Expressive Art Therapy

expressive art therapy

What is expressive art therapy?

expressive art therapy is a creative intervention used to treat mental health and behavioral challenges. This modality uses various disciplines of art such as art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, creative writing therapy, play therapy and sand-play therapy. The combination of these creative processes help individuals, groups and communities grow, heal, illuminate, create, and develop clarity. expressive art therapy draws on many modalities within the context of psychotherapy and medicinal practices.



Art Therapy- Uses visual arts and media in therapy.

Music Therapy- Music is used to improve psychological, physical, cognitive and social functioning.

Drama Therapy- Uses theatrical interventions to help create personal narratives and act out emotions.

Dance Movement Therapy- Movement is used to connect the mind to the body.

Creative Writing Therapy- Poetry and other forms of writing are used to provide relief.

Play Therapy- Play is used to resolve interpersonal issues.

Sand-play Therapy- Sand and figurines are used to explore the subconscious.


When is it used and what does it treat?

Adults and children both benefit and participate in expressive art therapy. It is often times used for children with behavioral issues such as ADHD. Studies show that expressive art therapy has positively impacted children with impulse control issues and anger issues.

Children and adults with developmental disabilities, eating disorders, brain injuries, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and chronic medical issues benefit greatly from expressive art therapy. Additionally, expressive art therapy is helpful for individuals with social struggles or high levels of stress. This creative expression is a great outlet for releasing anger and other negative emotions. Substance abuse recovery centers and addiction treatment centers use this modality to help individuals create and tell their personal narrative. Individuals are able to access and express parts of themselves, such as memories, into tangible forms.


What to expect:

Typically, an expressive arts therapist relies on their mental health training and creativity. Instinct is a necessary tool when deciding which strategy to use when treating an individual. After meeting with the client(s), the therapist selects a form that is best suited for the clients needs. For example, music therapy is often times used when treating individuals with impulse control disorders. The therapist will provide a broad description of the process but will let the individual or group pick the topic and other details involved. For example, a therapist may suggest that a client struggling with addiction, draw a picture of who they become on drugs and who they are without drugs. Throughout the session, the therapist is observing the client’s process and uses interpretation to draw conclusions. expressive art therapy can be done in schools, treatment centers, private practices and in communities.


Substance Abuse:

Despite the minimal amount of research, expressive art therapy appears to be widely used and beneficial when treating those with addiction. Many treatment centers incorporate expressive art therapy along with other modalities. Some studies have evidence to support the combination of a 12 –step program along with expressive art therapy. expressive art therapy has also been shown to be quite successful when treating youth with substance abuse issues. While there is a need for more research, expressive art therapy can at least provide a platform for creativity and expression.




Guided Imagery

guided imagery

Guided imagery, sometimes referred to as guided meditation, visualization, mental rehearsal, and guided self hypnosis, is technique used by mental health professionals. This technique connects the body and mind by using imagination and mental images to evoke emotions and deep relaxation. This gentle and powerful approach can also be traced back to Ancient Greece, Chinese medicine and American Indian traditions. Throughout history, guided imagery has taken on many forms, such as psychodrama which was developed in the U.S. during the 1940’s. Other forms of meditation have been effective in treating chronic pain and other serious physical illnesses. The Academy of Guided Imagery was founded in 1989 and advocates for the positive impact that meditation has on both mental and physical health. There are many benefits to this therapy such as enhancing an individual’s coping skills and stimulating bodily functions. Guided imagery is done by taping into all five senses and connecting the visual part of the brain and the nervous system. Meditation imagery can be done independently, in individual therapy and in group therapy. Many experience guided imagery independently through books, apps, audio recordings, and videos. If done with a professional, a client usually begins guided meditation lying down or sitting comfortably while closing their eyes. When the visual cortex of the brain is activated while an individual’s eyes are closed, physical and emotional states are surfaced which elicits physiological changes that aim to improve health. Before the process, the therapist and client meet and discuss the symptoms and the client’s goals. Next, the therapist will begin the session with calming music or a soothing mantra so that the individual enters a relaxed state. Once, the individual is in deep relaxation a set of instructions are given that leads the individual towards images and methods or relieving any negative symptoms. This can happen in a number of ways. Images can include problem solving and or finding relief or images may be more random and left for interpretation. It is also common for someone to fall asleep during guided meditation since it puts individuals into deep relaxation. A session usually lasts just a couple minutes and can be done everyday as needed. Anyone can benefit from guided imagery however, research shows that those struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, grief, PTSD, inter and intra personal relationship issues, and negative habits benefit the most from guided meditation . In order to facilitate meditation, a health professional must become licensed by The Academy of Guided Imagery and complete long hours of training and independent study. Although there is plenty of research to support guided imagery, there are also professionals that feel that it evokes false memories. Despite some of the limitations, guided imagery can at least provide deep relaxation to all.


