Browsing articles tagged with " Generalized Anxiety Disorder"

What is DBT? How does it work? Can it help me?

What is DBT?  How does it work?  Can it help me?

The Queen of DBT

At Anchor Counseling Center, Inc. in RI we offer individuals Dialectical Behavior Therapy or better known as DBT.  Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Founded by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1970’s, is a modification of Cognitive Behavior Therapy that focuses its main goals on teaching clients how to cope with stress, regulate emotions and improve relationships with others and their inner self. DBT can be used to treat a number of mental health conditions including those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, those who have suicidal thoughts and feelings, and those who exhibit self-destructive behavior such as eating disorders and substance abuse. DBT works on the foundations of radical acceptance of the self and validation of client’s capabilities and behavioral functioning.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy works in four stages: Emotional Regulation, Mindfulness, Interpersonal effectiveness and Distress tolerance.

Stage one: Emotional Regulation- seeks to regulate client’s emotions by teaching them techniques and giving them tools to regain control of their behaviors. This stage will help the client develop healthy coping skills to dealing with their emotions. The main goal of this stage is to help clients stop self-harmful behaviors or behaviors that interfere with their logical thought process.

Stage Two: Mindfulness -seeks to help the client focus on experiencing their emotions. This stage teaches clients to completely experience all of their emotions without the feeling of losing control.

Stage Three: Interpersonal Effectiveness- seeks to help clients deal with everyday life, its stressors and accepting them for what they are. This stage expands on working to have more successful relationships, careers and social lives by really understanding the self and accepting the inner you.

Stage Four: Distress Tolerance-seeks to reintegrate and connect the client to their everyday world. This is the stage clients will use what have learned in stages 1-3 and put them to use to help deal with relationships, careers and social life. This stage encourages the client to engage and takes steps into making their life more meaningful to challenge what they have learned.

We at Anchor Counseling Center want to help you, If you feel that you or a loved one would benefit from this type of therapy, a number of Clinicians at Anchor Counseling Center offer this treatment please call our office at 401-475-9979 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can visit our website:  AnchorCounselingCenter.com

Article written by Sarah Porier.

Anxiety: We have Choices. Just Breath

In May 2013 I graduated from my dream college with my undergraduate degree. Those short years flashed before my eyes. I loved school so much I spent my entire senior year pretending I wasn’t graduating. Quickly enough, though, I was walking across the stage and had received my diploma. I found myself thinking “now what?” Suddenly, the anxiety I had been trying to repress all of senior year was forcing itself to the surface. I had just spent fifteen years of my life in school. More specifically, I had spent fifteen years of my life in the most predictable cycle I could have ever been in. School, homework, summer break, and back to school. Was I really expected to simply not do that anymore? To move on and into a world I had never truly experienced before? Impossible.

Sure, I was very uncomfortable with anxious feelings of fear and the need to run away during my first semester in college but with the help and support of my family and friends I made it through and decided that college was really great. Best of all, I decided I was good at it. Unfortunately, I was only able to enjoy a small amount of my college life before I was submitting applications for graduation and realizing that this endless cycle did, in fact, have an end. And there it was. My anxiety was back and stronger than ever. It felt stronger than even I could ever be. I became very short fused with friends and family, unhappy, and afraid of everything. A friend had mentioned the name of a local therapist to me and I decided that maybe I should give counseling a shot. I could not let this disorder run the rest of my life.

Hours before my first appointment with the counselor my anxiety was incredibly high. How can I talk about these private issues to a perfect stranger, especially a stranger who will probably make me feel like a weird outcast? Needless to say, I kept the appointment and although I still felt a little uncomfortable the counselor made sure I did not feel weird or different. I learned that this overwhelming fear is normal and it is something I can overcome with time. In later appointments I learned where the anxiety was seeping into other areas of my life. For example, I had an incredible fear of a particular stretch of the subway in my city. I was certain that at this individual point the train was sure to fall off the tracks and into the harbor beneath it causing the death of all of its passengers. Apparently, not everyone has this feeling when they are crossing over the harbor. Together with my counselor we uncovered the core fear I had developed with my anxiety. I was terrified of the unknown. I didn’t know what life after college would bring me. Furthermore, I would sit in horror waiting for that part of the subway to come when I needed to hold my breath and hope that we made it over the harbor safely. Now we just needed to find a solution to this problem.

