Monthly Archives: February 2012

Black, educated Americans least likely to seek mental health services

Heather Rudow February 23, 2012


A recently published study by the American Psychological Association revealed that young adult blacks with higher levels of education are significantly less likely to seek mental health services than whites of the same stature, citing stigma, lack of knowledge, trust and cultural understanding as key barriers.

“Past research has indicated people with higher education levels are more likely to seek out and receive mental health services. While that may be true for whites, it appears the opposite is true for young adult blacks,” said study author Clifford L. Broman.

Researchers analyzed two sets of data, one from 1994 and 1995 that consisted of 6,504 adolescents ages 13 to 18; and another from 2001, comprised of 4,881 adults ages 18 to 26:

“Contrary to previous research findings, the study revealed that the need for professional mental health services and not demographics may be the most important factor associated with whether a young adult of any race uses the services. While almost all previous research has found women use mental health services more often than men, the current study found no general differences between men and women in use of mental health services when the researchers controlled for depression, both clinically diagnosed and self-reported. Likewise, black young adults who had been diagnosed with depression were more than 20 times more likely to use mental health services than those without a diagnosis of depression.”

The results also found that, while whites who have used mental health services were more likely to receive additional services, they found the opposite results in the black community. The study notes that prior research suggests that blacks receive a lower quality of care when using mental health services and they report unpleasant experiences and unfavorable attitudes after receiving care.

“Practitioners need to address the concerns of black clients in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner, and during exit interviews, they should ask what is appropriate and what didn’t work,” Broman said.

Source: American Psychological Association

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

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Maternal depression, bilingual households affect language development in infants

Heather Rudow February 22, 2012


The first months of a baby’s life are pivotal for language development, and researchers found through two experiments that external factors such as bilingual families and maternal depression can have an impact.

Both of the studies involved researcher Janet Werker, whose previous studies found that between the ages of eight and nine months, babies are constantly soaking up the words they hear and the facial expressions that accompany the talking. It is a key developmental period for language development, she found.

But her latest research revealed that this period actually lasts longer for babies in bilingual households, particularly regarding the facial recognition aspect of speech development.

In the second study, Werker and her colleagues found that maternal depression and its treatment through serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) can also have an effect on “the timing of speech perception development” in babies:

“The team’s preliminary findings suggest that SRI treatment may accelerate babies’ ability to attune to the sounds and sights of the native language, while maternal depression untreated by SRIs may prolong the period of tuning. This study followed three groups of mothers — one being treated for depression with SRIs, one with depression not taking antidepressants and one with no symptoms of depression. By measuring changes in heart rate and eye movement to sounds and video images of native and non-native languages, the researchers calculated the language development of babies at three intervals, including six and 10 months of age. Researchers also studied how the heart rates of unborn babies responded to languages at the age of 36 weeks in the uterus.”

Says co-author Tim Oberlander, “Poor mental health during pregnancy is a major public health issue for mothers and their families. Non-treatment is never an option. While some infants might be at risk, others may benefit from mother’s treatment with an SRI during their pregnancy. We are just not sure at this stage why some but not all infants are affected in the same way. It is really important that pregnant women discuss all treatment options with their physicians or midwives.”

Notes Werker, “At this point, we do not know if accelerating or delaying the achievement of these milestones of early infancy has any consequences on later language acquisition. However, these preliminary findings highlight the importance of environmental factors on infant development and put us in a better position to support not only optimal language development in children but also maternal well-being.”

Werker added that she plans to address these questions in future studies.

Previous studies have found that depression and stress in expectant mothers is linked to childhood asthma. There are also noticeable differences in the way a child’s brain develops when living with a depressed mother.

Source: University of British Columbia

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

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Reading up on adopted and foster children

By Laura Hoskins

Laura Hoskins, who runs a private practice in Brattleboro, Vt. and specializes in adopted children and their families, offers some recommended reading for counselors working with adopted and foster children:


For clinicians and parents:

