Frequently Asked Questions

D o you have questions?

Use the links below to find answers to your questions. As always, if you need more information, CONTACT US.


What causes ADD/ADHD?

ADD/ADHD is a developmental disability that is neurobiologically-based. In other words, it occurs in the brain and is related to brain chemistry. No one knows exactly what causes ADD/ADHD, but it seems that it is passed on genetically and is related to chemicals that help the brain regulate behavior. Children with ADD/ADHD usually have a parent or another close relative with the disorder. Parents, teachers and the environment do not cause ADD/ADHD.

If my child is not paying attention and always on the go is it certain he has ADD/ADHD?

Not at all. Other issues that are unrelated to ADD/ADHD may result in the same behaviors. These may include anxiety, Learning Disabilities (LD) and even auditory or visual problems. Sometimes overly permissive parents find their children are “out of control.”

What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

ADD is Attention Deficit Disorder. ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In other words, ADHD is attention difficulty with hyperactivity. Many people and articles use ADD/ADHD or simply ADHD.

It seems that nowadays every one is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. What gives?

Many people complain that ADD/ADHD is over diagnosed and they are probably correct. However it is estimated to affect between 3-5 percent of the school age population. Anxiety is often mistaken for ADD/ADHD. Also, because of our fast-paced society we are not as tolerant of children who are not as focused as we’d like.

What is the best treatment for ADD/ADHD?

The most effective course of treatment is a combination of medication and family therapy. There are many medications that are effective and studies suggest they are safe and have no long-term side effects.

Can my therapist prescribe medication?

Only a physician with an MD or DO may prescribe. Child and family therapists typically communicate with the physician to make sure your child and family are receiving comprehensive care.

If medication works then why would my child need to be seen in psychotherapy?

People with ADD/ADHD typically suffer from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem because they’ve always been told they’re not paying attention or they’re doing something wrong. Also, families often have difficulties coping with and adjusting to a member who has ADD/ADHD. Child and family therapists are able to help with the adjustment and remediate any underlying issues.

To make an inquiry or an appointment, contact us.

Adolescent Therapy

My teenager is sometimes upset by the least little thing. I walk around on eggshells. What am I doing wrong?

Have heart! This too shall pass. In addition to your teens not yet fully developed brain, they are also hormonally imbalanced because their bodies are turning from that of a child to the body of an adult. They experience different emotions and body sensations that are unpredictable, aggravating and may last for days at a time.

Our 16 year-old needs to see a therapist, but I want to pick who he goes to and know what’s being discussed. As his parents don’t we have that right?

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, anyone over the age of 14 may seek and receive therapy without parental consent, and they are entitled to keep what is discussed in treatment as confidential. At Brain GainZ we follow the letter and spirit of the law, but we also want to preserve and enhance the family system. We ask teenagers over the age of 14 to agree to inform their parents of certain serious issues. This is often a judgment call on the part of the therapist, but usually, the teenager is relieved to share what’s going on and the family system becomes stronger as they work on solving the problem together. There are several situations, such as someone being a threat to themselves or others, when it is the duty of the therapist to make sure everyone is safe, and that may require breaking confidentiality.

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My teenage son is always accusing me of giving him angry looks and being mad at him even though I’m not angry at all. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s right or if I’m going crazy?

Teens are not always good at accurately reading facial expressions and “interpersonal cues.” A study was done in which teenagers were shown pictures of different facial expressions. They tended to mistakenly identify expressions of concern, worry or even a neutral face as someone who is angry. This is due to brain development. As we get older our perceptions normally become more accurate.

We’ve gone to several therapists and our teenager refuses to talk.

At home they admit they have serious things on their mind such as having been traumatized by a bad relationship. If they won’t talk about it how can they get better?

Psychotherapy with teens usually consists of talk and family therapy, but when they refuse to open up, Mind-Body Therapies such as Brainspotting or EMDR are very effective in helping them get symptom relief without having to say much of anything.

