The Summertime slump

Every few years I have to re-address with our patients how important it is to continue treatment over breaks (summer, winter, spring). If someone has a diabetes or cancer diagnosis, they do not stop taking their medications during these breaks, so why with mental health do we deem it ok?

Available studies have shown that you can actually backslide significantly during the beginning and active phases of treatment if you do not attend consistently (i.e., every week). Towards the end of treatment, one can typically space out sessions over several weeks so taking a break would not have too much of a significant impact in terms of treatment success and outcomes.

Make sure to keep your weekly appointments and follow the recommendations of your provider. Day and sleep away camps actually have medical personnel on staff and can accommodate virtual appointments in privacy; all you have to do is ask!

Remember, keep your treatment going!

Hope you all are having a happy summer!

Dr. Kaplan

Announcement accepting new patients! great news for our patients

I am VERY thrilled to announce that we have brought on Dr. Jennifer Henderson. She is a fabulous clinician. Please see her bio on our website (https://www.washingtonanxietycenter.com/dr-henderson-bio.html)

We have NO current wait for teletherapy for adults or adolescents 14 and above.

Younger kids the waitlist is around 2 months.

Please contact us at admin@washingtonanxietycenter.com to get booked in. This is a rare occurrence at the practice and not likely to last more than a few weeks!

Dr. Kaplan

Announcing new Peri/post-partum anxiety depression group starting February 2022!!!

Are you looking to prevent the onset of anxiety and depression during or after pregnancy?

Do you need a place and support system to discuss your pregnancy and birthing journey?

Do you want specific skills you can apply during and after pregnancy to decrease your anxiety and depression?

This group is for you!

The group will have 4-5 patients who have been screened for similar presenting concerns. The group will be semi-structured within a cognitive-behavioral model (the most evidence-based treatment for anxiety in peri- and post-partum mothers). Discussions will be had on the education on the birthing process, hormonal fluctuation during and after pregnancy, developing resiliency with mental health concerns pre and post pregnancy, how to restructure your thoughts to be more helpful, and how to face your fears as a mother. Dedicated time during session will allow for group dynamic development and an effective social support system.  

The group will run from Feb 15th-April 5th, 2022, on the following Tuesdays from 4-5:30pm: 

Feb 15th

Feb 22nd

March 1st

March 8th

March 15th

March 22nd

March 29th

April 5th

Cost is $125 per group.

Each patient must commit to all 8 sessions, as group dynamic emerges and needs to be maintained. Each patient must also have an intake with the practice prior to joining the group. 

Dr. Kaplan, the psychologist running the group, has had over 15 years of experiencing treating women with peri- and postpartum anxiety and depression. Please see our homepage for her full bio. 

New accelerated/intensive program announcement!

Our Accelerated/Intensive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program

At the Washington Anxiety Center of Capitol Hill, we have dedicated one clinician on staff to always be available for this program.  Please call us at 202-768-6494 or email us at admin@washingtonanxietycenter.com if you are interested.

Exposure-based therapy (as part of cognitive-behavioral therapy) is THE most evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders. Accelerated programs are structured to meet the individual patient’s needs. A fear and avoidance hierarchy is designed and individualized per patient and exposures adhere to this plan during the program. 

The majority of patients who participate in the program respond well. The aim of this program is to decrease anxiety symptoms (and depression) at a faster rate than 1x a week treatment (e.g., one can have many months of treatment in 1-3 weeks) and potentially avoid a higher level of care (e.g., IOP programs, residential, or inpatient).

We accept and encourage this service to be complementary to services you may be receiving at other practices. For example, if your therapist does not have the availability for multiple exposure sessions during the week, you can continue seeing them while you complete our program and then return to their regular care. 

At this time, we offer accelerated programs for the following disorders:

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

            4 sessions a week for 3 weeks

Panic Disorder

            4 sessions a week for 1 week OR 2-3 sessions a week for 2 weeks

School Refusal

            4 sessions a week for 8 consecutive weeks

Specific Phobia

            1-4 hours of a single session OR 1-2 hours of 2 sessions

Depression

            4 sessions a week for 4 consecutive weeks

Questions?

Q: Is this an inpatient, partial hospital, or residential program?
A: The Accelerated program is an exposure-therapy specialized program that does not fit into any of the categories listed above. 



Q: Does “accelerated” mean the treatment is more difficult?

A: No, in fact, it means that it is more frequent and focused, with the hope that you are able to accomplish a lot in a shorter amount of therapeutic time. 

Compassion

The psychological definition of compassion is “a response that occurs only when the situation is perceived as serious, unjust and relatable. It requires a certain level of awareness, concern and empathy.”