To find a guided imagery therapist visit:

Coping Skills in Recovery

Coping Skills in Recovery
What are Coping Skills in Recovery?

Coping Skills in Recovery are methods that individuals use to deal with stressful situations and sensations. Everyone, including animals have coping skills. People’s coping skills consist of the thoughts and actions that one uses to deal with distress or threats. Coping Skills in Recovery are both learned and innate and can be healthy or unhealthy. For example, children learns a lot by observing the people around them. A parent may model drinking alcohol as a coping skill which is something the child may adopt later on in life. This is why it is important that we learn healthy coping skills, like talking about your feelings, and model those skills for children. Innate coping skills consist of the ways we naturally respond to stress subconsciously. This can include ways our body physically responds to stress like releasing certain hormones so that we can react appropriately or blocking certain memories out due to trauma. Most people have various types of coping strategies which are used for different situations.


Types of coping skills:

There are two types of coping strategies: Problem-focused strategies and emotion-focused strategies. Problem-focused coping deals with stress in practical ways by aiming to remove the stressor through problem solving. An example would include talking to HR if you are experiencing an issue at work. Emotion-focused coping aims to reduce the negative emotions associated with stress. This type of coping is great when an individual has very little control over a situation. Examples include meditation and practicing mindfulness. Both types of coping strategies are important and beneficial when done in healthy ways and simultaneously. Problem-focused and emotion-focused coping can occur in unhealthy ways such as drinking too much caffeine if you are tired or using alcohol and drugs to cope with negative emotions. Substance abuse happens to be one of the most notorious unhealthy coping strategies. Unhealthy coping strategies can lead to health problems and can worsen the stressor or issue. Although it may take some time to create healthier habits, it is never too late to adopt more healthy coping skills.

Coping Skills for addicts

How to gain healthier coping skills:

It can be hard to gain healthier coping skills if an individual is unware of their own healthy coping strategies to begin with. The first step in gaining new coping skills is identifying the already existing ones. Next, one can assess how effective those strategies are and if they actually work in the long run. Individuals can stop and think before they react to their stressor. Often times the ways in which we cope are reactive and instinctual. For example, some people will overeat or reach for comfort food to cope with stress without even thinking. It may be a good idea to list personal stressors and then list the ways in which you cope. From there, you can assess which coping strategies are healthy or unhealthy. Individuals can find healthy coping skills by researching on the internet, talking with a mental health professional or loved ones.


Healthy coping skills:

coping skills

Internet Addiction

internet addiction

What is Internet Addiction?