The transition was very difficult and still is a work in progress. I made sure to keep using that subway and not find ways of avoiding it. I was hyper aware of my surroundings on this subway car which, I rapidly learned, made the ride seem worse than it actually was. Every small bump seemed like we were rushing over a huge mountain that was knocking us off kilter. Occupying my mind with a book, a conversation, or even something as artless as my Facebook newsfeed took my attention away from the ride and it turned out to not be as treacherous as I had once thought. I unclenched my fists, breathed methodically, and calmed my body. I had to let go of the need to be in control. Whatever is going to happen on that train is going to happen whether I worry about it or not. I might as well enjoy the ride. A few rides like this and I found myself looking out the subway car window at the very spot I was once petrified would cause my death. The city looked beautiful and I had been missing it all this time.

Perhaps this seems like a superfluous issue when compared to having anxiety at college graduation. All I needed to do was use the same techniques I used on the subway and apply it to every day worries. The most helpful skill I have been using is breathing. Deep, slow breaths make all the difference. It clams my heart rate which gives me a chance to think logically about the situation. Exercise, too, has helped a great amount. I can work any negative energy out of my body at the start of my day before it becomes too much to handle. Exercise has provided me a great release. Of course, talking out my concerns with my counselor is incredibly helpful but he cannot follow me everywhere. I needed to learn how to conquer this on my own, when I don’t have others talking me out of a downward spiral into anxiety. I needed to realize that I can only control a very small portion of what happens to me. College graduation was going to happen no matter what. Now it is up to me to decide what is next.

It is now March 2014 and if I have learned anything it is that life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it. I am choosing to react in positive ways that make me happy and make me feel like my life is fulfilled. Choosing to see to a therapist was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. I learned that I am important and the only thing I have control over is my attitude. I refuse to let anxiety get the best of me. I still enjoy some structure in my days and while anxiety still makes some appearances in my life, it does not last long and I can manage it on my own. I wake up in the morning without the heavy burden of anxiety waiting for me. I will continue to make the efforts to remove anxiety from my life completely.

Author Anonymous

If you feel you or someone you love could benefit from help please contact us now or call us at 401.475.9979

You can also visit our website!

Mental Health News: 10 Steps to Prevent Suicide

Jul 19, 2012   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog, East Bay, East Providence, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Marriage, Mental Health, News, Self Help, Stress, Uncategorized, cranston  //  No Comments

Anchor Counseling Center is sharing the latest on Suicide Prevention.  As a private practice with locations in East Providence, Cranston, Lincoln, and North Attleboro, we are very involved in the community and reach out to our members with a caring and supportive manner.  Our mission is to provide our patients with the help they want as quickly as possible with reliable, courteous, and professional counseling and psychiatric interventions.

Just as CPR has been promoted to save lives, it is vital that the general public knows how to recognize suicide risk and prevent suicide. Here are the steps:

1. Notice if the person appears quiet and withdrawn, oversleeps, has crying episodes, has loss of appetite and energy, appears dishevelled, the gaze is downward, the voice tone is flat, consistently negative comments, irritability, or says things like, “Life’s not worth living,” or “I hate my life,” etc.

2. Ask: “How would you rate your mood right now on a scale of zero to ten with zero meaning life’s not worth living and ten meaning life is great?”

3. If the person rates the mood as 5 or under, ask: “Have you had any thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself?” *

4. If the person indicates yes, go to the next step. If the person says, “I don’t know,” hear this as a “yes” to the question in #3.

