Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy
Locations in New York & New Jersey
Aug 30

Communication: Make communicating with your child your No. 1 priority. Practice open-ended questions and other communication skills to be effective.
Don’t be over-protective or under-protective: Both have negative consequences. Ginsburg encourages parents to find the right balance: “We should be like lighthouses for our children — beacons of light on a stable shoreline from which they can safely navigate the world. We must make certain they don’t crash against the rocks but trust they have the capacity to learn to ride the waves on their own.”
Self-compassion: Learn this for yourself and teach it to your child. No one is perfect. Mistakes are not the end of the world. Embrace your mistakes, learn from them and move on. If you can learn to do this for yourself, you will be a better parent. If you can teach it to your child, you will save him or her a lot of anguish.

Resilience: Turns out, this characteristic is the key to long-term success for children. The ability to bounce back after defeat, or to overcome adversity, is directly linked to long-term confidence and coping.

Self-advocacy: Teaching teens the proper way to stick up for themselves, to argue a point and to make change happen is a gift you can give that will last a lifetime. The ability to self-advocate is a skill that will always be useful and is one of the keys to self-worth.

Stress management: Never underestimate the role stress plays in our lives and the choices we make. If kids learn to identify stress reactions, and to channel them into productive response, they will avoid the full-on attack stress can make on mental and physical health.

Unconditional love: You have it. Just show it. Compliment them on the way they do something (play a sport, sing a song, write an essay), not on the end result. Let them test your unconditional love. Eventually they will learn you and your love are never going anywhere. It will lead to long-term comfort with you as a trusted adviser.

Seek interdependence, not dependency: Speaking to your child so he feels not only respected but empowered will lead to a long-term relationship in which your child will seek your guidance. We need to move away from lecturing our children and move to leading them into a method of decision-making that considers lots of viewpoints and ideas prior to action. Interdependence means your child can be her own person knowing that you stand by her, and you will know that she has the character and confidence to do the right thing.

Aug 30

Soulmates Have Worst Relationships


By Rick Nauert PhD

Provocative new research looks into the way that people think and talk about love.

Social psychologists observed that people talk and think about love in an incessant variety of ways but underlying such diversity are some common themes that frame how we think about relationships.

One popular perspective considers love as perfect unity (“made for each other,” “she’s my other half”); in another view, love is a journey (“look how far we’ve come,” “we’ve been through all these things together”).

These two ways of thinking about relationships are particularly interesting because, according to study authors Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz, they have the power to highlight or downplay the damaging effect of conflicts on relationship evaluation.

Here’s the scoop. If two people were really made in heaven for each other, why should they have any conflicts?

“Our findings corroborate prior research showing that people who implicitly think of relationships as perfect unity between soulmates have worse relationships than people who implicitly think of relationships as a journey of growing and working things out,” says Lee.

“Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love relationship lead to different ways of evaluating it.”

In one experiment, Lee and Schwarz had people in long-term relationships complete a knowledge quiz that included expressions related to either unity or journey, then recall either conflicts or celebrations with their romantic partner, and finally evaluate their relationship.

As predicted, recalling conflicts leads people to feel less satisfied with their relationship — but only with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind.

Recalling celebrations makes people satisfied with their relationship regardless of how they think about it.

In a two follow-up experiments, the study authors invoked the unity vs. journey frame in even subtler, more incidental ways.

For example, people were asked to identify pairs of geometric shapes to form a full circle (activating unity) or draw a line that gets from point A to point B through a maze (activating journey).

Such non-linguistic, merely pictorial cues were sufficient to change the way people evaluated relationships.

Again, conflicts hurt relationship satisfaction with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind.

“Next time you and your partner have a conflict,” as Professors Lee and Schwarz would advise, think what you said at the altar, ‘I, ____, take you, ____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward ‘till death do us part.’”

“It’s a journey,” they said. “You’ll feel better now, and you’ll do better down the road.”

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Source: University of Toronto

Aug 30

It Takes Just One Question to Identify Narcissism


By Rick Nauert PhD

Ohio State researchers believe they have developed and validated a new method to identify which people are narcissistic.

And, the beauty is that the tool is only a single question.

In a series of 11 experiments involving more than 2,200 people of all ages, the researchers found they could reliably identify narcissistic people by asking them this exact question (including the note):

To what extent do you agree with this statement: “I am a narcissist.” (Note: The word “narcissist” means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)

Participants rated themselves on a scale of one (not very true of me) to seven (very true of me).

If you are curious about the test or want to know how narcissistic are you? The test is found at

Results showed that people’s answer to this question lined up very closely with several other validated measures of narcissism, including the widely used Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI).

The difference is that this new survey — which the researchers call the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) — has one question, while the NPI has 40 questions to answer.

“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

“People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don’t see narcissism as a negative quality — they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly.”

Bushman conducted the study with Sara Konrath of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (formerly of the University of Michigan) and Brian Meier of Gettysburg College.

The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Understanding narcissism has many implications for society that extend beyond the impact on the individual narcissist’s life,” Konrath said.

“For example, narcissistic people have low empathy, and empathy is one key motivator of philanthropic behavior such as donating money or time to organizations.”

“Overall, narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society. Those who think they are already great don’t try to improve themselves,” Bushman said.

“And narcissism is bad for society because people who are only thinking of themselves and their own interests are less helpful to others.”

Bushman emphasized that the one question tool (SINS) shouldn’t be seen a replacement for the longer narcissism questionnaires (NPI, etc) as other instruments can provide more information to researchers, such as which form of narcissism someone has.

“But our single-item scale can be useful for long surveys in which researchers are concerned about people getting fatigued or distracted while answering questions and possibly even dropping out before they are done,” Bushman said.

He noted that if it takes a person 20 seconds to answer the single question in the SINS measure, it would take him or her 13.3 minutes to answer the 40-question NPI.

“That is a big difference if you’re doing a study in which participants have to complete several different survey instruments and answer a long list of other questions,” he said.

The 11 different experiments took a number of different approaches to determine the validity of SINS. Some used undergraduate college students, while others involved online panels of American adults.

One experiment found that SINS was positively related to each of the seven subscales of the NPI which measure various components of narcissism (vanity, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, authority, superiority, self-sufficiency, and entitlement).

Another study found that that participants tended to have similar scores on SINS when tested 11 days apart.

One experiment replicated past work that showed people scoring high in narcissism were more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and had difficulty maintaining long-term committed romantic relationships.

“People who scored higher on narcissism on the SINS had both positive and negative outcomes,” Bushman said. They reported more positive feelings, more extraversion, and marginally less depression.

But they also reported less agreeableness, and more anger, shame, guilt, and fear. In addition, people scoring high on SINS showed negative interpersonal outcomes, such as having poor relationships with others and less prosocial behavior when their ego was threatened.

“The advantage of SINS compared to other measures,” Bushman said, “is that it allows researchers to identify narcissists very easily.”

“We don’t think SINS is a replacement for other narcissism inventories in all situations, but it has a time and place,” he said.

Source: Ohio State University

Aug 30

DBT Skills Everyone Can Benefit From


By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a highly effective type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), originally created to treat borderline personality disorder. Today, it’s used to treat a variety of conditions, such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders and depression. DBT teaches clients four sets of behavioral skills: mindfulness; distress tolerance; interpersonal effectiveness; and emotion regulation.

But, whether you have a mental illness or not, you can absolutely benefit from learning these skills and incorporating them into your life. Below, psychotherapist Sheri Van Dijk, MSW, RSW, shares three DBT skills that can help you effectively manage your emotions and lead a healthier and happier life. Van Dijk is the author of several books, including Calming the Emotional Storm: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Manage Your Emotions & Balance Your Life and The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder.


According to Van Dijk, mindfulness means “living your life more in the present moment, instead of allowing yourself to be hijacked by the past and the future.” By practicing mindfulness, we become aware of our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. We’re able to pause, check in, identify our emotions and consciously make healthy decisions.

To practice this skill, Van Dijk suggested going for a walk mindfully. “Feel your body as it walks, and notice how it just knows what it needs to do in order to move each complicated set of muscles to achieve the goal of walking.” Pay attention to the color of the sky, the trees you’re passing and what the houses look like, she said.

If your mind wanders, redirect it to the present moment. You might choose to refocus on your external experience: what’s happening around you. Or you might refocus on your internal experience: your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. Here the key is to notice what you’re experiencing without getting caught up in it.

For instance, if you’re entangled in your thoughts, this looks like: “Susan is really nice. She’s such a great person. I wish I were more like her. I should ask her if she wants to go for coffee sometime. I’d like to get to know her better.” Instead, observing your thoughts looks like: “There’s a thought that Susan is such a nice person…”

To learn more about mindfulness, Van Dijk’s favorite book is The Mindful Way Through Depression, which, she said, comes with a great CD of mindfulness exercises.

