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Welcome to Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC

Call: (919) 944-7200 OR Text: (910) 308-3291

Call Now to Make an Appointment!

68 Fayetteville St.

Pittsboro, NC  27312

Call  (919) 944-7200


Text  (910) 308-3291


(Click on photos below for more information)

Depressed?  Worried?  Overwhelmed?  Confused?



CALL 919-944-7200!


“Life is not always a bed of roses or a bed of thorns.” There will always be reasons to smile and be happy, just as there will be times when you are down and out. But when your life hits rock bottom, you need a helping, trustworthy hand.

That hand to help you extricate yourself from extreme worry, guilt, hopelessness, helplessness, extreme fear, etc., can come from a counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC. If you want to seek a better life for yourself or a loved one, find the resolve to call us at CCS. This decision will have a positive impact on your life because:

  1. After Your Initial Session, Your Hope Can Be Restored: After meeting and talking to your therapist, you will feel more hopeful and positive. You will realize that not everything is lost and that you made the right decision.
  1. CCS–PITTSBORO Is in an Accessible Location The main office of Carolina Counseling Services is in Fayetteville, NC, but CCS has a contracted office in Pittsboro to cater to your neighborhood, at this address: 68 Fayetteville Street, Pittsboro, NC. Now you don’t have to commute or drive far for the right therapist, particularly when you are busy or emotionally burdened.
  1. CCS–PITTSBORO Accepts Insurance: You can access therapy with insurance coverage such as Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and Tricare. If your insurance is not among the ones listed here, call us so we can help you.
  1. You Will Not Need a Referral to Schedule Your Appt: Just call us and schedule!  Exceptions are some child NC Health Choice clients. Please call so we can clarify matters and help you with this.
  1. Carolina Counseling Services Protects Your Confidential Information: We thoroughly understand why personal and treatment information needs to be kept confidential. CCS–Pittsboro guarantees that we will safeguard your private information. As a matter of procedure, we use encrypted tools and keep records in conformity with state laws and HIPAA.
  1. Making An Appointment Is Simple And Easy. All you need to do is call us at (919) 944-7200.

When you want to get back on track, count on Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC. Call now!

Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro NC

Welcome to Carolina Counseling Services

– Pittsboro, NC!


The Right Place to Begin a New Chapter in Your Book of Life

If your life has turned out to be the opposite of what you want because heavy emotional baggage or negativity is taking control of your thoughts and feelings day in and day out, you have come to the right place.

Despite its imperfections, life is beautiful. There are so many great things that life has in store for you, notwithstanding your circumstances. It is important to stay positive and hopeful to be able to move on. If your hope is dwindling and you are unsure where to turn, be comforted by the thought that you have taken the first step in making the decision to seek help.

You deserve the best counseling services in North Carolina—Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro.


Carolina Counseling Services (CCS) Is Now in the Pittsboro Neighborhood!

No one wants to commute or drive long distances while beset by distressing feelings and unhappy thoughts, but if this has been deterring you from seeking help, that roadblock is gone! CCS has opened an office right here in Pittsboro. Now, all you need to do is call for your first appointment and meet your therapist at our office right in the neighborhood.


You Can Entrust Your Secrets to Us

Keeping matters private is our concern as much as it is yours. If you are worried that people will find out you are seeing a counselor, don’t be—our office is unmarked. There is nothing on the façade that will give away your secret when you come for your appointment. CCS respects and values your privacy.


Insurance Matters—We Are Here to Assist You

The decision to seek therapy takes a lot of nerve. We want to make setting up your appointment and getting your therapy as easy as possible. If you have  Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) or Tricare, you don’t need to worry about referrals—we will assist you. If you have a different insurance plan, call us so we can find a way to help you.


Carolina Counseling Services: A Name Built on Experience and Trust  

Carolina Counseling Services is a name that is synonymous with quality counseling in North Carolina. We have been serving the state for over 21 years and counting, and have expanded to several cities in North Carolina, including the Pittsboro office.

Your trust means so much to us. We wish to return that trust by ensuring that we are reachable whenever you need us and by providing more individuals and families with access to the therapy they need to experience a rewarding life.

If you or a loved one has reached that crossroads where you don’t know where to go or seek help, call 919-944-7200. To keep matters confidential, we will call you back or reply to your email. Procrastination will not resolve your issues. Let’s work together so you can feel positive and let go of your unhealthy emotional issues. Take the chance to experience the beauty of life with Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC.

We will be more than happy to help you begin a new chapter in your life!

Counseling for Children

Spotting Child Depression: Timely Recognition of Signs


You have noticed that your young child is eating less, not participating in family activities, crying at the slightest provocation, and refusing to sleep alone. If these manifestations affect your child’s physical health or disrupt their routines (can’t do homework or refuse to go to school), it is a major concern you should pay attention to. These can be signs that your young child is struggling with pediatric depression.

You may have always thought that depression was only experienced by teens and adults, but the truth is, childhood or pediatric depression is for real.


Science Doesn’t Lie

You are not alone in thinking that depression does not affect young children. According to Dr. David Fassler, WebMD’s child and adolescent psychiatrist, pediatric depression was considered a farfetched idea some decades ago. However, studies and statistics have shown otherwise.

A study undertaken by Luby et al. (2009) published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that depression can affect preschool children. In a PsychCentral post entitled “What Parents Need to Know about Childhood Depression,” Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, says that “kids as young as 3 years old can have depression.”

Fussy babies? Clinical psychologist and book author Deborah Serani, PsyD, says depression can even affect babies. This is confirmed by Dr. Jess Shatkin of New York University’s Child Study Center, who says that “babies can be depressed” and that “One in 40 Infants Experience Baby Blues” (ABC NEWS).


Spot Child Depression: Six Facts to Know

  1. More children experience depression than you think.

Son and Kirchner (2000), authors of “Depression in Children and Adolescents” (American Family Physician), claim that major depressive disorder affects about 1 percent of preschool and 2 percent of school-aged children in the United States. The estimates of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) are even higher, at 1 in every 20 children or adolescents.


  1. The chance of not spotting the signs is high.

Depression is not something you likely expect your child to experience, so it’s probably not on your radar. Also, the signs and symptoms of child depression can be different from those exhibited by adults. Since young children do not understand how they feel, they are likely to exhibit signs such as irritability, anger, social withdrawal, and other unusual symptoms.


  1. Recognizing the signs is difficult when they are masked or mimicked by other conditions.

It is distressing, but your depressed child is also at risk for anxiety (OCD, phobia, generalized anxiety, etc.), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and learning disorders. If depression coexists with any of these conditions, the generally non-specific symptoms can overlap, making them harder to recognize. For instance, not eating or sleeping (or the opposites—overeating and oversleeping) can be signs of depression, in the same way that they can indicate anxiety or other emotional conditions, while constant irritability is a strong indicator of depression. This is why it is recommended to evaluate your depressed child for other emotional conditions. 


