Monthly Archives: September 2011

People from alcoholic families more likely to drink in stressful situations

Heather Rudow September 27, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Previous studies have shown that alcoholism can run in families, but new research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has found that stressful situations can increase the likelihood that children of alcoholics will drink.

The researchers divided participants into groups on the basis of whether they came from a family with a drinking problem. Participants were randomly assigned experimental situations with varying degrees of stress. According to a Gothenburg press release, the groups were then allowed to drink alcohol in an experimental consumption test or a placebo, depending on which situation they had been randomly assigned.

“The results show that people with parents who have a history of alcohol abuse drink more than others when exposed to stress,” said researcher Anna Söderpalm Gordh. She said this behavior can have negative consequences down the road for children from alcoholic families.

“If alcohol relaxes you when you’re stressed, then you should try to find other ways of calming yourself down,” she said. “Relaxation exercises, for example.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Self-reported mental illnesses increase by nearly 2 million in U.S.

Heather Rudow September 26, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/JoePenna)

According to a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the number of self-reported mental illnesses among the non-elderly in the United States is increasing.

Researcher Ramin Mojtabai analyzed data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, which involved 312,364 adults between the ages of 18 and 64. He found that the number of self-reported mental illnesses in the United States increased from 2 percent from 1997 to 1999 to 2.7 percent from 2007 to 2009, according to a Johns Hopkins press release. He said the increase equals almost 2 million new people with a self-reported mental illness.

“These findings highlight the need for improved access to mental health services in our communities and for better integration of these services with primary care delivery,” said Mojtabai. “While the trend in self-reported mental health disability is clear, the causes of this trend are not well understood.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Brain continues to develop into late 20s

Heather Rudow

(Photo:Flickr/Patrick Denker)

Sometimes it feels like old habits die hard, but researchers from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry say people still have the capacity to change later in life. Their new study reveals that brain wiring continues well into a person’s late 20s rather than stopping at adolescence as previously thought. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers scanned the brains of 103 healthy people between the ages of 5 and 32 and found that the wiring in the frontal lobes of the young adult participants was still developing. The frontal lobe is responsible for complex cognitive tasks such as inhibition, high-level functioning and attention, according to a University of Alberta press release.

“This is the first long-range study, using a type of imaging that looks at brain wiring, to show that in the white matter there are still structural changes happening during young adulthood,” said researcher Catherine Lebel. “The white matter is the wiring of the brain; it connects different regions to facilitate cognitive abilities. So the connections are strengthening as we age in young adulthood.”

The researchers also found reduced white matter in the brains of some of the participants, which, they said, is associated with the degradation of the brain. Researcher Christian Beaulieu said this study could yield future studies on the correlation of brain structure and mental health problems, which begin in adolescence.

“What’s interesting is a lot of psychiatric illness and other disorders emerge during adolescence, so some of the thought might be if certain tracts start to degenerate too soon, it may not be responsible for these disorders, but it may be one of the factors that makes someone more susceptible to developing these disorders,” Beaulieu said. “It’s nice to provide insight into what the brain is doing in a healthy control population and then use that as a springboard so others can ask questions about how different clinical disorders like psychiatric disease and neurological disease may be linked to brain structure as the brain progresses with age.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Another look at therapy and technology

Heather Rudow

(Photo:Flickr/jtbrennan)

Counseling Today’s October cover story delves into the evolving relationship between counseling, technology and social media, and how many counselors have begun to integrate these things tools into their practices. A Sept. 23 New York Times article expands this topic to include a variety of helping professionals, reporting how some therapists are using video conferencing to reach clients who are far away or on the go:

“Ms. Weinblatt, a 30-year-old high school teacher in Oregon, used to be in treatment the conventional way — with face-to-face office appointments. Now, with her new doctor, she said: ‘I can have a Skype therapy session with my morning coffee or before a night on the town with the girls. I can take a break from shopping for a session. I took my doctor with me through three states this summer!’

And, she added, ‘I even e-mailed him that I was panicked about a first date, and he wrote back and said we could do a 20-minute mini-session.’ Since telepsychiatry was introduced decades ago, video conferencing has been an increasingly accepted way to reach patients in hospitals, prisons, veterans’ health care facilities and rural clinics — all supervised sites.”

DeeAnna Merz Nagel, an American Counseling Association member who cofounded the Online Therapy Institute, was interviewed both for the Counseling Today article and for the piece in The New York Times.

Read the rest of the New York Times article

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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Same-sex schooling no better than coed schooling

Heather Rudow September 23, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/KingTyrone)

The wisdom behind sending your child to a same-sex school might be that by keeping them away from members of the opposite sex, they won’t get distracted from their studies as easily. However, a newly published study discovered that children who studied in sex-segregated schools weren’t any better educated than those who were in coed schools but were more ready to accept gender stereotypes.

The researchers studied preschool classes to look at the way gender divisions affected students, according to a press release. When the teachers in the experiments lined up the children by gender and had them post their work on separate bulletin boards, the researchers found that “the students showed an increase in gender-stereotyped attitudes toward each other and their choice of toys, and they played less with children of the other sex.”

According to the researchers, “The choice to fight sexism by changing coeducational practices or segregating by gender has parallels to the fight against racism. The preponderance of social science data indicated that racially segregated schools promote racial prejudice and inequality.”

“The bottom line is that there is not good scientific evidence for the academic advantages of single-sex schooling,” said researcher Lynn Liben. “But there is strong evidence for negative consequences of segregating by sex — the collateral damage of segregating by sex.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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