Masthead

Resources

Click on the topics below for information and book recommendations.

Admissions Testing

Admissions Testing

Parents put a lot of careful thought and effort into selecting the schools they think will be the best fit for their child and for themselves. They go on tours, speak with faculty members of admissions departments, solicit advice from friends, and of course, they complete the myriad requirements for the actual applications. Cognitive tests are often one of these requirements, and can also often be a source of stress for parents, especially when they don’t know what to expect.

The following are some basics of cognitive testing to help demystify and optimize your child’s experience.

The Actual Test

Children 5 years and younger typically take the WPPSI-IV (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence). It usually lasts around 45 minutes, and consists of multiple activities that measure different aspects of cognitive function. Children often enjoy the activities, as some involve looking at pictures or working with blocks. Development at this age is often uneven, so you may find that your child scores better in one area than another. This is normal.

Children 6 years and older take the WISC-V (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). It usually lasts from about 60-90 minutes, and consists of multiple activities that measure different aspects of cognitive function.

Both tests will yield an overall score, as well as scores for the individual aspects, or domains, of cognitive function. These may include, but are not limited to, verbal abilities, memory, and reasoning.

Try Not To Worry

Kids, especially the younger ones, typically enjoy the process, and do not inherently feel worried about it. If you’re worrying, though, they’ll pick up on it and typically have a harder time performing to their best abilities.

That being said, it’s also okay if your child does appear nervous; most testers work with lots of children and are very experienced with helping them to feel comfortable.

Do Not Practice

While practice kits certainly exist, any practice or familiarity with the test invalidates the test. Often, children who have experience with test activities will report things like, “Oh! I did this at home!” at which point the tester will have to end the assessment. It is not worth it to try to give your child “the upper hand.”

Instead, prepare your child for the test by saying something like, “This morning we’re going to see X (in our office, we typically steer away from using the word “doctor” and have children use our first names) to do some different activities like working with blocks and looking at pictures.” This is accurate information, but also the bare minimum that they need to know, especially younger children. For most, that explanation is enough, so keep it simple.

Remember Health

The night prior to the assessment, make sure your child gets a good night sleep.

If he or she is ill, reschedule the appointment.

The morning of the test, do your usual morning routine and make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast.

For younger children, it is best to take the test in the morning rather than later in the day when they can begin to tire. While older children can take the test later in the day, we typically discourage appointments after 1:00. We want kids to be alert and attentive so they can do their best.

Keep in mind that testing is only one part of the application, and in and of itself, will not determine whether or not your child is accepted to a specific school. Also, the younger the child, the less reliable the results are over time, so a child’s scores at 4 years old do not necessarily predict their potential cognitive abilities as they get older.

The best way to help your child (and you!) through this process is to be informed and remain as relaxed as possible.

If you are interested in scheduling an admissions test or have further follow-up questions, contact us at (301) 652-5550.

More articles about Child Evaluations

ADHD

ADHD Evaluations

Recognizing and acknowledging that you may have ADHD that impacts learning, work performance, and interpersonal relationships can be difficult and stressful. However, ADHD is not uncommon and many individuals are not diagnosed until adulthood. For some, they have been able to compensate through high intellect, sophisticated social skills, and use of compensatory strategies. An evaluation can help clarify diagnosis and guide recommendations for treatment so that you can transform symptoms into strengths.

Common symptoms of ADHD

If you notice that you are struggling with the following issues, an ADHD evaluation may provide the answers you need.

  • Starts tasks but has trouble finishing them
  • Trouble sustaining attention when reading
  • Difficulty completing tasks in a timely manner
  • Forgetful/poor memory
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts and putting them on paper
  • Easily distracted and/or excessively restless
  • Engage in risk-taking behavior
  • Acts before thinking
  • Quickly frustrated or fatigues with tasks requiring sustained mental effort
  • Problems with organization and procrastination
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Difficulty following instructions

Book Recommendations:

ADHD – Child

ADHD – Adults

Anxiety Treatment for Adults

Anxiety Treatment for Adults

Anxiety causes many people to live with fear, worry, uncertainty, or dread, but it does not have to rule your life. You can get help for anxiety and live the life you want. Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but if it becomes extreme and persistent and impacts your school or work performance, relationships, or daily life, you may benefit from treatment. If you are experiencing anxiety, know that you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 40 million adults aged 18 and older in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders. One of the most important things to keep in mind about anxiety is that help is available.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective approach to treating anxiety disorders. At Georgetown Psychology Associates, we provide CBT. Our trained psychologists will help determine the nature of your anxiety and how it impacts your life. They will work with you to develop a CBT treatment plan to address your specific needs.

Types of anxiety disorders

When anxiety becomes intense and difficult to control, it can negatively impact your daily life and interfere with your ability to reach your life goals. Part of overcoming anxiety is understanding the type of anxiety you are experiencing and the treatment options.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The main characteristic of GAD is recurring fears or worries about a range of problems such as family, relationships, work issues, finances, health, or world affairs. The worries are difficult to control and often stronger than one would expect. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, worry, irritability, generalized tension, and sleep problems. Physical symptoms may also be present.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). With OCD, people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, or sensations (obsessions), and engage in repetitive behaviors to manage the anxiety (compulsions). Although these behaviors may reduce anxiety in the short-term, they often require significant amounts of time and they do not reduce anxiety in the long run. Common types of obsessions and compulsions include fear of illness, germs, or injury; and excessive counting, washing, or checking.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). SAD is an anxiety disorder where a person experiences intense, exaggerated fear in anticipation of or during everyday social situations. They fear scrutiny by others. As with most anxiety disorders, the feared situations are often avoided, leading to more anxiety and often isolation.
  • Specific Phobias. Many people have a specific, intense, exaggerated fear of a specific situation or object such as snakes, heights, blood, or storms. These phobias are typically treated effectively with direct, focused interventions consisting of psychoeducation and exposure therapy.