  1. Depression goes beyond sadness.

Depressed children may also manifest symptoms such as physical pains or aches. Feeling hopeless and helpless, they may indulge in negative self-talk. Preoccupied with negative thoughts, they may feel unloved, worthless, irresponsible, or stupid. All these thoughts and feelings can drive them to misbehave and be quarrelsome and defiant. Alternatively, overwhelmed with low self-esteem, they may avoid people, hiding in a secret place or their room.


  1. Your child is more vulnerable if depression runs in the family.

If they have a genetic predisposition, your child’s risk of depression is higher. According to David Fassler, MD, of the University of Vermont, co-author of Help Me, I’m Sad: Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression, a child has a 25 percent risk if one parent is depressed and 75 percent if both parents have experienced clinical depression. Depression in the family, however, is not a destiny, as the genes’ expression can be modified by other factors in the environment and the child’s personality.


  1. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial.

Untreated clinical depression can cause damage to your child’s brain, particularly the hippocampus. Its shrinking can result in difficulty controlling emotions, leading to more serious concerns. A child diagnosed and treated at 6 stands a better chance than at age 13, when the symptoms have already worsened.


Helping Your Child with the Right Professional Assistance

Any parent would be distressed to know that their child is experiencing depression at such a tender age. Feeling distressed is common, but you still need to find the courage to help your child. If you call Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC, you will find that courage as you work with one of our independently contracted counselors. Remember that depression is treatable and you can help save your child from its clutches with the right help.

Don’t wait for your child’s depression to get worse. Timely diagnosis and treatment are key to bouncing back from depression sooner rather than later. Make that call now for your child’s first appointment.

Depression Counseling

Understanding Depression: How to Be Positive and Empowered


You may casually say, “I’m depressed,”  when you feel sad.  But are you really depressed? Can you free yourself from it by sheer willpower alone? How can you overcome depression?

Depression isn’t just a passing sadness.  Though feeling blue can be a symptom, clinical depression goes beyond that. It is an emotional condition that comes with a host of symptoms, impacting your life in ways you may not have imagined. It can wreak havoc on your relationships, career, and emotional and physical well-being. It can ruin opportunities for a wonderful life.

Grim as the outlook can be, there is hope. Like any condition, depression or its symptoms can be stopped from completely destroying your life with treatment. It can be difficult to stay positive in the grip of depressive symptoms. This is why you need to understand what’s gripping you and how you can escape it. Depression is powerful, and you need something more powerful to overcome it: knowledge and the right treatment in the hands of a capable professional.


Depression: What Is It?

Clinical depression or major depressive disorder, according to the National Mental Health Institute (NHMI), is “a common but serious mood disorder … To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”  There are several forms of depression. The more familiar forms are dysthymia, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and psychotic depression.

Dysthymia is a persistent type that can last for two years or longer, characterized by an occurrence of a major depression plus minor symptoms or episodes. Postpartum depression, as the name suggests, happens after childbirth. Since it can also develop during pregnancy, it can also be called by its alternative name: “perinatal depression.” SAD is a form that usually sets in during winter as a response to having less natural sunlight, with the symptoms lifting as the season gets warmer. Psychotic depression is a more severe type and is characterized by hallucinations and/or delusions.

NHMI also lists other types of emotional conditions with manifestations that meet the criteria for clinical depression. One is bipolar disorder, which has a depressive phase when the patient is not experiencing mania, a euphoric state. Two other forms are premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) among reproductive-aged females and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder among children and teenagers.


Triggers: Can You Avoid Being Depressed? Is It Your Fault?

Depression affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities, without discrimination. In America, it is a leading cause of disability, affecting approximately 10% of the population in any given year and with a cost of more than $30 billion each year. These stats prove that depression isn’t a rare condition. If you get depressed, don’t blame yourself for it; it’s not your fault, nor does it makes you a weak person.

There are many factors that may increase your risk for depression: biological factors such as genetics or medical conditions, personality, environment, life events or experiences, and even medications. It is, however, impossible to say which are contributing to your own case of depression. Since most of these factors are beyond your control, it is clear that depression isn’t something you could have prevented or should be ashamed of.

Your genetic makeup and biological constitution dictate your cellular processes. You don’t have the power to control or influence them. It is your body; you can’t trade it for another, but you can do your best to keep it healthy. The key is to know what makes you vulnerable to depression and what the symptoms are, so you can seek professional help promptly when needed.


Depressive Symptoms: Are You Depressed?

Sadness and loneliness are natural responses to some life circumstances. However, if your sadness becomes persistent and intense so that you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, don’t ignore it, especially when you are at high risk for depression.

If you have depression, Mental Health America says you may experience several of the following signs:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

These symptoms can also be experienced by people without depression. Further, while these are the most common ones, the type and intensity of symptoms vary from one person to another. This makes recognizing depression on your own difficult, particularly among children.


Seeking Real Help, Positively

Not having the power to prevent depression can be depressing too, but it should not stop you from seeking help. If you are experiencing pervasive, intense, and overwhelming depressive symptoms, seek help from Carolina Counseling Services — Pittsboro, NC, without delay. You need a professional to assess your symptoms and provide a diagnosis and treatment. Without treatment, your condition may get worse.

Hopelessness and helplessness can make you feel trapped. However, denying yourself the professional help you need is tantamount to depriving yourself of a good life. Depression is like a black cloud that will hover perpetually over your life until you do something to overcome it. Do not fear or be ashamed to seek treatment, because you can’t just will depression away or snap out of it. It is like quicksand—without treatment, you sink deeper and deeper into it. 

If you want real help, call Carolina Counseling Services — Pittsboro, NC. One of the independently contracted therapists can help you better understand your emotional condition and treatment options. Knowledge can be liberating: it can release you from unnecessary worry and help you focus on getting better with a CCS therapist.

Couples Counseling

Marriage Counseling:

How to Make Small Changes Matter


All marriages have issues. That’s the way it is with all couples and relationships. It is how you handle and resolve your issues every day that can make a difference in your marriage. You may discover that making small changes can be very effective in fine-tuning your marital relationship. Do not underestimate these small changes; they can be challenging to make.

If you are proactive in seeking marriage counseling, it may be the best thing, next to love, that can happen to your marriage.


What Needs to Change?

