Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety can be common reactions to life’s stressors. When we feel threatened or in danger, we often find ourselves feeling frightened, worried, or incessantly thinking about something. Typically, these feelings subside and go away when the threat is gone. With anxiety, however, this feeling never seems to go away. This feeling can be in regards to something specific or it can be towards all things in our life. For some people, they may know what specific thing is causing the anxiety (a divorce, financial difficulties, relational stress), but for others, they may be unsure of what the source is, but they do know that whatever it is, it’s making them feel uneasy.

If your anxiety never seems to go away, you may have noticed that it interferes with your ability to function on a daily basis, whether it is at home, school, work, socially, or otherwise. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 18% of American adults struggle with problematic anxiety which interrupts their daily functioning (National Institute of Mental Health). For adolescents, the lifetime prevalence rate is around 25% (meaning at some point in their life, 25% of those ages 13-18 experience a case of anxiety). The good news is there is help available to help you reduce your anxiety. The counselors at kp counseling are all available to help you learn ways to manage your anxiety, reduce its debilitating effects, and help you find a sense of peace and calm in place of panic and fear.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Include:

  • Restlessness
  • Feeling on edge
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Racing thoughts
  • Hypervigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Recurrent or persistent distressing thoughts, impulses, or images
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or faint
  • Heart palpitations, racing heart, or accelerated heart rate

National Institute of Mental Health


Depression

Depression is often considered the common cold of mental illnesses. Depression is thought to affect almost 7% of the adult population and 11% of the youth population (National Institute of Mental Health). There are many schools of thought surrounding how depression develops and what causes it. Research shows there are a number of causes – it can be biological, it can be in response to a life change/stressor, or it can be a result of trying to deny or avoid our emotions for an extended period of time. One thing we know for certain is depression is not our ‘fault,’ is not something we can ‘snap out of,’ and is certainly not something to be ignored. If left untreated, depression can become very severe and even life-threatening.

Depression is often considered an “internalizing” disorder – meaning, people often turn inwards and as a result, they often feel isolated, alone, as though no one else understands, and begin to feel hopeless and fear there is no chance of recovery. When you seek counseling for symptoms of depression at kp counseling, we understand the isolation, the feeling as though no one else understands, and the hopelessness you may feel. Our staff members are all available to help you talk about what you are experiencing and help you develop a plan to treat your symptoms so you can begin feeling like you again.

Common Symptoms of Depression Include:

  • Persistent feeling of sadness and depression
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Weight changes (loss or gain)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling “slowed down” and not being able to do things with as much energy or drive/motivation as you previously were able to
  • Loss of energy/fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation/attempts

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Institute of Mental Health


Addiction

The term addiction has its roots in Roman law and was thought to mean “surrender to a master.” This very accurately describes the concept of addiction. Typically, when we hear the term “addiction” we associate it with the use of drugs or alcohol, but addiction also applies to compulsive behaviors including (but not limited to): eating, sex, gambling, and viewing pornography. Individuals who struggle with addiction often find themselves feeling controlled by their drug of choice or compulsive behavior. Despite their desire to quit using alcohol/drugs or to quit engaging in certain behaviors, despite knowledge of the consequences, and despite all the will power in the world, they are unable to stop – their bodies won’t let them. This is classic addiction.

Addiction is a disease which takes a strong hold on the brain and the body’s physical chemistry and requires appropriate medical treatment AND counseling. Although rates of relapse are high for those struggling with addiction, research shows that treatment IS effective. Developing a relapse prevention plan, (something kp counseling’s own program [SOLIS] assists clients with), learning about and attending self-help/support groups, completing treatment, and engaging in long-term individual maintenance counseling are all part of the recovery process for those struggling with addiction. Several of the individuals at kp counseling specialize in working with individuals with addictions of all kinds (just look for those providers with the letters “CADC” or “CRADC” behind their names), and all of our providers are equipped to work with family members of addicts who are trying to help both their loved ones recover and to find healing for themselves.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

