Joan Erenberg, LCPC, BC-DMT, RYT

Ms. Joan Erenberg received her Master of Arts Degree from Columbia College of Chicago with specialization in the creative arts therapies and has been practicing in the Chicago area for over ten years with a wide array of cultural backgrounds.  Joan helps her clients tap into their inner resources to cultivate psychological balance and well-being and is interested in working with mood, anxiety, grief and loss, body image issues, and Post-Traumatic Stress and emotional trauma.  Joan collaborates with her clients to better manage emotional challenges and psychological symptoms that are interfering with daily functioning as well as to address life transitions, existential issues or guide those who are feeling stuck in old patterns and beliefs.  Joan believes that growth and healing occur when individuals are empowered to integrate the psychological, social, emotional, creative, and physical aspects of self and invites her clients to explore coping strategies to better manage both interpersonal stressors and internal conflict.  Joan integrates a variety of treatment modalities into her helping approach including cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavioral, relational, humanistic / client-centered, existential, mindfulness, yoga, and creative arts / expressive therapies.

Joan joined Dr. Parisi and Associates, P.C. as a psychotherapist focusing mostly on adolescents and adults in his Chicago office.  She lives in Chicago and also facilitates special groups and workshops to promote interpersonal learning.

Melissa Colon, Psy.D.

dr_melissa_colonMelissa Colon, Psy.D. completed her Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.) from Roosevelt University of Chicago and her Doctor of Psychology Degree (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology from Adler University in Chicago.

Dr. Colon is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Illinois specialized in Clinical Neuropsychology and Psychophysiology.  She is also a certified parent educator.  She has extensive experience in brain-mapping (QEEG) techniques, neurofeedback treatments and technologies, neuropsychological assessment, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Dr. Colon works with both pediatric and adult populations on an array of issues, including:  Autism, ADD / ADHD, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), Pain Management, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), Parenting Techniques, Dementia, Anxiety, Depression, and Learning Disorders.

Dr. Colon joined the staff of Dr. Parisi & Associates, P.C. in 2016 and works in both inpatient and outpatient settings.  Her passion lies in the neuroscience field.  Dr. Colon enjoys keeping up with the latest research and technologies in the field of Clinical Neuropsychology and neurofeedback techniques.

Dr. Colon enjoys spending time with her family, reading, traveling, and spending time outdoors.

Helping Law Enforcement Combat Stress

Law and StressWhile the general public as a whole struggles with a variety of life stressors, law enforcement personnel often have more extreme stressors to combat. While local citizens might worry about their career, family, and finances on a regular basis, people who choose a career in law enforcement take on additional stressors. According to a 2014 study on police personnel and stress resilience training, these additional stressors may include psychological stressors connected with the mission, extended duty cycles, and exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury. (1)

If you are a police officer, military personnel, or another form of law enforcement with an overabundance of stress, this article is for you. To help you battle not only criminals, but also stress- Here are a few tips for helping combat stress.

  1. Recognize. As with most things you must work to overcome, recognizing the problem is the first step. Take the time to assess your personal stress levels regularly. By keeping a close watch you can begin to sense trigger stressors before they build and get out of hand.
  2. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Though the hours of those who have careers in law enforcement can be demanding, it’s important to prioritize good health in your life. Do your best to maintain a regular sleeping schedule, eat healthy foods, and stay active.
  3. Take time away. Don’t be afraid to take a step away from the field whenever you need it. Small vacations away or extra time spent at home relaxing with loved ones can be just what the doctor ordered to help eliminate on-the-job stress.
  4. Prioritize. Law enforcement personnel have a rather important job, but never more important than your family or loved ones. Be sure to prioritize and bring things into perspective regularly to help ward off unneeded stress.
  5. Invest in a hobby. When you’re off the clock, choose to invest in a hobby. Weather its model cars, an instrument, or even sports by learning something new or engaging in an activity you enjoy you can naturally melt away stress and reenergize your body for another day on the job.
  6. Seek help. If you find yourself carrying a heavy weight of stress on your shoulders wherever you go, take the step toward seeking professional help. Confiding in a professional can help you receive the necessary help required to tackle your stress.

