Therapy That Works...

Weight Loss – Is Emotional Overeating Sabotaging Your Weight Loss? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 14, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how emotional overeating may be holding you back from losing weight - click here.

One third of Americans meet the medical definition of obesity and many others carry excess pounds that their doctors wish they would shed.

As intelligent and resilient as most of us are, it is confusing why we struggle so much with food. Here are some key factors that can derail you from weight management success:

Begins In The Mind

All weight loss begins in the mind. Without understanding your relationship between your emotions and food, you cannot change the habits that interfere with your ability to lose weight. All overeating begins the same way: a trigger leads to a thought, the thought creates an emotion, and the emotion leads to a choice to eat.

Releasing Tension

Many of us eat to soothe internal tension or anxiety. Your raging emotions tell you that eating will calm you down. Once the decision is made to eat, you feel a little better. What many of us miss is that we can also reduce our tension by deciding not to eat. The active decision to not eat can provide the same tension release as choosing to eat.

There Is No “Try”

Most of us take our self-sabotaging thoughts about food at face value. We try to not eat popcorn at the movies or we promise to not have another cookie at the party. But then we read an upsetting text or see an ex-girlfriend. The uptick in emotion can cause us to lose self-control in the moment.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

Weight Loss - How Does Overeating Start? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 07, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia describe some of the ways overeating can start and why it can be so difficult to overcome - click here.

With one third of Americans meeting the medical definition of “obese,” we are struggling as a society to understand how to manage our relationship with food. Lifelong weight issues can sometimes be caused by metabolic issues or other medical problems. However for those of us without medical issues, we must be aware of some key issues with how we treat food that prevent us from weight management success:

Basic Instinct

Our relationship with food begins at birth. As infants, we learn that food quiets our rumbling tummies, is pleasurable, and can even bring a certain degree of comfort. Food begins to be associated with security, wellbeing, and happiness from an early age.

Inescapable Need

Like the air we breathe, we cannot escape the need to eat food. We can’t “give it up” or swear to never touch it again like drugs or alcohol. The fact that food is unavoidable is one reason why we struggle with it.

Eating To Soothe

Since food is so centrally associated with feelings of comfort early in life, many of us tend to use it to regulate or soothe difficult emotions. Since our emotional math is simplistic as children (such as,“I’ll eat this to feel better”) it is understandable why overeating becomes so entrenched early in life as a coping skill.

Overeating Cycle

Whenever we gain weight, there is an automatic emotional cost. Self-loathing and anger are common. We then overeat to regulate the negative feelings that come from unwanted weight gain. Round and round we go, and the cycle can overwhelm us before we know what’s happened.

Binge Eating

Many of us who struggle with food develop Binge Eating Disorder in which we lose control over how much we eat. Here are some of the symptoms of BED:

  • Overeating in a rapid fashion
  • Regularly overeating at meals and in between
  • Rituals with food such as eating only in the car or secretive eating behaviors
  • Feelings of shame and disgust

Weight loss can be sabotaged by significant psychological and emotional challenges. If you know someone who is struggling with the psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

Parenting – How To Discipline Your Child Without Yelling or Spanking - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how you can properly discipline your child without yelling or spanking - click here.

Spanking or emotional abuse through speaking can have a lifelong, devastating impact, especially on children below the age of 10.

Since many children still need discipline and clear boundaries, you must have other options available to discipline your child when you’ve lost your patience. Here are a few suggestions:

Take A Break

If your child has just acted our severely, you may want to put yourself in a time out first. Take a breath and slow down. Your mind will be clearer and you’ll make better decisions if you are calm and focused. Give yourself a chance to calm down for a few minutes before deciding how to discipline your child and potentially overreacting.

You’re The Model

Since your job as a parent is to teach your child how to manage their emotions, you need to make sure your voice is calm and your body behavior is relaxed. Next pick your words carefully and remember to speak respectfully to your child. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach your child how to speak to others without anger or contempt. Angry parents can be very scary and intimidating, and your child is soaking in every word and action from you.

Rewind and Slow Down

One of the best things you can teach your child is how to effectively understand and solve problems that frustrate and upset us. A wonderful way to teach them how to understand what happened is to walk back through what just happened and explain why they are being disciplined.

There are more effective ways to teach and discipline your child than spanking or yelling.

For instance, removal of privileges is a very effective punishment for most teenagers since it restricts their freedom, which is highly valued during these years.

Remember that every time your child needs to be disciplined, you have another opportunity to teach them the attitudes and behaviors necessary for a successful and happy life.

Source:

"Longitudinal Links between Father's and Mother's Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents' Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms," by Ming-Te Wang and Sarah Kenny, in "Child Development," 9/13/13

Parenting - Is Yelling the New Spanking for American Parents? - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the new trend of parents yelling instead of spanking their kids - click here.

Is yelling the new spanking for American parents? Many parents have been warned to not spank their children, so they have turned to yelling as a way to reach their child and correct bad behavior.