5. Ask: “Have you thought about how you might end your life?” If the person says yes, the risk is increased.

6. Ask: “What have you thought about as how you might do it?” If the plan or method is ineffective or non-lethal, such as cutting wrists, the risk is low. If the method is lethal such as using a gun or jumping from a bridge, etc., the risk is high.

7. Regardless of the method, ask: “Can we agree together that if you have thoughts of killing yourself, you will speak to me personally (not my voice mail) before carrying out a plan to harm yourself?”

8. If the person says “no” or “I don’t know,” to the question in #7, say: “What I am hearing is that you are in a lot of pain right now and thinking of ending your life, so I am wanting you to go to the emergency room right now and get some help to feel better right away. Will you go? I will make sure you get there safely. Is there a family member or someone I can call to go with you?” Or tell the person you will go with them yourself.

9. Arrange for the suicidal person to be accompanied to the emergency room, and call ahead to tell emergency staff the person is coming.

10. If the person refuses, then ask the person to wait there with someone while you call police in another room to report that the person has threatened suicide with a lethal method. Ask the police to come and accompany the person to the emergency room.

If you know someone that needs help please call us immediately at 401.475.9979.

*Note: If the person rates his mood as 6 or over, after feeling consistently depressed, and he now reports life is great and he is smiling, the risk may be increased because he has decided to end his life and has made arrangements.

Article shared from http://www.prlog.org/11928309-mental-health-news-ten-steps-to-prevent-suicide.html

Counseling for Children, Adolescents, Adults, Couples and Families in Cranston

Mar 9, 2012   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog, East Providence, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Marriage, Mental Health, Stress, cranston  //  No Comments

Anchor Counseling Center

Cranston Office

At Anchor Counseling Center we offer counseling, therapy, psychiatry, coaching for children, adults, families, and couples.  The center also offers group therapy and consultation to school districts to assist with providing appropriate education to those children who need the assistance in order to be able to access the general curriculum.

Our services also include:

  • Adult psychotherapy
  • Child psychotherapy
  • Play Therapy
  • Holistic Counseling
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Suboxone Treatment
  • Social Skills Groups
  • Couples/Marriage Counseling
  • Psychiatric Evaluations
  • Medication Management
  • Services for Children with Autism
  • EAP Services and Consults
  • Life Coaching
  • ADHD evaluations for children and Adults

Our clinical staff are all independently licensed therapists and are committed and capable of providing quality care by listening to our clients and together creating a plan for change.

In each of our locations, we have created an environment where they are warm, welcoming, calming, and relaxing for your therapeutic process to begin.  We work closely with all medical professional involved in your life and take you, the entire person into account to allow the most exceptional care.  We believe in working in collaboration with all the people involved in your life.

Everyone presents with different issues at different times.  Our integrative approach allows us to partner you with the most qualified therapists.  With over 25 therapists, each with different areas of expertise, we will find one that best suits your needs.

We believe in helping our clients facilitate their own ability for change.  He or she will become an expert by being offered education, groups, and or workshops.  We also use social media to reach out to our population with journals, quotes, and information on a daily basis.

Our mission and vision:

Our Mission

Here at Anchor Counseling Center our mission is to provide superior, family oriented mental health services through dependability, integrity and social responsibility.

Our Vision:

To provide the tools to heal through reliable support, coordination of care, psychoeducation, medication, and counseling.

To teach the maintenance of mental well being to patients, their families and the community.

To service all ages, from children through the elderly, without prejudice, prejudgment or bias.

Our vision is t o provide superior, family oriented mental health services through dependability, integrity and social responsibility throughout Southern New England.

To ease the pain of mental illness and provide hope to patients and their families.

To help others help themselves.

To advocate for patients to get them the care they need and deserve.

To reverse the negative stigma attached to mental illness.

At Anchor Counseling Center…

We are here for when you need help…Now.  No waiting lists.