While everyone struggles with stress at one point in their life or another, people in law enforcement often have additional stressors. Combat unwanted stress on the job by learning to recognize stress in your life, leading a healthy lifestyle, taking time away, prioritizing, investing in a hobby, and of course- seeking help when you need it most. By doing so you can not only battle criminals but also stress.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Police Department Personnel Stress Resilience Training: An Institutional Case Study, Potential law enforcement stressors, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24808985

 

 

Can Hobbies Improve Mental Health?

Improve mental healthIt is easy for people to get wrapped up in various treatments, therapies, and medications when it comes to controlling mental illness but did you know simply engaging in hobbies you already love can help too?

According to a 2009 study testing the potential of managing anxiety in eating disorders with knitting found that, “patients reported a subjective reduction in anxious preoccupation when knitting, more specifically- 74 percent reported it had a calming and therapeutic effect.” (1) Engaging in a hobby you already love may be just the treatment you have been looking for. Some people find that listening to music, volunteer work, keeping a daily journal of events and how they feel, laughter, playing with pets, shopping, or other forms of common hobbies helped them to relax. (2)

From singing to cooking and just about every hobby in-between, taking time to relax with an activity you enjoy can help you reap a multitude of benefits when it comes to mental health. Here’s a few that you can look forward to.

  • Reduces stress. Transitioning the focus from the chaos of life to a fun, easy, and enjoyable task can instantly help reduce stress levels. Harness this benefit by opting for more relaxing hobbies. These may include knitting, painting, photographing, journaling, or even bird watching. Whichever hobby you choose, be sure it makes you feel more relaxed.
  • Improves mood. Taking a break to do something you already love beats an extra hour spent at the office anyway. Investing in hobbies can feel similar to taking a break and enjoying yourself and obviously breaks and joy often produce an improved mood. A hobby should always be something you desire doing.
  • Encourages socialization. Though not all, but some hobbies can help encourage socialization where you would otherwise spend time alone. And numerous studies have found a connection between relationships and happiness. Consider participating in group hobbies like team sports, clubs, or other activities that draw a crowd.
  • Improves memory. Did you know studies have shown that people who regularly challenge themselves through puzzles, games, and reading can not only improve their memory now, but also help themselves avoid memory loss later in life? If you enjoy challenging your mind with puzzles you can expect to reap this benefit.
  • Wards off depression. If your hobby of choice is an activity you find happiness in, it can easily help ward off feelings of depression and sadness. If you find yourself not loving a hobby, stop doing it and find something new that you do love. Hobbies are meant to be fun, and in order to benefit from them you must enjoy doing them.

While people may be consumed with treatments, therapies, and medications- sometimes all you need to lift up your spirits and improve your overall mental health is a little time spent doing a favorite hobby. Invest in yourself by taking the time to participate in things that you love. By doing so you can begin to reap the many mental health benefits that can accompany hobbies.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Managing Anxiety in Eating Disorders with Knitting, Results quote, 2009, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=knitting+anxiety
  2. Management, Information about hobbies, 2015, http://www.stress.org/military/combat-stress/management/

 

 

 

 

 

Find Yourself Forgetful? How to Enhance Your Memory

Improve MemoryWhile you may think of forgetfulness and memory loss as challenges only the elderly face but if you are a young person, you may be disappointed to learn that memory loss can affect you too. Unfortunately, like most mental health problems memory has not prejudice. But there’s something you can do to help!

Young or old, if you are finding yourself forgetful there are certain things you can do to help improve your memory. To help you begin today, here’s a few tips on how to enhance your memory.

  • Train. Yes, it’s true- like training your body through physical exercises you can help train your brain for memory improvement. “People in the early stages of memory loss can benefit from simple memory training, research suggests according to the American Psychological Association (APA) (1) Using popular training techniques like “mnemonic devices” or “vanishing cues” can help trigger you brain to better remember.

