November 6, 2017

Just because I, too, wondered about things as a kid…

Posted in News at 9:10 pm by kellyfdennis

GiraffeElephant sculptureFrom the book “Big Questions From Little People and Simple Answers  Great Minds” (check it out apparently a good chunk of the proceeds from book revenues get donated to Save The Children):

Alain de Botton explores why we have dreams:

“Most of the time, you feel in charge of your own mind. You want to play with some Legos? Your brain is there to make it happen. You fancy reading a book? You can put the letters together and watch characters emerge in your imagination.

But at night, strange stuff happens. While you’re in bed, your mind puts on the weirdest, most amazing and sometimes scariest shows.

In the olden days, people believed that our dreams were full of clues about the future. Nowadays, we tend to think that dreams are a way for the mind to rearrange and tidy itself up after the activities of the day.

Why are dreams sometimes scary? During the day, things may happen that frighten us, but we are so busy we don’t have time to think properly about them. At night, while we are sleeping safely, we can give those fears a run around. Or maybe something you did during the day was lovely but you were in a hurry and didn’t give it time. It may pop up in a dream. In dreams, you go back over things you missed, repair what got damaged, make up stories about what you’d love, and explore the fears you normally put to the back of your mind.

Dreams are both more exciting and more frightening than daily life. They’re a sign that our brains are marvellous machines — and that they have powers we don’t often give them credit for, when we’re just using them to do our homework or play a computer game. Dreams show us that we’re not quite the bosses of our own selves.”

Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains why we can’t tickle ourselves:

“To understand why, you need to know more about how your brain works. One of its main tasks is to try to make good guesses about what’s going to happen next. While you’re busy getting on with your life, walking downstairs or eating your breakfast, parts of your brain are always trying to predict the future.

Remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? At first, it took a lot of concentration to keep the handlebars steady and push the pedals. But after a while, cycling became easy. Now you’re not aware of the movements you make to keep the bike going. From experience, your brain knows exactly what to expect so your body rides the bike automatically. Your brain is predicting all the movements you need to make.

You only have to think consciously about cycling if something changes — like if there’s a strong wind or you get a flat tire. When something unexpected happens like this, your brain is forced to change its predictions about what will happen next. If it does its job well, you’ll adjust to the strong wind, leaning your body so you don’t fall.

Why is it so important for our brains to predict what will happen next? It helps us make fewer mistakes and can even save our lives.

Because your brain is always predicting your own actions, and how your body will feel as a result, you cannot tickle yourself. Other people can tickle you because they can surprise you. You can’t predict what their tickling actions will be.

And this knowledge leads to an interesting truth: if you build a machine that allows you to move a feather, but the feather moves only after a delay of a second, then you can tickle your- self. The results of your own actions will now surprise you.”

Fascinating! What a marvelous wonder is the human brain, that’s my contribution:)

October 23, 2017

So What Does the Term “Mental Illness” really mean?

Posted in News tagged at 9:02 am by kellyfdennis

The term “mental illness”figure-thinking-with-question-mark-100152866is used quite frequently. But do you know what a mental illness really is?


Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

Mental illness is common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • nearly one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness
  • one in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness

Mental illness is treatable. The vast majority of individuals with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.

The term “mental health” involves effective functioning in daily activities resulting in

  • Productive activities (work, school, caregiving)
  • Healthy relationships
  • Ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity

The term “mental illness” refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders — health conditions involving

  • Significant changes in thinking, emotion and/or behavior
  • Distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities

Mental health is the foundation for thinking, communication, learning, resilience and self-esteem. Mental health is also key to relationships, personal and emotional well being and contributing to community or society.

Many people who have a mental illness do not want to talk about it due the stigma that may be attached. However, it is a medical condition, just like heart disease or diabetes. Mental health conditions are treatable. We are continually expanding our understanding of how the human brain works, and treatments are available to help people successfully manage mental health conditions.

Mental illness does not discriminate; it can affect anyone regardless of your age, gender, income, social status, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, background or other aspect of cultural identity. While mental illness can occur at any age, three-fourths of all mental illness begins by age 24.

Mental illnesses take many forms. Some are fairly mild and only interfere in limited ways with daily life, such as certain phobias (abnormal fears). Other mental health conditions are so severe that a person may need care in a hospital.

Now you know.

October 12, 2017

Nervous About Counseling? Here’s What to Expect.

Posted in News tagged , , at 12:51 pm by kellyfdennis

CreampuffI met an individual at the local café the other day and we started chatting. She stated that she thought she would benefit from counseling, but was hesitant to make an appointment because she had no idea what to expect. This was causing her undue anxiety. I explained to her what would happen; she felt much better and set up an appointment. As a result, I thought it might be helpful to outline what you can expect at your first appointment.

Once you decide to make an appointment and give me a call, I’ll take some info over the phone, and ask you for a brief summary of why you’re seeking counseling. After that, we’ll move to setting up your first appointment, called an intake evaluation. I’ll direct you to my website ( to print out some new client paperwork for you to fill out before you get to my office.

When you get to your appointment, I’ll review the paperwork you completed. Then we’ll process your payment and I’ll begin to ask you some questions to give more details about the reasons you’re seeking counseling. I’ll ask you some questions about your family history, schooling, social relationships; as well as questions about things in your life currently, such as job and/or school, current relationships. Then we’ll talk about the current symptoms you are experiencing that are, or may be, a part of the reason you’re seeking counseling and what coping skills you might already be using.

I think therapy works better when you take an active role (rather than just responding to only my questions). Therapy is really a team effort; I am trained to ask the right questions, but I’m not a mind reader, so feel free to add information that you believe might be pertinent. It can be helpful to write down some things that are bothering you ahead of time when you’re not feeling nervous, which, by the way, is completely normal.

In addition, try to be open and honest with your emotions.  Many clients have apologized for becoming tearful or expressing their feelings vociferously in their first session. This is not bothersome for me and actually helps me to understand your situation better.

Finally, try to come to therapy with realistic expectations. It is not a quick fix. Working through problems takes time, effort, and commitment to the therapy process. With effort on your part and a strong therapeutic relationship, it can be a successful tool toward resolving problems.

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

October 2, 2009

About Me

Posted in News tagged at 12:21 am by kellyfdennis

I have a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology as well as a license as a professional counselor from the state of Pennsylvania and am a member of the American Counseling Association as well as a member of the National Eating Disorders Association. In addition, I hold certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors. In my approach to counseling, I focus on the whole person: physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological. I utilize a combination of approaches including cognitive therapy, which focuses on helping you to change errors in thinking, negativity, dysfunctional beliefs, pessimism and the tendency to focus on problems and failures rather than successes. In addition, I believe strongly in the importance of the counselor/client relationship.


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Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

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