Personality Disorders

Have you ever noticed how annoying the other guy can be or how they can go along for a while and everything seems ok and then they do something that really messes things up? What you might be seeing is something called a “personality disorder.” All of us grow up learning how to behave. From when we are very young, we develop “patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving” that hopefully help us to reach our goals. While this way of thinking and acting might work well for a time, after a while, these patterns might end up being counter-productive; rather than helping us, they might get in our way. In some situations, we may not be aware that we are doing these things and we may be constantly blaming the other guy.

We are still learning about what causes personality disorders. Many think that personality disorders arise from a bad interface between a child’s temperament and character on one hand and his or her family environment on the other. It is believed that there are some genetic (biological), psychological (how we process or think about events) and psychosocial (how we interact with the environment) parts to these disorders. Also, some may be associated with actual events, such as severe or ongoing trauma.

Three general areas of personality disorders have been outlined:
Cluster A (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal): People seem odd or eccentric to others.
Cluster B (antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic): People seem overly emotional, unstable, or self-dramatizing to others.
Cluster C (avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive): People seem tense and anxiety-ridden to others.

Therapy can help to improve our lives by making us aware of how we are acting, the effect that it is having on others and how we might behave differently to accomplish our goals. Sometimes people with the personality disorder come for help; often it is the people who live with a person with a personality disorder who come for treatment. Talking with a mental health professional can be very useful for the partners, family members, friends and co-workers and employees of a difficult person.

Therapy may include individual sessions, group therapy, or sessions that include family and even friends. The type of psychotherapy offered depends on the individual situation. At Psychological HealthCare we offer evidence-based treatments for personality disorders. This means that the work we do is based on science and on what has been shown to be effective in research studies for people with these issues.

Types of psychotherapy used to treat personality disorders may include: Cognitive behavioral therapy-awareness of thoughts and behaviors, their effect on others and ways to act differently
Dialectical behavior therapy-a particular treatment composed of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and emotion regulation
Psychodynamic psychotherapy-a method of treatment that focuses on things of which we may not be (consciously) aware and how they affect our behavior
Psychoeducational knowledge and materials about what is going on and why, treatments available and their effectiveness

Learning Problems

Having a learning disability doesn’t mean you can’t learn. But you’ll need some help and you’ll need to work extra hard. If you have a learning disability, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia (serious trouble with math), remember that you are not slow or dumb.

Learning disabilities happen because of the way a person’s brain takes in and processes information. As a result, people learn differently. Learning disorders affect how a person understands, remembers and responds to new information. People with learning disorders may have problems such as listening or paying attention, speaking, reading or writing and doing math. A child with a learning disability cannot try harder, pay closer attention, or improve motivation on their own; they need help to learn how to do those things.

Although diagnosing the type of learning disability can be overwhelming and time consuming, evaluation and testing by a trained professional can help identify a learning disorder. Psychological HealthCare can provide testing, history taking and observation by a trained specialist.

Intrafamilial Sexual and Physical Abuse

Sometimes it seems as though every day we read in the news about some form of emotional, verbal, sexual and/or physical abuse. Sometimes the abuse has been active and sometimes it has been passive (neglect). But reading about it is not the same as knowing that it is happening in our homes or next door. Often we are afraid to talk about the times when it is happening to us or to others. We may be told by the person doing it or by others that it will never happen again and that things will be different. Each time, though, things are the same. We might have told people (parents, doctors, teachers) and they did not believe us, or we might have kept it inside-sometimes for years.

  • Experiences like these can lead to many symptoms that include these and others:
  • Lack of trust (since those closest to us hurt us, we are unable to trust others around us now)
  • Relationship difficulties (not knowing what is healthy in a relationship)
  • Continuing negative feelings (guilt, self-blame, feeling worthless or damaged-we were told so many times that we were no good that we now believe this)
  • Intrusive experiences (nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks)
  • Sensitivity to things that cause us to think or be reminded of the abuse (objects, places, smells)
  • Trouble regulating emotions (feeling like we are on an emotional roller coaster)

Treatment is a complex process. It begins with a call. Psychological HealthCare offers several modalities of psychological treatment that have demonstrated positive benefits for victims of abuse. These include individual psychotherapy, group-based psychotherapy, and treatments that may involve the entire family.

Grief and Loss

Grief is a normal reaction to loss. It is our system’s way of recognizing that someone (or something) that we care about is no longer here and our coming to accept that situation. Often, people feel grief when they lose a person whom they’ve loved (spouse, parent, child, grandparent). It can also occur when someone has experienced other losses too (i.e. divorce, ill health, pet, job or home). It can occur when someone is anticipating a loss-for example, when someone’s relative/friend is very ill.