Now-a-days, almost everyone uses the internet. In fact, it’s pretty hard to live now without it. Around 90% of Americans use the internet regularly. The internet has expanded our world and has helped us evolve as humans. We are now able to access information, shop, chat and play games with just a click of a button or a tap. Our education and knowledge has become more advanced with the endless access to information. We are able to communicate with people that live across the world, across different time zones and stay connected with them on a daily basis. The entertainment world has also exploded with the internet. These advancements are all wonderful but there are downfalls to the internet and internet use can become too much for some individuals. Some people can’t stop playing computer games, compulsively shop online or they cannot escape their social media life. Internet Addiction Disorder occurs when excessive internet use starts to affect the daily lives of individuals negatively and relationships begin to deteriorate. This disorder is also known as Compulsive Internet Use or Problematic Internet Use, or iDisorder. Internet Addiction Disorder was identified in the mid 1990’s after researchers studied pathological gamblers. Since then, this disorder has become more prevalent and common, especially as technology advances. In one study by Standford, researchers concluded that 1 out of 8 participants admitted to having some sort of issue with the internet. Adolescents are more prone to this disorder because of the mass increase in social media and easy access to the internet. Furthermore, females tend to admit to using the internet too much. One is diagnosed with an internet addiction by a mental health professional and must meet the criteria in the DSM. Internet addiction was just recently added to the DSM and there are also new and widely used assessments as well. There are many negative effects from having an internet addiction. Physical effects include weight gain, back aches, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and vision problems from so much screen time. Other effects include, incomplete tasks, neglected responsibilities and mistreated relationships. Furthermore, those with online shopping and internet gambling issues may face consequences like financial loss and bankruptcy.    


There are five types of internet addiction:


cybersex Cybersexual: Cybersex and Internet porn
internet gambling Net compulsions: Online gambling, shopping, or stock trading
Cyber-relationships: Social media, online dating, and other virtual communication
online gaming Gaming: Online game playing
information seeking Information Seeking: Web surfing or database searches


What are the symptoms?


There are many symptoms that can elude to an internet addiction, including the above effects like poor relationships and physical effects like back pain. Additional symptoms include depression, dishonesty, anxiety, long hours spent on the internet, euphoric reactions from being on the internet, feelings of guilt, isolation, poor time management, defensiveness when discussing internet use, avoidance, agitation, loneliness, procrastination, insomnia, and poor personal hygiene.  


What causes internet addiction?


Like most mental health issues, there is not one way to pin point the cause. However, individuals who are more prone to addiction biologically are more likely to develop an internet addiction than others. Some studies also suggest that internet addiction changes the brain structure which can make recovery more difficult. Internet addiction can be even more addictive than other substances because it provides so many rewards so quickly. Others who are deficient in dopamine and serotonin are also more prone to developing an internet addiction. It is common for those with an internet addiction to have a dual diagnosis of anxiety and depression. For example, someone with social anxiety may cope with those negative emotions by going online. Furthermore, environment plays a big role as well. It is important that children grow up in a safe, nurturing and stable environment with rules around internet and technology usage.




Some of the treatment options for internet addiction include the following:


  • Medication such as anti-depressants.
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Support groups
  • Behavior modification
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Reality Therapy
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Equine Therapy



Often times, a number of these modalities are used all together when treating someone with an internet addiction. Treatment centers and professionals that specialize in internet addiction have increased throughout the years. It is possible to recover from an internet addiction!



eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and is a form of psychotherapy used to treat an array of mental health issues. This form of treatment was originally used for those with intense distress and traumatic memories. EMDR allows people to heal from severe emotional pain by changing the brains information processing system. Imagine that someone get’s shot and there is a bullet somewhere inside their body. The body will not fully heal until the object is removed from the body. Once the bullet is removed from the body, the body is fully able to heal. This is similar to the brain and trauma. If an individual experiences intense trauma such as witnessing or experiencing a severe car accident, the brain can experience a similar blockage like a foreign object in the body. EMDR allows individuals to reprocess trauma in a more adaptive way that is not so crippling through rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements diminish the level of emotion associated with the traumatic memories. EMDR must be facilitated by a trained and certified mental health professional.

How does it work?

