Thursday, February 22, 2018

In Health and Hope: Advice for Recovering Addicts

There is Hope for Recovering Addicts!

Written by: Adam Cook

Recovering addicts face a troubling ordeal. Recovery means total abstinence from drugs and alcohol, a daunting “new norm” that many simply aren’t able to maintain. The love and support of family and friends can help addicts achieve sobriety by supporting a loved one through a jarring lifestyle change. Sometimes, that support is the difference between success and relapse. And it can help smooth the addict’s attempt to go back to work, re-enter social life, and regain a semblance of normalcy. Confronting emotions and being honest with oneself about the past is difficult for anyone; for a recovering addict, it is essential to embracing the harsh truth of addiction and maintaining a clean and sober lifestyle. Recovery is, in a real sense, a fragile rebirth, the success of which depends on many factors.

Seek support

Often, a recovering addict is overcome by shame and a desire to withdraw from day-to-day life. The desire to avoid places and faces that remind you of a painful and failed past is a common response, but experts insist that it’s important to re-engage with life and find your inner strength. There’s great benefit to be derived from having a loved one who can help you confront the past, to make sense of your feelings and overcome guilt, sadness, and anger so that you can move forward in hope. It’s possible that you may feel uncomfortable reaching out to someone you know, or there may be too many personal bridges to rebuild for that to happen right away. If so, look to a professional who’s experienced at helping recovering addicts.

Above all, seek out a support group. Many scientific studies have concluded that those who take part in treatment were able to maintain abstinence at a higher rate than other populations and indicated a higher level of satisfaction with their treatment programs. Those who took part in peer support groups also were less likely to be homeless. Clearly, recovering addicts stand to benefit from the support and perspective they are likely to gain from taking part in a support group.

Healthy relationships

Part of finding support and understanding is seeking out and emphasizing relationships that don’t threaten your sobriety. In other words, you need to avoid circumstances and old friendships that will put you back in contact with drugs or alcohol. It’s important to avoid groups and individuals who make it difficult to break with harmful behaviors. Triggers—stimuli that can lead to a relapse—could arise anywhere, anytime. And they can confront you in the form of places, old and new, and people who are reminders of substance abuse. They could be smells or sounds, anything your brain might associate with drug or alcohol use. They’re temptations that must be avoided.

Yoga and meditation

Meditative exercise is an effective practice for individuals who are seeking to break with a negative past and achieve inner peace. Yoga utilizes mental and physical methods which reach that portion of your brain that’s most vulnerable to substance abuse. It’s a mental discipline that can strengthen your resolve and make it easier for you to resist stress triggers that come up unexpectedly. As a meditative, focusing exercise, yoga is uniquely effective at helping recovering addicts connect to a deeper consciousness. Meditation is another proven-effective, self-reflective means of preventing relapse. A 2014 study revealed that more than 200 recovering addicts who had taken part in a meditation program had a reduced rate of relapse six months later.

Staying busy

Occupying your mind and body with a hobby, or even a new business venture, is a good way to avoid relapse. If you’re fond of animals, consider becoming a pet sitter. There’s always a need for a good, reliable sitter (veterinarians and animal shelters can be expensive and difficult to book). There are significant benefits to being in the company of dogs during recovery; they’re good and loyal friends who can help reduce depression and anxiety.

A painful process

Addiction recovery is a slow and painful process. There are many triggers and temptations that can get in the way of your efforts to reestablish some degree of normalcy, to hold down a job, and maintain relationships. It’s very important to find support from friends, family, or support groups as you work through your emotions and strive to remain sober.

Courtesy of Pixabay

This article was originally posted on February 2018


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Trauma Associated With Sexual Assault

Trauma. We read about it in newspapers, we hear about it on television, we see the hashtags on social media. The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an “emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster.” As can be seen with this definition, there are multiple types of experiences that can be defined as trauma. More recently, we’ve heard the term trauma utilized by women and men who are no longer afraid to speak out. These people, though, aren’t speaking out about car accidents or natural disasters, they are speaking out about their experience with sexual assault.

Although sexual assault is not included as part of this definition, many who have experienced  such incidents perceive these as such and these should be valued as equally. Trauma is often based on how someone perceives an experience. Given this, it is important to recognize the language used to describe trauma as it relates to sexual assault.The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN, defines sexual assault as, “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.” This may be considered an umbrella term as it covers a wide range of behavior and can be vague in interpretation. So, then, what contact or behavior can we consider sexual assault? Sexual assault is attempted rape, fondling or unwanted touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts like oral sex, and penetration of the victim’s body which is known as rape.