When my daughter was younger she listened to me and even asked for my advice. Now that she is 14 everything I say is wrong and “stupid.” If she hears the same input from her friends, she’ll agree with them, but never me.

The author, Mark Twain, once wrote, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Teens are struggling to find their individual identity and intellect. In order to become independent they must figure things out on their own and become less dependent upon their parents. Unfortunately, in the process they may refuse to accept anything you say as valid. As they get older and smarter, teenagers once again normally find value in you as a parent. The “teen years” may extend to age 25 or longer, so be patient!

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Child & Family Counseling

You recommend Filial therapy, where parents come to therapy with their children, but as professionally trained therapists, you guys are the experts. Wouldn’t my child benefit from doing play therapy with you rather than me?

We are the therapy experts who have mastered skills that we want to impart to families. As parents, you are the expert on your child. Together, Filial Therapy combines all of our strengths to help your child. It has been shown that parents doing play therapy with their own children are more powerful than a professional play therapist doing the same kind of work. This is because your child already has a unique relationship with you that would be next to impossible for the professional therapist to duplicate. Also, you learn skills that will be useful to you throughout your parenting career.

My child is displaying most of his/her difficulties in school. How will Filial Therapy generalize to the school setting?

Although your child may be acting out his/her problems in school, it doesn’t necessarily mean the school is the source of the problem. Filial Therapy is designed to help children learn the skills, coping strategies, and internal controls they need to function well in all areas of their life. However, if something at school is contributing to or causing the problem, we will extend our relationship to the school and visit the classroom to observe your child and give suggestions to the teacher to help your child get on track in class.

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How long will we need to be involved with you doing Filial Therapy?

We generally see families for an average of 10 to 12 sessions over a six month period. For you to become well-trained, we like to see the family for four weekly sessions in a row and then lengthen the time in between sessions in the office as you continue doing weekly play therapy sessions at home with your child. For the best long-term results, we recommend that you continue doing home play therapy sessions for 9 to 12 months.

Filial therapy requires doing Child Centered Play Therapy at home. We don’t have a room in our house that is not being used for something else. How would we set up a playroom in our home?

You are not required to have a dedicated play room in your house to do Filial Therapy. Rooms most typically used are the basement, family room, or kitchen. Your therapist will help you decide which room is most appropriate and how to structure the room to keep your house safe while making the room a good play therapy setting.

Only one of my children has behavioral problems. Is there any reason to include the other children in the Filial Therapy process?

Every child benefits from the play therapy process so we like to include all children of play therapy age in the Filial Therapy process. Even if a child does not have problems, the child will receive the benefits of improved self-esteem. Also, children love play therapy and are often jealous of their problematic sibling if they don’t get their turn. You wouldn’t want your other children to think they have to develop problems to be involved in this very special play with Mom and Dad.

Will you ever talk to my child or will our sessions only focus on learning the client-centered play therapy skills?

During the first four sessions of Filial Therapy much of the focus is on teaching the parents the skills they need to become competent play therapists. After you feel comfortable in your role as play therapist, the child meets with you and the therapist to address specific issues that arise. These issues can range from working together as a family to develop more clear and consistent rules and consequences to discussing any family issues that need to be addressed. These may include concerns such as pending separation/divorce, the death of a family member, or sibling rivalry.

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Couples Counseling

My partner is unwilling to attend couples counseling. Can individual counseling help me improve our relationship?

Individual counseling can be useful to sort out your own feelings about the relationship and evaluating your options. Sometimes the therapist can be helpful in finding ways to involve your partner even if he/she has been reluctant to enter couples counseling. When problems exist in a relationship, one person doing individual counseling can serve to undermine the relationship rather than strengthen it.

My partner and I both have issues from our family of origin that are affecting our relationship. Should we both be in individual counseling or couples counseling?

These are issues to address with the therapist. The best outcome would likely result from both of you entering into couples counseling and then developing a plan with the therapist as to how best to proceed. Very often, a combination of individual and couples counseling is the answer to this dilemma.