This process can be hard to understand however it is common knowledge that the brain cannot process information sufficiently when someone is very upset or under emotional stress. For example, someone who was assaulted will undergo the same level of stress, feeling like they are reliving the event when remembering the experience. These memories, if not reprocessed and worked through, can have life altering affects like panic attacks. In EMDR, a trained professional will direct lateral eye movements, along with stimulus like sound tapping, while resurfacing the traumatic event. Normal information processing is resumed while creating new associations with the memory that are not as upsetting. Three different treatment effects are used in EMDR to ensure the most success. Attention is called on the past, present and future by accessing the painful past event, the current events that cause distress, and the future skills needed for improvement. EMDR is usually broken down into an eight phase treatment approach. Phase one includes discussing the client’s history in which the therapist then develops a treatment plan. Treatment usually only lasts no longer than five hours however depending on the level of trauma, treatment may need to be a longer process. Phase two consists of the therapist providing the client with a variety of healthy ways to handle distress. Phase three through six focuses on taking the stressful event and identifying the visual memory of the event, a negative belief associated with the event and any emotions and physical sensations associated with the event. The client rates the belief and emotions while the therapist facilities the bilateral eye movements. Once the client reports no distress when remembering the trauma, the therapist then helps the client identify a more positive belief to associate the situation with. In phase seven, the therapist instructs the client to journal and log any related experiences that arise and to practice utilizing the calming strategies that were discussed in previous sessions. The last phase, phase eight, consists of the therapist and the client discussing and reflecting on the progress made.


Who benefits from EMDR?

Anyone can benefit from EMDR, since most people have experienced some sort of trauma or a stressful event. Most research on EMDR has focused on those with PTSD however EMDR has also been known to treat those with panic attacks, eating disorders, anxiety, and addictions.



To find out more visit-


Breath Work

Breath Work

breath work

“Breath is the link between the mind and body” -Dan Brule

What is Breathwork?

Breathing is something every living creature does to survive! Not only is it an integral part of  our existence but deep breathing is something we naturally do when we are in emotional, mental and physical pain. Breathwork is a type of therapy that uses breathing exercises to improve mental, emotional and physical health and uses different methods that aim to heal particular ailments and improve overall concentration and health. This powerful modality and uses modern consciousness research, anthropology, various psychologies, and spiritual practices for self discovery, awareness and enlightenment. Breathwork is a new age approach used in both western and eastern practices. Originating from eastern medicine, it has existed for centuries and was originally used in yoga, Tai Chi, and Buddhism. Breathwork grew in popularity in western regions during the 1960’s-70’s when hippies and other individuals were seeking a spiritual awakening. Since then many forms of breathwork have evolved.

How does it work?

The breathwork process is gentle, simple, safe and uses both verbal and non-verbal tools. Individuals experience deep healing by expressing and releasing emotions and pain. There are several types of breathwork therapy that are facilitated by trained professionals. The most common types are Holotropic Breathwork, Rebirthing Breathwork, Clarity Breathwork and Biodynamic Breathwork. Holotropic Breathwork focuses on creating wholeness of mind, body and spirit through breathing exercises that are done laying down and with music. Rebirthing Breathwork is based on the idea that birth is a traumatic experience and after we are born we carry that trauma with us. This breathwork tries to release stored energy from previous trauma through deep relaxation. Clarity Breathwork is similar to rebirthing breathwork but focuses on all aspects that negatively affect health and believes that we never breathe at our full capacity. Biodynamic Breathwork integrates six elements (breath, movement, sound, touch, emotion and meditation) to release tension, support natural healing, and restructure internal systems. Typically, sessions begin with an individual meeting with a trained professional to discuss the negative sensations they are experiencing and the positive ones that they’d like to experience. Then the coach guides the individual through breathing exercises to reach their health and well-being goals. Afterwards the client and professional will discuss and process the breathwork experience. Self responsibility and self awareness are taught and emphasized heavily so that clients can continue breathwork independently. The individual will at the least leave the session knowing how to breathe more intentionally and deeply.


What are the benefits?

Anyone can benefit from breathwork and can use this modality in various settings like in individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy and breathwork classes. Breathwork is thought to provide the most benefits to those struggling with anxiety, chronic pain, anger issues, depression, trauma, PTSD, grief and loss, and negative emotions associated with physical ailments. Furthermore, stress can be alleviated through breathwork by tapping into the parasympathetic system and changing the nervous system through deep relaxation. One study found that breathwork and yoga combined significantly reduced depression. And finally the extra oxygen helps create a healthier gut environment by removing toxins through deep breathing.  


Where can you do it?