Reality Acceptance

This skill focuses on accepting our daily experiences and working to accept the more painful events that have happened, Van Dijk said. Because fighting reality only heightens our suffering.

For instance, according to Van Dijk, you’re sitting in a work meeting, bored out of your mind. You start thinking about all the other things you could be doing. Instead of telling yourself, “I have so much stuff to do; this is a waste of my time!” you remind yourself: There’s nothing I can do. This is something I have to sit through. It is what it is. Breathe.”

She also shared these additional examples: You need to rush home, but you’re catching every red light. Instead of getting frustrated, you take a deep breath and tell yourself: “It is what it is. I’ll get home when I get there.”

You need to fill up your car, but gas prices have skyrocketed. Again, you breathe deeply, and say to yourself: “There’s nothing I can do about it. I need gas. Getting angry isn’t going to help.”

You have to walk to work because your car is in the shop. It’s not far, but it’s pouring. You take a deep breath and say: “It’s just rain. I’ll bring a towel, and I’ll dry off when I get to work.”

This skill speaks to being less judgmental in general. Van Dijk suggested starting to notice when you judge things as good or bad. Negative judgments tend to boost our emotional pain. So when you’re angry, irritated or frustrated, pay attention to what judgment you’re making, she said. Then focus on replacing that judgment with a fact and any emotions you’re feeling.

Van Dijk shared these examples: Instead of “the weather is awful today,” you say “it’s raining this morning, and I’m irritated because I have to walk to work.” Instead of saying, “you’re an awful friend,” you say: “There have been a few times recently when you’ve canceled plans with me at the last minute to go out with someone else instead. And I feel hurt and angry by this.”

Instead of saying, “My partner is an idiot,” you say: “I’ve been working long hours and when I got home last night my partner asked me what I was making for dinner. I felt really angry about this and disappointed that he’s not making an effort to help out.”

Being less judgmental doesn’t eliminate our pain. But it does help us reduce emotions such as anger. “[A]nd in doing so we’re able to think more clearly and wisely, opening up choices for us [such as] ‘do I want to spend energy being angry at this person?’” It also empowers us to problem solve, and again, make decisions that serve and support us.

For instance, Van Dijk took her laptop to get fixed. After she picked it up, she realized that vital presentations and documents were missing. It turns out that the person didn’t back up her C: drive because he thought she saved everything under “documents.” Understandably, Van Dijk was incredibly upset. But she took a deep breath, and instead of yelling and criticizing him, she asked what they could do.

“It might not get solved. But judging him is only going to amplify my anger, and I just don’t want to spend the energy on that.” She’s also proud of how she handled the situation, which boosted her self-respect. And it didn’t raise her blood pressure or trigger other physical issues.

Again, all of us can benefit from becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings, accepting what is and being less judgmental of ourselves and others. Undoubtedly, these are skills that lead to a healthier life.

Aug 30

10 Signs You Need a New Therapist


By Courtney Stivers, PhD

If you are in counseling now or consider seeking a therapist in the future, it is important to choose a counselor who is the right fit for you. I am always saddened to hear of an individual or couple giving up on counseling after one bad experience. Therapists are each unique in their specific approaches and you deserve one who is qualified to meet your needs.

Here are a few signs that you may need a new therapist.

Connection is missing.
It is well researched that the therapeutic alliance, or relationship, with the therapist and client is likely the single biggest predictor of success in therapy (Martin, Garske, & Davis, 2000). If you do not feel a connection or trust starting to build between you and your therapist, it might be time to consider a change.
No improvement.
You see a therapist for several months and do not feel that any progress has been made. You might even feel worse after every session. Some issues take longer to solve or learn to manage than others, but if there is no hope for change, you might need a new therapist.
Lack of boundaries.
Your counselor seems to forget that you are a client. They talk to you in depth about their own personal life or problems with no apparent therapeutic purpose. Maybe they seem a bit too interested in the details of your sex life. They want to be buddies outside of the therapy room while you are still a client. It sounds like they have boundary issues.
Your therapist seems to have trouble paying attention. They take calls or text during sessions. They seem to be thinking about something else. Maybe they even fall asleep. Not only is this rude, but you are paying them for a service. This is your time.
Focus is on the therapist.
It is not a good sign if your counselor monopolizes your therapy hour by talking about him- or herself. A certain amount of self-disclosure is probably therapeutic, but the therapist should not do the overwhelming majority of the talking. If you cannot seem to get a word in during your session, you need a new therapist.
Never neutral.
Your therapist clearly always aligns with you or with your spouse on every issue. Yes, there are times when a therapist might agree with one person on a concern, but this should not be a constant taking of sides. The therapist may have a personal issue that is appearing in the therapy office.
Feeling shamed and judged.
Feeling guilt because you are doing something or have done something that conflicts with your belief system might be a very appropriate response to a situation. A therapist can explore this without shaming a client and making him or her feel bad about who they are. A bad therapist might say things like “you are worthless.” If you feel constantly judged by your therapist, you need a new one.
Violating your belief system.
Every therapist has his or her own set of personal values. We cannot “not” have them. As counselors, we are not allowed to push our beliefs on others. This does not mean we cannot explore issues like spirituality, but simply that we cannot force our own values on you.
Not qualified or a specialist.
Some therapists claim to be able to treat a wide variety of issues. Many therapists truly are generalists, but I recommend that you seek a therapist that specializes in your presenting issue. They may have specialty certifications or degrees in that area. I have heard horrible stories about a therapist blaming a spouse for a client’s addiction, and the therapist was simply not trained properly in addiction. This can be very damaging.
Canceling or showing up late.
This happens to all of us from time to time. If they are consistently late or canceling often, it shows that they are not respectful of you or your time. Your counselor expects you to show up for appointments and they owe you the same courtesy.
In the end, you need to trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling about a therapist, find a new one. If you have a bad feeling about 10 therapists, then something might be off with your gut feeling.

Better sleep leads to better control of ADHD symptoms for children. Here are parent-tested solutions for a good night’s rest.
by Jeanne Gehret and Patricia Quinn, M.D.

The Sleep-Deprived ADHD Household
Getting a good night’s sleep can be a big problem for ADHD families. A British research study shows that three times as many children with ADHD have difficulty falling or staying asleep and 57 percent of the parents of ADHD children slept less than six hours. More than half of the kids got up four times during the night. Almost half woke up before 6:00 a.m. It doesn’t take much to figure out what’s going on here: When children are awake, it’s hard for parents to get any shuteye.

Sleep Deprivation Has a Huge Impact
Sleep deprivation makes both adults and children irritable, impatient, and less efficient at everything they do. Adults who haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep are more likely to miss work. Studies show that not getting enough rest can worsen ADD/ADHD symptoms, leading to loss of emotional control. It can also adversely affect working memory, a problem many of our children suffer from.

The Attention Sleep Connection
There’s a biological reason why children with ADHD tend to sleep less: Many of the same regions of the brain regulate both attention and sleep. A child who has attention problems is likely to have sleep problems, as well. You can’t change your child’s biology. But there are ADD-friendly strategies to help kids overcome their sleep problems. Here’s what you need to do.

Avoid Sleeping Pills
Most sleep medications that work well for adults haven’t been adequately tested for their safety and effectiveness in children. That goes for the over-the-counter sleep aid melatonin, as well as prescription sleeping pills. Doctors sometimes prescribe clonidine for ADD children who have trouble falling asleep. The drug does make it easier to fall asleep, but many kids who take it awaken around two o’clock in the morning.

The Value of Exercise
Have your child exercise–jog, jump rope, ride a bike, walk–in the morning or during the day. Physical activity helps our bodies make the transition between the phases of sleep. Also, since exercise places physical stress on the body, the brain increases the time a child spends in deep sleep.

Set a Realistic Bedtime and Stick to It
Accept the fact that your child may need less sleep than other kids his age. If you put him to bed too early, there’s a chance that he’ll just lie there, wide awake, becoming increasingly anxious. Whatever bedtime you establish, enforce it consistently — on weekends as well as during the week. Letting your child stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights will disrupt his circadian clock; come Monday morning, he’ll wake up with something akin to jet lag.

Nighttime Rituals
Evening rituals signal the brain and body to slow down. The hour or so leading up to your child’s bedtime should be devoted to reading, listening to music, or some other calm, relaxing activity. Violent TV programs and video games should be strictly off-limits at this time. No roughhousing, either. Tell or read a bedtime story to a younger child. Allow older children to read in bed. Be sure your child has her favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Older kids may prefer to cuddle with a squishy, soft pillow.