The course of grief is very individual. Some symptoms that you might experience are:
1. Sadness and crying
2. Feeling alone
3. Feeling worthless
4. Anger
5. Being unable to predict or control emotions
6. Feeling abandoned
7. Difficulty sleeping
8. Trouble focusing
9. Weight gain or loss
10. Feeling guilt about what might or might not have been done
11. Continuing to think about the person/issue
12. Feeling the person’s presence

Sometimes, people who are experiencing grief are afraid to share their feelings. They might think that others will think that they are “crazy” (they aren’t!) or that they will make others more sad. They might feel that they should push their loss aside or that they shouldn’t care so much. They might have been told that they should “just get over it.” Grief therapy can offer a place where people can express their feelings in a supportive environment. They can come to know that their responses are very normal.

Grief therapy is sharing the relationship and the loss while learning and finding out what life might now be. It isn’t just moving on. Sometimes we may feel grief for events that happened years before. It is integrating the person or experience into our lives in a different and positive way.


Families-in-Transition (FIT) is a program for parents of children who are going through a divorce, separation, change of custody, legitimization, or some other change in family structure. It focuses on co-parenting issues such as children’s developmental levels and appropriate behaviors; stages of grief; and blended families.

Two goals of Psychological HealthCare’s FIT program is to prevent or reduce a child’s anxiety, aggression, depression and behavioral problems and to increase social competencies critical to children’s post-divorce adjustment. We offer caring counseling to help support and guide our patients through difficult situations and family transitions.


Everyone feels sad sometimes. It is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won’t go away, it may be depression. More than just the temporary “blues,” the lows of depression make it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Hobbies and friends don’t interest you like they used to; you’re exhausted all the time; and just getting through the day can be overwhelming. When you’re depressed like this, things may feel hopeless.
Sometimes, depression can be a reaction to something that has happened outside of you (relationship or job loss). Sometimes, it can be due to a medical condition (i.e. some physical illnesses or conditions), medication or other substance use (i.e. alcohol).

When people are depressed, they may feel or have:
1. Helpless and hopeless
2. Loss of interest in daily activities
3. Increased or decreased appetite
4. Weight loss or gain
5. Sleep changes (can’t get to sleep, wake up early, want to sleep longer/all the time)
6. Irritability or restlessness
7. Loss of energy
8. Trouble concentrating
9. Guilt
10. Physical aches and pains

With depression, life may not feel like it is worth living. Learning about depression—including its signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment—is the first step to confronting and overcoming the problem. With help and support, your life can get better.

The professionals at Psychological HealthCare have training and experience in treating depression. It is important to know that depression is a treatable illness, and Psychological HealthCare offer many therapeutic options for treatment.

Couples/Marital Problems

Creating harmony in our most important relationships is the goal most of us strive for, and our degree of success with this affects every other area of our lives, including our self-esteem. A strong, loving, and healthy relationship provides much more than companionship and support. It also encourages both partners to be their best as individuals. And fortunately, it doesn’t have to be perfect to work wonders! Psychological Healthcare has helped couples in all stages of life to improve their relationships and their lives. And we can help you, too.

Whether you are working on issues in a new relationship, or looking to revive the spark in an established one, the professionals at Psychological Healthcare can help you and your partner build a relationship that brings joy to both your lives.

Usually we can trace symptoms of depression or anxiety to some important relationship in our life that is not working. Often counseling can help someone to look carefully at their own contribution to problems and make effective changes that will not only relieve symptoms, but improve relationships.

Child Behavior Disorders

Child Behavior Disorders can be caused by any number of things including trauma, brain injury, child abuse. Indications also point to behavior disorders actually be caused by a genetic disorder which in that case the child maybe responding involuntary to events and occurrences and blaming them for their behavior may not be warranted

The first big question facing a parent of a child with behavioral problems, is whether the behavior is really that extreme to require a comprehensive evaluation by psychotherapist-may be the most troublesome of all.

Since the child has problems controlling his behavior it stands to reason that his performance in school will be affected. This often will result in a child with a behavior disorder who will feel bad about himself and that low self-esteem will be further worsen by the adults around him who do not treat his disorder with understanding and compassion to help. And, too often the child is blamed for his unacceptable behavior and instead of being supported to deal with it he is alienated. There is, therefore, a thin line between behavior disorder, emotional disorders and learning disabilities.

If Behavior become severe and begin to interfere with the daily activities parents should consider seeking an evaluation from a mental health professional. Behavior disorders can be best dealt with by Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy. But, as with learning disabilities, accurate diagnosis is important and this must be over a length of time. The goal of behavioral therapy is to “unlearn” self-defeating attitudes and behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also be utilized to include social-skills training, because youngsters who are anxious or despondent frequently feel awkward in social situations. Individual therapy is usually complemented by family counseling and possibly group therapy. Psychological Healthcare often recommends a combination of all three.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Psychological Healthcare provides a continuum of care, including assessment, treatment, advocacy and education, for children, adolescents, and adults with Autishm Disorders, their families, and the agencies and institutions that serve them.

Dedicated to meeting the highest standard of care, Psychological Healthcare uses assessment and intervention strategies supported by research and based on Applied Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Assessment, treatment an education/training services are compassionate client and family-centered, individualized and collaborative. Psychological Healthcare strives to be flexible, effective and responsive by seeking feedback about our services and by conducting outcome research.