  • Creating Capacity for Attachment by A. Becker-Weidman
  • Twenty Things Adopted Children Wish Their Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge
  • Affect Regulation, Mentalization and the Development of Self by P. Fonagy, G. Gergerly, E. Jurist and M. Target
  • The Transforming Power of Affect by Diane Fosha
  • Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray
  • Nurturing in Adoption: Creating Resilience After Neglect and Trauma by Deborah Gray
  • Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best
  • Attachment-Focused Family Therapy by Daniel Hughes
  • Facilitating Developmental Attachment by Daniel Hughes
  • Building the Bonds of Attachment by Daniel Hughes
  • Brothers and Sisters in Adoption by Arleta James
  • Rebuilding Attachments with Traumatized Children by Richard Kagan
  • A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Parents by Pamela Kruger and Jill Smolowe
  • A General Theory of Love by T. Lewis, F. Amini and R. Lannon
  • Making Sense of Adoption: A Parent’s Guide by Lois Ruskai Melina
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Stories from a Psychiatrist’s Notebook:  What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing by Bruce Perry and Mara Szalavitz
  • Born for Love by Bruce Perry and Mara Szalavitz
  • Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America by Adam Pertman
  • Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self by A.N. Schore
  • Affect Disregulation and Disorders of the Self by A.N. Schore
  • Affect Regulation and Repair of the Self by A.N. Schore
  • The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience by Daniel Siegel
  • The Mindful Therapist by Daniel Siegel
  • Adolescent Girls in Crisis by Martha Straus
  • When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD by Nancy L. Thomas
  • Real Parents, Real Children by Holly van Gulden
  • Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff
  • Maternal Deprivation Reassessed by Mary Ainsworth
  • Healing Power of the Family: Illustrated Overview of Life with the Disturbed Foster or Adopted Child by Richard Delaney
  • Troubled Transplants: Unconventional Strategies for Helping the Disturbed Foster or Adopted Child by Richard Delaney
  • Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach by Ross W. Greene and J. Stuart Abon
  • No-Talk Therapy by Martha Straus
  • Adolescent Girls in Crisis by Martha Straus

For children:

  • The Mulberry Bird by Anne Braff Brodzinsky
  • How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole
  • Tell Me Again about the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Mama, Do you Love Me? by Barbara M. Joose
  • A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
  • Over the Moon by Karen Kats
  • I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis
  • All About Adoption:  How Families Are Made and How Kids Feel About It by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annuziata
  • We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families by Todd Parr


Related Feature: Fitting together as a family

Letters to the editor:

‘Going green’ decreases stress, helps people respond better to disruptive events

Heather Rudow February 17, 2012


A University of Edinburgh study found that life is a lot easier when you’re being green. According to the analysis, when parks and green space were present in economically deprived areas, people were better able to cope with job loss, posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue and anxiety.

The researchers found that people’s stress levels “are directly related to the amount of green space in their surrounding areas,” which they discovered by taking saliva samples from participants and measuring their cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress.

The samples revealed that for every 1 percent increase in green space in the areas, there was a corresponding, but much steeper, decrease in stress levels. The researchers said that where there is more green space, people tend to respond better to disruptive events, either by not getting as stressed in the first place or by coping better.

Previous studies have found that spending time outside can increase one’s overall sense of well-being and even reduce the severity of ADHD.

Source: PsychCentral

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

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Body type can influence person’s judgment

Heather Rudow


Can something as seemingly arbitrary as a person’s dominant hand influence his or her judgment?

People come in different shapes and sizes, which led cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto to develop what he calls a “body-specificity hypothesis.” Through a series of experiments, Casasanto and fellow researchers found that people generally prefer things they find on the same side as their dominant hand:

“When participants were asked which of two products to buy, which of two job applicants to hire, or which of two alien creatures looked more trustworthy, right-handers routinely chose the product, person, or creature they saw on the right side of the page, while left-handers preferred the one on the left. These kinds of preferences have been found in children as young as 5 years old.”

Cassanto said the reason for this preference is fluency.

“People like things better when they are easier to perceive and interact with,” he said. “Right-handers interact with their environment more easily on the right than on the left, so they come to associate ‘good’ with ‘right’ and ‘bad’ with ‘left.’”

However, these associations can change. For example, Cassanto said, when a right-handed person has their dominant hand permanently disabled, they begin to associate the left hand with being “good.”

“After a few minutes of fumbling with their right hand, righties start to think like lefties,” he said. “If you change people’s bodies, you change their minds.”

However, Cassanto adds, “Since about 90 percent of the population is right-handed, people who want to attract customers, sell products, or get votes should consider that the right side of a page or a computer screen might be the ‘right’ place to be.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

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