National Institute on Drug Abuse


Trauma

Although the likelihood of something traumatic happening to us is low, we understand that none of us are immune to trauma. In an instant, our lives can change significantly as a result of a traumatic event – it could be something bad that we experience, that someone we love experiences, or our whole community at large experiences. There are a number of types of trauma, which may include, but are not limited to: sexual abuse/assault, domestic violence, hate crimes, exposure to violence and war, car accidents, or physical injuries or illnesses. For survivors of trauma, the road to healing may be a long one, but the path is there – recovery, healing, and hope for the future are possible. All of the counselors at kp counseling are available to work with you through your healing process. Your counselor will take great care to first build a relationship with you where respect, trust, confidentiality, and compassion are core and in an environment in which you feel comfortable, safe, and supported, prior to beginning to process your experiences, navigate the difficult emotions, and begin the healing process

Common Symptoms Associated With Trauma Include:
Re-Experiencing the Trauma

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
  • Flashbacks (feel as though the event is happening all over again in your mind)
  • Nightmares
  • Strong feelings of distress when others mention the trauma
  • Physical reactions to thoughts or discussion of the event (racing heart, flushed face, sweating, cold sweat, muscle tension, heavy breathing)

Avoidance and Attempts to “Numb” Oneself From the Pain

  • Sense of having a “limited future” – fear dying young, soon, or suddenly (can’t picture self having a long career, forming long-term relationships, having or raising children/having grandchildren)
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Difficulty or inability to recall large or small details of the trauma
  • Feel detached and isolated from others – feel a general sense of “numbness”
  • Avoid people, places, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings which remind you of the trauma

Anxiety and Emotional Arousal

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Hypervigilant (feel as though you must always be “on guard” or “on the lookout”)
  • Easily startled – jump at loud noises or changes to your current environment
  • Irritability – anger outbursts

Additional Symptoms

  • Bed wetting
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Heavy substance use or abuse
  • Physical symptoms – headaches, stomach aches, illness
  • Feeling isolated, alone, abandoned, and alienated – as though no one cares, no one understands, or no one is there for support
  • Difficulty trusting others – fear betrayal and dishonesty from others

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

United States Department of Veteran Affairs

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence

RAINN: Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network

The National Center for Victims of Crime


Grief

What is grief? Grief, sometimes referred to as bereavement, is defined as a “reaction to a major loss” and is considered an “unhappy and painful emotion” (PubMed Health). Although all individuals experience grief differently, if you are reading this, you are probably all too familiar with this “unhappy and painful emotion,” even if you have tried to avoid it or push it aside. Grief, or bereavement, can look similar to depression, including similar symptoms (difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, weight loss, feelings of sadness) and are all normal reactions to the loss of a loved one. Through counseling, individuals can express those painful and unhappy emotions, learn ways to cope with those emotions, develop healthy self-care habits to help the depressive symptoms lift, and learn how to still love someone in their absence when they are no longer physically here. The grief journey is a challenging one, but there are individuals available at kp counseling to help you feel less alone and to support you as you heal.

Common Symptoms of Grief Include:

  • Crying
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension, aches, pains


  • Sadness
  • Yearning
  • Worry, anxiety, fear
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Desperation, hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Abandonment


  • Loss of interest in spending time with others
  • Isolation and avoidance behaviors
  • Atypical behavior for you – acting in ways you otherwise would not


  • Questioning – why did this happen, why me, why them, why us, why my family, why?
  • Difficulty finding meaning and purpose in life – in general as well as in every day living
  • Thoughts about death and what death means – thoughts about what happens after death

PubMed Health

kp counseling’s grief program

National Cancer Institute

Compassionate Friends: Supporting Family After a Child Dies

Hospice Foundation of America

Mental Health America


Attention Deficit Disorder

The official estimated prevalence rate of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among youth is between 3%-7% (American Psychiatric Association). Although most literature refers to the diagnosis in youth, it is not uncommon for the diagnosis to also be found among adults. ADHD is characterized by a range of possible symptoms – which means ADHD may look different in one individual versus another. As a result, treatment will be individualized to meet the individual’s unique needs. In terms of the diagnosis in youth, typically, parents are the ones to identify symptoms indicative of this diagnosis in their children and are the ones responsible for bringing them into counseling. Rarely does the child her/himself identify the symptoms on their own and ask for help, even if they know they are struggling. Thus, at kp counseling, we try to work with both the parent(s) and the child to alleviate the impairment from the symptoms of ADHD and aim to help improve the child’s ability to focus and behave less impulsively.