Eat and Drink Right for a Good Night’s Sleep
Avoid eating and snacking two or three hours before bedtime. Digestion, especially of foods containing caffeine or sugar, can keep your child up. If he insists on snacking, give him warm milk, saltines, or a little turkey, which has the natural sleep-inducing chemical tryptophan.Your child should drink enough water during the day to prevent his asking for a glass of water at bedtime–and his subsequent bathroom break later.

Keep the Room Dark
In addition to cueing your child that it’s time to go to sleep, darkness eliminates the visual distractions that keep him from falling asleep. If a child can’t see his toys, he’s less likely to get out of bed to play with them. What if your child is afraid of the dark and needs a light on to fall asleep? Make sure that the light is dim, and that it goes off once he falls asleep (use a timer). Choose a clock with a face that lights up only when a button is pressed. Reduce light from windows by putting up blackout curtains.

Look Into Relaxation Routines
Deep breathing or listening to soothing music can make it easier to fall asleep. A foot rub or back rub relaxes a restless child. Have your child focus on breathing while visualizing an elevator gently ascending and descending with every inhalation and exhalation. Consider an evening prayer.

Dress for Sleep Comfort
Chilly feet keep some children awake; wearing socks may send them into dreamland.
Remove any scratchy tags from pajamas.
Don’t combine flannel pajamas and flannel sheets. The fabrics may stick together and make it difficult to turn over in bed.
If the room is warm, all-cotton sleepwear can prevent sweating–and tossing.
Air conditioning or a fan will cool down the room–and the whirring sound of the fan blades is calming.

Refusing to Go to Bed
Some ADHD children—especially those with oppositional defiant or anxiety disorder—will do anything to avoid sleeping. Try a behavioral approach: Give strict orders for your child to stay in bed between certain hours. Sit outside her door and calmly tuck her back into bed if she gets up. After a few nights, you’ll no longer have to sit vigilantly outside. Don’t attempt this unless you have the resolve to follow through. If you allow your child to break the rules, even once, you’re sunk.

Take Action
Dealing with an ADD child’s sleep problem isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. Given the consequences of chronic sleep problems—for the entire family—it’s best to take action sooner rather than later.

Aug 22

What It’s Like to Have ADHD As a Grown Woman


By Rae Jacobson
Years ago, with the start date of a new job closing in, I made the mistake of trying to explain my mounting panic to the guy I was dating at the time. “I’m so afraid of screwing up,” I told him, trying to keep my voice even, “with the ADHD stuff. I’ll forget something or get it wrong or …”

“Juuuuust chill out,” he interrupted, patting my knee in a fatherly sort of way. “You don’t have ADD. You’re just lazy.” His tone suggested this was a compliment. “Besides,” his smile widened, “isn’t that a little-boy thing?”

I wasn’t surprised by his reaction. Start talking about a disorder people can’t see and you learn to expect a certain amount of doubt, along with the occasional conspiracy theory involving drug companies, gluten, mass delusions, and other byproducts of this, our modern age. I understand (some) of where they’re coming from. ADHD, a chronic behavioral disorder, is complicated, confusing, and undeniably overdiagnosed.

If you’re female, the conversation is even more fraught. For decades ADHD was seen as a young boy’s disorder. New evidence suggests that it likely affects males and females equally, but that girls are far less likely to be diagnosed. For years the diagnosis ratio of males to females was 10:1. These days we’re looking at a slightly brighter 3:1.

One reason for the discrepancy is that, in girls, the disorder doesn’t always look the way we think it should: fidgety, energetic, distracting. In her book 100 Questions & Answers About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dr. Patricia Quinn, one of the great gurus of women with ADHD, writes that girls tend to be less disruptive than boys, manifesting their lack of attention in subtler ways — disorganization, distraction, and difficulty following directions. Even more hyperactive girls are less likely to be noticed. Instead of bouncing off the walls, “A girl with ADHD may be hypertalkative or hyperreactive (crying a lot or slamming doors) — behaviors one may not typically think of as being associated with ADHD.” Then there’s the sexist skepticism: She’s just a ditz.

Diagnosis can be tricky, because the disorder, which is likely genetic, can look more like a disciplinary problem than a medical one, and because everyone has these behaviors to some extent: You have a hard time paying attention to boring things? How awful and unique! Oh, man, you lost your driver’s license? That is so demoralizing, and never happens to anyone else. An hour late to something important? Burned dinner? Missed half the lecture because you were daydreaming about being a crane operator? Haven’t we all?

Part of what separates ADHD-havers from the merely forgetful is that for us, to use DSM parlance, the symptoms “have a significant impact on daily life and functioning.” When I was a kid “significant impact” meant being in perpetual trouble: always being late, never hearing the assignment, enduring depressingly frequent teen-magazine “It Happened to Me”–type moments (I was often surprised by my period’s arrival). Teacher’s pet I wasn’t: “Clearly Rae has not been,” snapped my sixth-grade math teacher, flinging an eraser at my desk, “PAYING ATTENTION, so the whole class will have to wait while I go over this again.”

By high school, I had fully internalized the fact that I was a screwup and began acting the part with teenage gusto. “Fuck you, fail me,” I spat at a particularly hateful teacher, middle fingers aloft. “It’s not my first time.”

Then I’d go home and cry. Repeated failure is destructive. It chips away at your self-confidence and eats at your resolve. It makes you hate yourself.

“Why am I like this? Why am I fucking like this?” I’d ask myself, over and over.

My whole life, I was not once early — not on homework, not on planning, not on anything. If I was on time, it appeared as though I’d been recently airlifted from a desert island. Beyond my failures at school and work, not being able to focus made me feel like I’d failed at being a girl. Having ADHD is challenging regardless of gender but in a world predisposed to undermining women, not having your shit together can feel like a dereliction of feminine duty. “Practically perfect in every way,” trills Mary Poppins, that great betrayer, showing us all how fun cleanliness can be.

Once, upon seeing my apartment, a potential suitor raised an eyebrow at the ransacked living room, “You live with dudes?” he asked, dubious.

“Yup,” I lied.

Bombing at Stepford Wifery would have been fine, except that I was also far from being a successful, capable ambassatrix for who-gives-a-fuck feminism. I felt useless: not professional or brilliant enough to be the academic outsider, not confident enough to be a punk-rock rebel, not cute enough to be an endearing space cadet. The more I tried to hide how much I was struggling, the worse it got. Every lost thing and new mistake was another chance to confirm my increasingly obvious worthlessness. Why, why, why, I asked myself, am I so dumb/useless/pathetic?

Dr. Quinn notes that women and girls with ADHD, often undiagnosed and overlooked, are prone to blaming themselves for the negative feedback they get going through life. Without a diagnosis, the disorder’s fallout — bad grades, poor time management, a sense that basic life skills are out of reach — read as character flaws, a suspicion often confirmed by outside sources: You’re just lazy!

Women with ADHD show consistently lower levels of self-esteem than our neurotypical counterparts and report correspondingly higher rates of depression, anxiety, and feelings of shame. The social pressures that tend to make women overly apologetic are compounded by ADHD, because you can never be sure it really isn’t your fault. My mistake? Probably. Yes.

At 21, I was finally diagnosed. “Your testing is bell-clear,” the brusque psychiatrist told me. She looked surprised when I started to cry.

“You’re upset?”

“I’m relieved.”

I still have ADHD. I’m still disorganized. My room isn’t what you’d call clean. I still have to fight to stay on top of things that seem easy for others. Getting diagnosed wasn’t a cure, it was a key; I finally have the missing information I need to manage my life. I suck at time management so I’ve become a Google Calendar devotee. The phone plays snippets of “Bizarre Love Triangle” 20 minutes before it’s time to leave, then ten, then five. I’ve got four copies of my birth certificate and six sets of backup keys. I take medication when I need it.

A lot of these little strategies sound like common sense, but for me, they were revelations. In retrospect, I see my fuck-ups for what they were. Not intrinsic, horrible failings, just symptoms, patterns made by a brain that works a little differently. You don’t grow out of ADHD. It’s a lifelong thing. But these days I don’t mind that so much. The disorder has its upsides: creativity, a tendency to view the world from odd angles. And the blaring anxiety I used to feel just trying to get through the day is slowly quieting, turning into the regular white noise of a life.

Aug 22

Addicted to Computer Games!


Game-playing can boost coordination and computer literacy. Here’s how to keep a good thing from turning destructive.
by Larry Silver, M.D.

Children love computer games, and that’s not always a bad thing. Whether played on a handheld device, a computer, or a television set, the games can provide hours of quiet fun. (That’s one reason parents often rely on them to keep the peace on family vacations.) The games can boost computer skills and improve eye-hand coordination. One 2004 study showed that surgeons who play computer games commit fewer surgical errors than do their non-game-playing counterparts.

Computer games are emotionally “safe.” When a child makes a mistake, no one else knows (unlike the public humiliation of, say, striking out in a real-life baseball game). And because each error made in a computer game helps the player learn the specific action needed to advance the next time, the player gets the satisfaction of steadily improving and ultimately winning.

