Therapy Blog

  • ADD & ADHD: The Truth of the Matter

    Is it ADD? Is it ADHD? Is it depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it something else medically related? These are all valid questions that you have possibly asked yourself or asked about your child at one time or another. It is a difficult diagnosis to pin-point and can often be confused with other diagnoses. It is extremely important try the following steps, in this order, to assess whether or not you might be dealing with ADD/ADHD:

    1. Get a full physical. Rule out any medical issues that could be masquerading as inattention or hyperactivity.
    2. If medical issues are ruled out, seek assessment by a mental health professional. Don't try to diagnosis and/or treat yourself.
    3. If your child is the one displaying ADD/ADHD- like symptoms, speak to his/her teacher, school counselor, principal, and any other school professional that may be involved in your child's education. They can give you insight into what they see in the classroom and what is observed as they interact with peers during the school-day.
    4. Work with your mental health professional to institute an individualized treatment plan to deal with whatever diagnosis is made. If outpatient therapy is not successful, consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist for possible medication management IN ADDITION TO mental health therapy.
    5. Be sure to take care of your physical self as this impacts your emotional and mental well-being. Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and exercising are all key ingredients to getting any ADD/ADHD-like symptoms under better control.

    So, what would symptoms of ADD or ADHD look like? Often times in my practice, I see individuals come in who assume that since they are having trouble concentrating, it might be ADD or ADHD. I carefully evaluate their medical, personal (including mental health, substance abuse, and family), and work history to get a handle on the bigger picture of what we might be looking at as a diagnosis. Sometimes, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is deducted from certain combination of hallmark characteristics along with the close assessment of behavioral and emotional health information a client gives. However, sometimes issues as basic as stress, depression, loneliness, grief/loss, or anxiety are truly at the root of what might otherwise be considered ADD/ADHD.

    There are a number of checklist symptoms of ADD and ADHD which include:

    • Inattention
    • Difficulty Concentrating
    • Easily Distracted
    • Unable to Sit Still
    • Fidgety
    • Frequently Interrupts
    • Struggle to Complete Tasks
    • Frequent Forgetting
    • No Filter
    • Restless
    • Talk Excessively

    Now please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms for ADD/ADHD. This article is also not a substitute for professional help. However, if you are needing to find relief from these symptoms while working on yourself between sessions with a therapist and/or appointments with a psychiatrist, you may want try this simple tips:

    • Get Adequate Sleep
    • Keep a Consistent Schedule
    • Take Breaks
    • Get Organized (start color coding, use a journal, use a note pad as a reminder system, etc.)
    • Eat Healthy
    • Exercise (get out excessive energy to assist you in focusing and concentrating through your day)
    • Learn Healthy Communication Skills
    • Use You Support System
    • Relaxation Techniques

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and more information can be obtained from your therapist or doctor to institute specific treatment options and steps to help you get a better handle on this disorder. Remember that ADD/ADHD is quite common in our extremely busy and high expectation society. It is no wonder that especially if you have a genetic propensity to having ADD/ADHD, that your environment can aggravate it and exacerbate it. Take care though. There is always help that can be located through your school, work, EAP, health insurance, and simple Google searches for the proper treatment professionals.

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Meghan L. Reitz, MA, LCPC, NCC

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Meghan has worked within the counseling profession for over ten years. Her experience includes providing individual, family, group, crisis, and substance abuse counseling. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in Anthropology and Psychology and her graduate degree from Bradley University in Human Development/Community Counseling.

Meghan has worked and volunteered in the following settings as a therapist:

  • Non-profit social service agencies
  • Mental health hospitals
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Therapeutic day schools
  • Managed Care/Insurance companies
  • Private practice
  • Geriatric settings- including nursing homes, older adult care centers
  • Non-profit fundraising agencies

Please check out her daily tweets on Twitter and periodic blogs on mental health topics. You can also chat with her live and/or email her through this site.