Statistics show that one in six women have been victims of attempted rape or rape. One in thirty three men have been victims of attempted rape or rape. Sixty-three thousand children between 2009-2013 were victims of sexual abuse. Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. We have seen these staggering statistics come to light in recent months. With women like, Tarana Burke creator of the #METOO movement, who took social media by storm and started a conversation where it is safe to speak out. TIME Magazine’s highlight of women and men who have spoken out against sexual assault and their perpetrators. Efforts likes these have garnered people courage to speak out against those in power who abused them.

Although, the tides in our country and the world are changing and women and men are riding those waves to create a new conversation that empowers victims to become their own hero, our efforts must expand to consider the emotional impact these experiences have on their victims. As seen in the above definition of sexual assault, we typically equate force to the use of physical force. However, force isn’t always physical. It may be manipulative or take the form of a threat to force compliance. This kind of force is emotional. It expands beyond the physical assault to an assault of our psychological well-being. This type of assault may the worse type of all.

This type of emotional impact can result in the form of a behavioral health diagnosis known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is defined as a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. People with PTSD can suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, loss of appetite, and intrusive thoughts. They may experience feelings of guilt and self-blame. They are often hyper vigilant to their surrounding and may avoid people, places, and activities that remind them of the event. This further can result in difficulty with sleep and concentration.

At Cognitive Behavior Institute we are not only joining the conversation about sexual assault, but we are leading a campaign around these efforts to support our community in dealing with the emotional impact of such trauma. Along with providing evidence-based treatment to combat PTSD, we are furthering these efforts by training therapist in the Pittsburgh area in effective trauma therapy techniques to increase access to this type of treatment. We are dedicated to helping and empowering survivors and loved ones of survivors. For more information about our treatment, or if you are a survivor or want to join our campaign, please visit our website at We have offices in Cranberry Township, Monroeville and Mt. Lebanan, PA.  In addition, we offer distance counseling.  Your experiences are valid, you are important, you are loved, and you are not alone.

Originally posted on February 2018

Photo Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Monday, February 5, 2018

Social Anxiety Disorder

We Offer Social Anxiety Disorder Services in Cranberry Twp, Monroeville and Mt. Lebanon, PA


There’s a lot of us who don’t particularly enjoy public speaking or interacting with crowds of people. But what if that hesitation becomes excessive to the point of avoidance and extreme anxiety? Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), or social phobia, is a common anxiety disorder that is first and foremost defined as an intense and persistent fear of social or performance-type situations. This could mean a fear of speaking in front of a larger crowd of people or even simply interacting with others on your college campus. There must be an intense fear of being humiliated or becoming embarrassed while in said social or performance situation; being judged, laughed at, rejected, or ignored are all common fears experienced by people with social anxiety. This fear often is accompanied by physical symptoms of anxiety, such as blushing, sweating, shaking, or even panic attacks, or else an overwhelming sense of anxiety while out in social situations. Some people may avoid these triggers, and occupational, social, academic, and other kinds of functioning may become impaired.


SAD is one of the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders, with a prevalence of around 6.8% at any given time. This adds up to around 15 million Americans suffering from social anxiety each year. Unlike some other anxiety disorders, like GAD or Panic Disorder, SAD affects men and women equally, with the age of onset starting around 13 years old. And this is not necessarily a disorder that is easy to grow out of: the Anxiety and Depression Association of America conducted a study in 2007 that found 36% of people with SAD diagnoses reporting experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking treatment. That’s over a decade of panic, fear of scrutiny, and impaired functioning in daily routines!


The good news is that SAD responds incredibly well to certain forms of therapeutic interventions, most notably being cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT has evidence-based results showing marked improvements and even complete cures from SAD with the hard work of both therapist and client. CBT works to alter negative thoughts you may have regarding yourself or social situations. It shows that anxiety can be controlled and you have the power to do so. With repetition in implementing CBT techniques learned in the therapy office, many people report success and improvement at completion of treatment and even months beyond. Group therapy is also incredibly effective, using solidarity in members with SAD diagnoses and CBT techniques that can be implemented with other group members. A supportive environment such as a social anxiety therapy group can do wonders in improving SAD.


Here at Cognitive Behavior Institute, we are proud to be the regional clinic for the National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC). We are located in Cranberry Township with additional satellite offices in Mt. Lebanon and Monroeville. Our clinicians are trained to use CBT and other evidence-based methods to specifically address social anxiety and any other mental health issues that may be going on in your life. To learn more about who we are and to meet our growing list of talented clinicians, you can visit our website at To schedule an appointment for you or a loved one’s social anxiety or for additional information, you can give us a call at 724-609-5002.

