Welcome Ali Marino, LMFT

Hurley Counseling is thrilled to announce that Ali Marino, LMFT is joining our group. She previously lived and practiced in Hattiesburg, MS. She is excited to be in Alabama. Ali specializes in working with people with eating disorders, addictions, trauma, as well as couples. She has Saturday hours currently. She will be available Monday through Thursday and Saturdays beginning after Thanksgiving.

Dyslexia Part One: Recognition and Diagnosis

            Dyslexia is a relatively common disorder. Studies suggest that anywhere from five to fifteen percent of children and adults in the United States have dyslexia. Despite the prevalence, dyslexia often goes unrecognized. This is especially tragic because when children with dyslexia remain undiagnosed they often end up feeling that their difficulties come from not trying hard enough. These feelings can be exaggerated by well meaning teachers and parents who do not understand why the child is struggling. This can lead to long term self esteem problems. Even for children who don’t suffer from low self esteem, it is important for them to be diagnosed early because the earlier treatment is started the easier it is for the children to adapt and reach their full academic potential. Because of that it is important for parents, caregivers, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else who works with children or has a child in their life to be familiar with the most common signs of dyslexia.

In very young children (preschool and younger)  these signs are:

  • Late talking
  • Learns new words more slowly than expected
  • Reversing sounds in words
  • Difficulty learning the letters of the alphabet
  • Difficulty learning and remembering nursery rhymes
  • Not understanding words break apart into sounds
  • Struggles to learn left and right
  • Difficulty following directions with more than one step

In slightly older children (kindergarten and olders)

  • Reading well below grade level
  • Frequent complaints about reading and avoiding reading
  • Difficulty reading that are not related to vision problems
  • Problems with speech and pronunciation
  • Difficulty sounding out basic words
  • Reluctance to read out loud
  • Difficulty with new words
  • Confusing words that sound alike
  • Using a vocabulary that is too simple for the child’s age
  • Difficulty remembering details such as names and dates
  • Difficulty remembering sequences

If a child in your life is exhibiting some or all of these symptoms it is probably a good idea to have them evaluated for dyslexia. For school age children, the first step is probably to talk the issue over with their teacher or school. In many cases, schools are willing to evaluate the children at the parents request. Additionally, teachers will often be able to offer insight on the child’s behavior at school that the parent may not be aware of. Alternatively, you can also discuss the issue with your child’s pediatrician. There is no one test used to diagnose dyslexia. Instead, it is usually diagnosed using a more holistic approach. Often this includes, but is not limited to: academic and developmental history, questionnaires to be filled out by parents and teachers, reading test, psychological test, and/or vision and hearing test to rule out medical problems. Once a child has received a diagnosis the parents and child can begin working with the school and other professionals to help the child improve their reading and writing and learn new skills to help them adapt. With the proper intervention most children with dyslexia end up performing the same as their peers academically and professionally.

Stay tuned for the sequel on treatment for dyslexia!

If you would like more information The Mayo Clinic, The Child Mind Institute, and Health Line all offer articles with excellent information on the topic.

This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett

Dawn DiQuattro

A warm  congratulations to Dawn DiQuattro on the opening of her own office!  Dawn has served as a clinician to countless children, adults, couples and families while working at Hurley Counseling and we are grateful for the many ways she has advocated  for the mental wellness of each person in her care and allied with us as we have sought to  educate the community on evidenced based Mental Health Care.  We are sad to see her move on, but equally excited for  her as she embarks on this next season of her career. 

     Dawn will no longer be at Hurley as of November 2, 2020. To schedule an appointment with Dawn, she may be reached at 251-308-4140 or dawndiq.lmft@gmail.com. Her new office is located at 3750 Michael Blvd. Dawn will have the session notes from all of her sessions. The client paperwork and financial information will remain at Hurley for visits up to and including October 31, 2020. 

Please contact the office at 251-222-8880 if you have any questions. Please join us in our well wishes to Dawn!

Neurofeedback: The Art of Mapping the Mind

            In many ways, neurofeedback seems like a treatment from the future. In reality, though, it made its debut in the 1950s. This treatment technique was first developed by Dr Joe Kamiya and Dr. Berry Sterman and was soon incorporated into the training used for astronauts, but had not yet attracted much widespread attention in the medical field. That has changed in the last two decades as our understanding of the brain has further developed, which is bringing neurofeedback into the mainstream treatment options.