Big downsides
But computer games carry some big downsides. Besides being very expensive, many popular games involve graphic sex and violence. Perhaps most worrisome, they can be extremely habit-forming. Any child can become “addicted” to computer games, but kids with AD/HD seem to be at particular risk. Many of them have poor social or athletic skills, and this doesn’t matter in the world of computer games. Such games level the playing field for children with AD/HD. And kids bothered by distractibility in the real world are capable of intense focus (hyperfocus) while playing. The computer game “trance” is often so deep that the only way to get the player’s attention is to shake her or “get in her face.”

Do you find yourself monitoring how much time your child spends with his Gameboy? Do you constantly urge him to turn off the X Box? Does the desire to play computer games dominate her life? When you insist that the set be turned off, do you get an angry outburst? If so, the time has come to help this child or adolescent (and the whole family).

Finding alternatives
To make the games less seductive, find ways to minimize your child’s downtime at home, especially those times when he is alone. Maybe your child would be interested in arts and crafts, theater, or movie-making. Maybe a social-skills group would be a good idea. Maybe he could join a youth group at your church or synagogue.

If she has trouble with a particular sport because of poor motor skills, or has difficulty understanding the rules or strategies, look for another sport that might be more accommodating – for example, martial arts, bowling, or swimming. Help your child find some activity that he likes and a place where he can do it.

My Child Is Addicted to Computer Games!
Setting limits
Children with AD/HD often lack the “internal controls” needed to regulate how much time they spend playing computer games. It’s up to parents to rein in the use of the games.

The first step is often the hardest: Both parents must agree on a set of rules. How much time may be spent playing the games on school nights? Must homework be done first? Chores? How much time may be spent on a weekend day? Which games are taboo, and which are O.K.? If the child plays Internet-based games, which sites are acceptable?

Once parents agree, sit down with your child and discuss the rules. Make it clear which rules are negotiable and which are not. Then announce that the rules start right now. Be sure you can enforce the rules. For example, if your child is allowed to spend 30 minutes at computer games on school nights – and only after homework and chores are done – the game and game controls must be physically unavailable when she gets home from school.

If games involve a computer or a television set, find a way to secure the system until its use is permitted. When the 30 minutes of playing are up, retake the controls. If she balks, she loses the privilege to play the game the following day. If you come into her bedroom and find her playing the game under the covers, she might lose the privilege for several days.

Avoiding confrontations
Give warning times: “You have 15 more minutes… You now have 10 minutes… There are only five minutes left.” A timer that is visible to the child can be helpful. When the buzzer rings, say, “I know you need to reach a point where you can save the game. If you need a few more minutes, I will wait here and let you have them.”

If he continues to play despite your step-by-step warnings, do not shout or grab the game or disconnect the power. Calmly remind him of the rules, then announce that for each minute he continues to play, one minute will be subtracted from the time allowed the next day (or days). Once you get the game back, lock it up. When he finally regains the privilege to play, say, “Would you like to try again to follow the family rules?”

Aug 22

by Russell Barkley, Ph.D., and the ADDitude Editors
One hallmark of ADHD is executive function trouble. Our kids aren’t the best planners, organizers, or self-regulators. And that can get very frustrating very quickly. Parents, follow these 10 simple tips to boost all 7 executive functions — and help your child gain more independence.

Understanding Executive Function
Children and adults with ADHD tend to struggle with these 7 core executive functions:
1. Self-awareness
2. Inhibition
3. Non-verbal working memory
4. Verbal working memory
5. Emotional self-regulation
6. Self-motivation
7. Planning and problem solving

Here’s how you can help your child build up these muscles, gaining more control over their ADHD symptoms and taking strides toward independence along the way.

1. Enforce Accountability
A lot of parents wonder how much accountability is appropriate. If ADHD is a disability outside of my child’s control, should she be held accountable for her actions?

My answer is an unequivocal yes. The problem with ADHD is not with failure to understand consequences; it’s with timing. With the steps that follow, you can help your child bolster her executive functions — but the first step is to not excuse her from accountability. If anything, make her more accountable — show her you have faith in her abilities by expecting her to do what is needed.

2. Write It Down
Compensate for working memory deficits by making information visible, using notes cards, signs, sticky notes, lists, journals — anything at all! Once your child can see the information right in front of him, it’ll be easier to jog his executive functions and help him build his working memory.

3. Make Time External
Make time a physical, measurable thing by using clocks, timers, counters, or apps — there are tons of options! Helping your child see how much time has passed, how much is left, and how quickly it’s passing is a great way to beat that classic ADHD enemy, “time blindness.”

4. Offer Rewards
Use rewards to make motivation external. Someone who struggles with executive functions will have trouble motivating herself to complete tasks that don’t have immediate rewards. In these cases, it’s best to create artificial forms of motivation, like token systems or daily report cards. Reinforcing long-term goals with short-term rewards strengthens a child’s sense of self-motivation.

5. Make Learning Hands On
Put the problem in their hands! Making problems as physical as possible — like using jelly beans or colored blocks to teach simple adding and subtracting, or utilizing word magnets to work on sentence structure — helps children reconcile their verbal and non-verbal working memories, and build their executive functions in the process.

6. Stop to Refuel
Self-regulation and executive functions come in limited quantities. They can be depleted very quickly when your child works too hard over too short a time (like while taking a test). Give your child a chance to refuel by encouraging frequent breaks during tasks that stress the executive system. Breaks work best if they’re 3 to 10 minutes long, and can help your child will get the fuel they need to tackle an assignment without getting distracted and losing track.

7. Practice Pep Talks
You know that locker room pep talk before a big game? Your child needs one every day — sometimes more often. Teach your child to pump herself up by practicing saying “You can do this!” Positive self-statement push kids to try harder and put them one step closer to accomplishing their goals. Visualizing future rewards and talking themselves through the steps needed to achieve them is another great way to replenish the system and boost planning skills.

8. Get Physical
Physical exercise has tons of well-known benefits — including giving a boost to your child’s executive functioning! Routine physical exercise throughout the week can help refuel the tank (even make the tank bigger!) and help him cope better with his ADHD symptoms. Exercise can be found anywhere — try an organized sport, a bi-weekly park playdate, or a spur-of-the-moment run around the backyard!

9. Sip on Sugar (Yes, Really)
Sugar has sometimes been known to exacerbate ADHD symptoms, but when your child is doing a lot of executive functioning (like taking an exam or finishing a big project), it may be a good idea to have her sip on some sugar-containing fluids, like lemonade or a sports drink. The glucose in these drinks fuels the frontal lobe, where the executive functions come from. The operative word here is “sip” — just a little should be able to keep your child’s blood glucose up enough to get the job done.

10. Show Compassion
This is a big one, folks. In most cases, ADHDers are just as smart as their peers, but their executive function problems keep them from showing what they know. The key to treatment is changing their environment to help them do that. So it’s important that the people in their lives — especially parents — show compassion and willingness to help them learn. When your child messes up, don’t go straight to yelling. Try to understand what went wrong — and how you can help him learn from his mistake.

Aug 8

20 Questions for Getting Honest with Ourselves


By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

We need to know what we want, what makes us happy, what’s troubling us, what’s truly on our minds and in our hearts in order to lead a meaningful life and have meaningful relationships. This requires listening to ourselves, taking the time to pause and check in. And it requires getting honest with ourselves. Bare bones honest.

Here’s a list of questions to help you get honest — to explore your true self, to reconnect with your heart:

As I lie in bed in the morning, how do I feel about the day? What thoughts are running through my head?
What am I trying to forget?
What am I missing?
Where do I need support?
Might it help to see a therapist?
Who am I when no one is looking?
What do I want to do when no one is around?
What do I want to say when no one is around?
What’s bothering me?
Do I accept myself overall?
What am I not admitting to myself?
Are the beliefs I have about myself actually helping me? Are they inspiring me to build a fulfilling life?
Have I been listening to others at the expense of my own voice?
What prerequisites or conditions do I set for practicing self-care? (As in “I need to do X before I can relax” or “I can’t set boundaries until I lose weight, which is when I think I’ll actually deserve respect or love.”)
What needs or dreams have I been afraid to say out loud?
Does my home feel like home?
Am I treating my body, my mind, myself with respect?
Do I ever feel lonely? When? Why?
What am I criticizing myself about?
What would I like my life to look like?

Aug 6

Okay to Punish Children — If Done Correctly


By Rick Nauert PhD

Although recent parenting books have called for positive parenting with “no drama” discipline, a new study suggests parental discipline still has its place.

“Parental discipline and positive parenting techniques are often polarized in popular parenting resources and in parenting research conclusions,” says researcher Robert Larzelere, Ph.D., of Oklahoma State University.