When you are in a relationship, it is difficult to say how you are contributing to your marital issues. With the help of an impartial marriage counselor, you can discuss the matter with your spouse. Leaving the toothpaste on the bathroom counter after use or having a “boys/girls’ night out” are mundane, but may be a big thing for your spouse.

If you don’t know what to change, you can’t improve your marriage. You also can’t fix your marriage when you are left in the dark because you aren’t talking anymore. If you know what’s making your spouse and you unhappy, this is a good starting point for both of you.


The Daily Dose of Effort

Some conflicts may have grown out of proportion because you ignored them. Not all marital issues, however, need gigantic interventions to make a difference. Important changes can be as small as changing the tone of your voice when confronted with an issue, sharing some chores around the house, or being more involved in parenting your children. Author Shaunti Feldhahn says, “Realize that several small changes usually make the big difference.”

Marriage counseling can help you discover the daily dose of effort you can make to improve the quality of your interactions. In particular, a counselor can help you improve your verbal and nonverbal communication. With healthy communication, unresolved conflicts that bred hurt, anger, frustration, and misunderstanding in the past can be finally laid to rest.


Making Changes You Can Make with Help

Guided by a caring and neutral counselor from Carolina Counseling Services — Pittsboro, NC, you can invigorate your relationship by making small changes. While you can’t force your spouse to change, there is a good chance they will respond to your effort in a positive way.

Start small. Focus on the changes you want to make on a daily basis. Do not be deterred by the obstacles that can prevent you from seeking counseling. An experienced counselor independently contracted with CCS in Pittsboro, NC, can help you make “baby steps” toward a happy marriage. Remember, you are not alone in this endeavor.

Marriage Counseling

Resilient Marriage: Happy under One Roof


What could be more perfect for a loving couple than happily sleeping together night after night under one roof and happily waking up in each other’s arms? Unfortunately, it takes more than love to keep couples together for the rest of their lives. In truth, many challenges can threaten the stability of even the most blissful unions. To pass the trials and survive the challenges, love is important, but it often does not resolve everything.

Enduring the years together is an accomplishment in itself, and remaining happy as a couple is phenomenal. Like every loving couple, you want your marriage to happily endure, but how? Why not start with counseling? It is a proactive strategy that can prevent small concerns from marring your happy, enduring marriage.


Your Marriage’s Future: The Predictors

Divorce is common in America. Social scientists, such as John Gottman, Nell Jacobson, Benjamin Karny, and Thomas Bradbury, have done research and concluded that “the best predictors of divorce are interactive difficulties, such as frequent expressions of antagonism, lack of respect for each other’s ideas and similar interpersonal issues.”

According to Ted Huston, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, however, this conclusion was drawn because the couples used in their studies were long married, already embroiled in conflicts, and already on the verge of getting divorced. In his 1994 study, Huston used subjects in the courting stage or in the early years of marriage. He made some surprising discoveries.


Love Plus

If you and your spouse started very much in love with each other, you are likely to think that you have the strongest foundation to weather all storms that may come your way and endure the years together. This isn’t wrong, but it also isn’t completely right. Huston has made some interesting discoveries in his research.

First, “many newlyweds are far from blissfully in love.” And second, “couples whose marriages begin in romantic bliss are particularly divorce-prone because such intensity is too hard to maintain.” These observations indicate that a marriage can be affected by conflict even in its early, passionate stage. In addition, the more romantic the relationship is, the more vulnerable it seems to conflicts and issues, because the expectations are higher.

Interestingly, less romantic couples have been observed to have more promising futures—lackluster perhaps, but resilient and less prone to divorce. Huston’s last important finding is that “it is the loss of love and affection, not the emergence of interpersonal issues that sends couples journeying toward divorce.” Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that conflicts and interpersonal issues can trigger arguments, animosities, and negative feelings—anger, frustration, etc.—that can eventually erode love and affection.


Helping Love Endure, Happily

Making a marriage endure is already a tall order; it is doubly challenging for it to be happy as well. If love isn’t enough to make your marriage endure, what is? There is really no fixed set of rules to follow that will warrant a successful, happy marriage. Social scientists are still studying what makes a marriage work and what can make it last. Different experts have varying views about love and marriage. It is commonly agreed, though, that love isn’t the “be-all and end-all” of a marriage. A good marriage needs other foundational elements, such as trust and respect.

Dr. Rob Scuka says, “The first insight is that a lasting marriage requires trust.” Thus, you must guard it well, with seriousness. He acknowledges that love is important. For it to be an essential element of a happy, enduring marriage, however, it has to flourish with the use of relationship skills that can be learned in marriage education and/or counseling.

For Dr. Wayde Goodall, healthy marriages begin with commitment, communication, and conflict management. Commitment is what sets your mind to the idea of permanence, so you do what it takes because love isn’t just a feeling, but a commitment. Maintaining good communication is vital in any relationship: it can help you promote positivity in your relationship while clarifying and resolving your misunderstandings. With effective communication, you can manage your conflicts. Remember, it pays to be proactive to keep your marriage healthy, rather than waiting for small concerns to become major issues.


Keeping Your Marriage Healthy

Love can bloom between two hearts, if they are meant to be together, without much help. When it comes to marriage, however, you have a stronger chance of making it happy and enduring with work. Help from a marriage counselor you trust is also a big booster. You can meet the right counselor for you if you call Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC, for an appointment.

Love is a big factor in a happy marriage: if you love your spouse, you have all the more reason to make it last. Counseling is proactive. It not only addresses and helps resolve your important concerns, but can also make you see a lot of things in a new light, so your differences can inspire you both.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC
Areas: Pittsboro NC, Albright NC, Hadley NC, Baldwin NC, Williams NC, Matthews NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Center NC, New Hope NC, Bear Creek NC, Gulf NC, Oakland NC, Haw River NC, Cape Fear NC, Silver City NC.
Zip Codes: 27312, 27344, 27207, 27228, 27256, 27559

Counseling Information

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: (919) 944-7200 (Fastest way to schedule)
  • Text: (910) 308-3291 (Reply will be via phone)
  • Click here and use our Contact Form (You must include your phone number, because replies will only be made by telephone to ensure security/privacy)
  • Call or Text for your New Patient Appointment Anytime!
  • Appointment scheduling for NEW clients: Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm
  • Established/Standing Appointments are made directly with your therapist!
  • Referrals: MOST beneficiaries do NOT need a Referral!
Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC
68 Fayetteville St.
Pittsboro, NC 27312


(919) 944-7200


Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909                            Fayetteville, NC 28311

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Child Anxiety: Recognizing the Signs for Prompt Action

  • little girl in a field

All children will show some sorts of fears while growing up. There is no need to get all worked up when you observe these, but it is also not smart to ignore them. While fear can feel unpleasant, it is a healthy response when danger is perceived. However, if it is too intense, happens too often or without a logical reason, or starts to affect your child’s life, social interactions, and health, you have to step in and seek professional help.

