Are you suffering from “Smiling Depression”?

Dr. Cassiday offers suggestions for dealing with depression in another article on the Today Show website:

Dr. Cassiday quoted in story on the Today Show

We ALL have bad days once in a while. Dr. Cassiday is quoted in a story on the Today Show about how to turn things around when it’s one of those days. Check it out here.

Dr. Cassiday shares her expertise on hoarding in US News & World Report

Although many of us love our pets, some people direct their attention to animals in an unhealthy way. Dr. Karen Cassiday shares her expertise in an article on animal hoarding in US News & World Report.

Dr. Cassiday is quoted in Real Simple story on Social Anxiety

Many people struggle with social anxiety, especially during the busy holiday season. Dr. Karen Cassiday provides suggestions to those attending holiday parties in this article from Real Simple Magazine.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-47-11-pm

Dr. Zayed conducts CBT Training for Heartland Alliance

Dr. Maha Zayed utilized her expertise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to conduct a full-day training session for employees at Heartland Alliance in Chicago.  Heartland Alliance is a community agency that works with refugees, and the training was intended to help staff provide effective CBT based treatments for clients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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Dr. Alden explains the use of DBT in Anxiety Treatment

Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to Treat Anxiety Disorders


By Dr. Alison Alden


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is form of cognitive behavioral therapy that combines mindfulness, ideas from Zen Buddhism, and behavioral principles to help people better ride out and regulate their own emotions. Although it was originally developed to treat individuals with personality disorders, it includes many concepts and tools that are also extremely useful to people suffering from anxiety disorders. In my practice at the Anxiety Treatment Center, I use many elements of DBT to enhance the more traditional exposure work that I do.

DBT includes four major sets of skills: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, and as needed, I draw on all of these skill sets in my work with anxious patients.

When people think of mindfulness, they imagine that it means practicing meditation, but in DBT, it actually means much more than this. An important component of it is training your “attentional muscle” so that you can better focus on what is going on in the present moment rather than living in the past or thinking ahead to the future. This is extremely relevant to many people with anxiety disorders who find themselves constantly worrying about what’s to come! Although my colleagues at ATC and I primarily take an exposure approach to treating worry (helping people sit with their worries until they no longer trigger anxiety or fear), I also introduce mindfulness to many of my patients to help them stay more present in their lives. Another important mindfulness concept that I like to introduce to patients is the idea of wise mind—acting and making decisions from a place that considers and balances both what is logical and one’s own emotions. For people who are anxious, this often means owning their fears and being sensitive to where they are at emotionally while at the same time pushing forward with their lives.

Emotion regulation skills largely focus on doing things to reduce your vulnerability to negative emotions and employing strategies to change negative emotions that arise. I work with patients to help them incorporate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and other healthful behaviors into their lives to reduce their emotional vulnerability. I also introduce many patients to an important DBT concept for changing negative emotions—acting opposite to emotions that are not justified by the present situation (even if they feel justified). The idea of acting opposite to fear and anxiety is very much in line with the way that we typically treat anxiety—by encouraging people to face thoughts, feelings, and situations that frighten them rather than going with their urges to avoid them. Acting opposite also means doing things like approaching people and being active instead of withdrawing and staying in bed when you’re depressed, and treating people with compassion or doing something nice for others when you’re angry. Many patients are surprised to find that when they act opposite to their negative emotions, their emotions actually change for the better!

Interpersonal effectiveness means being assertive, asking other people to make changes in their behavior or saying no to unwanted requests. It also means being able to gauge how strongly to commit to a position and knowing how to maintain your position in the face of challenging responses and reactions from others. This can be an important skill for individuals who are either socially anxious or who are simply stressed as a result of challenging interpersonal situations. I’ve personally found that DBT interpersonal effectiveness skills benefit a wide range of patient—from teens dealing with tough situations with friends to businessmen navigating high pressure situations at work.

Finally, distress tolerance skills involve doing things to ride out your emotions so that you don’t make the situation that you are in worse. They are not intended to make people feel better but are rather intended to help people refrain from acting in haste. In essence, they are distraction tools, and since sitting with and not distracting from their emotions is so important for anxious individuals, I introduce these skills to my anxious patients a bit more sparingly than other DBT skills. However, distress tolerance can be extremely useful to people with anxiety who tend to jump the gun because they can’t tolerate sitting with their own uncertainty about anxiety provoking situations.

In summary, the key components of DBT can be used to enhance traditional cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders. I tailor my use of them with patients to each patient’s individual needs and many of my patients have found these skills to be invaluable.

Alison Alden, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist with the Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago, with offices in Deerfield, Chicago, and Oakbrook. Dr. Alden is located in our Deerfield office and can be reached at 847-559-0001.

Dr. Cassiday featured in the Atlantic Magazine story on OCD

The Atlantic Magazine recently ran a story on the importance of using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy for OCD. Dr. Karen Cassiday is quoted in the article, which talks about how difficult it is for patients to find the right kind of therapy. At the Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago our clinicians are all trained in using ERP, considered the gold standard treatment, in helping clients overcome their OCD. You can read the story here: Exposure Response Prevention for OCD


ATC staff provide training to mental health professionals

Recently, several members of our team have shared their expertise with fellow mental health professionals.

Dr. Pojas spoke at the Lake County Behavioral Health Alliance meeting, educating mental health providers on how to identify different subtypes of OCD and the treatment differences among obsessive compulsive disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, and hoarding disorder.
napervilleproviderbreakfastDr. Zayed and Ben Harris recently shared the resources offered by the Anxiety Treatment Center, Oakbrook office, at the Naperville District 203 and 204 Provider Breakfast. The meeting introduced school personnel and social workers to local providers who can assist in their mission to support students.

Hoarding Treatment Group starting in May, 2017

Hoarding Treatment Group:

We will be offering a new intensive hoarding disorder treatment group, led by Julieanne Pojas, PsyD, beginning in May, 2017.  This is a therapist-led, CBT-based treatment group that teaches skills to help hoarders conquer their clutter. The group will meet for 16 weeks from May through September on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm. Members who complete this group will have the option to participate in a monthly maintenance/support groups. Please contact Dr. Pojas at 847-559-0001 or for more information or if you are interested in joining the group.

New Office in Oakbrook is Now Open!

oakbrook-officeOur Western Suburban Office is now open.  In response to increasing demand for convenient access to excellent anxiety treatment, we have recently opened a new office in the western suburbs.  We are located at 1100 Jorie Blvd, Suite 227. You no longer need to travel to our our downtown or north shore locations to access the best anxiety treatment in greater Chicago. Call us at 630-522-3124 to schedule an appointment.