Common Symptoms of ADHD Include:

  • Trouble paying attention to details
  • Disorganized habits (at work, school, home)
  • Procrastination
  • Failure to complete projects once started (find yourself starting projects, but never finishing – always having “out-standing” projects to complete)
  • Easily distracted by irrelevant or off-topic stimuli
  • Difficulty focusing and maintaining attention
  • Frequently moving from one activity to another and never finishing one before starting another
  • Difficulty maintaining conversations with others – topic jumping, appear to others as though you are not listening, forgetting things others shared with you in conversation
  • Excessive talking
  • Inability to “sit still” – appear as though you are constantly in motion (fidgeting, squirming, standing up and sitting down quickly, bouncing, tapping)
  • Difficulty engaging in “quiet” activities
  • Always “on the go”

Mental Health America, Information for AD/HD among youth

Mental Health America, Information on AD/HD among adults

ADHD Support

National Institute of Mental Health


Childhood and Adolescent Disorders

Childhood and adolescence are challenging for youth for a number of reasons. One added complication can be the emergence of changes to their mental wellness and emotional health. These can be caused by organic/biochemical factors, environmental factors, or a combination of the two. Often, youth begin to experience symptoms of anxiety or depression in response to significant life changes (parent’s divorce, moving, loss of a family pet, loss of a relative, difficulty making friends, abuse, academic difficulties, bullying, birth of a new sibling, illness of a family member or friend, etc.).

Many of our counselors at kp counseling have extensive experience working with youth to help them navigate what it means to have a childhood or adolescent mental health diagnosis, help them understand there is nothing “wrong” with them, that counseling is not for “crazy” people, and help them learn to manage and work to alleviate their symptoms. In order to do this, our staff typically recommend parental or guardian involvement in the process to help monitor the child or adolescent’s symptoms at home, track their progress, as well as to answer parent’s questions about what their child is experiencing and how they can help support their child through the counseling process.

Medline Plus Child Mental Health

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Academy of Family Physicians


Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are more common than any of us may realize. It is estimated that 9% (National Institute of Mental Health) of the American adult population have a personality disorder diagnosis. There are several types of personality disorders all of which are not diagnosable until an individual has reached adulthood. kp counseling has counselors trained to work with individuals with personality disorders and with their family members.

Common Symptoms of Personality Disorders:

  • “An enduring pattern of inner experiences and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” and which is manifested in two of the following: cognition, affectivity, interpersonal functioning, and/or impulse control (American Psychological Association)
  • Pattern of behavior is consistent, unchanging, and pervasive across situations (personal, school, work, home, etc.)
  • Pattern of behavior leads to significant impairment or stress in functioning (social, school, work, home, etc.)
  • Onset of behavior was in adolescence or early adulthood and the pattern must be stable and long lasting (long duration – consistent over an extended period of several years)

National Institute of Mental Health: Borderline Personality Disorder

Mental Health America


Parent-Child Problems

Our relationships with our family members play a central role in our development, our ability to form relationships with others, our self-esteem, and our identity. The parent-child bond is a very strong one and that is why when problems arise, they are addressed and remedied as soon as possible. Conflict between parents and children is normal and developmentally appropriate at all ages. However, when this conflict begins to interfere with either the parent, the child, or both parties ability to function within the family or outside of the home, counseling can be helpful in restoring the peace, helping both the parent(s) and the child(ren) to have their voices heard, and develop a plan so everyone’s needs are being met. Parent-child problems may take the shape of tension between the two during a divorce or another time of family stress, situations where abuse may have been occurring (possibly from another parent towards the child), when drugs and alcohol are involved, or when children strongly defy parental rules, rebel, or begin engaging in risky or dangerous behaviors.