Is Your Child Weighed Down by Anxiety?

Are you having a tough time making your child take the bus, go to school, or mingle with other people during social events? Is your young son or daughter constantly having trouble with other children in school, on the playground, or with the siblings at home? Do you have a child who seems to be perpetually knocking things over or losing their balance?

Be aware that these behaviors or reactions are not to be taken lightly. They can be signs that your child is saddled with anxiety and needing help. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), specific phobias, selective mutism, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Signs and Symptoms to Recognize

It is common for children to be afraid or anxious about a lot of things—moving to a new neighborhood or school, the dark, being separated from parents, not having friends, etc. Some children, however, worry or get anxious more than others. If you are a parent of an anxious child, you want to help your child, but that is only possible when you know the signs and symptoms to pay attention to.

Unfortunately, there may be close to a hundred possible signs and symptoms of anxiety, and most are not specific to anxiety. There are also symptoms that you may not even associate with anxiety, such as clumsiness, anger, and defiance. It is painful to watch your child struggle with the symptoms if you can’t recognize them and take the necessary action—which is to see a therapist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

When to Seek Professional Help for Your Child

There is nothing wrong with feeling afraid, apprehensive, or worried from time to time. It is also normal for your child to manifest clumsiness, defiance, or anger sometimes. All children will go through stages of clumsiness or awkward movements or have valid reasons to be angry or disobedient occasionally. Feeling anxious is even considered healthy when responding to stressful conditions. There are occasions, though, when these symptoms are serious enough to merit attention for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

When is it advisable to bring your child to a professional therapist? When the symptoms are SEVERE, as in the following situations:

The symptoms are out of proportion. For example, if your child pretends to be sick every morning before school. While it is normal for a child to feel anxious on their first day in a new environment, feeling sick every morning can be excessive.
The symptoms are extreme. A performer may get nervous before their number, but experiencing panic attacks may indicate social anxiety disorder. A child may not attend birthday parties because of a specific phobia of clowns.
The symptoms are illogical and uncontrollable. A child who doesn’t want to be left on the first day of school is understandable. A child who has spent some time attending school but cries uncontrollably may need help.
The symptoms are persistent. A child can bounce back even after a tragic or unhappy life event. However, a child with PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder will have persistent symptoms long after a stressful life event.

Treatment Is Basic with CCS

You may find yourself at your wits’ end, not knowing what to do or say to make your child do as told. You may already be thinking of applying sterner discipline to make them more socially cordial and well-behaved, which may result in more severe symptoms. Your child’s anxiety may be straining the family relationship and your child may be living an unproductive life. What option do you have as a caring parent? Give your child the opportunity to be treated by a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC.

When fear is severe, intense, and irrational, it is not healthy. There are things and situations that can’t be avoided forever. Your child needs to be treated, so they can enjoy their childhood and not develop worse anxiety symptoms or other emotional conditions. Your child also needs to be treated because you want your child to have a clean slate as an adult. Studies reveal that without treatment, a child with anxiety has a 33 to 50 percent chance of bringing the condition into adulthood.

When your child exhibits severe anxiety symptoms, call Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC, to help them lead a more fulfilling life toward puberty and onward.

Anxiety Counseling: In Search of Calm

  • woman smelling folwers

One of the possible symptoms of anxiety is restlessness, which is part of the biological “fight or flight” response system. It is useful when you are faced with a dangerous situation, but not when it is being triggered by anxiety. When your body and mind are in a state of constant agitation, it can weaken your focus, wreak havoc on your physical health, and disrupt your everyday life.

Restoring calm is critical if you want to have control over your life and health. A counselor trained in treating anxiety can help you discover ways to calm yourself. Anxiety usually will not just dissipate without treatment, and the benefits of counseling as a drug-free treatment method have been fully established by scientific studies.

Understanding the “Fight or Flight” Response

The “fight or flight” response is triggered by surging adrenaline that is released by the adrenal glands in response to a perceived danger. It can help you swiftly escape from a dangerous situation or defend yourself from a threat. In other words, you need it to be able to respond to emergencies.

It can, however, make your body feel restless and your mind jumpy when the system “misfires” because of anxiety and not because there is a real danger. The reasons for this malfunction can be complicated and aren’t always easy to figure out. According to Calm Clinic, however, “there are certainly some contributing factors that are well established and likely to play a significant role… genetics, lack of dangers, inactivity, stress, general poor coping habits, and behavioral training.”

Constant Restlessness Isn’t Healthy

Being constantly jittery isn’t good. When the “fight or flight” response is active, other brain activities become less important. The response is characterized by fast heartbeat, surging of blood, increased body heat and sweating, and increased energy. It can also lead to the slowing down of other bodily functions for the time being, hyperventilation, tingling or cold limbs (as the blood is diverted elsewhere), poor concentration, and dilated pupils. Chronic anxiety can create health issues such as nerve dysfunction, diarrhea, constipation, water retention, and bloating. While most of these may not be downright damaging, they can impact your overall health in the long run.

Calming Your Nerves with Counseling

If you are experiencing persistent restlessness due to anxiety, it has to be treated so calm can be restored. Counseling should be your first choice for treatment. A counselor can help you understand the roots of your anxiety and the symptoms that you are manifesting, through a process of assessment, diagnosis and then appropriate treatment.

To make the most out of counseling, it is productive to understand the factors that influence its success or failure. For example, it is important to remember that not all counseling is the same. There are a number of therapy types for you to discuss and agree on with your counselor. Taking part in decision making can make you a more active and committed participant in your therapy.

Find the Path to Calm with the Right Counselor

The path to calm does not end with finding any counselor or therapy approach. You need to find the right counselor. Treatment approaches are not created equal, and neither are counselors. To increase the likelihood of your therapy working, choose a trustworthy professional, like one of those independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC.

A jumpy, restless mind can lower the quality of your life. This is why you need professional help. The counselor you choose can play an important role in managing your restlessness and anxiety. Don’t waste time: call Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC, now!

Teen Depression: Is it Undermining Your Child?

  • Teen walking by himself

When your once cheerful and charming child becomes a sulky, unsociable, and irritable teen, it is not something to be taken lightly. It’s more than just missing your adorable little one: the changed behavior could be a call for help. If they have transformed into a bully, are socially withdrawn inside or outside the home, or have significantly changed in another negative way, it is good to pay attention. An emotional condition, such as depression, could be affecting your cherished child.