We listen

We help

We support

Let us be the Anchor in your life.  We promise to be reliable and consistent.  No issue to big or small.  We want to help.  Together, we can attain your goals towards a better tomorrow.

You can click on contact for immediate assistance.

You can follow us on Facebook.

You can follow us Twitter.

You can email us @ info@AnchorCounselingCenter.com

or call us 401.475.9979


An Anxious World! Anxiety Treatment in RI

Jan 26, 2012   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog, East Providence, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Marriage, Mental Health, News, Self Help, Stress, Uncategorized, cranston  //  No Comments

An Anxious World

At Anchor Counseling Center we believe that s human beings, we all experience a form of anxiety at some point during our lives.  Anxiety is often thought of as worry and fear about uncertainties. It is usually depicted as a negative attribute, but it can also serve the useful purpose of alerting one of lurking danger. We may find ourselves worrying about school, work, our kids, or paying bills, and that’s all perfectly normal. When anxiety and worrying is a persistent, or common, feature causing disruption to your daily life, then it becomes a maladaptive. Excessive worrying may interfere with your relationships, your leisure activities, and can eventually lead to physical health issues.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million adults in the U.S., in the span of one year, suffer from an anxiety disorder2. The average age of onset for anxiety is 11 years old; so many children are affected by anxiety disorders as well2.  Also, women are more likely do experience anxiety disorders than men2. So anxiety is not a new or unheard of phenomenon, and it is fairly common, however, some may not recognize symptoms of maladaptive anxiety because it may not look like the common perception of an anxiety-ridden individual.

In fact, anxiety disorders can take on many forms, and one person’s experience with excessive worrying can be completely different than another person’s experience. Some people have very general based anxiety of which they worry excessively about every little thing throughout the day, from work, school, paying bills, to having enough time to complete a task, or to what will happen if my car stops working. A popular perception of an anxiety disorder is of people with specific phobias. For instance, an individual’s fear-based worrying may only be provoked by exposure to specific stimuli, such as a bridge above water, or snakes. Even though the phobia is highly specific, it may be clinically significant if the individual experiences anxiety about it on a daily basis and it interrupts his/her daily tasks.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly termed OCD, is also a form of an anxiety disorder1. A person with OCD will have obsessive thoughts, which tend to cause marked anxiety or distress, and/or compulsions, which are often performed in order to reduce anxiety.  Take for example, a man who has a fear of germs contaminating his body. This man worries constantly throughout the day about contracting some disease from all the germs he believes surrounds him. In order to reduce the likelihood of him contracting this horrid disease, he washes his hands 52 times, every time he goes to the bathroom or touches an object he does not own. As a matter of fact, he also showers at least twice a day for more than 45 minutes, and if he forgets to clean any body part, he goes back and re-showers entirely.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and Acute Stress Disorder, are characterized by “anxiety from re-experiencing a traumatizing event, often accompanied by symptoms of increased arousal, and avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma”1. While PTSD can occur any time after the traumatic event, Acute Stress Disorder occurs immediately after the traumatic event, lasting for at most, four weeks. In this form of anxiety disorder, there is a distinct trigger event where the individual felt threatened.

Other forms of an anxiety disorder to mention is Panic Disorder With and Without Agoraphobia, Agoraphobia without a history of Panic Disorder, and Social Phobia.  Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks about which there is persistent concern, while a person suffering from Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia may experience both recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, and anxiety about places or situations that may not be easily escapable.  That being said, Agoraphobia, “is anxiety about or avoidance of places or situations from which escape may be difficult (or embarrassing)”1. Social Phobia is basically when a person’s “anxiety is triggered by exposure to social situations in which he/she is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possibly scrutiny by others”1.