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My partner is verbally and emotionally abusive. I don’t see how things can improve in our relationship until my partner can manage his/her anger better. Is couples’ counseling for us?

It is easy to see the angry person in the relationship as the problem. However, it generally takes two to do the dance of the relationship. There are many reasons that may account for your partner’s behavior. Don’t’ assume that you are not playing some part in the problem. If some of your partner’s behavior is a product of his/her upbringing, the therapist will likely recommend some individual work to reduce the anger generated from early life experiences in addition to the couples counseling.

My partner had an affair and I have lost all faith and trust. I don’t know if I can ever forgive this transgression, though my partner insists that he/she still loves me and wants our marriage to work. I don’t want to waste time and money when I should really be paying an attorney for a divorce.

Only you can decide whether you can stay in a relationship after you have discovered that your partner has been cheating on you. However, affairs occur for many different reasons and often have to do with the breakdown of the relationship. By engaging in couples counseling, you will be able to get to the root causes of the affair and develop skills to repair the problems in the relationship.

Between family commitments, two careers, financial stresses and time pressures, our relationship is falling apart. We love each other, but don’t know how we will make time to engage in couples counseling on a regular basis.

One of the biggest problems in relationships is not making the time to nurture the relationship. Because we get so entrenched in the day to day events, we can feel trapped and unable to figure out how to change what looks like a downward spiral in our most important relationship. Couples counseling which is goal directed and solution oriented is the best way to sort out the issues and right your priorities.

My partner and I came from very different kinds of families. My family was very vocal and never hesitated to express anger. My partner’s family is very distant and non-communicative. Our different styles drive each other crazy. Can couples counseling help us?

We all learn our style of communication from our family of origin. When couples’ styles conflict, it often means that both people have to learn more productive ways of communicating. Good communication is based on skills that have rules each partner follows. Couples counseling which is solution focused and outcome oriented teaches couples the skills needed to communicate effectively.

[jbutton icon=”question” link=”http://lifespancounselingcenter.com/services/”]Click here for our list of Services[/jbutton] [jbutton icon=”info” link=”http://lifespancounselingcenter.com/contact/”]Contact us today to explore how we can help you achieve your goals.[/jbutton]
Mind-Body Therapies

We have two preferred Mind/Body Therapies:

EMDR and Brainspotting™

What is the origin of Brainspotting™?

Brainspotting was discovered by David Grand, Ph.D., an original EMDR trainer. While practicing EMDR, he discovered that having the client’s eyes focused on one spot produced even more significant results with less distress than traditional EMDR.

How does Brainspotting™ work?

Brainspotting™ works by stimulating the brain bi-laterally with sounds or music and finding a spot that “activates the body” or heightens the client’s awareness of a sensation in their body. This body activation is the gateway into the sub-conscious where whatever distressing negative memory, negative self-beliefs, feelings or behaviors can be reprocessed resulting in significant symptom reduction.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a widely used and powerful method of treating anxiety symptoms related to trauma and significant life upset. EMDR is the most researched therapeutic modality in the United States and it is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and is an approved treatment for trauma by the United States Army, as well as other military forces throughout the world.

What will I experience during treatment utilizing Brainspotting™ or EMDR?

Most clients are pleasantly surprised at how quickly symptoms are relieved with Brainspotting™ and EMDR. It is typical for distress around a certain issue, negative self-belief or unwanted behavior to improve after just one session. Plus, the resolution of one distressing life event often generalizes to overall feelings of well-being. The process is so seamless that many clients report after their first session of Brainspotting™ or EMDR that they had a terrific week but aren’t sure if it was the session that caused the change. With each session, the client learns to appreciate the power of these therapies.

How will I know if Brainspotting™ or EMDR is working for me?

Symptom reduction is the primary goal and the most common outcome. Many clients are surprised to find a dramatic improvement in their general sense of well-being.