Larzelere presented his findings at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention. He explains that “scientifically supported parenting interventions for young defiant children have found that timeouts and other types of assertive tactics can work if they’re administered correctly.”

In his presentation, Larzelere said his research team interviewed 102 mothers who provided detailed descriptions of five times they had to discipline their toddlers for hitting, whining, defiance, negotiating, or not listening.

Offering compromises was the most effective tactic for immediate behavior improvements, regardless of the type of behavior. Reasoning was the next most effective response when mothers were reacting to mildly annoying behaviors, such as negotiating or whining.

Punishments, such as timeouts or taking away something, were more effective than reasoning when dealing with a toddler who was acting defiant or hitting. However, punishments were the least effective tactic for negotiating and whining children and reasoning was not effective when used with children who were defiant or hitting.

An expanded view provides a different perspective as researchers discovered longer-term effects revealed a different pattern.

When the moms were interviewed two months later, those who offered compromises too frequently to the children who were hitting or acting defiant said their children were acting worse, Larzelere said.

Reasoning, however, was most effective over time for these children, even though it was the least effective response immediately. A moderate use of timeouts and other punishments (less than 16 percent of the time) led to improved behavior subsequently but only for these defiant children.

In another presentation at the same symposium, Ennio Cipani, Ph.D., of National University, said the reason timeouts don’t work or are viewed negatively is because they are not used properly.

Cipani and colleagues have been able to observe, in real time, the mistakes parents can make in implementing timeout as part of their in-home services. For example, parents should not make spur-of-the-moment decisions to use a timeout. Rather, they should tell their children ahead of time which behaviors (e.g., hitting, yelling at other children) will put them in timeout and always follow through, he added.

Examples of his work are used in his resource guide for parents, Punishment on Trial.

“Our clinical case findings, have shown that timeout used consistently for select behaviors and situations significantly reduced problem behaviors over time” Cipani said.

Child behavior therapy can also help parents and children who are struggling, said David Reitman, Ph.D., of Nova Southeastern University, and Mark Roberts, Ph.D., of Idaho State University.

Roberts presented information on the Hanf method of parenting, based on the work of Constance Hanf, Ph.D., which allows for an initial stage of positive discipline (i.e., rewarding children for good behavior) and eventually moves into more authoritative parenting techniques (i.e., timeout).

“Allowing the child a second chance to comply with parent instructions by offering a warning for noncompliance has proven beneficial. The number of timeouts during initial therapy declines, while the necessity and effectiveness of timeout remains,” Roberts said.

“Over time both parent instructions and warnings becoming increasingly effective, reducing the necessity of timeout for noncompliance.”

Reitman suggested that parents of typically developing children may view behavior therapy as concerned solely with punishment rather than having broad value for promoting positive child development.

“People who are critical of behavior therapists because they try to ‘control’ children’s behavior are not mindful of behavior therapists’ efforts to convey to parents the value of connecting positively with the child,” Reitman said.

“Therapists can help parents understand the problem, facilitate changes in the environment, and help the children acquire the skills they need to become successful.”

Source: American Psychological Association/EurekAlert

Aug 5

The Trouble With Bright Girls


by Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D
For women, ability doesn’t always lead to confidence. Here’s why.
Successful women know only too well that in any male-dominated profession, we often find ourselves at a distinct disadvantage. We are routinely underestimated, underutilized, and even underpaid. Studies show that women need to perform at extraordinarily high levels, just to appear moderately competent compared to our male coworkers.

But in my experience, smart and talented women rarely realize that one of the toughest hurdles they’ll have to overcome to be successful lies within. We judge our own abilities not only more harshly, but fundamentally differently, than men do. Understanding why we do it is the first step to righting a terrible wrong. And to do that, we need to take a step back in time.

Chances are good that if you are a successful professional today, you were a pretty bright fifth grade girl. My graduate advisor, psychologist Carol Dweck (author of Mindset) conducted a series of studies in the 1980s, looking at how bright girls and boys in the fifth grade handled new, difficult and confusing material.

She found that bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up–and the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts, rather than give up.

Why does this happen? What makes smart girls more vulnerable, and less confident, when they should be the most confident kids in the room? At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls in ability, nor in past history of success. The only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty–what it meant to them when material seemed hard to learn. Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.

Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

How do girls and boys develop these different views? Most likely, it has to do with the kinds of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children. Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever, ” or ” such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness, and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.

Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart”, and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder.

We continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives. And because bright girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves–women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena, and give up way too soon.

Even if every external disadvantage to a woman’s rising to the top of an organization is removed–every inequality of opportunity, every chauvinistic stereotype, all the challenges we face balancing work and family–we would still have to deal with the fact that through our mistaken beliefs about our abilities, we may be our own worst enemy.

How often have you found yourself avoiding challenges and playing it safe, sticking to goals you knew would be easy for you to reach? Are there things you decided long ago that you could never be good at? Skills you believed you would never possess? If the list is a long one, you were probably one of the Bright Girls–and your belief that you are “stuck” being exactly as you are has done more to determine the course of your life than you probably ever imagined. Which would be fine, if your abilities were innate and unchangeable. Only they’re not.

No matter the ability–whether it’s intelligence, creativity, self-control, charm, or athleticism–studies show them to be profoundly malleable. When it comes to mastering any skill, your experience, effort, and persistence matter a lot. So if you were a Bright Girl, it’s time to toss out your (mistaken) belief about how ability works, embrace the fact that you can always improve, and reclaim the confidence to tackle any challenge that you lost so long ago.

Aug 4

Are You a Narcissist?


Susan Heitler Ph.D.

Folks who are fun, good at things, and appear in public to be compassionate and generous often make desirable friends and life partners. They can be very enjoyable to hang out with, even if they seem a bit self-preoccupied, as if they are always taking mental selfies. Then can come the rub. Are they also good partners when it comes to talking through differences of opinion in work and/or home situations? Or is there something narcissistic about how they communicate in a relationship (link is external) that’s provocative?

Especially when you hit bumps on the road of your life, ever tried to be friends or a love partner with someone who only listens to him or herself? Who changes the topic, gets defensive or gets mad at you when you try to talk about difficulties you’ve been experiencing? The desire to sustain a friendship, never mind a love relationship, with these folks can quickly fade.

How about you? Are you someone that your guy friends, girl friends or spouse like and yet often also find demoralizing to be with when serious issues come up? Do people tell you that you seem to take up all the space in the room because conversations with you so frequently take an “it’ all about me” turn? When others express feelings and concerns, is your reaction “Well what about me?” Do you monologue or pontificate instead of sharing equal air time?

To identify narcissism a good place to start is with clarity about what healthy versus narcissisitc functioning look like.

You can most quickly tell narcissism by how well a person listens. Someone who is all talk with very little interest in what others say is generally a pretty high likelihood of scoring high on the following narcissism checklist.

Someone who disparages what you say instead of finding what makes sense about it, or who ignores what you say altogether, is likely to be functioning narcissistically.

Not listening leads to showing minimal responsivity to others’ concerns. The bottom line is that healthy folks in healthy relationships (link is external)are able to sustain both responsivity to their own concerns and responsivity to others’. They are able to be self-centered in the best sense (taking care of themselves), and also altruistic (taking heed of others’ desires).

I call the ability to hear both oneself and others bilateral (2-sided) listening. Narcissistic listening is one-way, listening to myself only, listening.

When differences arise, folks who do bilateral listening are pros at taking into consideration both their concerns and others’. This bilateral listening ability enables them to routinely seek and create win-win solutions, which in turn sustains their relationships with on-going goodwill.

For instance, if you are tired, you would listen to that feeling and head for bed. At the same time if you have just received a call from a friend who has a problem and urgently wants to talk with you, you might suggest that the two of you talk for a few minutes now, and aim to talk more at length in the morning. That could be a win-win solution.

By contrast, if you function narcissistically you might respond with an immediate”No. I’m too tired,” to your friend’s request. Or with a more gentle, “Yes I hear that you want to talk but I’m just too tired. In the latter case you seemed to be hearing your friend’s request, and then your but minimized, dismissed and discarded the data about the friend’s need.

Similarly, if your friend is a narcissist, the fact that you are tired would slide by him/her. Talking together now would be the only option. ‘It’s all about me’ would prevail, with anger at you if you were to refrain from complying.

Narcissistic folks can be generous.

Narcissistic folks actually are often very generous. They may, for instance, give away large sums of money to charity. Generous giving makes the giver feel good and also feels appropriate, like “the right” thing to do. They may well therefore pride themselves on their compassion and altruism.

At the same time, in a situation in which someone who tends toward narcissism wants something, and that desire is in conflict with what someone else wants, that’s when the selfish side takes over.

Often too, the tendency toward compassionate generosity gets directed toward strangers. The people closest to a narcissist receive far less compassion and far more dismissive listening.