As you can see, there are a variety of anxiety disorders; however, one thing to note is that anxiety has an altering effect on one’s perception of the world around them and an effect on one’s interpretation of the stimuli he/she is exposed to. A Common behavior associated with people who have anxiety disorders is avoidance behavior. For example, the man with a phobia of bridges above water may stop going to visit his parents because he refuses to drive or walk over any bridge above water. In fact, he may miss a work conference next week that is detrimental to his job security because it’s across a bridge over water.  Another example is people with social phobias who avoid public speaking at all costs. Even with OCD, the compulsions acts as an avoidance mechanism set to reduce ones anxiety about an obsessive thought.

Also many anxiety stricken individuals have cognitive errors set in place that alter their ability to make judgments and function in the every-day world. Most people with anxiety tend overestimate the probability of the occurrence of the worry at hand. On the other hand some people assume that an outcome will be much less manageable than it actually is, also known as catastrohpizing. A big commonality amongst those suffering anxiety is the human tendency to be intolerant of uncertainty, the fear of ambiguity, and the acceptance of change.

Most people don’t like to be surprised by negative events, and more often than not, we want to try and control (or limit) the amount and impact of those negative events. But humans cannot know, or evade every problem—sometimes we just have to go through the pain. And attempting to control or change something you have no power to control or change is physically exacerbating to the human body and psyche. Taking risks, accepting change, and understanding that uncertainty is not an abyss of pain and negativity is a part of alleviating some anxiety.  Dr. Biali (2012), as do many psychologists, argues that anxiety is not always bad—it’s a part of experiencing life and trying something new3,4. Now, excessive anxiety about things you truly can’t control becomes tiresome and is often how clients present—overly stressed. Biali (2012), suggests several healthy ways to help people reduce anxiety, including, writing one’s worries down, practice breathing exercises, do yoga or stretching and exercise to alleviate muscle tension, and to avoid stimulants (like caffeinated beverages)3. Will this rid you of your anxiety? Probably not, but it can help you manage it.

Biali (2012) and Markway (2012), both suggest that in order to address and solve issues regarding your anxiety and excessive worry, one should invoke the assistance of a professional that is trained to guide you in restructuring your current cognitive methodology, and avoidance behaviors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health and the Psychological Diagnostic Manual, people with anxiety disorders usually benefit from methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or Exposure Therapy. Here at Anchor Counseling Center, we have therapists trained in both CBT and exposure therapy to help you reduce your anxiety and manage healthier lifestyle.

By: Aryssa Washington

Sources

1The American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

2www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/complete-index.shtml

3Biali, S. (2012). How to manage the anxiety that comes with change. Prescription for Life: Psychology Today com

4Markway, B. (2012). Can Willpower help you overcome social anxiety: willpower is not always about giving something up. Shyness Is Nice: Psychology Today.com

Change is a Process!

Jan 26, 2012   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog, East Bay, East Providence, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Marriage, Mental Health, News, Self Help, Stress, cranston  //  No Comments

Many people come into therapy hoping the process will be a quick and easy fix. But at Anchor Counseling Center we realize that humans are complex beings; it’s a bit presumptuous to think that human issues can be solved by a simple resolution. In most cases the resolution to an individual’s problem is fairly simple; it’s the process to get to the desired resolution that takes time and effort. For example, if I were to just tell a client, “just change your thinking,” the problems most likely wouldn’t immediately dissipate, leaving my client worry free and on a straight-shot path to all the joys of life. To be perfectly honest, true therapy takes work, on the part of the therapist as well as the client.

Choosing to go into therapy can be scary, daunting, and quite frankly it almost seems like an invitation for more anxiety. It is human nature to not exactly enjoy change in one’s life, but that decision to try therapy is making the statement that, “I want things to change,” or “I want something to be different.” That’s the first step and it’s a big one for a lot of clients. As a side-note, as therapists, we don’t have this hidden agenda to change you into some mythical creature of all things moral or a “mini-me,” and we aren’t going to force you to change. Our desire is to help you figure out who it is that you want to be, or what it is that you want, and then give you a little push in that direction. Coming into therapy may be anxiety provoking—anything new is going to be—but in the midst of change, anxiety can be a good thing. And a bit of anxiety now, in order to alleviate your suffering, may be minor in the aftermath of the therapeutic process.  At Anchor Counseling Center, you will never be left in the wind hanging by a coat hanger off the ledge of a cliff wishing you had never made that leap into therapy. Our therapists are dedicated to helping those in the community who want something different, and who want something to change.