Breathwork can be done just about anywhere! However, it is important that breathwork is done in a safe and conducive environment. For example, you wouldn’t want to practice specific types of breathwork while driving. Oftentimes breathing techniques are taught in settings such as yoga and meditation classes, via electronic apps, in therapeutic settings and in medicinal practices. Specific types of breathwork are facilitated by a professional at their own practice, studio or other mental health practices. You may be able to find breathwork studios near you. Unplug is a meditation, yoga and breathwork studio located in Santa Monica.

You can find out more about Breath Works at:


Sex Addiction

sexual addiction


What is Sex Addiction?

Sex is part of the human experience. Not only is it natural but it is also part of our health. Sex is a dominant force in media and can be seen many advertisements, tv shows, movies, music, etc. Many cultures embrace sexuality and normalize it and often times people don’t have a problem with engaging in sex. However, there are some people that become addicted to sex and are ruled by their sexual desires. These individuals have a sex addiction and act out sexually in ways that they cannot control. Sex addiction can be very detrimental to an individual’s health, relationships and can lead to criminal activity and dangerous activity. Diagnosing someone with a sex addiction can be difficult since there is no set diagnosis in the DSM and often times people with other illnesses like substance abuse disorder will act out sexually when under the influence. Furthermore, differing social norms make it difficult to diagnosis someone with a sex addiction. For example, someone who engages in certain sexual behaviors may be viewed as problematic by someone who is very conservative, while others may not see any problem with certain behaviors. Some professionals don’t even think sex addiction is a real addiction. In fact, only a small percentage of the U.S. population are actually diagnosed by a mental health professional with a sex addiction.


Symptoms: what happens

Sexual addiction is also known as hypersexual disorder or compulsive sexual behavior. Symptoms for sexual addiction are found in the International Classification of Diseases. Symptoms must exist for a period of at least six months and include: recurrent sexual fantasies, urges, desires, impulses, sexual behaviors that affect normal day to day living, sexual desires or fantasies occurring when negative emotions occur, difficulty controlling sexual urges, and sexual urges and fantasies that cause significant distress. Some behaviors that can be seen in someone with a sex addiction is excessive porn searching and viewing, excessive masturbation, illegal sex acts like pedophilia, infidelity, increased isolation, becoming controlling and demanding during sex, mood swings after sex, less affectionate and emotional disconnection, easily angered when asked about sex, hiding porn and justifying their behaviors. These behaviors and symptoms vary however, there is often a cycle of these behaviors that consist of five stags. 1) Pain-when a sex addict feels pain, whether they are aware of the pain or not, there is then a desire to escape the pain. 2) Fantasy- this then leads to fantasy to escape reality. 3) Ritual- this occurs when the individual attempts to physically act out their fantasy. 4) Acting out- this involves the individual actually engaging in the sexual activity. 5) Shame and guilt- once the sexual act has been enacted, the individual then goes through a shame and guilt spiral and reflects on the consequences of their behaviors. This cycle is very similar to other addiction cycles.



Understanding the causes of sexual addiction are difficult to understand. However, there are individuals that are more likely to engage in negative sexual behaviors if they have been abused, specifically sexually abused, have experienced trauma, and are more biologically vulnerable to addiction. Similar to other addictions being associated with other mental illnesses or disorders, sex addiction is associate with depressive disorder.

Substance Abuse:

sex addiction and drug abuse

Like drug and alcohol addicts, sex addicts experience the same chemical changes in the brain when engaging in the addictive behavior. Often times sex addicts will use substances while engaging in sexual behavior to enhance the experience. Or those engaging in substance abuse will engage in risky sexual behavior. Substance abuse and sex addiction will often feed off of each other. Both aspects must be addressed in treatment. Both sex addiction and other forms of addiction have the same root; the need to escape negative emotions and experiences.



Recovering from sex addiction is possible through treatment. The first step to take is getting screened for sex addiction or other disorders that mimic sex addiction. Various treatment modalities can be successful and helpful to individuals. Certain medications like antidepressants and mood stabilizers can help reduce acting out sexually. Different forms of therapy like CBT, family therapy, rehabilitation programs, and support groups like, Sex Addicts Anonymous or Sexaholics Anonymous, are part of recovery.

