Monthly Archives: August 2014

Upcoming Networking Lunch and Trauma Presentation by Dr. Karen Alter- Reid on Thursday October 30th at 12pm

WFC will be hosting a Professional Networking Lunch and Presentation by Dr. Karen Alter-Reid titled, “Relief from Traumatic Stress Using EMDR Therapy” on Thursday October 30th from 12-1:30pm.  The event is open to local professionals in the mental health field.  Contact if you are interested in attending.

Relief from Traumatic Stress Using EMDR Therapy

Dr. Alter-Reid will share her clinical experience providing trauma treatment with Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR). Diagnostic and assessment issues will be reviewed as well as phase-oriented treatment methodology for acute stress, post- traumatic stress disorder, and complex PTSD. Case examples will be used to highlight how the adaptive information processing system (AIP) of the brain helps to process traumatic events to an adaptive resolution with EMDR.

Dr. Alter-Reid is a clinical psychologist based in Stamford specializing in the treatment of acute and chronic PTSD.  She’s an EMDRIA Approved EMDR Trainer, provides training for the Trauma Response/EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program, and is Co-Coordinator of the Fairfield County Trauma Recovery Network.

WFC Hosted Successful Food and Mood Luncheon on August 13th!

On August 13th, WFC hosted a Networking Luncheon for local professionals followed by a presentation from staff Dietician, Vicki Kobliner on the Relationship Between Food and Mood!  We had a great group of therapists, and mental health professionals attend.  See this photo from the event:

Depression and Suicide – A Life Lead in Quiet Desperation

The death of the highly regarded actor, 63-year-old Robin Williams, has rocked the world, after having allegedly taking his own life the night of August 11th. His wife, colleagues, and fans have been grieving since the unsuspected tragedy occurred. Mr. Williams was one of the greatest comedians of our time, and known by many to be a genuinely kind person.

“We never saw this coming,” was the general sentiment that emerged during initial interviews of those closest to Mr. Williams, a response not unique Williams’s case. In fact, loved ones and friends of suicide victims often report surprise when these types of events occur. It is not because of lack of caring, but rather the absence of understanding about the circumstances of suicide that creates this separation. Many do not realize just how prevalent a detachment between an individual contemplating suicide and the loved ones who surround them tends to be. Mr. Williams’s death, while a terrible tragedy, may serve as a catalyst to help us connect to a deeper understanding of depression and suicide.

To better understand the circumstances of suicide, it is important for us to eliminate the misconceptions surrounding it. Professionals and laymen alike have proposed that these attempts are the result of anger or even appear as acts of vengeance. Some react to suicide by deeming it a selfish act, blaming the victim by stating “if only they had… this never would have happened.”

Contrary to these notions, in many cases, suicide is an act of desperation and utter hopelessness. Many times, victims are seeking an end to the terrible anguish and physiological pain they have lived through for years. Their perception of their situation is one of despair, debilitating symptoms, anguish, and physiological dysregulation.

Nicholas Strouse, the Director and a clinician at Westport Family Counseling, explains severe chronic depression in the following way:

Picture the pain of losing someone you love… pain that causes you to weep and promise God that you will do anything in exchange for things to go back to the way they were… pain that causes you to lose focus… lose your appetite… pain that keeps you up all night… pain that won’t let you get out of bed in the morning… Imagine that pain amplified exponentially… and then imagine that pain continuing for years.

In addition to psychic pain, severe depression creates a myriad of symptoms, ranging from stress-disorders to psychosomatic disorders, (headaches, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome), insular thinking, and reclusive behavior. Depression also impacts the immune system, coursing through the body like cancer.

However, whereas cancer is a concrete medical condition, depression is a term that refers to a cluster of subjective symptoms that include psychic pain, physiological manifestations, emotional dysregulation, psychosomatic conditions, and is therefore harder to pinpoint or define. Depression, unlike cancer, is abstract and intangible.

It is a common belief among individuals who are depressed that something is inherently wrong with them. This ego deficit precipitates the desire to hide and invariably leads to isolation, increasing self-blame and self-loathing. Because of this type of thinking, severely depressed individuals often just “put on a happy face,” in order to stop people from asking about the issue. Sadly, Robin Williams may have done just that.

It makes sense, then–as irrational as it may seem–that people contemplating suicide do not often reach out for help, and try to hide their pain. Many who suffer and stay silent lead lives of quiet desperation. However, hope lies in our potential to propel a collective shift in perception. The goal is to raise the level of empathy, understanding, and compassion, to open communication lines with those who are suffering. If we are successful in our objective, it will become less likely that friends and loved ones of suicide victims must say, “We never saw this coming.”          

 -By Mark Renchner-Kelly, WFC

Loneliness- What Is Really Trending on Facebook

Today, a prominent issue in the mental health field is the pervasive feeling of loneliness that is becoming the norm in the lives of many. Research has shown that chronic isolation and loneliness can lead to a multitude of health problems, including cognitive deficits in learning and memory. It seems that the integrity of our physical and mental well-being is highly correlated with our ability to connect and relate to others socially.

The source of this problem may lay in our cultural addiction to social media that is especially prevalent in the millennial generation. The custom in our modern social gatherings is to plug away on smartphones, hardly interacting in the present moment. It may be this need to escape, change, or otherwise enhance “normal” reality online that is part of our societal problem. “Instagraming” everything from what you had for lunch, to yet another picture of ones feet on a beach, may actually be leading to a society that is less present and instead lives vicariously through social media tools.

The rush of pleasure from attaining new followers on Twitter and “likes” on Facebook has become a widespread addiction, one that has the today’s youth caught up in an ever-sustaining frenzy to maintain the perfect online profile. This false belief that online popularity will help us to feel more significant leads to seeking more interaction online, when each brief moment of validation passes. Like any addiction, these outlets of pleasure are short-lived and never truly satisfying. The inherent problem lies in the belief that digital-life can replace real-life. Because of this generational paradigm a culture of isolated individuals has emerged.

However, there is hope that this widespread epidemic of loneliness may retract from the mainstream, if we are willing to change habitually. What hinders our growth and sustains our social isolation is the belief that there is something inherently wrong with us. Instead we should recognize that our maladaptive habits are the issue. For change to occur, we must look at how our loneliness and isolation are in our minds and behavior.

As influential as social media is on our well-being, improving life-satisfaction multi-dimensionally ultimately lies in proactive change. When at social gatherings, put your cellphone away or on silent. Enjoy the time with the people who are actually in your presence. If you feel you lack connection, try joining a social group or get involved in a cause that is meaningful to you. If you have a particular passion or skill, there are plenty of people out there who share your same interests.

The Internet can actually be a useful tool to find people who you can connect and share experiences with offline. You might find that it is not all that difficult to create or find a social group if you use your digital resources appropriately. Having said this, studies have shown it is the quality, not the quantity, of relationships that leads to higher levels of satisfaction and well-being, so be mindful and grateful for those who you do have in your life and take time to be with them.

Taking positive steps to improve your social life is as important to your health as eating well and exercising. Get off your smartphone, your computer, and turn off the TV. You may not have the most active Tumblr, or the most friends on Facebook, but ironically you most likely will feel far less alone and more connected then ever before.

This societal shift can start with you. It may be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but as author Neal Donald Walsch once said, “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”


-Mark Renchner-Kelly, WFC