Everything listed under: Counseling

  • ADD & ADHD: The Truth of the Matter

    Is it ADD? Is it ADHD? Is it depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it something else medically related? These are all valid questions that you have possibly asked yourself or asked about your child at one time or another. It is a difficult diagnosis to pin-point and can often be confused with other diagnoses. It is extremely important try the following steps, in this order, to assess whether or not you might be dealing with ADD/ADHD:

    1. Get a full physical. Rule out any medical issues that could be masquerading as inattention or hyperactivity.
    2. If medical issues are ruled out, seek assessment by a mental health professional. Don't try to diagnosis and/or treat yourself.
    3. If your child is the one displaying ADD/ADHD- like symptoms, speak to his/her teacher, school counselor, principal, and any other school professional that may be involved in your child's education. They can give you insight into what they see in the classroom and what is observed as they interact with peers during the school-day.
    4. Work with your mental health professional to institute an individualized treatment plan to deal with whatever diagnosis is made. If outpatient therapy is not successful, consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist for possible medication management IN ADDITION TO mental health therapy.
    5. Be sure to take care of your physical self as this impacts your emotional and mental well-being. Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and exercising are all key ingredients to getting any ADD/ADHD-like symptoms under better control.

    So, what would symptoms of ADD or ADHD look like? Often times in my practice, I see individuals come in who assume that since they are having trouble concentrating, it might be ADD or ADHD. I carefully evaluate their medical, personal (including mental health, substance abuse, and family), and work history to get a handle on the bigger picture of what we might be looking at as a diagnosis. Sometimes, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is deducted from certain combination of hallmark characteristics along with the close assessment of behavioral and emotional health information a client gives. However, sometimes issues as basic as stress, depression, loneliness, grief/loss, or anxiety are truly at the root of what might otherwise be considered ADD/ADHD.

    There are a number of checklist symptoms of ADD and ADHD which include:

    • Inattention
    • Difficulty Concentrating
    • Easily Distracted
    • Unable to Sit Still
    • Fidgety
    • Frequently Interrupts
    • Struggle to Complete Tasks
    • Frequent Forgetting
    • No Filter
    • Restless
    • Talk Excessively

    Now please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms for ADD/ADHD. This article is also not a substitute for professional help. However, if you are needing to find relief from these symptoms while working on yourself between sessions with a therapist and/or appointments with a psychiatrist, you may want try this simple tips:

    • Get Adequate Sleep
    • Keep a Consistent Schedule
    • Take Breaks
    • Get Organized (start color coding, use a journal, use a note pad as a reminder system, etc.)
    • Eat Healthy
    • Exercise (get out excessive energy to assist you in focusing and concentrating through your day)
    • Learn Healthy Communication Skills
    • Use You Support System
    • Relaxation Techniques

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and more information can be obtained from your therapist or doctor to institute specific treatment options and steps to help you get a better handle on this disorder. Remember that ADD/ADHD is quite common in our extremely busy and high expectation society. It is no wonder that especially if you have a genetic propensity to having ADD/ADHD, that your environment can aggravate it and exacerbate it. Take care though. There is always help that can be located through your school, work, EAP, health insurance, and simple Google searches for the proper treatment professionals.

  • Back to Basics: What is Therapy?

    A large amount of people often wonder what true mental health therapy and counseling is. These concepts can be quite ambiguous, and there are so many different approaches to therapy that it can seem a little overwhelming and confusing. Many would agree that therapy is an inexact science in that there isn't one right or wrong way to handle particular issues. In most cases, it is very individualistic depending on a person's personality traits, genetics, upbringing, social economic status, culture, religion, ethnicity, and so on and so forth.

    So how is a lay person to know what he/she should be looking for when searching for the right counselor or therapist? It does truly depend on the person. You should start by identifying what you hope to gain out of therapy. Are you looking to cope with grief? Are you trying to manage a behaviorally challenged son or daughter? Are you having marital problems? Making sure that you have a good grasp on what you want to change or improve on in your situation is key to finding the right fit in a therapist.

    The next step is to do a little research. Contact your insurance carrier for referrals. Look up therapists in your area via your internet search engine. Take a careful look at the options you have in front of you. You will want to have a handle on how much you can afford to pay. Take note of the location and hours of the person you are interested in seeing. Would you feel more comfortable seeing a male versus a female? What is the therapist's areas of expertise? Do they fit with what you are trying to work on in your life?

    Make an appointment. I always encourage people to make the jump. You will never know until you try. Now remember, every person has their own personalities, quirks, and abilities. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error in finding the right fit in a therapist. Do not get discouraged if you feel like something does not click after a few sessions. A good therapist will also be aware of these things and should be checking in with you on how you feel things are going. It does not mean there is something wrong with a therapist if you are having difficulty meshing with him/her. It just means you need to find someone that better suits your tastes. It is important to feel comfortable with your therapist as you will need to be honest and open in order to get the most out of your treatment.