With COVID-19 coming to a close and the trauma that we have ALL endured, compassion is necessary now. But, what does that mean???

It means taking a breath when someone complains about COVID (in either direction). It means listening and not judging. It means taking space for yourself when you are stressed. It means putting up boundaries in a kind manner. It means being responsive to others in a timely manner and respectful to them. It means being purposefully thoughtful and quiet sometimes.

I also want to take this post to personally apologize to the patients who have been on our waitlist during COVID. Please know that our staff have been working themselves on a daily basis to get you all in and have sacrificed their own self-care many times to help. However, this year has been very tough for us as a practice and honestly, overwhelming at times. We appreciate and care about you all as our patients, and words cannot express how we have appreciated your patience and understanding. We wanted to make sure to let you know we recognize that and are so very grateful to provide services in such a warm and loving community.

All our best,

WACCH staff and Dr. Kaplan

The World has an Anxiety disorder!

 

Ok, folks. Here we go! Covid-19 is among us. Until now, as Director of the Washington Anxiety Center of Capitol Hill, I have decided that as a practice we needed to remain more in the shadows and treat each of our patients’ individual concerns about the virus. Recent events have now propelled me to speak further.

 

As a society (and I will bring social psychology into this), we have what is called diffusion of responsibility. Because we are not physically close to children starving in third-world countries, we do not think about it on a daily basis. We ‘diffuse’ responsibility to others. Now, Covid-19 is on our back doorstep and we are ruminating on it constantly.

 

The purpose of this blog post is to not discuss symptoms or Covid-19 recommendations. It is to discuss what is in our area of expertise: anxiety.

 

I have witnessed several events (majority occurring on social media) that have been concerning to me as a psychologist   These events range from parents teaching their kids how to create medical masks, checking out daily news blogs for the latest information every hour on the hour, telling your child to not talk to friends (even within an acceptable medically-recommended distance), to even telling your child the “world is ending.”

 

One of the robust etiologies (causes) of developing an anxiety disorder is through modeling (e.g., kids witness mom or dad be scared on a plane, so kids learn to fear flying). While there are reasons to be concerned about Covid-19 (I will not address those here), we must also be very aware of how our behaviors impact our children. We do not want our children developing schemas (i.e., ways of thinking about themselves and in relation to others) that the world is scary and dangerous. It is important to teach them that we can tolerate uncertainty, as hard as it may be to stomach. I implore our readers to recognize that each action we take, each sentence you speak, can have a very high potential to create a clinically diagnosable anxiety disorder in your child.

 

As for us as parents, well, it is important that while we recognize everyone is experiencing anxiety as a collective, that it does not mean it is not still clinical. If you are thinking about your response to Covid-19 constantly and it is making you feel very anxious and distressed and/or you are responding with behaviors out of your own normal (e.g., you used to read the newspaper 1x a day and you are now reading it every hour and getting more anxious every time), it may be time to seek out professional guidance. Psychologists who specialize in anxiety are trained to be able to recognize what is functional and what is not. I encourage any adult, if you are questioning your emotional response to Covid-19 or it is really bothering you, please seek out help. We are here for you.

 

Dr. Kaplan

Director of the Washington Anxiety Center of Capitol Hill

 

Talking with your child about difficult topics (i.e., race, disability, sexual minority status)

When talking with a child about hard subjects whether its race, disability, sexual minority status or something else entirely try out the 5 C’s.

  1. Show you C Children respond when they know that you are approaching them from a place of love and admiration for who they are and will become.
  2. Be C What made them say or think that? Why right now?
  3. Encourage C After asking open-ended questions, give them space to answer and let them know that they can always tell you what’s going on in their head.
  4. Provide gentle C If they said something inappropriate, teach them why it wasn’t a good thing to say and collaboratively come up with a better way for them to ask their question or communicate their thoughts in the future or a better context in which to do so.
  5. Celebrate differences. A child can always shock you with a novel thought or question but they are less likely to do so if you have already spent time pointing out differences that they may see in the world, explaining them, and celebrating them. Being different from others is not a bad thing. If the world were all one type of person, what a boring world it would be.

 

Here are some resources to help guide conversations.

Hyperlinks to insert:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/11/22/childrens-books-can-help-start-conversation-about-race-parents-have-continue-it/

https://www.parenttoolkit.com/social-and-emotional-development/advice/social-awareness/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-race-and-racism

https://cecr.ed.psu.edu/sites/default/files/Ten%20Tips%20for%20Teaching%20and%20Talking%20to%20Kids%20About%20Race.pdf

What are some ways you have approached difficult topics with your kids?

 

Thank you to Celenia DeLapp, MA for this blog post!