Expanding on this core definition of narcissistic functioing as a difficulty in listening, here’s six signs for sizing up narcissism. Score each dimension from 0 to 10. Zero is not at all. Ten is all the time.

First assess yourself. Then circle back to score someone in your life who is difficult to deal with.

The goal: See your and others’ patterns clearly. Clarity is a strong first step toward being able to make changes for the better.

Sign #1: Unilateral listening.

What I want and what I have to say are all that matters when we talk together. When we make decisions what you want, your concerns, your feelings..these are mere whispers, inconveniences and irrelevancies. So when we discuss issues, my opinions are right. Yours are wrong or else of minimal importance. If you expect to have input, you are undermining me.

Narcissistic listening often dismisses, negates, ignores, minimizes, denigrates or otherwise renders irrelevant other people’s concerns and comments.

One sign of narcissistic non-listening: a tone of contempt instead of interest.

Another: frequent responses that begin with “But….”, which is a backspace-delete key that negates whatever came before, in this case, what someone else has said.

Yet another: because ‘I’m right and you’re wrong,’ I tend to listen for what I don’t like in what you say so that I can respond by telling you how what you have said is wrong.

Score: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

SIgn #2 It’s all about me.

I know more, I know better, I’m more interesting, When we talk, it’s mostly about me. In conversations, I take up most of the air time. Almost all of my chatter is about what I have done, what I am thinking about.

If you begin to talk about yourself, I link back to something in my life so that the focus of the discussion again turns onto me. Maybe that’s why people say I suck up all the air in a room.

When I want something, I need to have it. Never mind how you feel about it; it’s all about me. I’m big and important and you are merely also here, mostly to do things for me, like a third arm.

Score: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sign #3: The rules don’t apply to me.

I can have affairs, cut into a line where others are waiting, cheat on my taxes, and ignore rules that get in the way of my doing what I want.. Rules are for other people to follow.

Narcissists suffer from what I call Tall Man Syndrome. They experience themselves as above others, so the rules don’t apply to them.

Score: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sign #4: Your concerns are really criticisms of me, and I hate being criticized.

If you insist on my listening and taking your concerns seriously I’m likely to get mad. Criticism hurts. I can criticize others, and often do, but if you criticize me you’re hurting my feelings so I’ll hurt you back. And if you say you are at all unhappy, that’s a way of indirectly criticizing me. Since “it’s all about me” your feelings must be about what I have been doing.

Narcissists paradoxically manifest both an inflated idea of their own importance and quickness to feel deflated by negative feedback.

In addition, because they think everything is about them, they hear others’ attempts to talk about personal feelings as veiled criticisms of themselves.

The clinical term for taking others’ concerns as personal criticism is personalizing. E.g., If she says “I’m feeling lonely,” her narcissistic friend will hear the self-statement as an acusation, “You don’t spend enough time with me.”

Score: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sign #5: When things go wrong between us, it’s always your fault.

I can’t be expected to apologize or to admit blame. I’m above others and above reproach. You shouldn’t have… . Don’t threaten me with expecting me to say how I’ve contributed to a problem or I’ll get mad at you.

Unwillingness to take responsibility for mistakes goes hand-in-hand with quickness to blame. This trait may come from confusing the part with the whole. “If I’ve done one thing that’s not right, then I must be all bad.” That’s also all-or-nothing thinking.

Whatever the source of the sensitivity to criticism and difficulty admitting mistakes, the upshot is a tendency to blame others when anything has gone wrong. Blaming and fault-finding in others feel safer to narcissists than looking to discover, learn and grow from their own part in difficulties.

While narcissists are quick to blame, they may be slow to appreciate. Appreciation and gratitude require listening.

Score: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sign #6: If I’m angry, it’s your fault.

You made me mad. You didn’t listen to me. You criticized me. You’re trying to control me. Your view is wrong. So you need to apologize, not me.

I’m not responsible either for my anger. If I’m mad, it’s because I’m frustrated by what you are doing. My anger is your fault. I’m only made because you … ”

Some narcissists show major charm and social agility. At the same time, these seemintly super-confident folks also can be quick to anger. When they do become inflamed, they then immediately blame their anger on others.

What are typical anger triggers for people with narcissistic tendencies?

Critical comments will do it. As I said above, as much as narcissisitc folks see themselves as special, they also can be remarkably thin-skinned. Any feedback that punctures their belief in total specialness can feel quite threatening. The immediate response will be to issue blame.

Telling anyone what to do, or sounding even somewhat like you are telling them what to do, also is likely to provoke irritation. Pretty much everyone prefers autonomy (unless the two people have an agreed-upon boss-worker or similar relationship). Narcissists however tend to be hyper-sensitive about feeling controlled. Any request therefore to a narcissist is at risk for sounding to them like a demand and therefore triggering irritation.

Asking someone who is narcissistic to do something your way rather than theirs is particularly likely to sound to them like you are telling them what to do. Their anger in response, of course, is your fault.

Score: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

TOTAL SCORE: ___ What does this score indicate?

The interpretations below are based on my clinical hunches, not any scientific testing. They’re meant just to give you a general indicate of what your quiz suggests.

Scores that total 5-10 probably indicate normal human fallibilities with room for improvement. No one is perfect. If you think you are perfect, and scored therefore below 5, you might check again. Be sure your scores do not indicate a narcissism of excessive belief that you are perfect, another potential sign of narcissism

Too much narcissism in your habits would be indicated by a total score of 10 to 30. Pay attention to your “narcissism lite” and you may fairly easily be able to lower that score considerably.

A total score of 30 or higher spells significant narcissistic habits that probably do not serve you well. Time to make some serious habit changes!

40 to 60 or higher would indicate to me severe problems with narcissism. With this understanding of why your relationships become distressed, hopefully you will commit yourself to some serious personal growth.

Again, note that these score interpretations are based on hunches, not an experimentally validated scoring system. They are meant as a personal heads-up, not a clinical diagnosis.

What are your options if you are uncomfortable with the score?

The bottom line is that “narcissism” is basically habit-patterns, and habits can be changed. Awareness of your narcissistic tendencies is a strong first step that can empower you to notice and fix slippages.

You also might want to check out my blogpost on overcoming narcissism and borderline personality habits.

What if you are using this checklist to score how narcissistic someone you know may be?

If someone you interact with regularly shows narcissistic patterns, it’s not up to you to change them. Better for you to focus on how you yourself can change the dance you do with that person.

For instance, you can choose that you will no longer let yourself be intimidated or controlled by fear of anger. Just gracefully leave the situation for a cool down period (“I need to get a drink of water.”), and then return for a calmer second-go at the conversation.

When you have something important to communicate with a narcissistic loved one, what can help? Be sure to follow the rule of talking about yourself, not about the other person. See my post on 6 sentence starters for sensitive discussions for illustrations of how to follow this rule to more effectively be past the deafness wall.

Having trouble getting your views heard? You can choose to speak up a second or third time about your concerns to increase the odds that your concerns or viewpoint will eventually get heard.

You can ask, after sharing a concern, “So what made sense to you in what I said?”

You can digest aloud what makes sense in what your partner said, and then make a second attempt to say your viewpoint. Once your partner feels heard, the odds go up that he or she will mirror your good hearing habits.

And becoming a master at win-win problem-solving can put you in a leadership role for situations in which you need to make a decision together so that your eventual plan of action heeds both of your concerns. This earlier post on win-win decision-making may help so that your partner feels that s/he has gotten what s/he wants even though your concerns also have been responded to in your plan of action.

Almost everyone tends to behave less narcissistically when they are happy. Most of us tend to become increasingly narcissistic as anxieties prime the pump of anger.

Anger promotes the sense that “What I want is holy, and what you want is irrelevant.” That’s why it’s so vital that in important conversations you stay calm. Talking about sensitive issues in calm good-humored ways without arguing (link is external)has the highest odds of leading to mutual understandings instead of the narcissism trap.

The bottom line? For a happier life and more gratifing relationships, (link is external) especially if your scores indicated some narcissistic tendencies, tame these trends with better skills. Narcissism is not like height or eye color. It’s a behavior problem. Upgrading your listening and shared-decision-making skills can make a huge difference!

Aug 3

Information About Social Anxiety Disorder


by Eileen Bailey

Social Anxiety Is Not Shyness
Some people believe social anxiety disorder (SAD) is synonymous with shyness. Others, including some physicians, don’t believe it exists at all. But for those living with SAD, it’s very real.

If you have SAD, you constantly worry about being negatively judged by others. You might find it difficult to eat or talk in public, or to use public bathrooms. You might find it impossible to attend social events. As with other anxiety disorders, you might know your fear is irrational but feel powerless to stop it.