Help is available for both the parent and the child as well as the family system. The staff at kp counseling works well with families who are experiencing parent-child problems and ensures that they do not “take sides,” but rather remains neutral to help restore respect and help both the child and the parent have their voices heard and have both develop a plan (sometimes in the form of a behavioral contract) so their needs and expectations are clearly stated and understood. The goal is not to punish the child or blame the parent, but rather to work together to hear both the child and the parent’s experience with the situation and identify the best viable solution.

American Psychological Association: Children, Youth, and Families


Couple Problems

We were born to live in relationship with others. It is a part of being alive and human. For this reason, we often enter into romantic relationships looking for someone to share our love with, for someone to help care for us, understand and support us, and be a constant stable force in our lives. Sometimes, however, because we are human, conflict arises and we experience difficulties in our relationships – we don’t feel loved, we feel hurt or betrayed, we feel embarrassed, we struggle to agree on how to interact with extended family, we don’t feel appreciated enough, or we experience some other kind of emotional pain. Usually, when we experience such conflict, our natural reaction is to try and solve the problem and stop the pain. Sometimes, our best efforts to resolve the situation don’t work, maybe because we are scared to face the pain, maybe because we don’t want to fix the problem, maybe because we don’t know how to find the resolution we desire. The therapists at kp counseling are available to work with you and your partner through these struggles and help you regain the sense of happiness, confidence, and stability in your relationship you long for.


Men and Women Issues

  • Who is she?
  • Who is he?

For many of us, our identity can be strongly tied into who we believe we are as woman or as a man. There is a significant amount of research to show that there are “core issues” which are unique to each gender and that individuals can benefit from exploring these issues through counseling. Often, these issues can go unnoticed until we find ourselves in situations where our conception of masculinity or femininity is called into question. We find ourselves wondering whether we are “man” enough or “girly” enough. Anywhere you turn, television, movies, magazines, and books all provide us with “ideal” images and descriptions of what it means to be a man or a woman. These “ideals”, however, are typically not realistic or accurate and cause us to question ourselves, come down harshly on ourselves, deplete our confidence in ourselves, and set unrealistic, impossible-to-reach standards for ourselves.

Many of the counselors at kp counseling specialize in women’s issues and/or men’s issues and can provide you with the safe space you long for to discuss your individual thoughts about yourself as a man or a woman, help you develop a healthy, realistic sense of what it means to be a woman or a man, and offer you the ability to learn new ways to strengthen your self-esteem and establish your own identity as a man or woman. Our goal, through men’s work or women’s work, is to support you in your work to be the man or woman of integrity, in all of your relationship, that you strive to be.

kp counseling’s men’s group

Resources for Men:
Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul [John Eldredge]

Iron John: A Book About Men [Robert Bly]

King Warrior Magician Lover: The Archetypes of the Mature Masculine [Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette]

Resources for Women:
Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul [John & Stasi Eldredge]


Therapeutic Approaches

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy
– According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), cognitive-behavior therapy is “an empirically supported treatment that focuses on patterns of thinking that are maladaptive and the beliefs that underlie such thinking.”

Solution-Focused Therapy
– Solution-focused therapy is based on developing and achieving the client’s goals based on his or her vision of solutions. This occurs in part through certain activities such as looking for previously successful solutions and finding exceptions to the current problem.

Family Therapy
– Family therapy refers to the process of working with a family (which may also include working with individuals one on one outside of the family setting) to resolve familial issues. This process often works to help the family understand relationship dynamics within the family and how individual relational dynamics affect others within the family.

Play Therapy
– Play therapy is a unique therapy developed to help children heal through play. This approach is based upon the belief that play is a manifestation of the child’s unconscious. Play therapy conducted in a safe and confidential environment can help children learn about themselves, relationships, and the world around them.

Community Resources

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