If you or someone you know could benefit from therapy please Contact us!

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Discovering Anxiety: Are we trapped?

Jan 25, 2012   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog, East Providence, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Marriage, Mental Health, News, Self Help, Stress, cranston  //  No Comments

Anxeity

From an existential standpoint, humans are often plagued with anxiety when they discover the inescapable truths about life. Often times we feel trapped by the things we can’t change or the things we must go through to end up in a different position. The questions is, are these anxious feelings the problem or is it our chosen way of being in the world that makes it a problem?

Discovery

By: Aryssa Washington

Trapped in fragile transparency, the echo of my image blemished by apathy

The single last glint, a streaking spark of a fading sun,

lain unseen.

Sneaking stillness quickens in pace roving across a vast, bleak space of time,

leaving silence in its wake

consumed by darkness.

My hands and fingers in harried tremors grasp at everything—anything

This gravity of terror, a pressured panic preying on the single seeker

Am I nothing?

An edging horizon, a lone last flickering speck,

In trepidation, a shimmering glance of recognition—

I walk alone.

We Are Just Sitting Here: Song written by a teenager dealing with Anxiety and Depression.

Nov 11, 2011   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Many people deal with depression in so many ways.  One way is to write, another could be draw.  Many people choose other forms of therapy.  One of my favorite ways is to sing or use music.

Even more therapeutic when you sing your own songs.

Click below to listen to this song.

We are just sitting here.

A Spot in Time: Mindful of the World around you!

Oct 27, 2011   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog  //  No Comments

A Spot In Time


The imaginary reverberation of time pushing forward sends the rush of attendance-wary creatures springing from wooden panels of intense intimate confinement within. Three-inch spiked guardians rip into white and gray spotted linoleum because of that 95% that most assuredly was 100% material. Sneakers, the most telling guardian, garbed with holes and topped with hairy legs and baggy pants race against the inescapable push of forward movement—gliding through mobile groups of obstacles to get to that place….that spot. You know the one, they know the drill. Heart racing, fists pumping in a steady rhythmic swing breaking the air-waves for supposed speed. The mesh of green is conquered; even the tricky brown patches hidden within the mesh evade the shoe.

Peripheral vision? Check—spotting quicker breaks in traffic and secret routes unadorned by objects of obstruction. Sweat-droplets break across the squished encasing of theoretical contemplation. The sneakers finally hit the narrow concrete stepping stones in a pounce, 1, skip, land, motion. Twisting to one side the balled air-slasher uses it’s magic to gain entrance to a glass container of frigid air. The sweat becomes a syrupy substance pasted to the hidden crooks and crannies of your map. That doesn’t bother the sneakers, they know the passageway; quickly sneaking by wooden defense after wooden defense. Until they see that wooden panel with the slight crack creeping its way down the side. A splash of green paint from an accidental brush spots the right-hand corner….It’s the one.

The sneakers slow in the seduction of the knowing spot to come. One foot before the other—glide. Peripheral check to the back corner of this box overloading with foreign intimacy. The sneakers trudge on toward the self-deemed holy alter of your presence. Your map, magic, contemplation case, and sneakers directly align with the spot only to find to your betrayal your alter composed of another contaminating presence. Too late…The forwardness of movement has passed in your attempts to pass it. Too late. The spot, is no longer the spot. The sneakers lead you to an alternate position in time in wait.

By: Aryssa Washington

At Anchor Counseling: Therapy is Designed for You!