In the United States, depression is the most common emotional condition among teens. According to Teen Help, citing statistics released by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2014, teen depression affected about 2.8 million adolescents from age 12 to 17 in that year. Considering these alarming statistics, it is best to delve deeper into your teen’s behavioral change to determine if depression is undermining them.

Is it Just a Bad Mood or Teen Depression?

You may not believe it, but issues that you consider trivial can mean a great deal to your teenager. For instance, they may put importance on what they wear or the hairstyles they sport because they think these things matter in being socially accepted. They may want to lose weight or own the latest gadgets to impress their friends or to enter certain cliques. Petty as you may think these things are, they can affect your child’s mood, and when things get really complicated, they may even lead to depression.

Unfortunately, it may not be easy to spot depression, as the signs and symptoms can be confused with the characteristic changes that come with puberty or adolescent adjustment. Such behavior may just indicate that your child is experiencing a bad mood or a bad day. It is quite common for teens to be sulky, avoid you, and stay cooped up in their rooms for long hours. Wanting to look like their fashion icons, they may skip meals if they think they are getting fat.

They may just be moody, or they may have an eating disorder or low self-esteem. When these behaviors become the rule rather than the exception, it could be bigger than a bad mood: it could be depression. In this case, your teen may need your help.

How Will You Know It’s the Big D?

During adolescence, your child is zealously working on becoming independent. While you want to support them in that endeavor, it is critical to know when to intervene with positive help. The key is to know the signs of depression and provide prompt, professional help for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Remember, the depressive signs among young people can be different from adult symptoms. What are the symptoms to stay alert for?

Healthline says, “Depression is more than boredom or disinterest in school.” The website cites some signs of adolescent depression originating from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP):

• appearing sad, irritable, or tearful

• changes in appetite or weight

• a decreased interest in activities your child once found pleasurable

• a decrease in energy

• difficulty concentrating

• feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

• major changes in sleeping habits

• regular complaints of boredom

• talk of suicide

• withdrawal from friends or after-school activities

• worsening school performance

While some of these may not always indicate depression, such as changes in weight and appetite, it is best to pay attention when they have unhealthy consequences or are accompanied by other worrisome symptoms. In addition, pay attention to any sudden changes in personal habits, appearance, and hygiene, as well as being restless or agitated, or the opposite (regression or slowing down).

Helping Your Teenager Enjoy Adolescence

Adolescence can be among the best times in your child’s life, but depression can mar that. It can compound the difficulties associated with adolescence and make your child vulnerable to substance abuse and other risky behaviors that may lead to further life troubles, including teen pregnancy/parenthood and medical problems.

Untreated, depression can also ruin your child’s future life beyond adolescence. If they fail to complete their education, have difficulty making friends, or face other complicated issues, they may have fewer career opportunities and options.

You have the power to change that scenario. Know the symptoms of teen depression. If your child is gripped by them, do not hesitate to seek the best help in North Carolina at Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC. Unlike adults, teens depend on their parents or guardians to help them recognize the symptoms of depression and find the help they need.

9 Reasons to Say YES to Counseling NOW

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Seeing a counselor is gaining ground as a positive step toward improving one’s life. Gone are the days when you had to talk about seeing a therapist or counselor in whispers. These days, counseling is considered an important source of help when things are not going right in your life.

Therapy is perceived as a positive influence in anyone’s life because it works. Whether you are in the midst of a crisis or just wishing to stay proactive and in control of your life, counseling is for you, just as it is for everyone—children, teens, adults, couples, elderly people, and families.

Ten of the most common reasons to see a counselor are:

1. Life-disrupting emotional conditions. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc. can significantly impact your (or a loved one’s) life, wreaking havoc on your (or their) functionality in ways beyond your imagination. These conditions can damage your relationships with family, friends, fellow workers, and classmates.

A counselor can help a person weighed down by symptoms of an emotional condition through the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of said symptoms. They can also assist you and your family in resolving issues stemming from the condition.

2. Marital/relational issues or lack of relationships. Ryan Howes, PhD, of Psychology Today says, “For most people, relationships are the main thing, and if they’re going sour, life goes sour.” In his 20 years of practice, he says, “every single client … sought therapy because of a relational problem or their biological or otherwise internal issues were impacted by their relationships.” Since relationships are the “main thing” in people’s lives, not having relationships can make a person extremely lonely and vulnerable to negative feelings and thoughts.

A counselor can provide a neutral ground for couples to talk and discuss their issues. They can also help couples reinforce their relationship to weather the storms that may come their way.

3. Loss and complicated grief. Though loss is inevitable, most people don’t dwell on it or prepare for it. Thus, the loss of someone or something extremely valued can devastate anyone, especially when it happens abruptly. Recovering from grief is natural, but it can be extremely overwhelming when the process is too slow or the grief gets worse.

Complicated grief can make you vulnerable to depression, and traumatic experiences can make you extremely anxious. Counseling can be an effective intervention in facilitating healing from grief and preventing it from slipping into something worse.

4. Child and teen issues. For most parents, their children take center stage in their lives. When their children start to manifest unusual behaviors, they get worried. When changes in children’s lives are impacting them in a negative way, parents are just as affected, fearing that their children’s life, health, and future are all at stake.

Counselors are capable of not only assessing a child’s symptoms and diagnosing their condition, but also providing treatments and ways to help them recover, uplift their self-esteem, and become resilient and positive.

5. Addiction in the family. Abuse of or dependence on a substance can do significant damage to a person’s brain and mental processes. It can affect their decision-making ability, social or interactive skills, behaviors, and responses to life situations. Addiction can wreak havoc on the person and their whole family.

Aside from addressing the escalating issues in the life of a family member with addiction, counseling can also help the family resolve addiction-related concerns. Counseling is also an important aspect of “aftercare,” the care that a person gets after rehabilitation to overcome relapse.

6. Low self-esteem. Poor self-image can dramatically limit a person’s growth personally and academically/professionally because it can deter them from making the most of their potential. Thus, low self-esteem can stand between you and your aspirations or goals. It is usually related to negative thoughts, damaging relationships, and unresolved issues.

A counselor can help you trace the roots of your low self-esteem, sort out and resolve past issues that continue to haunt you, and discover ways to improve your self-esteem and accept yourself.

7. Overwhelming and intense emotions. Life situations, feelings, and thoughts can build up to overwhelm you. Many issues and events happening all at once can make you lose focus or feel crushed, so that all you want is to quit and hide from everyone and everything. Intense emotions, suffering a trauma, getting bad work feedback, being frustrated at school or work, etc. can overpower you.

A counselor can help you sort out these things that are overwhelming you and resolve them one at a time. They can help you better understand yourself, your feelings, and your thoughts to restore balance in your life.