Treatment for anxiety disorders

Anxiety treatment begins with a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine the nature of your anxiety and how it impacts your life. As part of this process, it is important to obtain a physical from a physician to ensure that no medical problems such as hyperthyroidism are contributing to your anxiety. Once the nature of your anxiety is understood, a treatment plan using CBT will be developed. CBT is a research-based intervention that has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety. In CBT, one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are examined to understand how they contribute to anxiety. Interventions focus on changing one’s beliefs or interpretation of events so they are less distorted and more realistic, coping with anxiety through relaxation and mindfulness exercises, and confronting one’s fears and anxieties through exposure therapy.

In some cases, medication may help in the treatment of an anxiety disorder in combination with CBT. Psychologists at Georgetown Psychology Associates will discuss the role of medication with you and refer you to a psychiatrist as needed. Our psychologists work closely with psychiatrists to ensure coordinated, effective treatment is provided and that medication and CBT work in conjunction to help reduce your anxiety.

Book Recommendations

Anxiety Treatment for Children

Anxiety Treatment for Children

Many children experience anxiety at one time or another when they are afraid, nervous, or shy. However, intense, persistent anxiety can be very distressing to children and may lead to avoidance of places, people, or activities. Although parents and caregivers play a key role in helping a child manage his or her anxiety, anxiety disorders often call for focused treatment from a trained professional. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Untreated children suffering from anxiety are at a greater risk of performing poorly in school, missing out on important social experiences, and engaging in substance abuse.

At Georgetown Psychology Associates, we help children with anxiety to understand, manage, and confront their worries and fears. Our therapists are trained in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an evidenced-based, active approach to treating anxiety disorders. Our therapists are dedicated to helping children learn how to successfully manage anxiety in order to live a fun, productive childhood.

Types of anxiety disorders

To help your child combat his or her anxiety, it is helpful to understand the types of anxiety disorders. At Georgetown Psychology Associates, a thorough evaluation will be conducted to determine the nature of your child’s anxiety and how it impacts his or her life. Common types of child anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized by persistent worry about everyday problems that is difficult to control.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Children with OCD have unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and engage in compulsive behaviors in an attempt to reduce the anxiety (compulsions). Common obsessions and compulsions are fears of germs; fear of harm to self or others; and compulsive checking, hand washing, or counting.
  • Panic Disorder. Children with panic disorder experience unexpected panic attacks and then become anxious about experiencing more attacks. Physical symptoms during a panic attack often include sweating, heart racing, and shortness of breath.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder. Some children experience so much anxiety upon separation from home or a parent that their anxiety can interfere with everyday functioning.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder. Children with social anxiety experience intense, persistent anxiety in anticipation of or during everyday social activities. They are very self-conscious and often avoid social situations resulting in missed opportunities to develop social skills.
  • Selective Mutism. Children with selective mutism have the capacity for speech but choose to not talk in certain situations, often in front of adults. Although the cause is not known, treatment can help shift this behavioral pattern and address related anxiety symptoms.
  • Specific Phobias. For children with extreme fears of a specific event, situation, or object such as dogs, thunderstorms, blood, or elevators, treatment can help.

Signs of anxiety

Children react and cope with anxiety in different ways. However, common signs of anxiety in children are:

  • Worrying
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Frequent stomachaches or other physical complaints
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoidance of situations, places, or objects
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low self-esteem

Benefits of exposure therapy

Georgetown Psychology Associates has therapists who specialize in helping children overcome fears, shyness, and phobias. They use strategies to address your child’s thinking patterns, anxiety management techniques such as relaxation training, and exposure therapy to help them confront their fears. Our therapists often use exposure therapy because it is very effective. Exposure therapy is an active, therapist-assisted approach to tackling anxiety that involves engaging in a feared behavior or facing a feared situation. Children are very responsive to this treatment when delivered with support and encouragement, and when a structured, gradual approach to facing their fears is used. Parent involvement through homework assignments is also critical for progress and maintaining gains made in sessions.

Book Recommendations

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), also referred to as Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD), is a disruption in how one processes spoken language. APD makes it difficult for students to listen and process verbal instruction. The process of receiving, remembering, understanding, and using auditory information is affected and can be overwhelming if your child/teen is having difficulty in these areas.

At Georgetown Psychology Associates, our certified and licensed audiologist and speech-language pathologist, Dr. Jay Lucker, has the experience and knowledge to help you resolve the issues your child is having with his or her auditory system. APD evaluations assess each stage of the auditory information process, which is a complex interaction of auditory abilities, language, sensory, and cognitive abilities.

Symptoms of APD

Behaviors often observed in children with APD are problems listening, following directions, distractibility, poor organization of verbal material, oral and written expression problems, remembering verbal information, and learning to read.

Not all learning, language, and communication problems are due to APD. These symptoms overlap with other problems, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism; therefore, an evaluation is important to distinguish APD from other disorders.