Cole Walsh

Attachment Theory

attachment theory

Attachment Theory

“Attachment is a unifying principle that reaches from the biological depths of our being to its furthest spiritual reaches.”

Jeremy Holmes, John Bowlby and Attachment Theory


What is Attachment Theory?


Attachment theory was developed in 1958 by an American psychiatrist John Bowlby. Bowlby developed the attachment theory after spending years researching and treating emotionally disturbed children and noticing the distress that children experienced upon their mothers separation. Bowlby considered the importance of the child’s attachment to their main care provider and how that affects their emotional, mental, behavioral and physical health. He defined attachment as a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings and thus the attachment theory was developed. According to Bowlby, maladjustment behaviors as seen in children and adults can be traced back to the separation in early life between the infant and it’s “mother”. Bowlby suggested that all infants, across all cultures, have an inherent need to seek close proximity to their “mothers” when under stress or threatened and learn how to behave in order to get their needs met. In order to survive and flourish, an infant and child must attach to the mother for security and safety and a mother must respond accordingly in order to reduce anxiety and danger for the child. Attachment theory has been tested in various studies with many children across all cultures and even with animals. A study with monkeys showed that primate infants and babies also have an inherent need for emotional comfort and touch. Attachment theory emphasizes the importance of developing an attachment between the ages of 0-5 years old. Children without a main attachment figure during this time can develop maladaptive behaviors and are negatively affected in various ways. Attachment theory is often emphasized in many therapeutic settings since our earliest attachment affects our relationships and the quality of our relationships later in life.


Styles of Attachment:


A child can have many attachments, however there is usually a main attachment figure. The main attachment figure is not necessarily the one who feeds and changes the baby, but the one who responds, communicates, and plays with the baby most often. The main attachment figure acts as the security base for exploring and experiencing the world.


Different styles of attachment are developed depending on the way and the consistency of which the mother or main attachment figure responds. According to attachment theory, there are four different types of attachment styles.


Secure Attachment- This is the ideal form of attachment. Children show distress when the mother or main attachment figure leaves but then are easily comforted upon the mother’s return. These children use their main attachment figure to seek comfort when upset or frightened, are able to separate and explore the world,  greet parents with warmth, and prefer their main attachment figure over strangers or other people. A secure attachment is developed when a mother or main attachment figure, responds consistently, sensitively, does not interrupt the child’s exploration too often and provides emotional and physical security. Children with this type of attachment are more likely to grow up as empathetic, friendly, non aggressive and with healthy relationships.

Ambivalent Attachment- Not all children grow up with secure attachments and are often times ambivalent towards their mothers or main attachment figures. Children with ambivalent attachments are insecure and are not soothed upon their mother’s arrival. They are wary of strangers, reluctant to become close with others, and have intense separation anxiety. Children with ambivalent attachments can be misread as secure since they also become distressed when the mother leaves. However, children with ambivalent attachments are not comforted when their mother returns and may even reject their care giver or show aggression. These children can grow up to have problems with becoming close to others or become too clingy. This style of attachment is developed when a mother or main attachment figure is inconsistent in their response to the child. Sometimes they are responsive to the child’s needs and sometimes they are unresponsive. This leads the child to distrust because they do not know whether their needs will be met.


Avoidant Attachment- Children with this type of attachment tend to avoid their mother and people all together. They do not seek nor reject their mother and tend to show no preference to a stranger or their mother. These children can grow up to avoid intimacy all together, invest very little in relationships, and are unable to share their thoughts and feelings. This type of attachment can occur when a mother or main attachment figure has been absent for an extended period of time or is for the most part unresponsive to the child’s needs.


