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Introduction to Psychological testing

 

Psychological testing offers a formal way to measure traits, feelings, beliefs and abilities that can lead to people's problems. Some tests assess the presence of certain conditions, such as depression, anxiety, anger control or susceptibility to stress. Other tests measure general well being and provide an overall picture of a person's personality. A typical psychological assessment includes an interview with a mental health practitioner and one or more formal psychological tests. The person may be able to complete some tests on his own; others may be completed with an examiner.

Upon a referral for psychological testing, one should recognize that the intent is to gain a deeper, more complete understanding of the problem than can be gained from a brief office visit. Such a referral does not mean that the problem is particularly serious, difficult to understand or complex. It just means that additional information is needed before designing the best approach to address the problem.

If a referral for testing is made, knowing why such a referral is being made is important to know. Becoming generally familiar with what to expect is also important. Often, an appointment for psychological testing requires several hours of time to complete questionnaires or engage in face-to-face paper and pencil testing. 

 

 


What are Personality Disorders?

 

Personality Disorders, also known previously as character disorders is a broad term for a class of personality types and behaviors that describe individuals who have problems dealing with other people. The patient will typically tend to be rigid and inflexible, finding it harder than other people to respond as easily to the changes and demands that occur in life. They are seen as dysfunctional in the way they assess situations and relate to other people.

People with personality disorders experience abnormal thoughts and behaviors that keep them from functioning as well as they should.

The nature of those thoughts and behaviors depends on which personality disorder a person has, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoid personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. The disorders do have one thing in common: They usually don’t go away without treatment.

A personality disorder is a mental illness. The patient can become distressed when having to perform everyday functions in the workplace, school or situations involving other people.

It is not uncommon for the person with a personality disorder to believe that their behaviors and interpretations of things around them are normal. However, their thought processes and behaviors may be self-destructive and self-denigrating. In a significant number of cases other people are blamed for any problems or difficulties that occur.

Personality disorders are known to be extremely hard to treat. But research suggests that dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive therapy can help people with one of the most common disorders.

 


What is Addiction? What Causes Addiction?


People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful. Addictions do not only include physical things we consume, such as drugs or alcohol, but may include virtually anything, such abstract things as gambling to seemingly harmless products, such as chocolate - in other words, addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. drug addiction) or behavioral addiction (e.g. gambling addiction).

In the past addiction used to refer just to psychoactive substances that cross the blood-brain barrier, temporarily altering the chemical balance of the brain; this would include alcohol, tobacco and some drugs. A considerable number of psychologists, other health care professionals and lay people now insist that psychological dependency, as may be the case with gambling, sex, internet, work, exercise, etc. should also be counted as addictions, because they can also lead to feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, despair, failure, rejection, anxiety and/or humiliation.

When a person is addicted to something they cannot control how they use it, and become dependent on it to cope with daily life.

A habit may eventually develop into an addiction

Many of us can use substances or become engaged in activities without any significant problems. Some people, however, may experience damaging psychological and/or physical effects when their habit becomes an addiction.

 


What is Depression?

 

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.

 

What are the different forms of depression?

Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.

Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is characterized by long-term (2 years or longer) symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal functioning or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

Minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression. Without treatment, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder.

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not everyone agrees on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include:

  • Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
  • Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the "baby blues" that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth (disclaimer).
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy (disclaimer).

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). More information about bipolar disorder is available.

Depression is a common but serious illness. Most who experience depression need treatment to get better.

 

Child Abuse & Neglect

 

Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible sign, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse or child neglect, also leave deep, long lasting scars.

Some signs of child abuse are subtler than others. However, by learning common types of abuse and what you can do, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal from their abuse and not perpetuate the cycle.

Learn the signs and symptoms of child abuse and help break the cycle, finding out where to get help for the children and their caregivers.

 

Effects of child abuse and neglect

  • Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
  • Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
  • Trouble regulating emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.

We can help you learn the signs and symptoms of child abuse and help break the cycle, finding out where to get help for the children and their caregivers.

 


Introduction to OCD

 

Do you feel the need to check and re-check things over and over? Do you have the same thoughts constantly? Do you feel a very strong need to perform certain rituals repeatedly and feel like you have no control over what you are doing?

If so, you may have a type of anxiety disorder called obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms, you may feel isolated and helpless. Whether you suffer from uncontrollable thoughts, irrational urges, or feel compelled to perform the same rituals over and over again, there is a variety of help available. Educating yourself about OCD symptoms and treatment is an important first step.


What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational – but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.

Like a needle getting stuck on an old record, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. For example, you may check the stove twenty times to make sure it’s really turned off, wash your hands until they’re scrubbed raw, or drive around for hours to make sure that the bump you heard while driving wasn’t a person you ran over.

For many people, OCD starts during childhood or the teen years. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times.


What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?

People with OCD generally:

  • Have repeated thoughts or images about many different things, such as fear of germs, dirt, or intruders; acts of violence; hurting loved ones; sexual acts; conflicts with religious beliefs; or being overly tidy
  • Do the same rituals over and over such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again
  • Can't control the unwanted thoughts and behaviors
  • Don't get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but get brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Spend at least 1 hour a day on the thoughts and rituals, which cause distress and get in the way of daily life.

 

Types of OCD obsessions and compulsions

Obsessions are involuntary, seemingly uncontrollable thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas but you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting.

Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. For example, if you’re afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming.

Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) fall into one of the following categories:

  • Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
  • Checkers repeatedly check things (oven turned off, door locked, etc.) that they associate with harm or danger.
  • Doubters and sinners are afraid that if everything isn’t perfect or done just right something terrible will happen or they will be punished.
  • Counters and arrangers are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements.
  • Hoarders fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They compulsively hoard things that they don’t need or use.

 

Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviors does NOT mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time, and interfere with your daily life and relationships.


What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).


ADHD currently has three subtypes:

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive

  • Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.
  • Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.


Predominantly inattentive

  • The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree.


Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD.


Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive

  • Six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
  • Most children have the combined type of ADHD.


Treatments can relieve many of the disorder's symptoms, but there is no cure. With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives. Researchers are developing more effective treatments and interventions, and using new tools such as brain imaging, to better understand ADHD and to find more effective ways to treat and prevent it.

What is PTSD?

 

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event.

When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

 

PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

Re-experiencing symptoms:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

 

Avoidance symptoms:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

 

Hyperarousal symptoms:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.

 


EHP has access is the leading provider of highly specialized and affordable couple counseling and psychotherapy. We offer a range of relationship, psychosexual and parenting support services, and run a rich and varied range of training programs, from professional training in psychotherapy and counseling to short courses about couples, families and parenting for front line staff in social care and health settings.

 

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EHP Behavioral Services, LLC

3333 North Calvert Street Suite 670
Baltimore MD 21218 US
Phone: 410-933-9000
Fax: 410-933-0125
Email: info@ehpllc.net
The White Marsh Health Center
8114 Sandpiper Circle, Suite 215
Baltimore, Maryland 21236
Phone: 410-933-9000
Union Memorial Hospital Counseling Center
3300 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21236
Phone: 410-933-9000

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