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DrAmyA

DrAmyA

Licensed Clinical Psychologist in California

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About Me

As a licensed clinical psychologist, I have been trained to provide consultation, counseling, and evaluation services. I have conducted short and long term therapy as well as comprehensive assessments pertaining to academic, workplace, or medical-related issues. Specific client populations I've worked with include female executives, men and women of color, female adolescents (and their families) within the juvenile justice system, and domestic violence offenders.

Some of my areas of interest include helping clients manage conflict, life transitions, and change negative thought patterns and habits. I enjoy facilitating small groups as well as working one on one with clients. Some of the groups I have offered include: Defeating the Sleep Monster, Weight-to-Go!, and STOP Domestic Violence groups for offenders.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family & friends, practicing yoga, drinking tea, and hiking/camping.
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How I Stay Healthy

For me, I have "found health" by adhering to the following practices:
1) Having a healthy diet consisting of mostly fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, and nuts along with monitoring my sugar and caffeine intake
2) Engaging in regular daily cardio exercise-- be it a Bikram's Yoga class or a 40 minute run outdoors
3) Practicing daily bits of relaxation/rejuvenation-- meditation, taking a walk in nature, deep breathing exercises, taking a bubble bath, etc.
4) Connecting with my loved ones and keeping an attitude of gratitude as I play with, talk with, and love them
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My Experience with Health Challenges

My father died at 41 of a heart attack and I have had my own challenges regarding weight and diet.

I was at a forensic neuropsychology presentation yesterday evening and heard June Paltzer, Ph.D. speak. Dr. Paltzer is a licensed psychologist and board certified child and adult neuropsychologist whose expertise includes evaluations and treatment planning for individuals with difficulties in "cognition" (e.g., memory, attention), academic achievement, and emotional wellbeing. One of the most interesting points she made related to Alzheimer's is that there are steps one can take in their overall health to "protect" their memory and cognitive functioning. These "memory hygiene" tips are 1) maintain good general health practices 2) engage in proper nutrition-- i.e. bulk of foods should be fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish-- stay away from saturated fat, sugar, large doses of caffeine, etc. 3) Get adequate sleep 4) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate-- drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water to prevent dehydration 5) Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume 6) Reduce your daily stress 7) Engage in physical exercise-- pick an activity of interest and do it consistently (Recent research has shown that the incidence of Alzheimer's is less for folks that engage in a minimum of 45 minutes of exercise at least 3x per week) and 8) Make mental stimulation a part of your everyday life-- choose something that is new and emphasizes your strengths, e.g. sports, music, socialization, crosswords, educational classes, learning a new language, or learning how to use an ipad :)

I was at a forensic neuropsychology presentation yesterday evening and heard June Paltzer, Ph.D. speak. Dr. Paltzer is a licensed psychologist and board certified child and adult neuropsychologist...

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Shared experience with Acupuncture 7 years ago

I have used acupuncture on more than one occasion and have had positive results every time. Most recently-- Saturday-- I went to an acupuncturist to treat the beginning of an eye infection. What I loved most about that treatment was not only that I received some relief (and no more redness, swelling, itchiness around my eyes), but also that I had a health care practitioner who explained the origin and proposed treatment to my problem-- the what and why--according to Eastern medicine. I not only received a treatment but also was given herbs and home remedies (did you know that black tea is a natural antibiotic and that dipping cotton balls in some warm tea water can be very effective in soothing an irritated eye?) which not only offered relief but also gave me faith that I was on the mend. He was accessible, personable, and not rushed-- the opposite of my experiences with most medical doctors. Acupuncture has been a very effective treatment for me and I would highly recommend it to others.

I have used acupuncture on more than one occasion and have had positive results every time. Most recently-- Saturday-- I went to an acupuncturist to treat the beginning of an eye infection. What I...

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Shared experience with Insomnia and Exercise 7 years ago

As a clinical psychologist in-training, insomnia is a common complaint of the patients who seek out mental health services. Although insomnia may not be the primary reason they are coming to see a psychologist, its effects (daytime drowsiness/fatigue, difficulty concentrating, increase of depressive and/or anxiety symptoms, etc.) often exacerbate their primary complaint. There are many factors that can trigger insomnia-- stress being a common one-- and level of exercise is something I always assess for when patients report they are having sleep problems. In my experience, patients who are less physically active/fit or whose exercise level has changed dramatically in recent times often have more complaints of insomnia. One of my recommendations is always to re-start or begin a regular, moderate exercise routine preferably in the AM but sometime during the daytime hours. Physical exertion has been proven to have many tertiary benefits such as stress reduction, anger management, and better regulation of sleep patterns.