Additional symptoms that may indicate a child has APD include the following:

  • May respond more to visually acquired information
  • Difficulty paying attention to and remembering information given orally
  • Needs to hear only one direction at a time due to having difficulty following multi-step directions given verbally
  • Requires more time to understand verbal information
  • Lower than expected academic performance
  • Behavior problems
  • Language difficulty, such as confusing syllable sequences
  • Reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary are especially challenging

APD Evaluations

An APD evaluation will help in making a proper diagnosis based on your child’s performance on behavioral auditory tests. The evaluation begins with an intake interview, followed by testing and a feedback session to present the results. Information from other sources, such as teachers, and prior evaluations are used to inform the assessment. Detailed results with specific recommendations are provided in a written report.

Resource: Why can’t my child learn? Could it be an auditory processing disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders

At present, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a broad diagnostic category that encompasses a range of deficits in reciprocal social communication and social interaction, as well as patterns of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. The level of severity and symptom profile varies greatly from child to child. The implementation of the DSM-5 in May 2013 introduced significant changes to an ASD diagnosis. Although not without controversy among some in the mental health field, most conclude that the revised diagnosis represents a more accurate and useful way of diagnosing individuals with autism-related disorders.

Using DSM-IV, individuals could be diagnosed with four separate disorders: autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Researchers found that these separate diagnoses were not consistently applied across different clinics and treatment centers. Anyone diagnosed with one of the four pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) from DSM-IV should still meet the criteria for ASD in DSM-5 or another, more accurate DSM-5 diagnosis. While DSM does not outline recommended treatment and services for mental disorders, determining an accurate diagnosis is a first step for a clinician in defining a treatment plan for a client.

The DSM-5 introduced criteria for an ASD diagnosis that now has it fall under a single umbrella disorder. It is believed that this change will improve the diagnosis of ASD without limiting the sensitivity of the criteria, or substantially altering the number of individuals being diagnosed.

The symptoms of people with ASD falls on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms. Individuals with ASD do share common symptoms, namely, problems with communication deficits; difficulties with reciprocal social interaction; impaired social communication skills; and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviors. However, the level of severity and symptom profile varies greatly from person to person. This is why testing can be beneficial for an individual and their loved ones when determining the best course of action for diagnosis and treatment.

Under the DSM-5 criteria, individuals with ASD must show symptoms from early childhood, even if those symptoms are not recognized until later. This criteria change encourages earlier diagnosis of ASD but also allows people whose symptoms may not be fully recognized until social demands exceed their capacity to receive the diagnosis.

Common signs & symptoms of ASD

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines Autism Spectrum Disorder as a complex neurobiological disorder of development that lasts throughout an individual’s life. ASD is sometimes identified as a developmental disability due to it typically beginning before a child turns 3, and since it affects the early development of language, social behavior, and behaviors concerning objects and routines.

The leading signs and symptoms of ASD involve issues in the below areas: reciprocal social communication and social interaction, as well as patterns of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior

  • Reciprocal Social Communication & Social Interaction – including verbal and non-verbal (e.g., pointing, eye contact, and social referencing) contact, sharing emotions, perception of others, maintaining a conversation
  • Restricted and Repetitive Patterns of Behavior (also referred to as stereotyped behaviors) including limited interests, repeating words or actions; compulsively following routines or schedules; and playing in repetitive ways

How Georgetown Psychology Associates Can Help

Georgetown Psychology Associates provides evaluation and treatment services for children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD. The ASD evaluation includes an in-depth structured interview with the child’s parents and an interactive behavioral assessment of the child. Both the parent interview (ADI-R, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised) and child behavioral evaluation (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-ADOS, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) are research-based, standardized assessments that are considered among the best assessment tools for ASD and related disorders. Dr. Zimmitti and her team have specialized training in administration of the ADOS which is especially useful in diagnosing ASD, as well as ruling out competing diagnoses such as a social pragmatic communication disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or social anxiety.

Information will also be collected from parents, teachers, and caregivers using structured questionnaires that assess the child’s ability to communicate, form relationships, play, learn, and perform activities of daily living. The evaluator will have a face-to-face meeting with you after the evaluation to review the results and answer your questions. You will also receive a comprehensive written report describing the evaluation procedures and findings and recommendations for supporting your child/adolescent at home, in school and with peers.

Websites:

  1. Autism Speaks
  2. AHANY
  3. Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS)
  4. Autism Resources for Families
  5. Sesame Street Autism Resources for Parents
  6. Reduce the Noise: Help Loved Ones with Sensory Overload Enjoy Shopping
  7. CDC Autism Links and Resources
  8. Operation Autism for Military Families
  9. Academic Accommodation Resources
  10. Temple Grandin’s Teaching Tips
  11. Organization for Autism Research Guide for Military Families
  12. Estate Planning for Parents of Kids with Autism

Book Recommendations

  • The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Dr. Tony Attwood (2008).
  • The complete guide to autism treatments, a parent’s handbook: Make sure your child gets what works! by Dr. Sabrina Freeman (2008).
  • Life journey through autism: A parent’s guide to research by the Organization for Autism Research, Inc.
  • A Parent’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism,  Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson and James McPartland.
  • The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood.
  • Reweaving the Autistic Tapestry:  Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and ADHD,  Ami Klin, Fred Volkmar and Sara Sparrow.
  • Mind Reading:  The Interactive Guide to Emotions,  Simon Baron-Cohen.
  • Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood
  • A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know, by F. Volkmar. (good general info and handbook for parents of newly diagnosed)
  • From a mom: In addition, I read almost everything by writers with autism, including those who have severe autism who have learned how to write (e.g. How Can I Talk if My Lips Don’t Move by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhery).  Those books help me the most.
  • Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind, by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • Eating an Artichoke: A Mother’s Perspective on Asperger Syndrome by Echo Fling (I don’t personally know the individual who recommended this one).
  • Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns by Brenda Smith Myles, et al. (I don’t personally know the individual who recommended this one).