But new research suggests that yelling at your child, especially teenagers, can actually make them more resistant to change and better behavior.

Many of us do yell when we are overwhelmed by the moment, and we are often haunted by our words and actions afterward. Rather than resolving the problem and helping our child make a positive change, we make the problem much worse.

Children who are routinely yelled at tend to make one of three choices:

1.) They yell back, which often ends in disaster.

2.) They withdraw into stony silence with resentment brewing beneath the surface

3.) They become silent and anxious while magnifying what happened and the future consequences.

Yelling teaches your child that you are not in control of your emotions at that moment, and it makes them less likely to control their emotions in the future.

In addition, spanking and yelling can increase aggression and resentment, both physically and verbally. Severe yelling or emotional abuse through speaking can have a lifelong, devastating impact, especially on children below the age of 10. Please make sure to watch my next video on this topic – How To Discipline Your Child Without Yelling or Spanking.

Source:

"Longitudinal Links Between Father's and Mother's Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents' Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms," by Ming-Te Wang and Sarah Kenny, in "Child Development," 9/13/13

Parenting - Is Spanking or Yelling A Better Way To Discipline Your Kids? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing which discipline method is better - spanking or yelling? click here.

Violence - The Effects of Violent Movies on Children and Teens - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the effects of movie violence on children and teens and how parents can limit violent movies and maintain their relationship with their child - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior. Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are wondering how to gauge which movies their kids should be watching or if their kids should be seeing violence at all!

State of Development

Be aware that adolescent brains, when compared to adult brains, are especially vulnerable to what they see, hear, and experience. They are still building their beliefs about the world, about other people, and about themselves. Always remember that your teenager’s brain will continue to unfold and develop until their mid-twenties.

External Influences

Neuroscientists warn us that by the time the brain reaches adolescence, brain development is heavily governed by external influences. What the adolescent brain sees, it encodes and internalizes. As parents, you want their movies to include appropriate themes and stories of empowerment, virtuous beliefs, courage & persistence, and age appropriate romances.

So, how can you keep your relationship with your child intact while also keeping your child away from violent movies?

Risk Factors

Violence from children and teens is often correlated with predictors including neglect or abuse at home, bullying at school, and serious mental illness. However, showing your child a violent movie does not mean that they will automatically become violent. There are hundreds of factors that keep children from turning to violence including a loving and supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and mental health counseling. Make sure that your child has all of the facts and fully understands the responsibilities and consequences of violence and gun use.

Just Say No

While it is always difficult to tell a child that they cannot see a movie that all their peers are seeing, you will thank yourself in the long run for holding the line if you believe that the movie has too much violence. “No” is a complete sentence and telling your child “no” is not an invitation for negotiation. Children and teens need compassionate, thoughtfully explained limits from their parents who are emotionally responsible. The best thing you can do is to draw those boundaries long before the trip to the movie theater, and make sure your child knows that violent movies will be fewer and far between.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

"The Primal Teen" by Barbara Strauch

Violence - Your Children and Violence In The Movies - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the recently published report from The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians about children and teens being influenced by violence in movies - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior.

Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are asking what effect can this movie violence have on their child?

Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

Weapons Effect

We do know that just seeing a weapon can increase levels of aggression and forceful behavior in certain people—what psychologists call the “weapon effect.” Studies clearly show that violence in movies can increase aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior.

Learning By Example

Watching an entire movie in which glamorous people you identify with or admire use guns may do several things: 1.) increase your comfort level with guns and gun violence, 2.) desensitize you to violent actions and gun violence, and 3.) decrease empathy and understanding for the victims of gun violence. Therefore as parents, it is advisable to limit your child’s exposure to gun violence in the movies.

Who To Watch

However, this finding does not mean that your child is going to automatically become violent if they are exposed to violence in the movies. There are hundreds of mitigating factors that would prevent them from becoming violent including a supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and the absence of significant mental health issues. The real vulnerability to violent imagery lies with children who are from neglectful or abusive families, who are bullied and marginalized at school, and who lack substantial psychological coping skills to deal with rejection and failure. These children often feel lost and the images of gun violence restore a sense of empowerment and control that is missing in their lives. These “at risk” kids are the ones we need to worry about.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy - How Parents Can Help Their Emotionally Volatile Child - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help parents understand and work with their emotionally volatile children - click here.

Like the waves of a turbulent ocean, the world of negative emotions seems to ebb and flow with a disturbing lack of predictability. One day you can easily manage your emotions, but the next day everything seems to get to you. You find the insult in every comment from friends and family, and you just cannot seem to calm down.

Dr. Marsha Linehan recognized that biological vulnerabilities to high intensity emotions could create a difficult parental relationship early in life.

Well-intentioned parents do their best to match the intense communications of their children, but they often fall short with a child who lives with more intense emotions. Parental initiatives in discipline, organization, and performance that may have worked effortlessly with their other children fall flat with this child. Instead, this child may stubbornly resist change and compliance, further frustrating the parent.