This article was originally posted on February 2018


Friday, February 2, 2018

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

We Help People Suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) in Monroeville, Mt. Lebanon and Cranberry

Township, PA 


Have you wondered why you incessantly preoccupy yourself with thoughts of features on your face and/or body? Has it impeded your ability to leave the house or engage in particular social situations? Do you feel unloved or unworthy because of a physical deficit that you may have? Do you feel as if sometimes you see or experience the deficit and other times you don’t? If you’ve answered yes to any number of the aforementioned questions, it is quite possible that you’re experiencing a relatively rare condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, BDD affects approximately 5% of the American population, split almost evenly between men and women, 2.5 and 2.2 percent respectively. BDD is a condition wherein individuals experience imagined and/or small defects in appearance to a degree that markedly impedes their ability to function optimally. Sufferers of the disorder may be seen: camouflaging parts of their bodies, excessively exercising, engaging in excessive grooming, avoiding mirrors, spending extended periods of time in front of mirrors, and several other obsessive behaviors. The disorder has various subtypes and is known to manifest in early adolescence, around the age of 12 or 13. Given its relative similarity to other mental health disorders, it is quite often misdiagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and any of the myriad eating disorders seen in people of the same age. However, what some clinicians may ignore is that the person may be comorbid for both, meaning they are afflicted with two or more disorders simultaneously. What distinguishes Body Dysmorphic Disorder from its often substituted counterparts is that the condition’s focus is limited to specific deficits on their body/face, whereas OCD and other disorders tend to center on generalized features of the environment, their body or several other sources.


Unfortunately, causes of the disorder remain unclear, but experts within the fields of psychology and neurobiology believe that it is a result of environmental and neurobiological factors. Since the disorder is a product of the two previously mentioned stimuli, it is necessary to utilize a treatment modality or set of treatments that effectively meets these inducements head on. Purportedly, a combination of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication is most effective in reducing and possibly eliminating the disorder entirely. That is not to say that individuals cannot elect to pursue only one treatment, for each can offer substantial increases in functioning. However, many in the field of mental health urge clients to consider psychotherapy because of its greater, long-term efficacy.


If you are in need of a mental health provider that can provide efficient and effective service, look no further because Cognitive Behavior Institute has what you’re seeking. CBI is currently spearheading a movement meant to target mental illness through many different avenues. Located in the heart of Cranberry Township, including several other outposts throughout Pittsburgh, the Cognitive Behavior Institute prides itself on employing the evidence-based practice. This type of practice is designed to offer therapeutic modalities that are backed by research and experience meant to demonstrate efficacy. No one wants to go into therapy and leave the same way they came, which is why Cognitive Behavior Institute ensures care that is backed by proven results. If you believe that you are experiencing BDD or any other mental health concern, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 724-609-5002 or visit our website at

This article was originally posted on Cognitive Behavior Institute  Feb 2018

Monday, January 29, 2018

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD Treatment in Cranberry Township, Mt. Lebanon and Monroeville, PA

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)is a highly-genetic, neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the regulation of various components of the brain, specifically related to executive functioning. Skills impacted in this area include: concentration, memory, attention, effort, motivation, impulsivity, hyperactivity, organization, and social skills.

Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institutes of Health are currently exploring the etiology of ADHD. Like many other mental health disorders, ADHD is believed to be caused by the interaction between genes and external environmental factors. Some factors leading to the onset of ADHD may include: genetics, cigarette smoking, alcohol or drug use during pregnancy, exposure to environmental toxins at a young age, low birth-weight, and brain injuries.

Approximately 3-5% of all American children are affected by ADHD, and anywhere from 30-60% of kids diagnosed with ADHD in childhood will continue to be affected in adulthood. Diagnoses among children continue to increase annually; but, researchers have noticed an even larger increase in the percentage of girls and women being diagnosed with this disorder. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that despite the increase of children and women being diagnosed with ADHD, there hasn’t been an increase in those receiving treatment. According to their research, the CDC claims that roughly 17.5% of children with ADHD are not receiving proper medications and mental health treatments needed to improve their condition.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is commonly diagnosed in childhood, however, symptoms can persist through adolescence and adulthood. It can prove to be pervasive in everyday life, and can impede one’s academic or occupational development. A thorough evaluation is often needed to make appropriate diagnosis and guide effective treatment. At the Cognitive Behavior Institute (CBI), psychological testing is available to confirm the appropriate diagnosis. Additionally, we have a variety of trained clinicians that are ready to provide evidence-based treatment to alleviate difficulties experienced by those with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Treatment provided by CBI is tailored to the individual, ensuring that our clients will receive high-quality help that maximizes their opportunities for improvement and goal-attainment.  For additional information about our staff and services, visit us at Or contact us at (724) 609-5002.