Books For self study:

  1. Be Different, John Elder Robison
  2. Marcello in the Real World, F. Stork
  3. Unwritten Rules of Social Relationship, Temple Grandin
  4. Parallel Play, Tim Page
  5. Freaks, Geeks, and Asperger’s Syndrome, Luke Jackson
  6. Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 chapters, J. Saperstein
  7. Look me in the Eye, John Elder Robison
  8. Martian on the Playground, Claire Sainsbury (this one is written from the perspective of an adolescent girl with Aspergers)

For adolescents:

  1. What is Asperger’s Syndrome and How Will It Affect Me? A guide for young people, M. Ives
  2. Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence: Living with the Ups, the Downs and Things in Between, H. Willey
  3. What Asperger’s Syndrome Means to Me, C. Faherty and G. Mesibov.
  4. A Five is Against the Law:  Social Boundaries: Straight Up! An Honest Guide for Teens and Young Adults, Kari Dunn Buron (for adolescents and emerging sexual interests)

Social skills:

  1. A number of books by Michelle Garcia Winner.
  2. Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations:  Unique Methods to Improve Social Understanding, Carol Gray.
  3. Navigating the Social World, Jeannette McAfee.
  4. Teaching Your Child the Language of Social Success, by Marshall Dike and colleagues.

Transition to college and adulthood:

  1. Developing Talents:  Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism,  Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy.
  2. Developing College Skills in Students with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, by Sarita Freedman.
  3. Preparing for life: The complete guide for transitioning to adulthood for those with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, by J. Baker. (for life skills and transition issues)

For teachers:

  1. Autism in your classroom: A general educator’s guide to students with autism spectrum disorders, by Fein and Dunn.
  2. Learners on the Autism Spectrum, Preparing Highly Qualified Educators, edited by Kari Dunn Brown and Pamela Wolfberg.   Published in 2008, it is a full of essays by some good writer/researchers on autism, and useful for parents too, I think.

Specifically for girls:

  1. Girls Under the Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Solutions for Addressing Everyday Challenges, by Ernsperger, L. & Wendel, D.
  2. Asperger’s and Girls,  Tony Attwood, Temple Grandin, Teresa Bolick, Catherine Faherty.
  3. Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum: What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-teen and Teenage Years by S. Nichols, G. Moravcik, and S. Tetenbaum.
  4. Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Simone
  5. Aspergers in Pink by Clark and Simone

Depression

Depression

Coping with depression is not easy but there is help. Individuals with depression may feel sad, inadequate, hopeless, or irritable. Everyone feels these emotions at some point; however, if these feelings are persistent and interfere with your day-to-day life for weeks or months at a time, seeking help may be beneficial.

An estimated one in ten adults in the United States report experiencing depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because depression can impact or distort the way you see your life, yourself, and those around you, it can be challenging to think more realistically and productively. Treatment for depression helps individuals develop healthier, realistic patterns of thought and constructive ways to solve problems.

What Causes Depression?

Research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. The following situations or conditions may trigger or contribute to depression:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • A difficult relationship, divorce, or breakup
  • Medical conditions (e.g. cancer, chronic pain)
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of employment, getting a new job, or a stressful job
  • A difficult childhood
  • Struggling in school (e.g., failing a class)

Symptoms of Depression

The central feature of depression is a low mood and a lack of interest in things. However, symptoms of depression may vary from person to person and by age. Common symptoms of depression are:

  • Depressed mood and sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Sleeping too much or two little
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Indecisiveness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Lack of motivation

Treatment for Depression

Seeking treatment for depression can feel overwhelming. However, treatment can help. Taking the first step of contacting a mental health specialist can start you on the path to alleviating your depression and living a more fulfilled life. Psychotherapy has been found to be effective in treating depression. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in particular helps people with depression restructure negative thoughts, address problems, and change behaviors contributing to depression. In some cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be the best option.

Blogs

Book Recommendations

DEPRESSION – Children

DEPRESSION / MOOD DISORDERS – Adults

Depression Treatment for College Students

Depression Treatment for College Students

College is the time and place to explore new ideas, experience growth, and develop long-lasting, valuable relationships. Indeed, many would describe their college years as one of the most formative periods in their lives. Unfortunately, many also experience the first symptoms of depression during college. Frequently, students attribute their depression to “typical stress,” and consequently don’t seek treatment, resulting in lower grades, social isolation, and other academic and personal issues.

Depression is not a rare condition that affects a negligible minority; on the contrary, it is widespread. According to a nationwide survey conducted in 2011 by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA), close to one third of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” in the previous year.

If you or a loved one is a college student experiencing depression, it is important that you reach out for help. Depression can be overcome. However, treatment takes time and, in most cases, requires intervention from a qualified mental health professional.

Book Recommendations

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that are more common than we once believed. Newer studies point to rates of 5.2% among girls ages 12-20 for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. When researchers included nonspecific eating disorder symptoms, that number rose to 13.2% (Stice et al., 2010). It is thought that approximately 20 million females and 10 million males in the US alone will have a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Importantly, eating disorders can lead to a host of physical, emotional, and social difficulties that have a lasting and sometimes even life-threatening impact.