8. Increasing self-awareness. Not everyone who sees a counselor is gripped with negativity or weighed down by symptoms of an emotional condition. Seeking counseling is a proactive decision. It is a positive and empowering experience that can help you get to know yourself better.

Counseling can help you understand your feelings and behavior. It can improve your resilience and help you develop the ability to stay positive regardless of whatever challenges may fall into your lap. If you are overwhelmed, improving your self-awareness can make you empowered.

9. Greater life balance. Often, people experiencing an imbalance in their life are also living with difficulties and conflicts with the people around them. An imbalance results when you pay lopsided attention to the different elements of your life. As you are swamped with more obligations at work, you may neglect your personal relationships. Similarly, if you are having marital or parenting issues, you may not perform your best at work or school.

Perhaps the ultimate value of counseling is attaining improved balance and harmony in your life. The positive impact of counseling can trickle down to the people you constantly interact with—your loved ones, your fellow workers or classmates, etc.—as you achieve a positive persona.

Why seek counseling? These are some of the top reasons, but there are other reasons to seek the help of a capable counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC. Remember, seeing a counselor is a positive thing, whether you have an emotional condition or you just want to be proactive. Call us; let’s talk about how we can help you or a loved one.

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Therapist Information

Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare/ Tricare Prime Tricare Select/Extra/Retired and Cash (Credit Cards Accepted, HSA and FSA )
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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Counseling: Will I benefit from it?

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Seeing a therapist/counselor could be the farthest thing from your mind. You might have asked yourself questions such as these:

• Why should I talk about my concerns to a person/professional who is a total stranger?
• What can they help me with that my supportive and loving family and friends cannot provide?
• Can they extend the same unqualified support as my family?
• Will they safeguard my confidential information like it’s their own?
• Will they be able to provide the help I need to resolve the issues that are negatively affecting my life?

While your welfare is close to your family’s hearts and their love for you is unconditional, the support and help of a professional can be critical when you are weighed down by an emotional condition.

Professional therapists are equipped with the right training and experience, and they can stay impartial when need be. You will not be an encumbrance to them, and you get their undivided attention during the sessions.

If you are in need of counseling, call (919) 944-7200 and let us help you sort out your issues.

What do you need to know about counseling at Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC?

1. Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC, is ready to serve you. We offer counseling services to help you identify your issues, address them, and resolve them, as well as work on your symptoms to have a better quality of life. Call us today at (919) 944-7200 for your first appointment or to make inquiries.

2. Convenience is something that CCS specializes in. When you make an appointment with one of our independently contracted therapists, it can sometimes be arranged on a weeknight or a weekend to fit your schedule, so you can get treatment without delay.

3. Physical pain may not always be related to a medical issue. If you are experiencing pain that your doctor cannot explain, see a counselor. Emotional conditions can trigger various types of physical pain, even when there is nothing physically wrong with you. Seeing a counselor may be able to unravel the medical mystery of your pain.

4. You have the power to make your life bright and sunny. There are times when you need to take your emotional health into your own hands. If your life is dominated by sadness, grief, guilt, fear, poor self-esteem, etc., making it dull and dreary, call us. Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC, can work with you and help you handle the negativities that prevent you from living your life to the fullest.

5. Carolina Counseling Services is making counseling services accessible. We are opening more offices to best serve the needs of people in North Carolina. Our Pittsboro office is now open to bring you quality counseling services through independently contracted therapists nearby, so you do not need to commute or drive far from home.

6. CCS–Pittsboro accepts insurance. If you wish to use your insurance to cover the counseling services that Carolina Counseling Services offers, we are here to help; we can also help with insurance matters such as referrals. If there is information you need in relation to your coverage or usage, worry no more—CCS can assist you.

7. Finding a therapist that’s a good fit is a CCS goal. We understand how critical it is that you find the right fit, and we consciously make an effort to match you with the right therapist, because your progress and well-being are our ultimate goals. Check out the CCS–Pittsboro website to meet and know more about our therapists.

8. Your secrets and trust are well placed with us. We work hard to gain and keep your trust. Part of that is safeguarding your secrets like they are our own. This starts with an office that has no indication that private counseling sessions are taking place. The session rooms/offices are also secure, as well as comfortable and clean.

9. CCS abides by state law and HIPAA. Our professionalism is reflected in the way we embrace and follow the highest standard of ethics and the practices mandated by the state and by HIPAA.

Counseling is for anyone whose life is beleaguered by stressful events and emotional conditions. It is a form of professional help that can help you sail through the sad and trying times of your life. If you are weighed down by stress and emotional issues, call Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC, at 919-944-7200 for your first appointment.

Living without the Emotional Baggage of Depression: What You Should Know

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Depression is a reality. In America alone, “an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older … had at least one major depressive episode” in 2014, according to an NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) report. The figure represents about 6.7 percent of American adults, making depression a very prevalent emotional condition in the country.

NIMH, a federal agency under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), not only provides statistics and conducts and supports research about emotional disorders, it also disseminates information that can help Americans understand their conditions. Some of the most salient ideas that NIMH highlights are the following:

• Depression is a real illness.
• Depression affects people in different ways.
• Depression is treatable.
• If you have depression, you are not alone.

Learning about depression is fundamental if you wish to overcome it. Leaving it untreated is risky. You don’t have to be alone in your quest for better emotional health. Professional help is available.

Depression Is an Emotional Condition

While everyone feels sadness as a natural response to some life events, it is also normal to be able to adjust and move forward after some time. This natural process does not happen when you are saddled by depression.

Overcoming Depression: Snapping out of depression or willing the signs and symptoms to dissipate, as your family and friends may suggest, may not be possible. Your condition has nothing to do with your character, and it does not mean you are weak as a person. Nobody is immune to depression—anyone can have depression, but some are more vulnerable to it. Like any medical condition, it requires diagnosis and treatment at the hands of a trained professional.

Signs and Symptoms: Depression goes beyond unhappiness. There are other symptoms: (a) hopelessness and negativity; (b) feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and guilt; (c) loss of enthusiasm, energy, and interest in people or things that matter; (d) drastic weight loss or gain due to loss of appetite or overeating; (e) oversleeping or sleep deprivation; (f) irritability, anger, and restlessness; (g) morbid thoughts and self-harm; and (h) persistent somatic symptoms.

Causes of Depression: There are several factors that may contribute to the development of depression. The most important ones are genetics, biological attributes, environment, personality, and life experiences. Childhood depression or anxiety and chronic illness can increase a person’s vulnerability to depression.