    Typically therapists will explain their theoretical orientation towards therapy in the initial session.  What this means is that, again, there are many different approaches to dealing with certain stressors, issues, and mental health concerns. A few different, but common approaches to be on the look-out for are:

    -Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

    -Psychodynamic Therapy

    -Person-Centered Therapy

    -Bio-Feedback

    -EMDR

    Don't know exactly what these entail? That's ok. Educate yourself by looking them up via the internet. Ask your therapist to explain what his/her approach will look like for you and your treatment. All therapies that are in good standing should encompass confidentiality, caring, a level of being non-judgmental, and a place where YOU, the client, feel HEARD. As this post is just a stepping stone in the right direction to finding your fit within the world of therapy, remember that there are a lot of resources out there. Sometimes the hardest step is making that first phone call and setting up an appointment. It can definitely be well-worth it.

     

  • High Emotions: The Ups and Downs of Feelings

    What are "high emotions?" Simply put, they are the mental feelings that literally run "high." These emotions can be extreme amounts of anger, sadness, hurt, disappointment, guilt, happiness, and confusion just to name a few. When individuals are experiencing high emotions, typically they can feel over-exaggerated and flip-flop from good to bad and vice-versa. Most people will experience these kinds of feelings surrounding major events in their lives. This could include graduating, moving, weddings, divorce, and losing a job. When anything positively or negatively stressful occurs in one's life, it will typically produce some type of emotional response.

    When do high emotions become problematic? If you are feeling overwhelmed by your mood swings or the intensity of a certain mood, then your emotions are probably interfering with your ability to maintain a normal, healthy existence. These extreme emotions can affect your personal life, your work performance, and your physical health. That is why it is important to be able to recognize when you are experiencing high emotions so that you can start to regulate your mood and how it is impacting the different areas of your life.

    Seek out help. This can come in a number of forms including but not limited to individual counseling, group counseling, attending support groups, confiding in a close family member or friend, educating yourself about what you're experiencing, journal, soul-search, and identifying the triggers. There are many resources both online and off that can assist you in whatever you are dealing with. Remind yourself that you are never alone in what you are going through, even if it seems like it at the time. More often than not there are many people who have been in your shoes before. That is why you should reach out.

    Having a hard time getting a handle on what you are feeling? Start by keeping a daily log of what is going on in your life. Note when you are having certain emotions throughout the day. Eventually you should be able to decipher a pattern in what triggers your emotions. Once you are able to identify your triggers or stress, you can them begin to implement ways to manage your triggers in a different way. Remember: There is always hope. The way you are feeling will not last forever.

  • What is Wrong with My Marriage?

    Couples...Marriage...Relationships...Romance...Intimacy...Emotional Connections...What's it all mean?

    I see, and have seen, a lot of couples in my various positions as a therapist. There tends to be a common thread in couples who are seeking answers to "what is wrong" with their relationship- they don't see the "what is right" with their marriage. It can be very easy to get caught up with the negatives that fill our days...and this is no different when it comes to a relationship. If there has been some good connection or a meaningful intimate act, it can be colored by a petty argument, bringing "old stuff" up, by a misinterpretation, etc. It's important to take an active role in your relationship with your partner. Acknowledge both the bad and the good. Try to look at it from a bigger perspective, than from a narrowed point of view. Are things that bad?

    Your answer may be yes. In cases like that, where the positive is difficult to find, or is few and far between, you may want to look at things that both your partner and yourself need to work on in the relationship. One thing may very well be communication. Is there a breakdown of communication over even simple matters? Is one person interpreting what their partner is saying inaccurately? In these situations, it's important to break down your communication styles...like what type of belief you may be attaching to what your partner has said. Is it accurate? Have you truly understood what he/she has tried to say to you? Paraphrase what you've heard. Use I statements. Talk it out until there is "understanding" on both parts.

    You may need a bit of a referee or mediator when trying to do these simple techniques...try not to assign blame or take things personally. Each person is responsible for self-soothing, for how they interpret an action or comment, and for how they react. Try to look at a problem as either "your problem," "their problem," or "our problem." Typically, an "our problem" is something affects the both of you (i.e. financial issues, parenting your children, etc.). Take a look at whether maybe seeking professional counseling or a self-help materials may be helpful in guiding you through the mountains and valleys that CONSIST of your relationship: http://www.helium.com/items/346091-self-help-resources-vs-professional-counseling

     

  • Battle of the Bulge: Weight and Mental Health

    The fight against weight gain, and even weight loss, is on!