In addition to exercise, I also recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia which includes such techniques as stimulus control therapy, paradoxical intention, and sleep restriction. Stimulus Control Therapy re-associates the bed and bedroom with sleeping by limiting the amount of time spent in the bedroom for non-sleep activities. In other words, the bedroom is for sleep and sex only! Paradoxical Intention Therapy urges you to do the opposite: i.e. rather than trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep night after night, you should try to stay awake. Often turning your attention to doing something else can help remove the fear/stress of not being able to have a good night's (or any) sleep. Sleep Restriction Therapy reduces the amount of non-sleeping time a person spends in bed to further strengthen the connection of the bed with sleep.

As a clinical psychologist in-training, insomnia is a common complaint of the patients who seek out mental health services. Although insomnia may not be the primary reason they are coming to see a...

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Shared experience with Depression and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 7 years ago

As a clinical psychologist in-training, I have been educated in treating depression using CBT methods as well as psychodynamic therapy. In my experience with patients, CBT tends to improve depressive symptoms most when there is a strong alliance between the therapist and patient prior to the implementation of CBT methods. The relationship between the patient and myself is primary and must be strong before CBT is delivered. For some who practice in the field of psychology, CBT seems a bit too scripted or structured for their tastes as a practitioner. For me, it has been a good fit as I like both the structure and protocols that are part of the treatment but also enjoy the flexibility in when and how the content is delivered. I have had the most success with those patients who intellectually "get" the tenets of CBT, are willing to do the hard work both in and out of session, and are not afraid or resistant to try something new. Just introducing the patient to common cognitive distortions that many of us engage in on a daily basis can be illuminating to the patient. Combine self-awareness and education with concrete strategies for how to change that negative self-talk and half the battle to eliminating one's depression has been won!

As a clinical psychologist in-training, I have been educated in treating depression using CBT methods as well as psychodynamic therapy. In my experience with patients, CBT tends to improve depressive...

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Shared experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Yoga 7 years ago

As a clinical psychologist in-training, I have not only "prescribed" yoga to my patients as one additional way to manage their depression and/or anxiety, but have also engaged in Bikram's yoga myself to manage my own stresses as a graduate student and post-doc. For those who have made yoga a consistent practice, there is no doubt that the practice has helped them to regulate their emotions. Patients report that they feel more "calm," "grounded," and in control of their emotional life versus feeling "victim" to their depression or worries. Having used yoga myself to manage my own anxiety about studying for licensure, I also have first-hand knowledge of how beneficial this practice can be! I highly recommend yoga-- particularly Bikram's yoga-- for anyone who is trying to change a negative pattern be it in their emotional life, physical body, or thought processes.

As a clinical psychologist in-training, I have not only "prescribed" yoga to my patients as one additional way to manage their depression and/or anxiety, but have also engaged in Bikram's yoga myself...

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1 DeBaffista, C. (1997). Medical Management of Depression. Durant: EMIS, Inc.

2 Scott, J. (2001). Cognitive Therapy for Depression. British Medical Bulletin, 57. Oxford University Press.

3 Elkin, I., Shea, M. T., Watkins, J. T., et al (1989) National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program. General effectiveness of treatments. Archives of General Psychiatry, 46

4 Hollon, SD & Garber, J. (1980). A cognitive-expectancy theory for helplessness and depression. Human Helplessness: Theory and applications. New York: American Press.

5 Beck et al., 1979; Blackburn & Bishop, 1979, 1980; McLean & Hakstian, 1979; Rush, Beck, Kovacs, & Hollon, 1977.

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Panic disorder, phobias

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Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown to be effective for mild to moderately severe acute depression2. Furthermore, despite a limited amount of studies, beneficial results have also been found in treating depressed inpatients with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Some studies suggest that CBT is just as effective as antidepressant medications3.