            Neurofeedback is a relatively simple experience for the patient. It starts with creating a brain map using EEG. This is a noninvasive process. That brain map is compared to the average brain map for the person’s gender and age to see if there are any areas of the brain that are not functioning at the healthiest level. Any areas that are flagged become the focus for treatment.

            At all subsequent sessions the patient’s job becomes even easier. All they have to do is sit back, relax, and watch a DVD for approximately 30 minutes. The EEG sensors are hooked up during this time. When the patient’s brain waves are within the target range the patient receives an auditory and visual reward. It doesn’t matter what show the patient is watching, just that they are watching something. Treatment usually lasts between 20 to 40 sessions. By the end of that time, the patient’s brain has retrained itself to keep brain waves in the healthier range.

            Neurofeedback is useful for a wide range of psychological problems. Studies have shown it is successful in treating ADHD, substance abuse, anxiety and worry, depression, sleep disorders, PTSD, autism spectrum disorder, and brain injuries. In many cases, it is paired with psychological counseling. Think of it as neurofeedback giving your brain new tools to use and counseling teaching you how to use those tools.

            Hurley Counseling Center is partnered with Establish Wellness to create Magnolia Mind Mapping. This collaboration between Andrew Hurley and Bethany Brenes brings neurofeedback therapy to the Gulf Coast. For more information about the work they are doing, visit their website. If you have any questions they can be contacted by email at contact@magnoliamindmapping.com or by phone at (251) 272-9606

The Panic Cycle: Feeding the Monster

            Panic Disorder is something that only a small portion of the population will experience in their lifetime (about 3%). Panic attacks, however, are much more common. As many as 30% of people will have at least one panic attack during their lifetime. Panic attacks are made up of symptoms such as shortness of breath, racing heart, chest pain, shaking, sweating, dizziness, hot or cold flashes, feelings of unreality, and nausea. Add to that intense fear, usually of dying, going insane, or losing control, and a panic attack is far from a walk in the park. One of the most challenging aspects of coping with panic attacks is that, in many cases, they become a self-perpetuation experience; this is known as the panic cycle.

            Basically how the panic cycle works is that the panic causes physical symptoms, those symptoms cause fear, which causes more symptoms. So for example, say that someone (for the purpose of this example, let’s call her Jill) was experiencing a panic attack and had shortness of breath, racing heart, and chest pains. Jill might think that she was having a heart attack and about to die. The fear of dying would make Jill’s heart beat faster and her chest hurt more, which would confirm to her that she was, infact, having a heart attack. This would lead to more fear and more symptoms and it would go round and round until Jill was exhausted and the panic attack was over.

            This self-feeding cycle is also what can change panic attacks into a panic disorder. Panic disorder is when an individual both has panic attacks and is afraid of having more, so they avoid situations or places that they think could trigger a panic attack. This leads to what is known as the “fear of fear.” So Jill had her panic attack where she was afraid she was going to die of a heart attack. She may come to believe that even though she didn’t die last time, next time she just might. This fear of having a panic attack can actually trigger the panic attack. That can then lead to more fear around having a panic attack and, consequently, more panic attacks. 

            Often, one of the first steps when helping someone cope with panic attacks is education. By realising that the symptoms are caused by panic and not by, say, a heart attack, one can stop feeding the panic and break the cycle. Say Jill is going about her day and starts to feel her chest tighten and her heart rate pick up. In the past, Jill might have worried that she was going to die. Now, however, Jill is working to break the panic cycle and instead reminds herself that panic cannot hurt her and the symptoms are harmless. This, in addition to using other techniques that she has learned helps Jill calm down and prevents her panic from getting worse.

Having panic attacks can be a difficult and frightening experience, but help is available. If you or someone you love is struggling with panic attacks, it might be a good idea for you to seek the help of a licensed counselor, who can help break the cycle of panic as well as teach you other coping skills. Hurley Counseling has a range of therapists and appointments available. Give us a call at 251-222-8880.