Just Keep Moving!

by Mark Lecker, Pre-Doctoral Clinical Psychology Extern, Psychological Services

While a nutritious diet is an important facet to a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to exercise your body. Many people seem to think that exercise must happen within the walls of a gym or along a track. However, you can get exercise nearly anywhere there is room and it is safe. Sometimes it’s easiest to have a workout partner or a physical trainer to help with motivation, encouragement and to prevent injuries.

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Promoting Self-Care for New Mothers

by Elizabeth DiMaggio, Pre-Doctoral Clinical Psychology Extern, Psychological Services

Having a new baby is an exciting time in a caregiver’s life. There is a brand new person to love and care for. While it can be an exciting time, becoming a new mother can be difficult and potentially draining. Focusing on a new infant might lead to the mother putting her own needs aside. While focusing attention on a new infant is extremely important, it might cause a mother to ignore her own self-care and signs from her body to take time for herself.

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Sibling Relationships

Although parents are typically a child's first source of human connection, sibling relationships are also an important factor in development. As of 2010, 82.22% of youth lived with at least one sibling(1). Sibling bonds are unique in that they often last a lifetime and are typically people’s longest relationships in life(2). Sibling relationships are influential in many ways.

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Caring for a Bipolar Child

Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) has been given a considerable amount of attention in recent years.  Even though pediatric bipolar disorder has yet to find its individual place in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), there has been a recent influx in the number of children and adolescents being diagnosed with bipolarity.  This can be an alarming diagnosis for parents, as it is one that is often given to adults.  In fact, bipolar disorder is so much more common in adults that the DSM-V does not distinguish adult-onset from pediatric-onset symptoms of bipolar, despite clinically significant differences in the presentation and duration of symptoms(3,5,6,7).  However, a growing interest in this topic has led to an increase in research and treatment options for how to best care for a bipolar child. 

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The Road to Healing—During and After Divorce

I encounter many couples experiencing the early phases of divorce. Marked by the tearing down of comfortable routines, fear of the future and its unknowns, and sadness over the loss of a familiar way of life—no matter how unhappy it may have been—the early stages of divorce are chaotic and emotionally overwhelming. Like any time of grief or great loss, recovering from divorce is a process. How quickly couples move towards healing depends upon several factors:  how well spouses work together to co-parent or make decisions for their separate futures; the level of conflict between the couple; the couple’s financial situation; how well developed the couple’s psychological coping skills are; and the external support systems of the soon-to-be ex-spouses.  

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Raising Mental Health Awareness

Fifteen year-old Anna lounged on the sofa in Robin Stein’s office, sinking into the cushions with her legs folded beneath her. Though her features remained stoic, the cell phone she cradled shook in the palms of her hand as she rapidly swiped at its surface with her thumbs. “Here,” Anna said, and held the phone out to Stein, a licensed clinical social worker at Jewish Child & Family Services. The screen displayed a somewhat pixelated selfie of a very young girl with a gun pointed at her temple. “She talked about dying all the time.” Anna was in grief therapy with Stein; the girl holding the gun was Anna’s younger sister, Sarah, who had taken her life the year before, ultimately overdosing on a relative’s sleeping pills. Sarah was only 10.

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Our Stories Have Power

Many individuals in addiction recovery struggle with an important question:  Should they tell people that they are in recovery?  The traditional response would be reflected in a quote from the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous:  “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program.” Guarding anonymity in a world full of stigma against people who struggle with alcohol, drugs and mental disorders was a realistic response.  Individuals in recovery had reason to worry about their vulnerability and often only shared their status as a person in recovery with people they trusted to not judge them.

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The Divorce Specialty Center at JCFS and The Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois Introduce Low Cost Divorce Program

As the Coordinator of the Divorce Specialty Center at Jewish Child & Family Services, one of my first tasks was to research affordable ways for low-income families to divorce.  I discovered that the services are limited, and to qualify a family has to have a history of domestic violence and/or be very close to poverty.  For those families that make too much money to qualify, but not enough to pay for a divorce, there was nothing available.  Many times couples stay married, often leaving the family in very difficult circumstances.  

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Changing Language Can Change Your Life

Do you ever have those days when life is just overwhelming? When the meal preparation and clean-up, and the laundry, and the homework all need to get done, and your boss, and your kids, and your sister all need your time and attention? When you are sure there will never be enough of you to go around?  

When I have those days, I used to say to myself “I hate my life.” And when I thought “I hate my life,” everything would feel dark and heavy and endless. That heavy dark feeling led to my yelling at my kids, eating food that isn’t good for me and putting off doing the basic things that are needed to keep our lives going.

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Mindfulness: A Tool Fit for the 21st Century

What is mindfulness?

All human beings in the 21st century lead highly sophisticated lives compared to non-human animals. This is the result of having a uniquely evolved mind that allows us to perform advanced maneuvers like using language to plan, reason, evaluate, communicate, reflect on the past, and anticipate the future. These remarkable abilities have enabled us to construct a highly sophisticated society comprised of tall buildings, fast-moving aircrafts and advanced medical technologies such as hair-splitting microsurgery.

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