Social Anxiety Is Not Rare
Studies show that 2 to 13 percent of the U.S. population experiences social anxiety, at some point in their lives, to the degree that it would be considered SAD. It is the most common type of anxiety disorder in teenagers. It is more common in women and often starts in childhood or early adolescence.

Social Anxiety Is Not a Personality Trait
SAD and shyness are not the same. Shyness is considered a personality trait. People who are shy experience nervousness or anxiety when faced with a social or interpersonal situation but accept that being shy is part of who they are. Those with social anxiety might be shy or might be extroverts, but they view SAD as a negative and often are hard on themselves for feeling the way they do.

Symptoms of SAD
The following are all symptoms of SAD, though everyone might not experience all symptoms. Some people might exhibit symptoms in only one type of situation, while others might experience multiple symptoms in various social situations.
Self conscious in front of other people
Extreme fear that others will judge you
Can worry for days or weeks before an event
Avoidance of situations requiring social interaction and intensely uncomfortable if in a social situation
Keeps conversation with others to a minimum
Difficulty making or keeping friends
Panic attacks, including shaking, blushing, nausea or sweating, when in a social situation
Difficulty talking to others

People With SAD Aren’t All ‘Wallflowers’
While some people with SAD might stay in the background, others are outgoing in situations that don’t require them to perform whatever action triggers problems. For example, if someone is anxious about eating in public, he might not have a problem talking in public. Symptoms of social anxiety disorder arise only when an individual’s triggers are activated.

SAD Is Serious
SAD can interfere with your ability to make friends and participate in social activities. But it can also cause problems in relationships, cause you to miss school or work, or cause you to get lower grades because of your fear of answering questions or talking in class.

SAD Elevates the Risk of Depression
Teens with social anxiety often experience depression as well. Some research has found that if you have SAD, you are six times more likely to also have depression, dysthymia or bipolar disorder. You are also at a higher risk for substance abuse. Early treatment may reduce the risk of developing depression and other coexisting conditions.

Effective Treatment Exists!
Like other anxiety disorders, there is help if you have social phobia. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to help people understand triggers for anxiety and teaches techniques, such as thought logs, mindfulness and relaxation exercises, to help control anxious feelings. Some people use medications to help control the anxiety. This can be especially effective when first beginning CBT.

Aug 2

Understanding Orthorexia


By Marianne Riley

“Ah, I can’t do lunch, but would you want to grab coffee later on?” This is something I would say often to my friends. My circle was growing smaller. I rarely saw friends or even family. My apartment was my temple. The holder of all things healthy.

I prepared all of my meals after returning from my trip to Whole Foods. It was Sunday, my meal prep day, where I would hover over a stove baking bland free-range chicken, grass-fed steaks, organic broccoli and sweet potatoes.

After cooking and carefully putting my food into plastic containers, I ate. I ate in solitude. Mealtime was very important to me. All I cared about was food, feeding myself, perfectly timing out when I would eat and what I would eat.

Upon finishing my meal, I reached for the medicine cabinet where I would throw back a variety of vitamins and minerals, which I believed, were healing a host of “problems” ranging from digestive issues to anxiety. “Success, I feel healthy,” I would say to myself.

I picked coconut sugar over Splenda, grass-fed butter over olive oil, grass-fed steaks over salads, and full-fat grass-fed yogurt over sugar-free yogurt. Calories were not my concern, health was. I didn’t get an inch close to sugar-free anything. I was terrified of anything processed or artificial. Terrified it would make me unhealthy. Healthy was all I cared for.

Food aside, I certainly was concerned with my body image as well. Sure, I would avoid extra calories but the main fear was ‘bad’ food. Food that would take away my perfect health and body. I was orthorexic.

Orthorexia is the term for a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive behavior in pursuit of a righteous and healthy diet. Orthorexia sufferers often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders. A person with orthorexia will be obsessed with defining and maintaining the perfect diet, rather than a thin weight. He or she will fixate on eating foods that give them a feeling of being pure and healthy. Their health typically defines them.

An orthorexic may avoid numerous foods, including those made with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives; anything considered “processed,” fat, sugar or salt; animal, dairy, or gluten. There are many overlaps between orthorexia and other eating disorders; however, there are a few symptoms that are distinctive to orthorexia. According to Timberline Knolls, a residential eating disorder treatment center, the following are signs of someone who may be suffering from orthorexia:

Obsessive concern over the relationship between food choices and health concerns such as asthma, digestive problems, low mood, anxiety or allergies.
Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies, without medical advice.
Noticeable increase in consumption of supplements, herbal remedies or probiotics.
Drastic reduction in opinions of acceptable food choices, such that the sufferer may eventually consume fewer than 10 foods.
Irrational concern over food preparation techniques, especially washing of food or sterilization of utensils.
While orthorexia is less well known than other eating disorders, it is just as serious and potentially fatal. My spell under orthorexia ended me up in the hospital eight times for attempted suicide. I was experiencing OCD, anxiety, and depression as a result of my eating disorder.

After a number of therapists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, and medications, I hit my knees. Crying on the floor in my living room after having a panic attack for not being able to go to the gym at the time I wanted to go, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I had to beat this thing. Do I want to spend hours thinking about food? Planning my workouts? Doing rituals and compulsions around food and exercise? Lose more friends? Be miserable? No. I don’t.

So, I embraced recovery and I am still on that journey. I work closely with a professional body image/orthorexic coach who is helping me take the actions needed to move forward. I chose not to work with a therapist at this time. After years of therapy, I decided to take a different route. I also knew myself very well. I knew exactly what I needed to challenge. I learned that I am better with action-oriented behaviors versus talk therapy.

Challenging my eating disorder behaviors was my goal. I set out to eat one food off of my “feared foods” list each week. I also made myself tweak my workout schedule each week. For instance, instead of working out five days, I would work out four days. I also made a challenge list that included things I never let myself do because the eating disorder was holding me back. I can’t tell you how helpful this has been.

I am still in recovery and very fresh to the whole experience. I am still working on my challenge lists. But I can tell you this has been a very eye-opening experience. I am feeling small moments of freedom every day. No matter how hard or uncomfortable it is to challenge a negative or unhelpful thought, I do it. The more you entertain your negative thoughts, the more they will hover.

While I am not currently working with a therapist, I do recommend seeing one. I also recommend working with your doctor and having a complete workup done to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Psychiatrists are incredibly beneficial as well, if you are looking to identify whether medications are going to be helpful for you during your recovery.

Initially, I also worked with a nutritionist weekly. She helped me to integrate “fear” foods back slowly and in a way I didn’t find scary.

Lastly, please confide in someone. It doesn’t have to be a parent; it can be a boyfriend or girlfriend, relative, or friend. Just make sure it is someone you can trust and feel comfortable talking to.

You can recover. Don’t let yourself live in this misery any longer. Embrace freedom.

Aug 2

Are You a Bullied Parent?


By Sean Grover, LCSW

Have you ever seen a child bully or boss around his parents? A child who talks down to them, disrespects or even mocks them? Embarrassing, isn’t it?

A generation or two ago, it would have been unthinkable for children to bully their parents. Today, nearly everyone knows a parent who is bullied by his or her child. Pay a visit to your local playground or stroll through a shopping mall. You’re bound to see the bullied parent dynamic in action.

On the surface it looks like an angry child harassing a parent who’s just too tired to say no. Underneath, there is much more going on. You’re likely to find a child who has learned how to exploit his parents’ insecurities to get what he wants.

And here’s the worst part: the longer a parent surrenders to the temper tantrums, threats and manipulations, the harder it is to break these bullying tendencies. As parents cede power, children grow more aggressive. Sensing a leadership void, they begin to lose respect for their parents and decide to fill the parenting role themselves; they start to parent their parents.

Over the years, I have listened to hundreds of bullied parents in my office. Though they hail from difficult cultures and communities, their child’s bullying is shockingly similar and equally as dismal. So, which parents are most likely to be bullied by their kids? Good question. They actually fit into two broad categories:

Bullied by their own parents.
Parents who were raised in homes with punishingly strict parents tend to be too liberal and accommodating with their own children. They set out to undo their painful childhood by giving their children the freedom and permissions that they were denied as children. By failing to address their child’s bossy behavior, and constantly gratifying their demands, they enable bullying and instill an unhealthy sense of entitlement and privilege in their kids. This backlash against authoritarian parenting of the past is at the heart of the bullied parent dilemma we find ourselves in today.
Absent or neglectful parents.
Adults who experienced absent or neglectful parents often have a difficult time parenting. They had no parental model to internalize, no example to follow. When faced with tough parenting choices, they defer difficult decisions to their partner or even to their kids. They are more comfortable being a friend rather than a parent. Though this may sound appealing, it induces much irritation in children. Deep down they want their parents to be parents, not playmates.
To end the bullying nightmare in your home, you’ll need a new parenting toolbox. Start with these simple steps.