Disorganized Attachment-  Also known as an insecure attachment, is characterized by showing a mixture of avoidant and resistant behaviors, and may act dazed, confused and apprehensive. Many of theses children become parentified and take on the role as caregiver towards the parent or main attachment figure. This form of attachment is developed when a child feels both comforted and fearful of the attachment figure. A mother or main attachment figure may act as a source of comfort at times but may also abuse the child leading the child to be both comforted and afraid of the attachment figure.

understanding attachment theory

Attachment Theory and Substance Abuse:


Depending on the attachment style, children with non secure attachments are more prone to developing maladaptive behaviors such as a substance abuse, risky sexual acts, aggression, criminal acts, and intimacy issues. Children that grow up with a dysfunctional attachment such as an insecure or avoidant attachment, are at a risk for developing depression, anxiety and PTSD. An insecure attachment style can often lead to emotional distress and relationship issues, which in turn can lead to unhealthy coping strategies like drug and alcohol abuse. In addiction or substance abuse treatment, mental health professionals will most likely learn one’s attachment style and will focus on healing a severed attachment while in treatment. Helping those that struggle with addiction or substance by repairing an attachment can increase their likelihood of recovery and living a healthy and happy life.


Attachment Disorder:


Attachment disorders are mental disorders that develop when individuals have difficulty developing attachments with others. Most children with attachment disorders have had a severely dysfunctional attachment in early childhood and may have been abused. Attachment disorders consist of two types: Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED). Individuals with RAD appear to not trust anyone and do not want to engage in any relationship, while those with DSED are not afraid of strangers and are too trusting of people.


Healing Attachment Wounds:


Attachment wounds are usually healed in a therapeutic setting. Therapists will oftentimes become the main attachment figure for the individual and can help the individual develop a secure attachment. The individual can also discuss and understand their original attachment style and how that has affected their life. Therapists may even suggest family therapy to help the individual repair any wounds with original attachment figures. Couples therapy can also be used to help relationships understand the attachment styles that exist in both individuals.

healthy attachment

Clayton Ketchum

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Substance Abuse


What is it?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most widely used form of evidence based practice for improving mental health and was developed in the 1960’s. It is a form of psychotherapy that cbt addresses the way individuals experience situations and their reactions. CBT attempts to help the client change unhelpful and negative thinking and behavior. CBT therapists work with patients to help them disclose, examine and adjust their own thought patterns and responses. According to CBT professionals, our thoughts and our responses to our thoughts are actually what cause our perceptions and govern our behaviors. The CBT therapist helps the client develop personal coping strategies that replace unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors. This time-sensitive, structured, and present-oriented psychotherapy differs from psychoanalysis in the sense that it doesn’t focus on childhood wounds and instead focuses on solutions and emphasizes problem solving.


What disorders benefit the most?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was originally designed to treat depression however it has been successful in treating a number of mental illness and has also been one of the most researched therapy modalities for a number of problems. Everyone can benefit from CBT however, the following cases are known to benefit the most from CBT:


  • Depression and Persistent Depressive Disorder  
  • Psychotic Disorders such as Schizophrenia
  • Substance Abuse Disorder and Addiction
  • Bipolar and Manic Depression  
  • Somatic Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Personality Disorders
  • Anger Problems
  • Criminal Behaviors
  • Stress
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Physical Pain
  • Hormonal Issues


CBT and Addiction/Substance Abuse Disorder:

Research has shown that CBT has been very affective in treating addiction and substance abuse with substances such as alcohol, opioids, gambling and especially nicotine. Negative and destructive thinking patterns, like all-or-nothing thinking, are known to lead to substance abuse behaviors. CBT aims to change these thinking patterns into more positive ones and replace substance abuse behaviors with healthier behaviors. CBT can help those struggling with addiction or substance abuse to identify and become aware of their triggers and learn how to cope with these behaviors in productive and positive ways. Here is an example of how CBT can be used in an addiction setting:

When is it used?

Cognitive Behavior Therapy can be used in addiction treatment centers along with other therapy modalities. Many therapists are trained in both CBT and other forms of therapy and will often times use CBT along with another modality. CBT is also used by CBT therapists and at CBT centers.