In order to achieve recovery, professional help from therapists, psychiatrists, and nutritionists is often needed. Many times however, people suffering from eating disorders are hesitant to enter treatment, which is where friends and family come in. Support and encouragement from loved ones to seek professional help can make a huge difference, but how do we know when to step in?

Many of us have heard of, and might easily notice some of the classic signs of an eating disorder, including significant weight loss or weight gain, frequent negative comments about one’s body weight/shape or size, eating very little or nothing at all at meals, over-exercising, or pre-occupation with losing weight. But noticing that a loved one is struggling can be harder that you think. We often assume that someone must be overweight in order to have an eating disorder, but many people of “average” or higher weight suffer just as much. The problem is that individuals with eating disorder symptoms often feel intense shame, leading them to become very adept at hiding their feelings and behaviors. This secrecy can make it difficult for us to notice that our child, friend, or family member is suffering. Here are some indicators (beyond the one’s that many of us typically look for) that may be a sign of trouble:

Frequently checking in the mirror for perceived flaws

Not eating in public or with others

Disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time (lots of empty wrapper and containers)

Consistently making excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food

Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area

Preoccupation with food

Hoarding or hiding food

Disappearing after eating (often to the bathroom)

Unusual food rituals (cutting food into small pieces, chewing each bit an unusually large number of times, eating very slowly)

Frequent fad diets (cutting out entire food groups, no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, veganism/vegetarianism)

Obsessive interest in cooking shows or collecting recipes

Avoiding certain foods

Withdrawal from usual friends and social activities

Making excuses for not eating

Cooking elaborate meals for others, but refusing to eat themselves

Eating strange combinations of foods

Wearing bulky, large clothing or layers to hide weight loss or body

Flat mood or lack of emotion

Irritability

Sleep problems

Feeling cold all the time

Difficulty concentrating

Stomach aches or other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints

Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity

Mood swings

Hyperactivity or restlessness (unable to sit down)

Rigidity in behaviors and routines – extreme anxiety if these are interrupted

Excessive, rigid exercise regimen – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury

If you notice these symptoms in your child, family member, or friend, it’s a good idea to start a conversation and encourage them to seek professional help.

Related blog articles:

For more information, visit some of the websites below:

www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

www.anred.com

www.eatingdisorderhope.com

LGBTQ

Crisis Hotlines:

 

Safe Horizons Hotlines

Domestic Violence: (800) 621-4673

Crime Victims: (866) 689-4357

Rape, Sexual Assault and Incest: (212) 227-3000

TDD for all hotlines: (866) 604-5350

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

(800) 799-SAFE / (800) 799-7233

 

Anti-Violence Project Hotline

24 Hr. Bilingual Hotline: (212) 714-1141

Assistance for LGBT survivors of violence.

 

The Trevor Life Line

24 hour confidential hotline for LGBTQ youth

866-488-7386

 

Local LGBTQ Centers and Organizations:

 

The DC Center: http://www.thedccenter.org/groups.php. A local organization that educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects the LGBTQ community.  Offers many services in the areas of health and wellness, arts and culture, social and support services, advocacy and community building.

 

PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gay Men)

www.pflag.org/

www.pflagdc.org/

Support for parents, families, and friends of LGBT people. Regional support networks and national resources. Transgender Network (TNET) supports loved ones of TGNC people.

Welcoming Our Trans Families and Friends: www.community.pflag.org/Document.Doc?id=202

 

DC Black Pride: dcblackpride.org

The mission of Black Lesbian and Gay Pride Day, Inc. (BLGPD) is to build awareness of and pride in the diversity of the Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well as to support organizations that are addressing HIV/AIDS and other health issues adversely affecting the community.

 

The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC). https://dctranscoalition.wordpress.com.  A volunteer, grassroots, community-based organization dedicated to fighting for human rights, dignity, and liberation for transgender, transsexual, and gender-diverse (hereafter: trans) people in DC.

 

Rainbow Families DC. http://www.rainbowfamiliesdc.orgRainbow .  Supports and connects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) parents and prospective parents by providing educational programs, social events, and discussion forums for LGBTQ parents and prospective parents in the DMV area.

 

Burgundy Crescent.  http://www.burgundycrescent.org.

The purpose of Burgundy Crescent Volunteers (BCV) is twofold. First, they are a source of volunteers for local and national gay and gay-friendly community organizations in the Washington, DC area. Second, they bring gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender singles and couples together for volunteer activities that are social in nature.

 

Washington Blade.  www.washingtonblade.com.  A community newsletter and online platform for LGBT news.  Covers the metro area and reports on national and international news.

 

Dignity Washington.  http://www.dignitywashington.org.  Dignity is organized to unite gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, as well as their families, friends and loved ones in order to develop leadership, and be an instrument through which they may be heard by and promote reform in the Church.

 

The Cherry Fundwww.cherryfund.orgA local, year-round fundraising, grant making organization.

 

Local Youth Resources:

Wonders Childcare.  www.wonderschildcare.org.  Inclusive, early childhood programs in local schools.

 

The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL).   http://www.smyal.org. DC metro area service organization dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) youth.  They provide programs for (1) Counseling & Support, (2) Life Skills & Leadership Development, (3) Health & Wellness Education, (4) Safe Social Activities, and (5) Community Outreach and Education.