Mnemonic devices: To put this training tactic to work simply visualize something that will help you better remember whatever it is you want to be able to recall later. For example, when meeting a new person whose name is Mrs. Teal, you would visualize that person covered in the color teal to better help you remember their name.

Vanishing cues: This tactic is used more often when trying to recall information. For instance, if you are trying to think of Mrs. Teal’s name but can’t remember it, instead write down on a piece of paper any letters of the name that you can remember. Once seeing the letters on the paper fill in more, and more until you begin to remember. By doing this you are training new areas of the brain to take over defective areas.

  • Mental photos. Sometimes, being able to recall memories later on means taking a mental photo or snapshot now. According to the APA, “Good memory requires good learning and good learning is done through forming strong association with new information as you learn it.” (2) While you don’t have to physically walk around life acting like you are taking photos, mentally focusing on new things you are learning or would like to remember later, similar to a camera focuses can help you form those strong associations, and thus help improve your memory.

Make taking notes a routine part of your day. When you set important items down like a cell phone, car keys, or wallet take a moment to focus and take a mental snapshot.

No matter your age, forgetfulness and memory loss can affect you and make life more challenging. But you can work to improve your memory. By working to train your brain and making a point to take mental snapshots all throughout your day you can better challenge your brain and enhance your memory.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

 

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Sources:

  1. Enhance Your Memory, Training your brain quote, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/learning/enhance-memory.aspx
  2. Enhance Your Memory, Mental photos quote, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/learning/enhance-memory.aspx

 

 

 

Coping with Obesity

coping with obesityObesity is defined as a condition marked by excess accumulation of body fat, according to the American Psychological Association (1) and it affects a great portion of our population. In fact, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third or 78.6 million U.S. adults are obese.

While you may not be at a healthy weight, there are steps you can take not just to lose weight but to better cope with obesity. If you’re overweight and tired of being down on yourself all the time, this article is for you. Here’s how to cope with obesity.

  1. Make better food choices. Though this may be an obvious tip, it’s an important one. Part of coping with obesity means taking the necessary steps to overcoming it. Learn about healthy foods vs non-healthy foods and make an effort to choose healthy and nutritious foods. Avoid foods which are high in saturated fats and cholesterol and opt for foods high in protein and low in sugars.
  2. Connect. According to a 2015 study on social relationships and obesity people who are socially-connected are at a decreased risk of becoming obese. (3) Connect with people in your community, especially with those who share the same goals as you. Together you can encourage, support, and connect with each other.
  3. Use positive criticism. Being obese does not give you free reign to come down hard on yourself about every little thing you need to change but like with any other condition, it does allow the opportunity for positive criticism. Positive criticism will act as a way to correct yourself in a positive way while building your self-confidence.
  4. Create small goals. Setting small goals for yourself is a great way to cope with obesity. As you work to achieve each little goal you not only get closer to a larger goal but you also make room for regular celebrations of your achievements. Set goals not only for weight loss but also emotions and physical activity.

You are so much more than a number on the scale, finding joy no matter where you are in life both emotionally and physically is key. Coping with obesity requires a balance of embracing who you are while working to better yourself. Remember to make better food choices, connect, use positive criticism, and create small goals for yourself. By doing so you can actively work toward a better, more-healthy you while learning to love the person you are today.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1.  Obesity, Definition of obesity, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/obesity/index.aspx
  2. Adult Obesity Facts, Number of obese American adults, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  3. Social Relationships and Obesity, Study findings ‘Connect’, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26213644

 

 

The First 3 Steps to Changing Unhealthy Behavior

Change BehaviorsUnhealthy behavior can include bad habits such as smoking, drinking, poor diet choices, and lack of physical activity. These behaviors can cause greater health risks, especially in middle-aged people. Statistics show that over 20% of people smoke or drink (or both), over 40% of people are physically inactive, and over 30% of people are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control (1).

However, these people are not the only ones affected by the poor behavior – approximately 25% of health care costs is spent on treating the effects of this voluntary unhealthy behavior (2). So what can be done about this increasing problem? If you or someone you know is making poor choices, a change needs to take place.

