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Therapy for College Students
Are you feeling overwhelmed by academic pressures, going through a painful break-up, or struggling with making new friends or fitting in? Is FOMO (fear of missing out) taking over or social media making you feel inadequate? College can be a fun and exciting time of life, but also a time of significant stress and adjustment.
If you are a college student who finds yourself struggling, then you are not alone. Several recent research studies indicate that college and graduate students are reporting significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress-related problems than they have in the past. College is stressful and it’s a major transition time in your life. You are likely experiencing many firsts and having to make decisions about what to major in, who to spend time with, whom to date and what career to begin to work towards. Social and academic demands may feel more pronounced or overwhelming than they did in high school and the pressure to be competitive and to perform well is overwhelming.
I have worked in several college counseling centers, including those at the University of Colorado. My approach focuses on repairing core vulnerabilities through the exploration of ways your past experiences are impacting your current relationships and behavior; by helping you understand your inner thought processes; and by learning new and effective ways of making positive changes. My primary goal is to help you achieve your full potential so that your college or graduate experience is one that is fulfilling and meaningful. You may feel stuck, but things can change…. there is hope!
While I treat a variety of presenting concerns, below are a few of my specialties:
Depression is often listed as the number one reason students drop out of school. Depression is a common but serious illness that may leave you feeling sad, isolated, worthless, unmotivated and/or depleted. It can impact concentration and include thoughts of suicide. Depression can significantly interfere with your life, making important everyday tasks such as working, studying, sleeping, and eating difficult. The symptoms of depression can vary greatly from person to person and even over the course of the illness. Depression is one of the most common reasons people seek therapy and it is highly treatable. Together, we will clarify the source of your depression, integrate some coping tools and help you manage it so that you can live more fully.
Anxiety and Stress
College can be stressful! You can easily get anxious trying to juggle all of your responsibilities. Anxiety can be a completely normal reaction to stress and most of us bounce back. It becomes a disorder, however, when it becomes disproportional to the situation or when fear and worry become impossible to control to the point that it significantly impacts your ability to work, study, interact with others, or follow a daily routine. About 80% of college students say they sometimes or often feel stressed and about half of surveyed college students reported feeling overwhelmed with anxiety at least once within the last 12 months [sources: ADAA & APA]. Common causes of stress and anxiety include the adjustment of living away from home, academic demands, test anxiety, finances, post-graduation plans, social discomfort, and difficulties with friends and/or roommates. The good news is that anxiety and stress management are highly treatable. I help students learn effective coping skills; improve their understanding of the situations that trigger their stress; change unhelpful thought patterns that increase tension and identify ways to make appropriate behavioral changes. Types of anxiety that I treat include generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Eating disorders occur in teenagers and even in young children. But, it’s during the college years that young people, especially young women, are most at risk for developing them. Eating disorders are not disorders of choice. They are complex and potentially life threatening disorders likely caused by a genetic predisposition that can be triggered by stressful life events. These disorders extend far beyond food or weight. Eating disorders often serve as coping tools for more serious and painful underlying issues. I work with students to uncover these underlying issues, the various functions the eating disorder has served in their life, and the meaning of the disordered eating behaviors. Individuals who struggle with eating disorders tend to have difficulty tolerating painful feelings and may use their relationship with food as a way to manage these feelings. I help clients explore more healthy ways to cope with feeling out of control and with feelings of shame, sadness, and anger.
Body Image Dissatisfaction
Body dissatisfaction and body hatred is so pronounced that it has become an epidemic. Body image encompasses how you see your body, how you feel about your body, and how you think about your body and your experience in your body. Together, we will explore the factors that influence your negative relationship with your body, such as the extent to which you buy into the importance of thinness; the degree you feel unconditionally supported by friends and family regardless of appearance; your current and previous relationship to dieting or disordered eating behaviors (recurrent binge eating, purging, over-exercising, restricting, etc.); perfectionism, and the degree to which you engage in appearance-based social comparisons. Obviously, the media and strongly engrained cultural expectations play a role as well. A positive body image does not have to mean loving your body. It does, however, provide freedom from body fixation and from appearance being the primary measure of self-worth. I am passionate about helping students shed unrealistic, unimportant, and constraining appearance-based expectations and, instead, live authentic, bold, and empowered lives.