    What does mental and emotional health got to do with it?

    Actually, a lot. If you're feeling stressed, upset, angry, or sad, do you ever reach for that gallon of ice cream? Or do you lose your appetite altogether? Either way, it's not healthy for anyone. In a perfect world, we would all be an average, normal weight. We wouldn't have things like stress and life issues bombarding us on a daily basis. However, we don't live in that perfect world (Which ultimately is probably a good thing! Otherwise, things would be pretty darn boring.). Stressors are a part of our way of life. It's all about how we manage them that makes the difference. And how you're feeling can be directly related as to whether you seek solace in food or engage in eating disorder behaviors. Fluctuations in weight and our physical health are impacted by whether we are in an emotionally and mentally healthy spot. When we feel good or are making healthy choices, we take care of ourselves. When we feel bad or are not managing our mental health successfully, our physical health pays the price.

    I know I'm having difficulty regulating my mood. What now?

    Identifying that you're struggling is the first step. That opens the doors to seeking the help and support you need to get yourself to a better frame of mind. This in turn will lead to a happier existence, where mental and physical health are in balance. Locate a trainer, see a dietician, talk with your primary care doctor, seek counseling/therapy, and/or ask for emotional support from family and friends. Don't know where to start? Feel overwhelmed? Get a physical. That will give you a baseline of where you're at right now- whether you're overweight, underweight, have any physical issues beyond weight, etc. From there you can determine your next plan of action.

    I don't know if I can beat the way I'm feeling. How do I feel better? And get my weight under control?

    Feeling unsure, scared, and overwhelmed can be common feelings when you're mental and emotional healthy are out of whack. It takes some effort to reach out for the help you need. It's ok to not be able to do it on your own. Journaling, taking breaks, practicing relaxation techniques, talking to clergy/friends/family, and doing some realistic goal setting are good ways to get started. By getting the depression, anxiety, panic, stress, confusion, anger, and/or apathy under control, you WILL see results in terms of your physical health (i.e. weight gain/loss). Counseling can be a helpful tool to use- especially if you feel you can't really depend on someone in your life currently. Counseling gives you an objective, nonjudgmental individual to help support you through your life's issues.

  • Leadership and Counseling

    I wrote the following article/essay for Chi Sigma Iota which is the Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International that I have been blessed to be a member of since 2002. I won second place in their 2010 Essay Contest on Leadership: The Many Voices of CSI and wanted to share that article with you. It will also be published on their website at: www.csi-net.org.

    Leadership: Words from a Past Student, Present Counselor, and Future Entrepreneur

    It has been with great pleasure that I received the utmost in a counseling education that a university could provide by attending Bradley University in Peoria, IL. I was invited to become a member of Chi Sigma Iota in 2002. I was a very young 22 year old graduate student who was still finding her footing in the world of counseling and mental health. By becoming a member of the university’s chapter, I gained the knowledge and experience I carry to this day from fellow Chi Sigma Iota members and leaders.

    As I entered the working world in 2003 after my graduation at Bradley, I was challenged by the initial position I took as a counselor in chemical dependency and substance abuse. By utilizing my ties to Chi Sigma Iota, following their periodic newsletters, and gaining CEUs offered through the fraternity, I was able to become a highly successful counselor and leader from the start of my early twenties.

    Now I am entering a new phase in both my personal and professional careers. I am in the process of opening my own private practice. Without the assistance and resources that Chi Sigma Iota has provided me through the years, I would never have been able to say that I am actually starting my own business. With this new beginning, I want to pursue Dr. Herr’s and Chi Sigma Iota’s mission.  I want to continue to conduct and continually improve my professionalism, leadership, and excellence in the counseling field.  I plan to do this by engaging with the fraternity to promote scholarship and research among students, professors, and practitioners in the mental health community and counseling field. I also plan to take on more leadership roles both within the fraternity and outside with other counseling associations with which I am affiliated.

    The future lies ahead, and it looks very bright for both myself and my fellow Chi Sigma Iota members.  "I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow." – Julia Cameron

    By: Meghan L. Reitz, MA, LCPC, NCC