Oct 26, 2011   //   by Shawna Figueira   //   Blog, East Providence, Lincoln, Rhode Island, cranston  //  No Comments

Therapy Designed For You


At Anchor Counseling Center we find that, initially, many of our clients fear being labeled with a psychological disorder or even a learning disability. Most people are fearful of the stigmas associated with having a psychological problem or having to get help in order to overcome a personal problem. At Anchor, the clinicians don’t just give you a diagnosis and try to treat that diagnosis. While we may prescribe a psychiatric diagnosis, it only contributes to part of how we treat the individual as a whole in therapy.

In the famous study of psycho-diagnostic labels by Dr. David Rosenhan, eight pseudo-patients were committed to hospitalization. These “patients” claimed to “hear voices that said, ‘empty,’ ‘hollow,’ and ‘thud.’ Beyond this single symptom the pseudo-patients acted completely normal. Even though this was the only symptom exhibited and they otherwise acted perfectly normal, all eight were admitted, with all but one being prescribed the diagnosis of schizophrenia.  Once inside the hospital, the pseudo-patients acted completely normal—displayed no further symptoms. Each participant also took notes which were eventually perceived as another attribute of their diagnoses.  As a result, the participants were hospitalized for seven to fifty-two days—remaining virtually undetected by hospital staff (psychiatrist, nurses, etc.).  This study somewhat catapulted psychologists into realizing that a normal person versus a mentally ill person is not readily distinguishable. Many pseudo-patients reported that some of the actual patients were able to recognize them as “fake, or not crazy.” The reasoning for this is suggested by the data gathered for patient-to-staff contact/communication.  Approximately 71-88% of all hospital staff ignored patient inquires and/or questions.  Between 23 and 10% of the staff would actually avoid eye contact.  There was also an incident of a female nurse adjusting her bra in front of male patients—as if they weren’t real beings.  This implies that because of limited contact with patients, many misdiagnoses go unnoticed. Also, it suggests that focusing on one symptom of a potential patient, as opposed to several behaviors, can be misguiding or overly suggestive. Once these pseudo-patients were given a diagnosis (schizophrenia),that became the “central characteristic of the individual.” Labels tend to suggest, and once a person knows what someone else’s label is they then begin to perceive their behavior as an attribute of the label.  The staff in this instance perceived the note-taking as a part of the pseudo-patients illness regardless of the fact that the ‘patients’ acted otherwise normal.

The reversal of the study also offered proof that distinguishing the normal from the mentally-ill is difficult. Many hospitals/institutions claimed to interview numerous pseudo and possible pseudo-patients when Dr. Rosenhan had in fact sent no pseudo-patients. Frankly, we have no concrete way of knowing who is normal versus who is abnormal, especially on the basis of one behavior. The key is asserting that there is plenty of room for misdiagnosis and to watch, study, and communicate (ask questions) with patients in order to know whether re-evaluation is necessary.  Also, greater awareness of labeling dangers is keen in order to dismantle one’s own biases and focus on the actual happenings of the patient.  Finally, rather than focusing on just one component of an illness, the broader spectrum of the illness should be scrutinized with regards to the patient. Does his/her behavior fit more than one characteristic of the illness? What other behaviors do you notice? What are some behaviors he/she exhibits that are normal? Because normality and abnormality lie on a spectrum, things such as levels of bizarreness, persistence, social deviance (cultural deviance), subjective distress, and psychological handicap must all be assessed.

The Therapists at Anchor Counseling Center are dedicated to treating you on a holistic level—we don’t just treat the problem. We pay attention to diagnostic-labels and their associated stigmas, and while we may prescribe a diagnosis we are open to client’s thoughts and questions as to whether that diagnosis is correct. If you feel that you need help getting through a problem or have previously been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder but feel like nothing is changing, please give us a call at Anchor Counseling Center and schedule an appointment.

*For more information on Dr. Rosenhan’s study view:

http://www.bonkersinstitute.org/rosenhan.html

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