1. Determine the cause. There are many things that can cause a person to make poor choices.  These causes can vary for people of different ages, genders, and races.  In young people, habits such as smoking or drinking can be a result of peer pressure; poor diet and exercise choices can come from a lack of education regarding these issues.

In adults, however, the most common cause for unhealthy behavior is stress (3).  Turning to comfort food can cause obesity and inactivity while having a drink to relax after work can easily cause a drinking problem.  Recognizing the cause of your unhealthy behavior is the first step to changing it.

2. Make a plan. Once you have determined why you make the poor choices, you need to determine that you want to make a change.  It must come from you, not others, and you must put a plan of action in place to achieve it.  There are some people who know they have a problem but don’t do anything about it; there are others who know they need to change but continually put it off (4).  In order to accomplish a lifestyle change, a firm decision and commitment must be made.  One way to reach your goals is to find motivation.  Whether it is your health or that of someone that you love, find a reason for the change.

3. Seek support from others. There are support groups created to help people cope with dependency, disease, and social issues (5).  These support groups allow you to share with and learn from others in a face-to-face setting.  When making a change, it is very easy to relapse into your old habits.

A support group will provide the accountability you need to stay on track.  If you are unable to find a good support group, you can start one in your area.  This may provide you with even more motivation since others will be relying on you to lead by example.

Changing is hard – there is no doubt about that. However, it is possible. It simply takes determination and a conscious effort on a daily basis to make better choices in your life. Changing your unhealthy habits will be beneficial to you as well as your family and friends, and in the end your only regret will be not doing it sooner.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Prevalence of Selected Unhealthy Behavior Characteristics, Statistics of unhealthy behavior, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5916a7.htm
  2. Voluntary Health Risks: Who Should Pay? Cost of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v6n1/voluntary.html
  1. Americans Engage in Unhealthy Behavior to Manage Stress, Causes of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/01/stress-management.aspx
  2. Why It’s Hard to Change Unhealthy Behavior, How to change, 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-its-hard-to-change-unhealthy-behavior
  3. Receiving Social Support Online, Importance of support groups, 2001, http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/6/693.full

 

5 Ways to Better Cope with Stress

cope with stressToday, chronic stress- stress that interferes with your ability to function normally over an extended period- is becoming a public health crisis, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (1) Caused by a variety of triggers such as money, work, the economy, job stability, personal health, and even family responsibilities, stress is wreaking havoc in the lives of most Americans these days. But what can we do to better cope?

According to the Centers for Disease control, “The best ways to manage stress in hard times are through self-care.” (2) To help you better understand exactly what I mean by “self-care” here are 5 ways to better cope with stress in your personal life today.

  • Find support. Weather from a partner, friend, counselor, doctor, or close family member finding the support you need is critical to coping with stress in a healthy way. Choose someone who is willing to listen to you without judgement, offering constructive advice when needed.
  • Stay connected. When times of high stress arise it’s far too easy to isolate yourself socially but isolation is not the answer. Instead choose to spend those times with a group of close loved ones you can find support in.
  • Say “No” to drugs and alcohol. While both drugs and alcohol are popular coping mechanisms for a number of problems as a quick, temporary fix they tend to create a snowball of problems in the long term. Simply say, “No.
  • Get active. A 2015 study comparing stress and exercise found that one year of physical exercise intervention improved mental well-being among working adults. (3) To better cope with stress, get active through exercise. Join a gym, take a jog, become part of a favorite team-sport. How you choose to be active is not important, simply being active is.
  • Eat healthy. You know what they say, “We are what we eat.” By striving to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet you can prepare your body to better cope with stress naturally. Choose foods high in protein and low in sugars and carbs along with lots of healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

And as a bonus…

  • Take a break. Far too many people are constantly going with the petal pressed to the floor, speeding through life. Sometimes the best way to deal with an overabundance of stress is by taking a break. This means a vacation, time off from work, or maybe just a night to yourself. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself a break every now and then. It’s good for you!