How does it work?

cognitive behavioral therapy
CBT professionals believe that our own reactions to events are within our control and dictate the quality of our lives. This form of therapy is based on the Cognitive Model and uses a variety of cognitive and behavioral techniques to change thoughts, actions and feelings. These coping strategies are borrowed from many psychotherapeutic modalities such as, mindfulness. CBT professionals and therapists take a step by step and practical approach. First professionals help clients identify troubling or triggering situations or conditions. Then, clients must understand and see their core beliefs behind these situations. For example, what you tell yourself when a negative situation occurs. Next is recognizing negative or unrealistic thinking. Finally, clients are supported by therapists to reshape their thinking patterns through goal setting and homework. CBT is meant to be a short term therapy and usually lasts between 10-20 sessions, however if CBT is used in addition to other therapy modalities it may take longer.


We all have negative thinking patterns at times. CBT can be beneficial and encourage us to adopt a positive mindset and healthy coping skills. For more information on CBT visit CBT centers like:


“Negative thinking is an obstacle to self—change.”

Cognitive Therapy Guide Health Professional Resource


Oppositional Defiant Disorder

oppositional defiant disorder


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a disorder often times found in children, however if undiagnosed teenagers and even adults can be diagnosed with this. Everyone can be rebellious and at times challenge authority however persistent defiant behaviors can be an indicator of ODD. The DSM lists numerous characteristics in which at least four must be consistently occurring in order to be diagnosed. Characteristics include: losing one’s temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with the requests or rules, deliberately doing things that will bother other people, blaming others for their own mistakes or misbehavior, quick temper or irritable, being angry and resentful, or being spiteful or vindictive. ODD can vary from mild, moderate and severe.



Often times ODD is diagnosed and identified during early childhood. The characteristics listed above in the DSM are what separates a strong willed child vs a child with ODD. This disorder can cause a lot of stress on the family, relationships and school. These challenging behaviors are also often recognized and shared by other school professionals in which children are then referred to see a school psychologist.

odd disorder


Although there is no set cause for ODD, a combination of psychological, biological, genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development. Children that grow up in homes with little supervision, harsh discipline or inconsistency can develop ODD. Furthermore, ODD often runs in families with members that have ADHD, substance abuse, depression or bipolar.


Risk Factors:

Because ODD is a complex disorder, those with ODD and their loved ones are often at risk to certain factors. Risk factors include severed relationships, poor and intense reactions to situations, negative reinforcement from others, etc. Symptoms of ODD usually resolve within a couple years, however some children will develop Conduct Disorder, a disorder much more severe than ODD and rarely some children will even develop Antisocial Personality Disorder.  


ODD and Substance Abuse:

Oppositional Defiant Disorder does not cause addiction however some of the behaviors in someone with ODD can lead to substance abuse or addiction. Behaviors like being spontaneous, careless and harmful to the self can lead to substance abuse and addiction. It is imperative that both are treated to better the chances of recovery. Some of ODD’s features are that of a compulsive disorder. Upon entering addiction treatment, it is essential that a young person be screened for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It is imperative that professionals know if a young person has a history of ignoring or deliberately pushing back at authority or breaking rules and laws. Failing to emphasize this behavior can prevent substance abuse recovery all together.



Treatment for ODD is a combination of individual and family therapy that often times lasts for months or longer. The earlier ODD is diagnosed the easier it is to treat. Families play a big role in treatment and strategies to cope with the defiant behaviors are emphasized in treatment. Modalities used include individual cognitive-behavior therapy, family and parent training, parent-child interaction therapy, collaborative problem solving and vive (a program used for older children). Additionally medication is only used when there are co-occurring disorders such as ADHD, anxiety and depression. There is no medication that solely treats ODD, however supplements like Zinc can help stabilize and regulate mood. Treatment is very possible and often times children recover from ODD however it is important that ODD is recognized early.



With so many different factors leading to ODD there is no guaranteed and proven way to prevent ODD, however early intervention is very important. Additionally certain parenting styles can encourage children to behave more positively. Parents can reinforce positive behavior, set realistic limitations and consequences, provide structure and consistency, and be aware of the symptoms of ODD.