 

Latin American Youth Center.  http://www.layc-dc.orgThe Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) is a multicultural community-based organization that supports youth and their families in their determination to live, work, and study with dignity, hope, and joy.

 

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.  www.glsen.orgStrives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

 

Local LGBTQ Health Care:

Whitman-Walker Health.  A Washington DC community health center specializing in HIV/AIDS care and LGBT care.  https://www.whitman-walker.org.

Chase Brexton Health Care.  http://www.chasebrexton.org.  Provides a range of clinical services including primary medical care, dental and pharmacy, and behavioral health with a focus on honoring diversity, inspiring wellness, and improving the community.  A great LGBT health resource.

 

Metro TeenAIDS.  https://www.whitman-walker.org/service/youth-servicesMetro TeenAIDS provides resources to help young people fight AIDS and support each other.  Focuses all of its efforts on the special prevention, education, and treatment needs of young people.

 

Different Avenueswww.differentavenues.org

Different Avenues is a non-profit agency located in northeastern Washington, DC. They provide services to youth and young adults, ages 12 to 30 years, who are homeless or living in insecure housing. Many of their clients are transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual. They also help youth who themselves are parents, as well as parents of youth. They work with people who engage in street survival strategies. Their services also include, counseling, a drop in center, and outreach.

 

Local LGBTQ Advocacy:

Family Equality Council.  http://www.familyequality.org.  Family Equality Council works to ensure equality for LGBT families by building community, changing hearts and minds, and advancing social justice for all families.

 

Asian and Pacific Islander Queers United for Actionhttp://aquadc.org

AQUA is an organization for queer APIs, by queer APIs, focusing on queer API issues and interests. They promote the positive outlook and welfare of members through advocacy, education, outreach, and social events.

 

Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute.  https://victoryfund.org.

Since 1991, Victory has successfully helped elect hundreds of openly LGBT candidates to Congress, state legislatures, school boards, city councils and more. Through world-class programs and nonpartisan training, they also provide these new leaders with the skills and contacts they need to make the most of their influence and access.

 

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  www.thetaskforce.org.

Founded in 1974, works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community in order to attain complete equality. They do so through direct and grassroots lobbying to either help defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and other measures or help push pro-LGBT legislation and other measures.  Also analyzes and reports on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community.

 

www.welcomingschools.org. Resources for creating respectful and supportive environments in elementary schools – LGBTQ inclusive, preventing bullying, and gender stereotyping, and supporting transgender and gender-expansive students.

 

National Organizations & Websites:

 

Youth

Youth Pride Alliance.  http://youthpridealliance.org.  Support for LGBT youth.

 

The Trevor Project.  www.thetrevorproject.org.  Promotes acceptance of gay and questioning teens and aids in suicide prevention among this group.  Provides various resources and the only national, toll-free, 24 hour confidential hotline for gay and questioning teens.

 

Advocates for Youth.  http://www.advocatesforyouth.org. Partners with youth leaders, adult allies, and youth-serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs that recognize young people’s rights to honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and the resources and opportunities necessary to create sexual health equity for all youth.

 

LGBTQ Student Resources – Accredited Schools Online. http://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/lgbtq-student-support/.  Extensive resources for LGBTQ teens and youth covering common hardships faced by LGBTQ college students and how to deal with them as well as scholarships available for LGBTQ students.

 

LGBTQ Student Resources and Support.  http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/lgbtq-college-student-guide/

Guide for LGBTQ students and their families to better understand how many campuses are helping to make the college experience more welcoming and supportive for all.

 

Trans Youth Family Allies.  http://www.imatyfa.org.  An organization that gives information, support and advocacy to transgender kids and teens and their families.

 

Gender Spectrumhttps://www.genderspectrum.org.  A great resource for guidance in creating gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens.

 

 

Adult

Stop Gay Hatehttp://www.stopgayhate.com.  A site with lots of info and resources about coming out, dealing with homophobia, legal issues, and other LGBTQ issues.

 

Gay Lesbian Medical Association. http://www.glma.org.  The site of the Gay Lesbian Medical Association provides news about L/G/B/T health and some resources; they also have an informative e-newsletter of L/G/B/T health news.

 

Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.  http://www.glsen.org.  This is the website of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, an organization devoted to making schools safe for L/G/B/T students.  Lots of info about gay youth issues as well as anti-bullying, school GSA’s (gay/straight associations) and other related issues.

 

Bi Resource. http://www.biresource.net.  This Boston-based website has lots of interest to the wider bisexual community.  Best things:  the Media page, with links to bisexual newsletters, and the bisexual youth page, at www.biyouth.org.

 

National Center for Transgender Equalityhttp://www.transequality.org.  Website of NCTE – the National Center for Transgender Equality – an advocacy and rights group.

 

Transmen.  http://www.ftmi.org. The worlds oldest organization for transmen – FTM transgender people.

 

World Professional Association for Transgender Health.  www.wpath.org.  The official site for the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC).  These are the ethical and scientific guidelines for how medical and mental health professionals should treat and support transgender people who desire hormonal or surgical treatments to transition.

Transgender Roadmap.  http://www.tsroadmap.com/index.html.  This very extensive site is by and for transwomen.  Contains activist material as well as information about transitioning, psychological issues, etc.

Trans Health Magazine.  http://www.trans-health.com.  An online magazine devoted to transgender health issues.

Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities

When it comes to treating learning disabilities in children, early detection and intervention is tantamount to success. The sooner a child’s learning difference is identified, the sooner he/she can gain access to specialized education methods, counseling, and other forms of treatment. Learning disabilities are usually identified when a child begins to attend school. However, a clear diagnosis is most accurately made by an experienced evaluator via psychoeducational testing.

What Is Response to Intervention?

To identify learning disabilities in children, educators often use a process known as Response to Intervention, or RTI. Generally, RTI involves:

  • Close monitoring of a student’s educational progress
  • Issuing help on different levels, or tiers, to children facing learning problems (high quality classroom instruction, screening, group interventions, targeted interventions, and, finally, intensive interventions)
  • Increasing or decreasing tiers as appropriate and ramping up educational assistance if the child does not display progress

Parents of children undergoing RTI should be provided with information about their child’s progress, the methods used, the staff’s qualifications, and the academic or behavioral goals for their child.

Getting a Comprehensive Evaluation

Although the RTI process can be effective for some, many other students require a more comprehensive evaluation, including:

  • An assessment of cognition, neuropsychological functioning, and academic performance
  • An exploration of current psychosocial functioning
  • An extensive review of family history

In many cases, a team of specialists is utilized to perform the most comprehensive and informative evaluation. The team may include a licensed psychologist, a learning specialist, and a speech-language therapist, and an occupational therapist.

it may be time to have his/her learning style evaluated to guide intervention if your child is not making expected gains in school or showing less interest or actively resisting going to school.

Book Recommendations

Managing Anger and Frustration in Children

Managing Anger and Frustration in Children

Almost every child experiences temper tantrums now and then, especially when frustrated, tired, or overwhelmed. However, when tantrums occur constantly or escalate to violent outbursts and aggressive behavior, such as kicking, biting, screaming, or even bullying others, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. Frequent and intense tantrums impact your child’s life, their ability to connect with peers, and raise the stress level of the family as a whole. Although you may want to wait and hope your child outgrows his or her aggression, but the sooner you take steps to helping your child manage his or her emotions and behavior, the sooner they can enjoy a more positive, calm, and happy childhood. Our psychologists have experience working with children to develop the skills they need to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Does your child need help?

Very young children may respond to overwhelming emotions, frustration, or stressful situations with aggressive behaviors. But as they grow, they typically learn more sophisticated and adaptive ways of expressing and managing their feelings. Unfortunately, some children, may continue to rely on aggression as their predominant way of coping with life’s challenges.

You may want to seek a professional evaluation if your child exhibits the following aggressive behavior on a regular basis:

  • Tantrums, outbursts, and meltdowns that occur beyond six years of age
  • Behaviors that put your child or others at risk of injury
  • Angry, defiant, or bullying behaviors
  • Difficulty getting along with others
  • Hostility toward authority figures
  • Destroying or throwing things
  • Threatening or intimidating others

Understanding your child’s anger

In many cases, persistent, aggressive behavior is often related to underlying issues, such as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety
  • Learning Challenges
  • Language Disorders
  • Delayed Social Development
  • Depression
  • Sleep Problems
  • Sensory Processing Disorders
  • Family changes, including separation and divorce
  • Traumatic Experiences
  • Recent loses or death

Without appropriate interventions, your child’s behavior may worsen and become increasingly difficult to treat. Our team can evaluate the feelings and circumstances that may be underlying your child’s aggressive behavior, and work with you and your child to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Psychoeducational Testing

Recognizing and acknowledging that your child may have a learning disability or a condition such as ADHD that impacts learning can be difficult and stressful. However, learning difficulties are not uncommon. Seeking help early can reduce frustration and ensure you or your child receive appropriate services and guidance. For children and adults, psychoeducational testing is an important first step in understanding the nature of a problem, identifying a child’s strengths and areas of need, and developing treatment recommendations.

As a parent, it can be stressful and worrisome to consider the possibility that your child has a learning issue that may negatively impact his or her development and ability to perform to his or her potential in school. However, learning differences, ADHD, and behavioral challenges are not uncommon and can be treated. With a comprehensive evaluation, we can identify the range of issues that may be affecting your child. Our primary goal is to provide the guidance you need to support your child’s learning and social-emotional needs.

Resource: Psychoeducational Testing – The Who, What, Where, When and Why

Sleep Problems

Sleep Problems

If your child is experiencing problems with sleep, whether it be resisting naps or going to bed; problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep; or night terrors, we can help. We provide consultation and coaching to parents so they have the guidance and support they need to help their children with this important developmental task.

At Georgetown Psychology Associates, we provide help for infants, toddlers, and older children with sleep problems. Often, patterns and habits have developed that need to be addressed, such as children sleeping with their parents for comfort or due to fear of sleeping alone. These dynamics can be addressed with practical, behavioral strategies. We also help children develop ways to soothe themselves and engage in habits that will facilitate sleep.

What is Sleep Training?

Sleep training involves many steps to helping a baby learn to get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night. While some babies develop a regular sleep routine without any difficulty, others have problems settling down to sleep or getting back to sleep if they wake up during the night. There is nothing wrong with getting help and guidance in relation to your baby’s sleep. Everyone, at some point, needs suggestions and information to help them make the right choices. Every child is different and you may not be able to stick to the same methods you’ve used in the past with other children. By educating yourself and finding the right method for your baby, you can work towards establishing a healthy and successful sleep pattern.