Type of Depression: There are also a number of different depressive conditions—major or clinical depression, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Diagnosis by a professional can identify the type of depression you are experiencing.

How Depression Affects People

Different people may manifest different symptoms because depression affects individuals in different ways and intensity. It is not necessary to manifest all the signs and symptoms to be diagnosed with depression.

Adults: Men and women generally exhibit different symptoms. According to NIMH, women typically manifest “sadness, worthlessness, and guilt,” while men are “more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities, and have difficulty sleeping.”

Older adults: They are vulnerable to depression, particularly as they develop chronic disorders—diabetes, hypertension, heart condition, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, etc. They are often undiagnosed because their silence and lack of interest in many things may be misunderstood as a phase typical of those in their senior years. The risk is higher for adults and older adults who have developed depression in childhood or later in life.

Children: Young people also tend to exhibit different manifestations. Older children can experience school behavior issues, such as difficulty interacting with other children. They may be confused and not understand what’s happening, and express their negative feelings and thoughts by acting irritable and angry. Even babies and preschoolers can have depression. They are often undiagnosed because many parents and medical practitioners think that it is just a passing phase.

Adolescents: Depression in adolescence can make the teen years doubly difficult. During this challenging phase of life, many teens with depression manifest symptoms that can be mistaken for just being difficult, and they are often undiagnosed. Apart from the usual signs to watch for if you are a parent of a teenager, it pays to look for other issues that may develop as a consequence of worsening depression—eating disorders, self-harm, and substance abuse, among others.

Depression Can Be Treated

There is no reason to stay depressed; the condition is treatable. There are no quick fixes for depression and you will not recover from it overnight, but there is treatment available for you. Even the most serious cases of depression are treatable.

If you have a child who is exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety, don’t waste time. A significant number of adult depression cases actually started as childhood anxiety or depression. If your elderly relative is not being their usual self, act early to give them a better chance to enjoy their twilight years.

Where to Seek Help

If you have seen your health care provider and ruled out the possibility of a medical condition, your next stop is to see a therapist. If you live in North Carolina, call Carolina Counseling Services (CCS) - Pittsboro, NC. CCS contracts with independent therapists who can assess your symptoms and check your family medical history to make a proper diagnosis.

If you are saddled with depression, remember, “You are not alone.” You may feel alone, but you don’t have to be; CCS can help. Keeping your difficulties and sadness all to yourself will not help. You can put an end to the symptoms that make it difficult for you to have an enjoyable and fulfilling life by working with an experienced therapist. Call Carolina Counseling Services (CCS) - Pittsboro, NC, now, so we can work with you to achieve emotional wellness.

When to Seek Marriage Counseling: NOW Could be the Time

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No marriage is absolutely free from conflict, even the most devoted ones. To avoid petty and frequent bickering, many married couples prefer to pay little or no attention to small issues. While this may indeed reduce the number of arguments, there is a risk that small resentments will build up over time into major discord.

What many couples do not realize is that major issues do not just instantly appear in a relationship. In many cases, they are slowly built up through grating on each other’s nerves until the problems become irreconcilable and the foundation of the marriage—love, respect, and trust—breaks down.

If you think your differences and disagreements are petty, think again. Do you really think those trivial issues will stay minor in the years to come? Do you prefer to keep your marital concerns between you two? Aren’t you worried about your marriage becoming a divorce statistic?

Conflict can steal your happiness, but not without warning. If your marriage means a lot to you, waiting is not an option. Marriage counseling is a proactive way to sort out and resolve your issues before they become overwhelming. Here are some of the pressing signs that you need the help of a marriage counselor:

Sign 1: Your communication lines have broken down.

Communication is an essential element of all healthy relationships. It is how thoughts and feelings are shared and expressed between couples. No marriage can succeed for long without effective communication. If the lines of communication between you have broken down and talking always ends in shouting, use of abusive language, or fear, a neutral marriage counselor can help.

Talking is the first step in clarifying, sorting out, and resolving issues. If you can’t talk without feeling angry, frustrated, hurt, or scared, it is time to seek help from a marriage counselor. A marriage counselor can show you how to have a healthy discussion that will help unravel your feelings without compromising trust and respect.

Sign 2: Past unresolved issues haunt you.

Arguing about past issues indicates that they have been left unresolved. Many such small issues may come back powerfully after they have been aggravated by other concerns. There may also be major unresolved problems that you would rather bury because they are painful or traumatic. However they started, it is important to work toward their resolution so you can move on.

When you find it difficult to “forgive and forget,” it is a sign that you need help. A counselor can help you reprocess the issue to see it in a different light or transform the experience into a positive force. As resurfacing past issues can be painful, a counselor can help you understand your emotions and make the process constructive.

Sign 3: You keep secrets from each other.

While marriage does not take away your individuality, vital information that affects both of you or your family should not be kept private. When information with value to the family or spouse is deliberately kept secret, it can be interpreted as malicious. As such, it can sow seeds of doubt, corroding trust and respect—two vital ingredients of a loving, peaceful marriage.

Purposely keeping information secret that can hurt or offend your spouse or family can be taken as a sign that you need help. If it is troubling you, that means it is a delicate matter that may lead to serious complications, and you should seek help from a counselor.

Sign 4: Your conflicts have affected your intimacy.

The physical intimacy you share with your spouse is a wonderful expression of your love for each other. It is an important component of love and marriage. Thus, losing interest in sharing those moments can mean more than its face value as a physical satiation of a physical need. It can mean you are feeling negative emotions—anger, frustration, even hate. It can mean the loss of affection. It may also mean your interest has shifted to another passion.

Since intimacy is also a form of communication that can help bridge misunderstanding or transcend differences, seek help when you notice a change. Remember, only a serious problem can do this to your marriage.

Sign 5: Your clashes have greatly affected your family.

You may want to resolve your conflicts with your wife or husband and bring back those happy, romantic old days for your own sakes. If you have children, however, they are a part of your little world and it is just as important that you give them a happy family environment.

Countless children of unhappy or broken homes have developed personal issues due to not having a sound family to support them. Your children may suffer emotional and behavioral consequences when the atmosphere in your home becomes negative. If your conflicts have escalated to the extent that your home is not peaceful, it is in everyone’s best interest to seek help from a counselor right away.

Sign 6: Your love is still strong and you want to stay happy together.

Being in love is glorious, but keeping a marriage happy, strong, and fulfilling requires more than love. Realistically, even great marriages face trials. Not all of them can survive the “lemons” that life may throw at them. To survive the tough challenges ahead, you need to be proactive. In marriage, being proactive means working on concerns before they build up into major issues, consuming your union. That is how marriage counseling works.