• Autism Spectrum Disorder evaluations for children and adults (age 2 and up) to determine whether they meet criteria for diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) such as Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), or Autism. Evaluations may include the Autism Diagnostic and Observation Schedule (ADOS), observations in different environments, cognitive assessment, achievement testing, and clinical interview.

• Individual therapy for children, teens, and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis to improve the management of anxiety, depression, and anger; improve their social and communication skills.

• Consultation for Applied Behavior Analysis programs for children on the Autism Spectrum who need help learning the basics of communication and social interactions including responding to and complying with requests and using speech to communicate their needs, share observations and express their feelings and viewpoints

• Group therapy focusing on building social skills; managing feelings; learning listening and communication skills

• Parent consultations which help parents learn how to cope with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and giving parents behavioral strategies to help their children manage anger and frustration

• School consultations with school personnel to provide education and training regarding the Autism Spectrum Disorders and to assist in the development of behavioral strategies for problematic classroom behavior; can provide functional behavior analysis for children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis to help in designing behavioral intervention plans.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders including: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Anxiety Attacks (Panic Disorder), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobias) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Have you, or someone close to you ever found yourself in a situation where all you wanted to do was to get away? Maybe you felt sweats, rapid heartbeat and/or shortness of breath? You might have thought that you were having a heart attack but later, it turned out it had been an anxiety attack.

Feeling anxiety symptoms is normal. It is a person’s natural way of responding to danger. When someone is in a potentially dangerous situation, their system notifies them by having them experience certain alarms. Often, anxiety is brief and/or passing as it comes from a life event that changes, like a test at school or a project at work. In cases such as this, people can begin to make lifestyle changes such as getting rest and eating a healthy diet, to cope until the life event (and their symptoms) go away.

Sometimes though, people begin to experience these symptoms repeatedly, when they are not in danger or when they just think about danger. Anxiety symptoms can be physical (i.e. sweating, pounding heartbeat, nausea, shortness of breath, trembling, fatigue) and/or emotional (feeling jumpy, afraid and worried, a sense of dread, trouble concentrating, restlessness, irritability, insomnia).

Some areas of anxiety are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder- having anxiety and worry for at least six months about many things and being unable to control the worry that begins to interfere in important life functioning. Symptoms include: restlessness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and sleep difficulties.
  • Anxiety Attacks (Panic Disorder)-A period of severe fear/discomfort in which symptoms come on quickly and peak within 10 minutes. The symptoms include: fast/pounding heartbeat, sweating, trembling, feeling short of breath or like one is smothering, chest discomfort, nausea, unsteadiness, hot flashes.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder-Having obsessions (thoughts, impulses or images that will not go away) or compulsions (needing to do something to prevent/reduce distress or in response to obsessive thoughts (hand-washing, checking, counting).
  • Phobias-Fear that is triggered by a specific object or situation (i.e. heights, snakes, spiders, getting a shot, riding in an elevator) that interferes with their life and is endured with difficulty or avoided.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)-Fear of social or performance situations and consequently trying to avoid them (embarrassed to speak in public places, discomfort eating in public, etc.)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder-Response to a severe event that has occurred in someone’s life. As a result of this/these event(s), individual may re-experience the event or be triggered to experience strong and uncomfortable feelings after the event is over. Symptoms may include: dreams, images, thoughts and flashbacks.

When symptoms of anxiety begin to interfere with living life, people may seek help. It is better to work on these problems early so that they may get better rather than continuing to interfere in someone’s life. Some sufferers of anxiety disorder self medicate, trying to numb themselves to their fear with alcohol, or using stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines to jolt them over the top and boost confidence. While these methods may help for a bit, eventually they compound the problem and never offer permanent relief.

At Psychological HealthCare anxiety disorders are commonly treated and effectively remedied using Cognitive Behavior Therapy, done individually or in group sessions.

ADD/ADHD Evaluations and Treatment

ADHD or ADD is characterized by a majority of the following symptoms being present in either category (inattention or hyperactivity). These symptoms need to manifest themselves in a manner and degree which is inconsistent with the child’s current developmental level. That is, the child’s behavior is significantly more inattentive or hyperactive than that of his or her peers of a similar age.

At Psychological HealthCare will work to achieve the best outcome through personalized care and treatment of ADD and ADHD. Our ADD/ADHD treatment has helped individuals improve school and job performance, advance organizational skills, and foster better relationships.

Children and Adults with ADD/ADHD can benefit from talk therapy as an outlet for emotion, as well as behavioral therapy for modifying behavior. While there is no talk-therapy cure for ADD/ ADHD, there are multiple techniques that can be utilized to greatly reduce the effects it can have on the individual and the family. Using a combination of cognitive behavioral techniques, parenting education, anger management, stress management and coping skills training, the outcome from treatment can be great.

  • Psychological HealthCare offers the following services for adults, adolescents and children with ADD/ ADHD
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Parenting education
  • Anger management
  • Stress management
  • Coping skills training
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Play therapy when appropriate