Category Archives: Blog

Welcome to our Mental Health blog at the Chicago Counseling Center. This is a space where we discuss Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobias, and PTSD and other mental health resources.

“That’s OCD?” Part 1

Types of OCD (that People Don’t Like Talking About)

By Taylor Newendorp, M.A., LCPC

type of ocd - chicago counseling centerThe most common stereotypes of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are that it is characterized by someone being overly concerned with cleanliness (excessively washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting things, etc.), someone liking things very organized, or someone repeatedly checking things like locks. These can be symptoms of OCD, and are highly distressing and even debilitating for the person suffering from the disorder. There are names for these OCD types: Contamination OCD, Just Right OCD, and Responsibility OCD, respectively and they are relatively common.

However, OCD can manifest itself in an almost countless number of ways, and there are several other sub-types of OCD that are not well-recognized.

This is problematic in that people struggling with one of these types of OCD may not have any idea that they even have the disorder, which may cause even more anxiety for them and prevent them from receiving the proper treatment for it.

It can be challenging for medical and mental health professionals to properly identify these sub-types as OCD, too, which can lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment as well. So here are some of the lesser-known types of OCD that people don’t like talking about because of the subject matter they involve:

 

Types of OCD

In this article we will be covering three types of OCD: Harm OCD, Pedophile OCD, and Sexual Orientation OCD. Additional OCD Types are covered in this article (click here).

Continue reading “That’s OCD?” Part 1

Why Not? 21 Self-Care Ideas You Can Try Today!

By: Abigail Yeomans LPC

There are so many articles out there that describe how to take care of yourself. That must mean something, and you guessed it! This constant conversation suggests that self-care is not only important but entirely necessary to lead a satisfying and healthy life.

The first step to practicing self-care is to acknowledge that you deserve to take care of yourself. Practice saying “I deserve this time for myself” and pay attention to the effect that has on your mood! Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to take a few minutes to decompress.

Here a few other ideas:

  1. Allow yourself two mindful minutes before, during or aself-care and wellnessfter work/ school today
  2. Look up mindfulness apps on your phone and try one of the exercises
  3. Follow through on plans today even if you’re tired!
  4. Take a bath
  5. Light a candle
  6. Dance to your favorite song
  7. Take the scenic route home
  8. Play a game with your friends, kids, partner
  9. Try a new hobby
  10. Cook your favorite recipe
  11. Start an inspirational Pinterest board
  12. Re-read your favorite book
  13. Call someone who you care about
  14. Exercise, even if it is only for 5 minutes
  15. Go to bed early
  16. Write in a journal- try to focus on all the things you did well today
  17. If you have the tendency to be hard on yourself, try saying “I notice I am having the thought that____.” (for more tips like this try reading The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris)
  18. Take a minute to hold the door for someone when you are out and about today
  19. Look up positive affirmations and try saying one to yourself in the mirror
  20. Instead of dwelling on the past, look out the window and observe what is happening right now
  21. Create a self-soothe kit- put items in a box that help ease anxiety during times of high stress. Focus on the five senses and include items in the kit for sight, sounds, touch, taste and smell.

These are only a handful of ideas that are helpful for folks I have worked with when they want to practice self-care. Even though it may seem like there is absolutely no time to do any of the things listed above, it is so important to give yourself just one to five minutes to simply be! Have any self-care ideas you want to share? Go to our Facebook or Twitter pages to share what works for you!

 

Depression and a Treatment That Works

By: Abigail Yeomans, LPC

Individuals struggling with depression commonly report an overwhelming sense of impairment when it comes to motivation and engaging in activities that once provided a sense of pleasure or joy. If you have ever thought to yourself, “I know what would help me feel better, but I just don’t feel like doing it” you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is estimated that 16 million adults in the United States have had one or more major depressive episodes in the last year (http://www.nami.org/). This statistic includes individuals from various demographic backgrounds. In other words, depression is not exclusive.

The symptoms to look out for are: consistent fatigue, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, psychomotor agitation, depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, interrupted sleep, difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness, feeling extreme worthlessness or guilt, loss of interest or pleasure in most activities and thoughts of death or hurting yourself. If the answer was “yes” to five or more of the listed symptoms, and if you have been experiencing those symptoms for at least two weeks, seeking help from a professional counselor is the next step (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Ok. So, what could help me feel better? Believe it or not, depressive episodes and chronic depression are treatable, and there is substantial empirical evidence to support how we treat it at Chicago Counseling Center (Jacobson, N. S., Martell, C. R., & Dimidjian, S., 2001).

Using Behavior Activation (BA), we focus on the various events in an individual’s life and how he or she responds to those events. BA is based on the idea that life has provided little rewards too many stressors or problems. Understandably, this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness which can then disrupt basic routines and result in doing less and less of what was once enjoyable and valuable such as spending time with friends and family, going to work or school, and health and wellness related activities.