In worst cases, the cycle between the frustrated parents and the emotional child can become highly toxic.

The child is unable to perform optimally at school and in extracurricular activities due to their intense emotions. Confused parents misinterpret this behavior as disobedience, apathy, manipulation, and defiance. The child is labeled as difficult and exhausting because the parent doesn’t know what to do!

These parents need to understand their child’s emotional states and use skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) to help their children calm down, focus, and perform. They’ll be able to structure and properly work with their child so that they are successful at home and at school. Once they know how to communicate effectively with their child, the parent-child relationship will flourish.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty communicating with their child, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

The work of Dr. Marsha Linehan

"Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide" by Kelly Koerner

The Truth Behind How To Spot A Liar - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on the CW 33 discussing how you can spot a liar - click here.

Read the story featuring Dr. Sylvia Gearing on the CW 33 - click here.

Reposted from "The Truth Behind How To Spot A Liar" by Selena Hernandez on the CW 33

Everyone’s guilty of doing it; to deny it would mean you’re probably lying.

Studies have shown, on average, a person will tell two lies and hour. What’s more, studies suggest one out of every 10 texts is a lie. But, you don’t have to find yourself trapped in someone’s web of deceit.

“I would say without a doubt, everyone lies,” Dr. Sylvia Gearing said.

Dr. Sylvia Gearing is a psychologist and author. She has extensively studied liars and their behavior patterns. She revealed people lie for two reasons: either to spare someone else’s feelings or to make a situation easier for themselves.

“We call those lies of concealment; we just don’t tell all of the truth, we just edit the truth to suit our purposes.”

Dr. Gearing added liars tend to focus on their words, so they’re quick to forget about their facial features.

“They forget what their face looks like, and that’s where the clues are – always.”

Gearing offered some obvious clues to look for, if you feel like someone is out to dupe you.

  • slow, deliberate pauses when speaking
  • repeating the question you just asked
  • smiling out of context
  • a nervous, shaking foot or leg

“People who are lying are dead set, there’s a mask,” Dr. Gearing explained. “They’re smiling, and they’re controlling their presentation and their words that way.”

We recruited the help of four Nightcap staff members: Jennifer, Keith, Christian and Keisha. For every question we asked, they each gave two responses: one is the truth and the other is a lie. Can you spot the lie?

Question #1 “What did you do last night?”

Jennifer: “Last night, I walked my dog and went to bed around nine o’clock.”

Jennifer: “I passed out candy to trick-or-treaters.”

If you guessed the lie was the first response – you’re right!

Dr. Gearing said it was the subtleties in her facial expression. “Nine o’clock –her mouth went up, and then she frowned”

Question #2 “What did you have for breakfast?”

Keith: “I went to the Pancake House and had their apple turnover pancake with, uh, with some coffee. I think that was it.”

Keith: “I had cereal.”

The lie was the first response. Dr. Gearing offered some perspective. “There was too much stalling and making up as he went along, and again, too much detail. People who want to manipulate you, over tell you.”

Question #3 ”Have you ever been in a car accident?”

Christian: “Yes, I’ve been in a couple car accidents, um, but they’ve never been my fault. They’re usually somebody hitting me.”

Christian: “I have been in a couple car accidents, and um, they have all been my fault.”

Again, the first response was a lie.

“When he had to pause, he took a little more time to get that lie out because he’s not used to lying,” Dr. Gearing said.

Question #4 “Have you ever told a lie because you thought you could get away with it?”

Keisha: “Yes, several.”

Keisha: “No. I’ve never told a lie, um, not even a white one, no.”

The obvious lie here, was the second response.

“She lies by exaggerating the facts,” Dr. Gearing noted. “She enjoyed it when she was saying it. Nevertheless, it gave her away – it was a dead giveaway.”

Visual clues to keep in mind, the next time you find yourself trying to call someone’s bluff.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy - Three Vulnerabilities That Can Lead To Overreactive Emotions - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe three emotional vulnerabilities in children discovered by Dr. Marsha Linehan that can lead to emotional regulation issues later in life - click here .

Dr. Marsha Linehan, the inventor of Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT, began her career studying suicidal patients who struggled with borderline personality disorders. She argued that many people who develop borderline disorders are born with an underlying biological vulnerability.

According to Linehan, there are three biologically based characteristics that create this vulnerability, often early in life.

Drop of a Hat

Those of us who are prone to intense emotions react quickly to environmental triggers. We have a lower threshold for reaction and we tend to react to things that might not trigger others.

Sudden Eruptions

We express what we are feeling intensely and often very rapidly. We go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. When we constantly use our negative emotions, we often shut down our analytical thinking and react before we think.

Slow Cool Down

Once we are upset, we have trouble calming down and returning to normal. We stay upset longer and with more intensity than we should.

Sources:

The work of Dr. Marsha Linehan

"Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide" by Kelly Koerner


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