Methods for Sleep Training

There are many different methods for and opinions about sleep training a baby or young child. The way parents approach their child’s sleep is usually a personal and intricate matter. It isn’t always easy making decisions about how to get a baby to fall and stay asleep. However, the more informed you are about different methods and the more in touch you are with your baby’s behavior, the better your chances are of creating a consistent approach and routine for your child’s sleep patterns and restfulness.

Consistency is key for a sleep training method. It’s important to decide on a sleep training method that you can live with and commit to doing every day.

Finding the Right Bedtime Routine

Many parents find success in introducing and sticking to a relaxing bedtime routine, which helps a child settle down and is soothing because he or she knows what to expect. Bedtime rituals are also a priceless time for families to spend some time together and bond.

Book Recommendations

Successful Co-Parenting in Divorced and Blended Families

Successful Co-Parenting in Divorced and Blended Families

Parenting is a difficult art that requires patience, empathy, and teamwork. Simply put, it is not an easy job. Even in the most tight-knit family units, conflicts naturally arise between spouses, between siblings, and between parents and children. Any disruptions to the familial structure only further complicate matters.

Whether you are a divorced parent struggling to co-parent your children, or a step-parent striving to bring more cohesion to your blended family, Georgetown Psychology Associates can help. With a combination of individual and family therapy, our psychologists can help you develop stronger bonds and better communication within your evolving family.

How to co-parent after divorce

After a divorce, old conflicts often persist, and new ones may arise. To best support your children, however, it is important that both you and your former spouse put aside your differences and focus on your children’s needs and feelings, rather than your own. Fortunately, this can be done by keeping in mind the following guidelines, and seeking additional help if needed.

Keep your children out of the middle

No matter how much you resent your ex, avoid making negative comments about him/her around your children. Remember that your children love both of their parents, and it hurts them to hear negative comments about either of them.

Maintain impersonal and effective communication with your former spouse

If there is tension, treat your relationship with your ex like a professional partnership in which your “business” is your children’s well-being. If you have an issue to bring up, avoid making accusations, and instead make requests. Also, don’t forget to actually listen to each other. The more cordial and communicative you are with your ex, the easier time you both will have raising your children.

Consistency is key

Work out a regular visitation schedule to which you both can commit. Maintain the same rules and restrictions on what your children are and are not allowed to do, and enforce disciplinary measures equally. With consistency comes a sense of security, which is especially important for children whose parents are divorcing.

How to manage a blended family

While you and your newfound partner are looking forward to your marriage with great anticipation, your children and your spouse’s children may not feel the same. They may be resistant to the notion of accepting not just a new parent, but also new siblings, into their lives. They may also feel uncertain about the upcoming changes and how they will affect their relationships with their natural parents. By following the guidelines below, you will be able to provide your children with a smoother transition into blended family life.

Plan out how the blended family will function well before the marriage takes place

Discuss with your new partner how you intend to parent together, and adjust your parenting styles according to what you have agreed upon.

Be patient

Chances are your blended family will face some challenges along the way. Everyone will need to invest a lot of time, effort, and love to build the foundation for a new, cohesive family unit.

Always be there for one another, but also acknowledge each other’s boundaries

Make sure that all of your children know that you’re always there to listen to them and support them. Complement them on their contributions, encourage their pursuits, and be present. Avoid overstepping bounds with your step-children by respecting where they are emotionally in their relationship with you, and referring matters to your spouse when indicated.

Helping bring families together

At Georgetown Psychology Associates, we provide families the supportive and structured environment they need to resolve their conflicts and create positive, lasting changes to their relationships.

Treatment for Phobias and Fears

Treatment for Phobias and Fears

Fear is a natural and healthy reaction to potential dangers in the world. However, fears can sometimes get out of control. For some children, recurrent and irrational fears can negatively impact their daily life, interfering with social interactions, family relationships, school functioning, and more. This creates stress for the family as a whole when children insist on taking stairs instead of the elevator, or refuse to have blood drawn at the doctor, or won’t go to their friend’s house after school because they have a dog.

At Georgetown Psychology Associates, our team of psychologists understand that the fear your child is experiencing is real. Using a variety of evidence-based techniques, namely exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring, we will work with your child to strengthen their “bravery muscles.”

Phobias

Fear is necessary for our survival; it tells us how to react when faced with a dangerous situation (fight or flight response). However, when a child experiences fear of a particular situation or object, obsessively worrying or anticipating danger disproportionate to the threat, s/he has developed a phobia.

Common types of phobias include:

  • Fears of dogs, spiders, bees, etc.
  • Fear of elevators or enclosed spaces
  • Fears of heights, bridges, tall buildings, etc.
  • Fears of the dentist or doctor
  • Fear of speaking in public (on stage or in the classroom)
  • Fears of the dark or being alone
  • Fear of thunderstorms
  • Fear of airplanes
  • Separation fears
  • Fears of needles, blood, vomiting, and medical procedures

When intense fear causes severe anxiety and forces a child (and parents) to alter their life by activity avoiding the feared situation, it is important to seek help. Treatment for fears/phobias is highly effective using a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach. By addressing and working through a child’s thoughts and perceptions about the feared situation or object, we will develop a practical approach to overcoming the fear. In most cases, this means gradually increasing exposure to the fear over time, allowing children to become desensitized and less anxious. Their confidence soars when they conquer their fears and learn strategies they can implement in other anxiety-provoking situations.

Book Recommendations

BackTo Top