What treatment looks like with BA:

  1. Discuss what areas of your life are most disrupted by your depression
  2. Collaboratively work to increase awareness of avoidance patterns and unhelpful behaviors that fuel feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  3. Assist in identifying values and creating short and long term treatment goals based on those values
  4. Help clients take small and manageable steps toward increasing involvement in once enjoyable activities and developing a sustainable routine using:
    • Activity monitoring logs
    • Behavior Activation hierarchy
    • Active coping and avoidance tracking
  5. Work together to address barriers that arise outside of sessions and continuously come back to active coping and resisting avoidance 

While it may feel hopeless and extremely difficult to do almost anything right now, coming back to what you value most in life can make all the difference. While implementing BA, it has been demonstrated time and time again that motivation grows when we come back to what is most valuable to us. Eventually isolating and avoiding becomes less comfortable than engaging in what was once difficult before coming to treatment.

 

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://www.nami.org/

Jacobson, N. S., Martell, C. R., & Dimidjian, S. (2001). Behavioral activation treatment for depression: Returning to contextual roots. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8(3), 255-270.

 

“You treat perfectionism? What does that even mean?”

By Taylor Newendorp, LCPC

I received this question a few years ago when I started advertising the fact that I address the issue of perfectionism in my clinical practice. While it may still be a widely-held belief that striving for perfection is a positive thing, it can, in fact, become an incredibly detrimental problem in someone’s life. The problem with perfectionism is that, to the perfectionist, no matter how well he or she does at something or how much success that person achieves in life, it still never feels good enough. Therefore this ongoing need to always do better ultimately leads to feeling discontent and frustrated, and the very effort to be the best actually hurts the person’s sense of self-esteem and confidence.
Continue reading “You treat perfectionism? What does that even mean?”

“Am I Okay?”: Reassurance Seeking. What is it and why is it so hard to stop?

by David Ferenciak, LPC

Reassurance seeking, a behavior or mental act aimed to clarify or verify something that is typically already known, emerges through an inability to tolerate uncertainty. It is particularly significant in obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it can be found throughout each of the anxiety disorders. ‘Assurance’ is enough to satisfy many people, but the anxious mind is not easily satisfied. As one seeks out certainty – doubt begins to emerge again and the demand for ‘re-Assurance’ increases.
Maybe you know a friend or an acquaintance, or perhaps it is yourself, who repetitively asks questions that are aimed to provide relief or comfort. Examples of reassuring questions may include: Will everything be okay? Are you sure that I locked the door? Did I do the right thing? Are you sure I did not offend you? The amount of energy that someone can invest in obtaining certainty can be high, and it is not uncommon for someone with significant anxiety to feel defeated following their attempts to find reassurance. Continue reading “Am I Okay?”: Reassurance Seeking. What is it and why is it so hard to stop?

What the heck is “ERP”?

By Taylor Newendorp, LCPC

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), otherwise known as exposure therapy, is an evidence-based method of treatment within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ERP has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and a wide range of Anxiety Disorders. These disorders include: Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Health Anxiety, and Specific Phobias.

When people struggle with anxiety and doubt the core component of OCD they tend to try and avoid the very things that produce anxiety or perform certain actions to try and “get rid of” uncomfortable feelings. Ultimately people do this to eliminate doubt and uncertainty. Unfortunately, research has shown that avoidance, distraction, and repetitive actions/rituals actually perpetuate and increase anxiety and stress over time. With exposure therapy, you are purposely exposed to a stimulus that produces anxiety or discomfort. The stimulus could be a place, a thought, an image, an object, a situation or something else.  Although this may sound strange, throughout the exposure process you are encouraged to actively resist engaging in your typical response to that trigger. Read on to find out why and how this works! Continue reading What the heck is “ERP”?

Parents Versus Defiant Children

By Diana Flores, LCPC

More often than not, I meet with parents who are frustrated with their children’s behaviors. They will say things such as “What have I done wrong?” “Why won’t he or she listen to me” In most cases, the parents have internalized their children’s behaviors and they see these negative behaviors as their children being defiant towards them on purpose. In reality a child might just be acting out due to being unable to express a feeling appropriately. Continue reading Parents Versus Defiant Children

Which one is more important Thoughts, Feelings or Behaviors?

By Diana Flores, LCPC

It is now well known that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all very important because they all influence each other. My thoughts can influence my feelings and behaviors and my feelings can influence my thoughts and behaviors just like my behaviors can influence by thoughts and feelings. This being said, for the purpose of exposure therapy one is actually more important than the other twocan you guess which one? If you guessed Behaviorgo you! But why??? Continue reading Which one is more important Thoughts, Feelings or Behaviors?

To Fear, or not to Fear?

By Diana Flores, LCPC

Imagine this scenario: a little boy is playing in his yard and suddenly a big dog runs up to the fence and starts barking very loudly. The little boy is caught off guard and he immediately feels scared and in a panic state. His “flight, freeze or fight” mechanism kicks in and he finds the ability to run into the house to seek comfort from his mom, his mom gives him a hug and tells him that he will be ok and his mom then tells him to go watch his favorite TV show so he can feel better. You will learn in therapy that this boy’s behavior is not unusual and most people when confronted with a scary event will learn to avoid the situation (run away from the dog), they will seek reassurance from others (mom saying to the boy that he will be ok), or they will distract themselves so they do not have to deal with the actual anxiety trigger (watch TV). Continue reading To Fear, or not to Fear?