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The Roots of Mental Illness: One size fits all?

August 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog 3

According to Harvard psychologist, Dr. Richard McNally, the “one size fits all” approach to understanding the etiology of mental illness simply doesn’t float. Dr McNally, author of the 2011 book “What is Mental Illness” states that although structural brain abnormalities can be found for diseases such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, in many other disorders, such as depression or anxiety, the biological function is more nebulous. Genetic, biological, and environmental factors become important in these latter cases. The conclusion is that we are a long way from understanding the interplay of these factors.

Most parents who come to me for consultation when their children have been diagnosed as having a disorder are experiencing a full gamut of emotions. Guilt (“Did I do something to cause this?”), Anger (“Who did something to cause this?!”), even Spiritual Strife (“Why would God let me child suffer like this?”) are common emotions. They are searching for answers, for a “reason”, or a justification of their child’s challenges.

Dr. McNally’s findings are a reminder to us that spending too much time trying to understand the why, is most likely (at this point in history) not so useful (albeit very understandable and natural!). Personally I have found that once parent’s energies shift to “problem-solving mode” it is generally the start of positive change. Although we might not ever know the “cause” of their child’s challenges, there are a lot of great interventions we can always try to help soothe the issues at hand.

Internet Addiction and FoMO

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under November 1st

Dr. Hamid of Columbia University, gave a talk today on Mental Disorders & Related Medications at the Good Shepherd Services (NYC). Within his fascinating presentation came the obvious topic (for mental health practitioners) of the DSM-V. The DSM, for those of you not in practice, is the clinician’s handbook to operationally defining mental health disorders, and it’s just on the cusp of its latest revision.

Each time that the DSM is revised, various groups will “lobby” for new diagnosis to be acknowledged. For example, there are some lobbying for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, Hoarding, Parental Alienation Syndrome, and Internet Addiction to be included. Within topic of “Internet Addiction” there has been talk about “FoMO”.

FoMO is the “Fear of Missing Out”, and the theory states that, along with modern technology’s instant gratification, a “fear of missing out” can emerge. For example, one might chat while driving, text while at dinner, or facebook while in class….People are SO connected that they are DISCONNECTING. To do so, after all, could mean “missing out”… and missing out on what? Without checking who’s to say! But, perhaps (one with FoMO might think)… “something just a little more important/interesting than that which I am currently engaged with!”

Here in America there is one telephone company that has completely marketed the “FoMO mentality.” It shows people responding quickly and efficiently to social media information streamed on their phone, compared to a delay of a few seconds from another person’s phone. They quickly respond to the other “Oh, we knew (about someone’s break-up… for example). That’s SO 8 seconds ago!”

To some extent most people’s lives have been affected by the rapidly evolving world of technology. Most feel bad when someone says, “Didn’t you get that email that I sent you?” (… written 24 hours ago). As the immediacy of communication increases, we will need to work on ensuring that our personal boundaries and priorities remain intact. Personally I have tried to subscribe to the phrase “e-mail” does not stand for “emergency-mail”….

For more about FoMO:

Being a Psychologist in Barcelona: 10 FAQs

November 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog 2

I wish I could count the number of emails I get from psychologists who want to come and work in Barcelona. In the name of time management, I have decided to write this blog entry to answer their frequently asked questions. Here are the top 10 questions I get, and answers! NOTE: The process I have referred to below can change from time to time…. Always check with the Ministry of Education and COP before starting these proceedures.

  1. Do I, or the groups I have started (Positive Parenting Plus! and Barcelona NEST) take interns? No, I am sorry – I/ we don’t.
  2. I can’t wait to come to Barcelona to learn Spanish! …. I know that’s not an actual question… but I generally stop people right there in their tracks. Although we do speak Spanish (“Castellano”) in Barcelona, if you come to Cataluña, Catalan is the official language. If you want to come with the main purpose of learning Castellano, I suggest you go to a monolingual part of Spain.
  3. It’s really Barcelona that I want! — how much work is there for a psychologist? If you want to work in a public health system, you will need to know both Catalan and Castellano to fluency. Otherwise you will need to work in private practice. There are a good deal of foreigners in Barcelona – there’s always work to be found, if you are a good and dedicated professional. Expect some time for the population to build confidence in you.
  4. Do I need to be licensed to work in Spain? YES, you do!
  5. How easy is it to co-validate my license in Spain? It can take up to one year, minimum. You should start the process as soon as possible if you really plan to come here.
  6. Where do I start this process? With the Ministry of Education in Madrid, where you will need to first co-validate your degree (not your licence) through a process called “homologación de titulos”.
  7. What basically will this entail? Collecting all of the transcripts of courses that you took for your degree/s (these must be notarized transcripts, that additionally have an apostil from the Hague) and having them officially translated in Spain (“traducción jurada”). Once this has been reviewed (up to a one year process) you will hear back from the Ministry.
  8. What is the next step? I have only heard of one psychologist who was not then required to take exams in Spain. This will generally include a theme that was considered to be missing in your curriculum (in my case, for example, it was “Theory of Logic”). You will then need to take these exams at an approved university, and submit the results to the Ministry. Tests will need to be taken in Castellano (or, at times, in Catalan). You then wait for your results and submit your passed exams to the Ministry of Education. It can take up to six months to hear back after each correspondence.
  9. … And then what?… Once the Ministry of Education has co-validated your degree, you need to bring proof of your “homologación” to the Colegió de Psicológos (COP), in addition to your fees and proof of residency. You will most likely be accepted into the COP and become “colegiado” (licensed).
  10. For heavens sake… That’s a lot to do! Is it worth it? …. Yes! It is! Although it was definitely a challenge, it is one I am very pleased to have accomplished. I don’t regret a moment of what it took for me to enjoy the wonderful experience of living and working in Barcelona!


Coming Soon

November 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog 3

Coming Soon

November 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog 4