Marriage counseling can help you stay loving, strong, and committed as individuals and make your marriage more resilient. It isn’t just for marriages on the rocks: it is for all couples, including those who are bound by love and want to stay happily married.

Take Action with the Right Marriage Counselor

Living with another person who has different personal philosophies, standards, beliefs, and history can be difficult, but it is not hopeless. It is true that differences may breed conflicts. According to Healthy Place, however, “Those differences don't necessarily mean your relationship is bound for conflict. To the contrary, differences can be complementary … These differences can also help people understand, respect and accept opposing views and cultures.”

The key is to transform those differences into positive opportunities or motivators. If you do not know how, a counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Pittsboro, NC, can help. If any of these six signs is present in your marriage, call us now, before things get ugly or painful. While patience is a virtue, waiting may not be prudent in this case. If you live in Pittsboro, NC, help is not far: Carolina Counseling Services is just in the neighborhood.

You may worry about the expense of counseling. Is marriage counseling covered by your insurance? If you have insurance, it may be covered under “family counseling,” particularly when you have emotional symptoms that meet the criteria for a DSM-5 diagnosis. If you need more information about this or anything else related to marriage counseling, call us. Start counseling now and be proactive to strengthen your marriage.

Psychobabble: Basic Psychology Jargon Explained

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“Optometry” and “ophthalmology,” “astronomy” and “astrology,” “podiatry” and “pediatrics”—if these terms confuse you, you are not alone. These words are difficult to understand because they have special meanings for different professions or groups. If you aren’t a part of these professions or groups, it is easy to use the words interchangeably and their real connotations get hazy.

“Psychobabble” is a coined word (a portmanteau) that combines the terms "psychology” and “babble.” Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, while “babble” is the utterance of empty words. According to Wikipedia, psychobabble is the use of psychological terms without “the experience and understanding necessary” to do so. These days, psychobabble is common outside psychology. In some instances, the term is used to refer to other technical language or jargon.

Like anyone else, I don’t understand all jargon. As an active professional in the field of mental health, however, I am in the position to explain some of the psychobabble that most people may get easily confused.

The Mental Health Counselor

In the field of mental health, professionals who assist people in understanding their behaviors, emotions, and/or thoughts are referred to as “mental health counselors." It is a generic term that is commonly applied to the following types of professionals: therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, family therapist, behavioral health provider, mental health provider, or marriage counselor.

People in this field understand when outsiders use these words interchangeably. What matters is that the public recognizes that we help people sort out and resolve their issues, assess and diagnose symptoms of behavioral/emotional conditions, and provide treatment when a condition/disorder has been diagnosed. Different types of professionals may perform these tasks and achieve their treatment goals in different ways.

If you or a loved one is in need of the assistance of a mental health counselor, it is sensible to understand the differences between these types of professionals to decide who can best help you.

Psychiatrists vs. Psychologists

Similarities: Both professionals have received academic training in helping people with mental health conditions or issues. Both professionals can assess, diagnose, and treat emotional or behavioral conditions. They can both help talk you through your concerns and provide therapy and tools to manage your day-to-day issues.

Both can be “doctors”: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. They are well versed in the use of psychotropic medicines—anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, etc.—and, like any medical doctor, treat their patients by prescribing these medications. A psychologist may also be addressed as “Doctor” if they have successfully completed a doctorate degree (PhD or Psy.D). They are trained in research, clinical practice, and assessment, but they can’t write prescriptions in the state of NC.

Meds vs. therapy: Psychiatrists are known to treat their patients using meds, while psychologists use various forms of therapy to achieve their treatment or wellness goals. A psychiatrist ensures that the medication will work by prescribing the right dosage and the ideal time of day to take it. Psychiatrists can also perform therapy on their patients, and psychologists can help clients with medication management. Aside from counseling, many psychologists can administer evaluative tests—personality tests, aptitude tests, IQ tests, etc.

Relationships with other professionals: Psychiatrists have a vast array of drug options to help their patients achieve functionality. As the only professionals who can prescribe psychotropic drugs, they see patients referred by general practitioners and other mental health providers who can’t write prescriptions for these medications. Though most psychiatrists will help any patient seeking their help, they prefer that their patients see therapists or other mental health providers first.

When you need more guidance: Because there is a shortage of psychiatrists in North Carolina (and in other states), most can spend only 30 minutes to an hour with a patient during the first session and then 20 minutes or less in succeeding follow-up sessions. The time is generally spent on medication management. If you feel you or a loved one need more time and assistance or the symptoms are severe, seeing a psychologist or another therapist can serve as a “safety net” while also seeing a psychiatrist.

Other “Safety Net” Providers

Aside from a psychologist, you can seek help from the following other types of professionals:

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW): For a professional to earn this license, the prerequisites are a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) and completing the mandatory licensing requirements of the state. This usually requires the passing of a comprehensive licensure test after completing 2 years of supervised work. With their client focus and culture sensitivity training, LCSWs are most qualified to counsel couples, families, individuals, and small to large groups.

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC): This license requires candidates to finish a master’s or doctorate in counseling, or another related academic course. In addition, they must comply with all the requirements imposed by the state of North Carolina or any state where they intend to practice, as well as pass the national counseling exam. With this license, LPCs are qualified to work with people from all ages and social backgrounds.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT): A professional is qualified to take an LMFT state licensing exam if they complete the following requirements: 1) marriage and family therapy training and 2) clinical experience for a minimum of two years. Licensed marriage and family therapists specialize in treating couples and family systems.

Pastoral Counselors: In North Carolina, pastoral counselors are licensed, while in some others they are certified. To receive their license or certification and to effectively perform their duties, they must have training in both theology and psychology. Many of them have advanced degrees in theology or divinity.

Mental Health vs. Behavioral Health

Two other psychobabble terms that often cause confusion, even among professionals themselves, are “behavioral health” and “mental health.” Many mental health practitioners tend to interchange the words, but there is a wider preference for “behavioral.” This word denotes how an individual acts, while “mental” denotes how a person thinks.

In a Psychology Today post, author Elana Premack Sandler, LCSW, MPH, acknowledges the synonymous use of the two words. She emphasized that “behavioral” is a “gentler” and more preferable term to use for many, as it is less stigmatized than “mental.” “Behavior” also denotes something that can still be transformed or modified, and so it sounds positive and hopeful for those with a disorder or an addiction. These are the reasons why “behavioral health” is preferred in many facilities.

When you or a loved one are experiencing overwhelming emotional issues or symptoms of a condition, you will be glad you know whom to call. Don’t be deterred from seeking counseling or from getting help with your behavioral or emotional issues. Call us: Carolina Counseling Services in Pittsboro, NC.