I am a very cognitive person and like to understand things. Can I combine traditional talk therapy with one of the Mind Body Therapies?

You are not alone. Brainspotting™ and EMDR sessions can be quite intense and many clients like to process their experiences using standard “talk therapy”.

I have heard that Brainspotting™ and EMDR are therapies that are based on alleviating traumatic experiences? Can they be used in a more standard way to help me live a happier, more productive life?

Absolutely! One of the things we have learned as Brainspotting™ and EMDR therapist is that “trauma” comes in many forms. Most people think of the big “T” traumas such as rape, incest, combat PTSD, etc. We have learned that all of us experience little “t” traumas such as hurtful comments made to us, rejection by a peer, poor parenting that led to lowered self-esteem, etc.

To make an inquiry or an appointment, contact us.

Performance Enhancement

Why do I get so upset before a presentation that I get sick to my stomach and don’t want to back out?

Being anxious before presentations is common, but in some people it’s debilitating. We “store” our previous negative experiences, beliefs and worries about situations like presentations in the deeper recesses of our mind, which is connected directly to our bodies. That’s why many of us feel nauseous, or other unpleasant body sensations when confronted with anxiety provoking situations when they arise again. Using mindfulness and Brainspotting we can help you to reformulate the memories of those past experiences from upsetting to not distressing at all. So the next presentation is not only a breeze, but a welcome challenge.

I hang on to my mistakes and get in slumps when I play golf or baseball and don’t know how to get out.

Athletes who are in a slump often become their own worst enemy. Even professional athletes go into slumps. They over-think and don’t perform at their best. Mind-body Therapies that address performance enhancement help eliminate the negative mental strategies and enhance that keep people in a slump. These therapies also help avoid slumps and increase positive thinking and mental toughness in the future.

I have been having trouble remembering my lines for a play I’m in and I know I’m not giving my best performance. Can this help?

Our brains are amazing organs with the ability to process and store massive amounts of information. We are most able to access this ability when we are clear headed and focused. If we feel overwhelmed, anxious or worried this interrupts the natural rhythm of our functioning brain. Brainspotting helps to quiet and re tune the brain to allow it to function optimally. It also helps bring out the “inner performer” that you want to be. Performing artists who have benefited from effective Performance Enhancement Therapy have been astounded by how dynamic and genuine they can be.

At work, I go through the motions, but feel that I’m a fraud. I’m the boss but don’t feel up to the task. I want to keep moving up the ladder but I’m stuck where I am.

We all have expectations of ourselves that we believe we must meet or exceed. Many of us have the intellect and skills to do a job and get promoted, but we don’t know how to access those skills and put them into action. Performance Enhancement Therapy can help resolve self-doubts and self-defeating behaviors so they don’t negatively affect your performance.

I hate school. The classes are boring and the work is too. I don’t want to do my homework because it’s a waste of time. I simply lack motivation.

This lament is more typical of an adolescent than a younger child, but either way it is negative thinking. When children feel badly about themselves they project those feelings onto others making them the culprits. If your child views the world as against them and their behavior at home and in school reflects this, it is time to address these issues. At Lifespan Counseling Center we are dedicated to helping children and adults, as well, reach their full potential through a number of different treatment options, including mindfulness, talk therapy and Brainspotting.

I’m a pretty good athlete, but a lot of times I lose to people I know I can beat.

Performance Enhancement Therapy helps you deal with self-doubts and negative thinking so that they do not negatively effect your performance. It utilizes confidence building strategies and how to bounce back when you make a mistake or get a bad break. Inner feelings of “fear of winning” may relate to self-worth or past “baggage” that get in the way of winning. Brainspotting can re-process the negative thought “I can’t do this” into “I can do this.”

I have writers block.

Writers “perform” in solitude and sometimes get stuck with no-one there to help them. Performance Enhancement Therapy can help you disengage from the writers block, reframe your challenge and open the doors of creativity.