With stress impacting so many Americans today in ways that make life far more difficult to live, it’s time to fight back. Whether it’s money, work, the economy, job stability, personal health, family responsibilities, or something else learning how to best cope with stress can make all the difference. By finding support, staying connected, refraining from both drugs and alcohol, eating healthy, and of course- allowing yourself to take a break when needed you can not only change the way you respond to stress, but also decrease the amount of stress you experience. And who doesn’t want less stress?

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Stressed in America, Chronic stress crisis, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  2. Managing Stress, Self-care for stress quote, 2012, http://www.cdc.gov/features/handlingstress/
  3. A 12-Month Exercise Intervention Decreased Stress Symptoms and Increased Mental Resources Among Working Adults, Get active study, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26159956

 

 

Inmates + Pet Therapy = Healthy Relationships

pets; relationship therapyFamilies all around the world embrace animals such as cats, dogs, fish, and gerbils- just to name a few. They welcome these small or large critters into their home because they make them happy and offer companionship. They teach children responsibility and friendship. But did you know pets can also do the same for inmates?

According to a 2015 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “When pet therapy is used in prisons a symbolic relationship develops between pets and prison inmates.” (1) Through pet therapy, inmates at a correctional institution were able to develop good relationships and promote healthy development and cultivate reciprocal empathy. Pets offer people so much more than something soft and cuddly to play with. Here’s a look at what your pet is teaching you about healthy relationships without you even realizing it.

  1. Be yourself. No matter what species your pet stems from, one things for sure- it’s teaching you to be yourself. There is no need to put on a show for guests. 100 percent of the time, your pet acts exactly like himself, no matter who’s watching. You should be too! Embrace the person you are and be yourself in all your relationships.
  2. Forgive mistakes. No one forgives mistakes like pets do. They truly forgive and forget. While forgetting may be something of its own challenge, certainly focus on forgiving. Learning to forgive in the same way your pet does can help you overcome obstacles that take place in relationships.
  3. Embrace silence. Silence is not always a negative thing. Your pet understands this! Embrace silence in your life and in each of your relationships. Often times silence allows us to breathe, rest, and regroup for whatever is next.
  4. Show love. Like a dog who greets his owner with a sloppy, wet kiss so too should you show your love in relationships. Take the time to regularly demonstrate your affection for family and friends. In return, they are likely to do the same back.
  5. Be active. Most pets tend to be active in life and we should strive to be too. Take it from your pet, and get active. Weather you choose to join a team sport, attend a gym regularly, or simply take a daily walk around the block, being active can help improve not only your relationships with others but also your relationship with yourself.
  6. Let loose. Your pet certainly doesn’t allow stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions to control their relationship with you. You shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to let loose every now and again like your pet and enjoy socializing with others.

Because good relationships promote growth and healthy development, (2) it’s time to take a cue from your pet. Like with inmates who benefit from pet therapy, so should families of pet owners. Embrace the relationship lessons your furry (or scaly) friend is teaching you and better connect with others.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

Pet Therapy in Correctional Institutions: A Perspective from Relational-Cultural Theory, Relationships develop, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26083555

Michael Juhasz, LCPC, CADC

Mike Juhasz PicMichael Juhasz, LCPC, CADC is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in the State of Illinois and received his Masters of Arts (M.A.) Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois, Springfield in 1980.  He is also a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) in the State of Illinois.

Michael has many years of experience working in the mental health / substance abuse field utilizing a wide range of cognitive-behavioral interventions to focus on relapse prevention and mental health wellness.  His clinical orientation is eclectic, meaning he is able to provide specific counseling strategies to meet individual needs.  Michael’s style focuses on wellness – taking care of oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually – to live a balance lifestyle for optimal psychological well-being.  His professional interests including treating self-esteem issues, depression, anxiety, life transition issues, and substance abuse related disorders.  Michael has extensive experience working in an outpatient community mental health clinic as well as an inpatient setting on a variety of issues.

Michael lives with his family in the Northwest suburbs and enjoys barbecuing on the grill, visiting with friends, exercising, and is an avid Chicago sports fan.