A little-publicized legal decision was just issued by Judge Joseph C. Spero of the U.S. District Court of Northern California that anyone who plans to use their mental health insurance coverage to secure needed care will want to school themselves on. Ruling on a class action lawsuit brought against United Behavioral Health (UBH), a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, Judge Spero drew the conclusion that UBH had reneged on its fiduciary responsibility to policyholders by adopting treatment guidelines that focused on cost savings through limiting coverage to the management of acute mental health episodes.Read More
According to one of the most reputable surveys of its kind, the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), almost one in five Americans has met the criteria for an anxiety disorder over the past year, and an estimated one in three people will experience an anxiety disorder in their lives. Bearing in mind that in 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) estimated lifetime prevalence rates of anxiety disorders in the 2 to 4% range, it is safe to say that the diagnosing of anxiety disorders has spiked in recent decades.Read More
Not uncommonly, therapists tend to view guilt as a toxic emotion. They are often over-sensitized to the psychological effects of too much guilt—of unwarranted guilt—yet often under-sensitized to the interpersonal effects of someone having too little guilt—the absence of guilt when it is warranted, or someone prone to muddled outward expressions of guilt that achieve little interpersonal resolution.Read More
Let me summarize for you a story told to me by the mother of a 14-year-old teen whom she thought had emotionally gone off the deep end. It centered around an Airsoft gun battle her son, Billy, had planned for days in advance. It was all he could talk about, morning, noon and night. He hogged discussions and rattled on in minute detail about the types of guns and ammo he and his friends would use and how he was going to redesign the back yard into a warzone. His excitement was palpable. It irritated Billy when family members failed to share his excitement. Anyone in the family who hinted at his plans being overly ambitious was fair game for being yelled at.Read More
A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield report documented a 33% spike in diagnoses of depression in the United States from 2013 through 2016. It was concluded that depression ranks just below high blood pressure as the condition of greatest importance adversely impacting overall health.
It’s tempting to attribute the upsurge in diagnoses of depression to the push for primary care physicians to screen for depression. Non-psychiatrist physicians are not only becoming de-facto depression screeners, but front-line mental health practitioners. It is estimated that close to 80% of antidepressants are prescribed by non-psychiatrist physicians.Read More
Confessing to a friend or family member that you were entering therapy used to mean something. It was akin to divulging that you were embarking on a quasi-spiritual endeavor to take an honest inventory of your past, to forge a truer self, to develop a greater capacity to love, to learn to live more intentionally. It also meant to better understand and productively express your emotions, and so alleviate anxiety and depression stemming from the suppression of self.
But we live not in the age of therapy, but of “mental health interventions.” The prevailing wisdom is that people are better off managing their mental health symptoms by turning to medications and availing themselves of short-term therapy aimed at speedily correcting thinking errors and changing unwanted behaviors. This is due to several pernicious myths about what treatment is effective and what kind of psychotherapy coverage is actually available under most health plans.Read More
Americans are well aware that their health insurance premiums have increased steadily in recent years. The data substantiate it. According to Mercer’s 2017 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, large employers have absorbed a 3 percent annual increase in health insurance costs over the past five years, and will be hit by a 4.3 percent increase in 2018. What people aren’t privy to is that psychotherapy reimbursement rates have been stagnant or in decline for several decades, even though insurance premiums have risen sharply. This is mystifying given that the vast majority of people afflicted with anxiety and depression prefer psychotherapy over medications, science shows it rivals or even exceeds the benefits of medications, and it yields a “medical-cost offset,” or saves insurance carriers money on avoidable medical costs.Read More
In the frenzy to establish and distinguish ourselves as psychotherapists, whether it be acquiring a specialty in working with a newly-minted psychological condition, or becoming more fastidious practitioners of our chosen therapeutic paradigm, we overlook the ordinariness of what constitutes good psychotherapy.Read More
To correctly label an emotion is to have mastery over it. Kids who are skilled at using words to express feelings are less likely to become overwhelmed in emotionally charged situations. Studies show that children as young as two, when shown facial expressions, are capable of discerning and naming the six basic emotions—happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. Kids who have access to a variety of words for identifying these basic emotions, and are skilled at verbally elaborating upon them, experience a general sense of emotional control.Read More
Upon becoming licensed ten years ago, I began scampering around in search of “gigs” to supplement the meager income I was making as a part-time community-mental health therapist and college lecturer. It was my good fortune to land a two-year position with Teri Solochek, an educational consultant in the San Fernando Valley who was well known for conducting psychoeducational testing with the wayward children of the upper-strata and placing them in high-end therapeutic boarding schools around the country. I nodded politely and disguised my ignorance when she spoke of psychoeducational testing, assuming it was a of hybridization of the more regal psychodiagnostic testing that we are all trained to do in graduate school. Indeed, my stint with Teri Solochek proved to be auspicious and I incorporated psychoeducational testing as a dimension of my own private practice.Read More