Come to grips with your own history.
In my book and workshops, I spend a lot of time asking parents to reflect on their childhood. For example, did your own parents have light qualities? Did they have dark qualities? Reflecting on how you felt about the way you were parented helps you form an empathic attunement with your child. You will understand him or her better.
Also by considering your parents’ choices, you can begin to make more conscious decisions about the kind of parent you want to be. Rather than parenting in opposition to your parents’ choices or repeating their mistakes, you will be empowered to move your parenting in a fresh new direction.

Make new choices.
Giving into bullying is easy; standing your ground isn’t. When faced with a parenting dilemma, the right choice is rarely the easy one. Setting limits and boundaries, putting aside time for homework and computer hours may not sound exciting, but are essential to soothing the bully in your child. Even though children may resist it, they crave structure. Structure calms anxiety, contains worries, and helps children to better navigate their feelings and impulses.
Increase self-care.
Nearly all bullied parents live in a world of perpetual self-neglect. You can see the fatigue in their eyes and sense their exhaustion. They are suffering from parent burnout and don’t even know it. They don’t exercise, eat or sleep well; they don’t spend quality time with friends. If this sounds familiar, jot down this phrase and hang it on your fridge: self-care is child care. Parents who don’t take care of themselves are terrible role models. After all, who wants a parent who’s whiny and plays the victim all the time?
Get support.
Turning around a bullying situation is going to be a battle, so you’ll need extra troops. Reach out to school officials, family, friends, and mental health professionals. Break the silence on your situation. Gather an anti-bullying team and expand your support base. Along the way you’re likely to discover that your situation is not unusual. In fact, many parents silently struggle with the same issues. You’ll feel relieved to know that you’re not alone, and also pick up helpful strategies along the way.
Find ways to enjoy spending time together.
If you’re constantly nagging and badgering your child with demands, it’s only natural that he or she will nag and badger you back. Nothing sours a relationship more than relentless negativity. If you find yourself constantly trading insults with your kid, it’s time to hit the pause button. Stop cataloging complaints, put away the to-do lists, and find a way to have fun. Enjoying time together is the single most powerful intervention you can make to get your relationship back on track.
If you’re a bullied parent, don’t fret. We all are sometimes. We give in to our children’s demands now and then to purchase peace, or we look the other way to avoid conflict. But if you give in too often and bossy behavior starts to take root, the sooner you pull the plug on it, the better — for your own sanity and your child’s. When parents take control, everyone benefits.

Aug 2


It’s rare to find a student who consistently exhibits strong motivation towards all academic subjects. Jennifer may race towards math, but run from her Spanish homework. James may dive headfirst into history, but approach his math homework only after he’s exhausted every other academic activity and spent hours deep in procrastination.

In other words, most students don’t like all subjects equally.

Not surprisingly, interest generally directs a student’s preferences. It’s no secret that most of us tend to like the things we are good at and dislike those that are more challenging for us.

What Makes a Student “Unmotivated”?

When a student seems unmotivated for an academic task, there is a reasonable likelihood that the student doubts his or her ability to successfully accomplish the task. Most of us avoid activities that may result in frustration or failure. After all, failure can be quite tough on the ego.

When students tell me “I hate math,” that’s frequently code for “I dislike how math makes me feel less capable than I’d like to be.” They don’t honestly hate math. They do hate looking bad. They hate feeling frustrated, incompetent or embarrassed by their performance.

If I can help a student feel more competent in math, amazingly, that dislike for math will frequently diminish (though it may not necessarily become preferred).

The Role of Mastery in Motivation

One of the most useful ways to help a student who does not seem motivated is to focus on mastery. Give the student a feeling of accomplishment. In my practice, I’ve been continually impressed by the power of successes – even small ones — to help students recalibrate their self-perceptions and overcome limiting self-beliefs. Success begets more success

Sometimes students refuse to engage with a particular academic subject. They’ve mentally checked out and refuse to put their egos on the line by risking failure or further embarrassment. In these cases, we need to step back and reframe the whole experience.

I teach my students to maintain a “growth mindset.” Leaning heavily upon Carol Dweck’s work on learning mindsets, I create a learning environment in which mistakes are viewed as the foundation of learning and growth, rather than a source of embarrassment. Mistakes become the fuel for the most rapid advancement a student can attain.

Four Words to Spur Motivation

Setting up appropriate challenges for students can also spur on motivation. Many young people love a challenge, a chance to test their mettle, an opportunity to overcome obstacles and come out ahead. When a student’s motivation for a particular task is low, there are four words that can act as a remedy: “Let’s play a game.” Many unmotivated students light up in the face of a challenge that they believe they can overcome. Boys especially love an element of competition in their pursuits.

To help transform an academic task into a game, you can agree upon new constraints in which to “play”: perhaps you can ratchet up the timing constraints, or add some limitation, or set a lofty goal. A game emerges. Honoring the sage counsel of renowned educational researcher, Mary Poppins, what was tedious can become more fun and more naturally motivating.

Using Rewards for Motivation

To help students feel competent and accurately track their progress and growth, it’s important to provide encouragement and positive feedback, or “informational rewards.” Be specific and accurate with your feedback, with emphasis on successes. Over time, encourage students to provide their own feedback, to reflect more upon and appraise their own learning and growth.

When it comes to using rewards other than informational rewards, be careful not to undermine intrinsic motivation. As a rule, use verbal/informational rewards liberally, but tangible rewards sparingly.

For example, it’s okay to reward a great performance after the fact — in a celebratory fashion — but it’s far from ideal to make rewards contingent upon specific performance. If you do set up a contingency (i.e. if you hit this academic goal, you get this reward), keep the reward as small as possible, while still being motivating. If a student has no intrinsic motivation for achievement, dangling a reward might shift a student’s behaviors, and in the process, the student might discover a degree of intrinsic motivation for the activity. Then, when the reward is extinguished, the student has a newfound respect for/enjoyment of the activity. But if the student starts with a level of intrinsic motivation (e.g. genuinely motivated by achievement), and the reward is introduced and then extinguished, that can permanently transform the student’s relationship to the activity.

Instilling a Love for Learning

Most researchers agree that it’s important to steer clear of threats or punishment as a way to motivate academic achievement. While threats and punishment may get results in the short them, they can negatively affect the students relationship to academics in the long term, undermining a student’s sense of autonomy vis a vis their academics.

Whenever possible, attempt to motivate students by helping them build feelings of competence and mastery. In the 21st century, students will need to be lifelong learners, so it is all the more important that we foster in them the love for learning from an early age.

Aug 1

By Rick Nauert PhD
Interesting new research finds that positive reinforcement is especially beneficial for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Although it was known that praise improves the performance of children with ADHD on certain cognitive tasks, experts were unsure if the results were due to enhanced motivation or because ADHD kids had greater room for improvement.

University of Buffalo (UB) researchers discovered a little recognition for a job well done means a lot to children with ADHD, more so than it would for typically developing kids.

And the reason behind the improvement appears to be related to motivational factors, rather than innate intellect.

“Our results suggest that the motivation piece is critical,” says Whitney Fosco, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

“Kids with ADHD showed more improvement because they are more motivated by the opportunity to gain rewards, not because they simply did worse from the beginning.”

The findings come out of a novel study published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions that collectively examined two leading theories on ADHD, combining what previous work had mostly looked at separately.

One of those theories suggests that lower-than-average cognitive abilities contribute to symptoms associated with ADHD, such as inattentiveness. The other theory favors motivation over ability, focusing on whether kids with ADHD have an increased sensitivity to reward.

“When asking whether the performance difference we see is the result of ability or motivation, this research has more of an answer than any study that comes before it,” says UB psychologist Larry Hawk, the paper’s principle investigator.

The results of the research conducted by Hawk, Fosco, UB graduate student Michelle Bubnik and Keri Rosch of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, have clinical parallels as well.

Behavioral therapy, which uses positive consequences to increase the likelihood of achieving certain behaviors, is among the leading psychosocial interventions for children with an ADHD diagnosis.

The authors point out that the benefits of reward are not specific to children with ADHD.

“The major difference is that typically developing kids usually perform well even when simply asked to do their best,” says Fosco. “But kids with ADHD typically need an external or an additional reinforcement to perform their best.”

It’s a tricky area of research area, according to Hawk, since some of the subjects are being tested on tasks on which they have a demonstrated history of poor performance.

There is also a degree of variability between the two groups.

The authors say that having a diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t necessarily mean that a child will perform poorly on any given task, and neither does the absence of a diagnosis mean that the child will perform well on any given task.

“You can’t say kids with ADHD respond more to reinforcement because they were doing poorly to begin with,” says Hawk.

“We showed that was not true. It was greater motivation to obtain external rewards that drove the effects we observed.”

Source: University of Buffalo

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