Outcome research has consistently found that cognitive therapy is at least as effective as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) in the treatment of outpatients with non-bipolar depression at the termination of treatment. In one group of studies, the mean percentage changes in the level of depression for such outpatients immediately after treatment were as follows: 66% for those receiving CBT alone, 63% for those treated with TCAs alone, and 72% for patients receiving some combinations of the two. Researchers (Gloaguen, Cottraux, Cucherat, & Blackburn, 1988) commenting on the results from a recent meta-analysis of clinical trials conducted between 1977 and 1996 concluded that “… cognitive behavioral therapy has been demonstrated effective with patients with mild or moderate depression and its effects exceed those of antidepressants”. A study by Hautzinger and de Jong-Meyer (1996) found CBT to be an efficient, short and long-term alternative to the standard drug treatment of patients with a major depression or dysthymic disorder. Hautzinger and de Jong-Meyer (1996) concluded, “Drug treatment along produced more drop-outs and less clinically significant responders than CBT along or the combination treatment”.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s by Aaron T. Beck. CBT aims to change a person’s maladaptive behaviors through identifying and changing distorted thought patterns and negative emotional responses. Treatment is done through conversation and collaboration between the patient and the therapist. CBT has received an incredibly substantial amount of empirical study, validation, and clinical application.

Find other natural remedies for depression.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works to treat depression by changing an individual’s faulty information processing and negative belief systems1. CBT views depression as rooted in unhealthy thought patterns, such as blaming oneself for negative events or generalizing the negativity of one situation to a wide range of unrelated situations. The desired outcome of CBT is to enable the individual to create healthier interpretations of situations, thus enabling them to react appropriately to people.

CBT can be distinguished by the detailed structure of each session with its specific agendas, and the very deliberate therapeutic style in which the therapist interacts with the patient by asking a series of questions. This type of therapy encourages patients to examine negative styles of thinking and behaving that may be contributing to their depression. During sessions, the patient and the therapist will define problems, identify assumptions, determine significance of events, and point out the disadvantages of retaining negative beliefs and behaviors. This way, erroneous views can be evaluated and disconfirmed. This collaborative process is called “hypothesis-testing”4. The therapist assists the patient in developing new skills to increase awareness of and ability to alter maladaptive thought processing. In the final sessions, patients are asked to imagine themselves in difficult situations and describe their decision-making processes.

General guidelines suggest 15 to 25 (50 minute) sessions at weekly intervals with a psychologist or therapist at weekly intervals, with more seriously depressed clients usually requiring twice-weekly meetings for the initial 4-5 weeks. To avoid an abrupt termination, a “tapering-off” process is recommended, wit the last few sessions occurring once every 2 weeks. After termination, some clients may also need a few “booster sessions” (4 or 5 are common).

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While there are no serious side effects stemming from CognitiveBehavioral Therapy, CBT is not for everyone and another type of treatment maywork better for different individuals. CBT is also not a quick fix. A therapistis like a personal trainer that advises and encourages - but cannot 'do' it foryou. This will take an investment of time and money on the individual’s part.Moreover, if you are feeling low energy, depressed, or anxious, it can bedifficult to concentrate and get motivated and CBT relies on the individualengaging with the process, trying new strategies, and completing “homework” inbetween sessions. You need to have a certain degree of motivation to benefitfrom CBT. Lastly, to overcome anxiety or any other psychological disturbance,you need to confront it. This may lead you to feel more anxious for a shorttime.1 However, if you are able to tolerate this, you may benefitfrom CBT and ultimately feel some relief from your symptoms. A good therapistwill pace your sessions. You decide what you do together, so you stay incontrol and take on what you feel comfortable with. References1Williams, C. J. (2001). Overcomingdepression. London: Arnold. While there are no serious side effects stemming from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT is not for everyone and another type of treatment may work better for different individuals. CBT is also not a quick fix. A therapist is like a personal trainer that advises and encourages - but cannot 'do' it for you. This will take an investment of time and money on the individual’s part. Moreover, if you are feeling low energy, depressed, or anxious, it can be difficult to concentrate and get motivated and CBT relies on the individual engaging with the process, trying new strategies, and completing “homework” in between sessions. You need to have a certain degree of motivation to benefit from CBT. Lastly, to overcome anxiety or any other psychological disturbance, you need to confront it. This may lead you to feel more anxious for a short time.2 However, if you are able to tolerate this, you may benefit from CBT and ultimately feel some relief from your symptoms. A good therapist will pace your sessions. You decide what you do together, so you stay in control and take on what you feel comfortable with.

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Although psychotherapy is arguably the most well-known depression treatment centered around the mind, other mind-based treatments for depression treatments do exist. This section outlines many of these treatments.

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