This article was originally posted on January 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Cognitive Behavior Institute Offers Schizophrenia Treatment Services in Cranberry Twp, Monroeville and Mt. Lebanon, PA


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects people’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. The most commonly known symptom of schizophrenia is psychosis, where an individual may experience hallucinations (hearing, seeing, feeling things that aren’t there), delusions, and/or dysfunctional thoughts. Other symptoms may include: reduced expression of emotions, reduced speaking, reduced feelings of pleasure in daily living, and a lack of ability to comprehend information and make decisions based on that information.

Schizophrenia affects over 21 million people worldwide and can impede one’s educational or occupational performance. This disorder can negatively impact an individual’s physical health, making them more susceptible to various diseases and illnesses, such as: cardiovascular, metabolic, and infectious disease. Due to this increased susceptibility, those with schizophrenia are roughly 2.5 times more likely to experience a premature death than the general population.  Schizophrenia is more common among men than women, and men typically experience symptoms earlier in their lives than women. Contemporary research has not yet identified a single factor as the cause of this disorder, but most believe that it stems from the interaction between genetics and environmental factors. There is also evidence to support an imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain predisposing an individual to develop schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, more than 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia do not receive proper care for their illness. Research has shown that people with schizophrenia are less likely to seek care than the general population. Not seeking proper medical attention to treat this disorder could be a result of the stigma that is associated with it. People tend to place negative connotations around this disorder, and those suffering can become victims of discrimination. Stigmatization of any illness can lead to individuals having limited access to health care, education, employment, and housing opportunities, among other violations of their human rights.

However, Schizophrenia has been empirically proven to be treatable through medication and psychosocial support. In 2008, the World Health Organization’ Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) developed evidence-based technical guidance and training practices to expand services provided for schizophrenia treatment. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a collaborative form of psychotherapy between the patient and client that treats mental health issues by establishing the problem, creating goals, and teaching the patient how to use specific strategies to alleviate, or manage, their symptoms. CBT has proven to be a beneficial intervention for schizophrenia patients; reducing various symptoms experienced in daily living, and increasing their ability to function independently.

Cognitive Behavior Institute uses established evidence-based psychotherapy methods such as CBT for schizophrenia. CBI’s staff consists of several well-trained clinicians who are devoted to providing their clients with the best possible service.  If you or someone you know is struggling with schizophrenia, CBI is here to help! Please contact us at (724) 609-5002. For more information about CBI’s services and staff visit

Originally posted on January 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Borderline Personality Disorder

We Offer Borderline Personality Disorder Counseling in Cranberry, Twp, Monroeville and Mt. Lebanon


Personality disorders are patterns of thinking and behaving that are deeply ingrained in an individual’s daily functioning. These patterns are often inflexible and heavily impact a person’s relationships. One such pattern of behavior is known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD often co-occurs with certain mood disorders, like depression or general anxiety disorder, but is different because it impairs relationships and the ability to control and manage emotions and other feelings. Some symptoms include an irrational fear of abandonment in intimate relationships, increased risk of suicidal behaviors or self-harm, hypersensitivity, hostility, and impulsivity. People with BPD tend to view relationships with a skewed lens of mistrust, which leads to unstable friendships and relationships and can include either over-involvement or withdrawal from the friend or partner. Approximately 18 million Americans are diagnosed with BPD. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has a lifetime prevalence of approximately 6%. Women are more likely to have BPD, and it is highly heritable.


BPD was only officially recognized as a mental disorder in the 1980s; thus, it is decades behind in research and public psychoeducation. Many persons with BPD are on several medications to manage depressive symptoms and anxiety. However, due to the encompassing nature of the patterns of behaviors typically present with personality disorders such as BPD, talk therapy has been identified as another method of managing symptoms and changing behaviors. This can make a great impact on how a person managing BPD can lead a healthy and productive life. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based method that challenges negative cognitions and distortions a person may have about themselves, others, or the world around them.  CBT focuses on helping a person rewire how they think and modify core beliefs and inaccurate views that drive the characteristics of BPD. With such treatment, people with BPD learn to engage in healthier behaviors and improve their relationships with others.


If you or someone you know may be exhibiting patterns of behavior consistent with BPD, we encourage you to contact Cognitive Behavior Institute for further evaluation. At Cognitive Behavior Institute , located in Cranberry Township as well as satellite locations in Monroeville and Mount Lebanon, we have  dozens of clinicians trained in CBT and other evidence-based interventions to effectively treat BPD  . To learn more about us, our method, and our staff, you can visit or give us a call at 724-609-5002.

Originally posted on January 2018