on your right. We are the last office at the end.

We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.
We do not accept credit or debit cards.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Overcome Shyness with Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology

It is generally agreed that the cognitive-behavioral approach is the fastest-growing orientation in psychology, with an ever-growing body of research behind it to demonstrate that it actually works.

Just as physical therapists can provide you with exercises to improve physical functioning, cognitive-behavioral therapists provide exercises to develop more effective psychological adjustments. Cognitive-behavioral therapists frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on in the mind when we keep making those bad choices when we could have made better ones. Here is what one looks like, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk, and here is what it looks like all filled out. You can make copies for your own personal use without charge by using the print command on your computer. They also have a free self-help course on cognitive-behavioral therapy, and a host of other helpful materials.

Shyness is a common phenomenon which we all feel at one time or another, especially around someone whom do not know well, but are physically or emotionally attracted to. Shyness most closely fits their worksheet for social anxiety. Here is a hypothetical example of how it might be used, with the column headings in italics and one set of possible responses in standard type.

Situation and Trigger: You are eating lunch alone in the company cafeteria. An attractive co-worker from another department sits down at the table with you and begins a conversation about job-related matters.

Feelings, Emotions, and Physical Sensations: Awkwardness.

Unhelpful Thoughts or Images: "I'd like to get to know her better, but I don't know what to say."

Self-focus: Trying to hide what I am really thinking about.

Safety Behaviors: Pretending that I'm only interested in the topic of conversation.

Balanced, more rational response: I could say something like, "I'm enjoying this conversation, and I'd like to continue our talk later on. Can I call you for lunch sometime?"

Outcome: I will either be able to begin a friendship that could develop into something serious, or I will be able to stop fretting about her and focus my attention on someone else.

It sounds simple when you look at it this way. But if you do not use the CBT Thought Record to put your thinking, feeling, and behavior under a microscope, you might very well continue to fret about being shy, but never do much about it. Of course, you might want to practice using the thought record form for other hypothetical conversations, in order to be prepared for a variety of possible outcomes. Once you get the hang of it, if you continue to do these mental workouts as regularly as you would exercise physically in a gymnasium, you will eventually become able to think, feel, and act like a confident person in almost any situation.

Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Cognitive-behavioral psychology can be of great help in preparing you for all the important steps to your destination! 

See also: 

The Art of Small Talk

 

This Blog contains many other examples of experience as an art form, for the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"The Right Medication, in the Right Dosage,

Psychotropic medication is not for everyone!
A prison inmate with previously undiscovered bipolar disorder had driven his car into a tree while in a manic state, which resulted in the death of his girlfriend and his subsequent incarceration. He later said to me,"It's too bad that you have to come to jail to find out that you have a mental illness!" I agreed that he was unfortunately correct. ("Insanity" is a very difficult defense to use, even when it may be justified.) Later, when his meds had taken effect and he saw how effective they were, he told me, "The right medication, in the right dosage, will kick ass!" 

I told him that I had never heard it put so incisively before; but again I had to admit that he was right. Many of the criticisms of "Big Pharma" over-marketing psychotropic medication are probably valid. Research has shown that for many problems involving mild to moderate anxiety and or depression, a regular exercise program and, or talk therapy of the same length of time can be effective -- but certainly not for bipolar disorder!

However, medication is certainly not without its drawbacks. It's a science to develop a new psychotropic medication but it's an art to use it, because no two people are exactly alike. Even after years of rigorous testing to gain approval for a prescription drug, a particular medication can have absolutely no effect on one person, work well for another, and put still another in the emergency room. (I've talked to more than one person in each group.) 

Because psychotropic medication can sometimes can take weeks to build up in your nervous system before you find out whether or not they are going to work, and because of the possibility of side effects just mentioned, prescribers often start a person on "baby" doses of a psychotropic medication and gradually increase the prescribed amount until a therapeutic level is atually reached. This often results in having to wait even longer to find out if a particular medication, or combination of them, is going to be effective.

No decision regarding whether to use or not to use psychotropic medication such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, or mood stabilizers, should be made without consulting an appropriately licensed professional who can prescribe such medication. But for those who respond poorly or adversely to psychotropic medication, talk therapy can be useful either as a booster or as an alternative. For example, a client whose depression appeared to be primarily rooted in family difficulties recently had been prescribed an anti-depressant by her family physician, but it was either not working or it had not kicked in yet. She was about to stop taking her medication, but I reminded her that some medication does take weeks to build up in one's body, sometimes the dosage needs to be adjusted, sometimes there are unpleasant side effects, which make it necessary to try another medication before finding just the right meds, either singly or in combination, which work for a particular individual.

While she continued to see her physician, using a multimodal induction and the Best Me Technique, I suggested feelings of peace, happinesss, tranquility, and relaxation. Almost immediately her depression lifted, and we were free to begin the process of identifying goals and discovering the sources which would help to bring meaning and fulfillment into her life.

Was her change in mood due to hypnosis, or did her medication finally start to work?  Life is not an experimental laboratory; and with a live patient who desperately needs to get better, our goal is to get results, rather than identifying exactly what leads to what. The only thing we can be sure of at this point is that she was highly satisfied with the outcome.


 

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Have Better Sex at Any Age

Consecrating themselves to one another anew
Sometimes a stranger will tell you things that he might not tell his best friend.  I was once seated next to a man at a restaurant who told me how worried he was that his sex drive was slowing down as he was entering his forties. I replied that the difference between sex in your twenties and sex in your forties was like the difference between a starving man devouring a hamburger and a cultured Frenchman enjoying a leisurely seven-course gourmet meal in a fine restaurant. If you take your time and savor every moment of the total situation, the total enjoyment you are going to have is  much greater. And where sex is concerned, you're the chef  -- and the best way to have a gourmet experience is to prepare one for your partner! 

We both ordered dessert. 





 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Case for Single Payer Health Insurance

I am a psychologist and my wiife has a doctorate in psychological counseling. For several years, we have been members of Physicians for a National Health Program which, despite the name, welcomes members of all health-rekated professions, and advocates for the abolition of private insurance companies in favor of a single national payer, which could be achieved by expanding Medicare to cover the entire population.

Following are some excerpts of recent Senate testomony by Mark Carlin:

Here are two basic facts to remember about the health care system in the United States. First, there is the high cost, as noted in a 2012 report on PBS:
How much is good health care worth to you? $8,233 per year? That’s how much the U.S. spends per person.
Worth it?
That figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of GDP....
Whether measured relative to its population or its economy, the United States spends by far the most in the world on health care.
The U.S. spent $8,233 on health per person in 2010. Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland are the next highest spenders, but in the same year, they all spent at least $3,000 less per person. The average spending on health care among the other 33 developed OECD countries was $3,268 per person.
That statistic brings up the much-beloved free market criteria of return on investment (ROI), at which the US performs abysmally according to many studies when it comes to health.
An NPR article in 2013 is entitled, "US Ranks Below 16 Other Rich Countries In Health Report":
It's no news that the U.S. has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than most high-income countries. But a ... new report says Americans are actually less healthy across their entire life spans than citizens of 16 other wealthy nations.
And the gap is steadily widening.
"What struck us — and it was quite sobering — was the recurring trend in which the U.S. seems to be slipping behind other high-income countries," the lead author of the report, Dr. Steven Woolf, tells Shots.
He says Americans of all ages up to 75 have shorter lives and more illness and injury.
It should be noted that in this report, the United States is being compared to other "developed" nations. A recent United Nations Population Divison report ranked the US 40th in life expectancy among all nations in 2010.
In short, the US spends the most on medical care with poor life expectancy results, even including many nations that are not considered wealthy.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have made insurance coverage more inclusive, but it keeps the insurance companies in charge of calling the shots (for those without Medicare, Veterans Care or Medicaid) and adding to the cost of health care through administrative costs and profit.
According to the advocacy organization Public Citizen, a number of experts from single-payer nations recently testified at a Senate sub-committee hearing chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a leading supporter of Medicare for all. The spokespersons from Canada and Denmark offered compelling reasons why the US should move from a private-insurance system to a government administered program (such as, well, Medicare):
For example, the Canadian witness, Dr. Danielle Martin, vice president of medical affairs and health system solutions at Women’s College Hospital, compared access to care, quality of care and costs in the U.S. and Canadian systems, and found all were superior in Canada. Martin compared the American average for administrative costs of 31 percent to the 1.3 percent administrative costs paid by Canada (not counting costs for private supplemental plans available to Canadians.) Professor Jakob Kjellberg from the Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research, who served as the Danish expert witness, said his country’s administrative costs are only 4.3 percent of total health care spending.
In short, as has been argued before, private health insurance (which we still obviously have under the ACA) increases the cost of medical care, with nearly a third of that cost eaten up by private insurance non-health related revenue. To repeat the testimony cited above: 31 percent of US health insurance costs goes to insurers, while in Canada only 1.3 percent of medical costs are administrative.
As far as access to care, to the contrary of what Sarah Palin infamously asserted -- that government care would lead to death panels -- it is private insurance companies who employ staff to decide whether medical care -- sometimes a matter of life or death with chronic illnesses and rare diseases -- should be provided. Medicare does not employ "profit-increasers" to deny care.
Indeed, a spokesperson for Public Citizen pointedly summarized the hearing:
Today’s panel was a good first step that will hopefully inspire a real discussion about the benefits of single-payer health care in the United States, said Susan Harley, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. A single-payer, or Medicare-for-all, system would eliminate health insurance companies from the equation, ensuring that only patients and their doctors make decisions about care options.
Although the ACA is to be praised for providing many uninsured people an opportunity to sleep with some peace of mind, it is still a rickety system constructed to ensure the political support of medical insurance companies.
US politicians, including President Obama, regularly boast about the US being the leader of the world in progress and a model for other nations.
Having the most expensive healthcare system, with the worst general outcome ranking for developed nations, makes the US look like a wobbly caboose not a powerful engine.
Medicare for all could solve that problem when it comes to cost-effectively fostering a healthy national population.

Please join us in working to put an end to the abuses of private, for-profit insurance companies, from which we all suffer on a daily basis. 

Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D.