Psychological Services in Palm Beach
Learn more about services offered at Ricci Psychology of the Palm Beaches
Ricci Psychology offers Therapy & Treatment for the following conditions:
Along with the conditions listed below, we also offer
Second Opinions, Forensic Services, Home Visits, and Web/Skype Sessions
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses characterized by unhealthy preoccupation with food, eating, and body weight or shape. Individuals with eating disorders may experience a fear of gaining weight, obsessive calorie counting, avoidance of certain foods, uncontrollable overeating, self-induced vomiting, and/or over-exercise. Whether these thoughts and behaviors occur every day or only occasionally, they are worth talking about with a therapist. If left untreated, eating disorders can cause a variety of physical, emotional, and interpersonal problems and can significantly interfere with daily life.
Dr. Laura Ellick specializes in working with patients with eating disorders, trauma and medical illnesses, as well as depression and anxiety
Trichotillomania (Hair pulling)
Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop. Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair. For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.
Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking)
Skin Picking Disorder (also known as Excoriation Disorder or SPD) is a serious and poorly understood problem. People who suffer from SPD repetitively touch, rub, scratch, pick at, or dig into their skin, often in an attempt to remove small irregularities or perceived imperfections. This behavior may result in skin discoloration or scarring. In more serious cases, severe tissue damage and visible disfigurement can result. SPD is thought of as one of many Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) in which a person can cause harm or damage to themselves or their appearance. Other BFRBs include hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania), biting the insides of the cheeks, and severe nail biting. Skin picking or other BFRBs can occur when a person experiences feelings such as anxiety, fear, excitement or boredom. Some people report that the act of repetitively picking at their skin is pleasurable. Many hours can be spent picking the skin, and this repetitive behavior can negatively impact a person’s social, work, and family relationships. Though skin picking often occurs on its own-unconnected to other physical or mental disorders-it is important to identify whether or not skin picking is a symptom of another problem that needs treatment. For example, skin picking could be a symptom of illnesses such as dermatological disorders, autoimmune problems, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse disorders (such as opiate withdrawal), developmental disorders (like autism), and psychosis. Establishing whether skin picking is an independent problem or a symptom of another disorder is an important first step in creating an appropriate treatment plan.
Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets in unsanitary conditions because they can’t care for them properly. Hoarding ranges from mild to severe. In some cases, hoarding may not have much impact on your life, while in other cases it seriously affects your functioning on a daily basis. People with hoarding disorder often don’t see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people with hoarding disorder understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD. With OCD, you may or may not realize that your obsessions aren’t reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings. OCD often centers around themes, such as a fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until they’re sore and chapped. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts, the thoughts or urges keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior — and a vicious cycle that’s characteristic of OCD.
It’s normal to feel nervous in some social situations. For example, going on a date or giving a presentation may cause that feeling of butterflies in your stomach. But in social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, everyday interactions cause significant anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment because some people fear being scrutinized or judged by others. Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition, but treatment such as psychological counseling, medication and learning coping skills can help build confidence and improve a person’s ability to interact with others.
A phobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance. Unlike the brief anxiety most people feel when they give a speech or take a test, a phobia is long lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect a person’s ability to function normally at work or in social settings. Several types of phobias exist. Some people fear large, open spaces. Others are unable to tolerate certain social situations. And still others have a specific phobia, such as a fear of snakes, elevators or flying. Not all phobias need treatment. But if a phobia affects your daily life, several therapies are available that can help you overcome your fears — often permanently.
Other Anxiety Disorders
Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Sometimes people with anxiety experience repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). These feelings of anxiety and panic often interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, and are out of proportion to the actual danger. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood. A person can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment. Whatever form of anxiety you have, treatment can help.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living. More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both.
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week. Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling.
Ricci Psychology also offers:
Exposure therapy is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy technique that is often used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias. In PTSD, exposure therapy is intended to help the patient face and gain control of the fear and distress that was overwhelming in the trauma, and must be done very carefully in order not to re-traumatize the patient. In some cases, trauma memories or reminders can be confronted all at once (”flooding”), while for other individuals or traumas it is preferable to work gradually up to the most severe trauma by using relaxation techniques and either starting with less upsetting life stressors or by taking the trauma one piece at a time (”desensitization”). A therapist works with the client to determine which method is best suited for the particular client and their trauma.In phobias, exposure therapy is used in conjunction with relaxation exercises and/or imagery. In conjunction with learning how to bring about a relaxed state at-will, the therapy technique gradually exposes patients to what frightens them and helps them cope with their fears. Exposing someone to their fears or prior traumas without the client first learning the accompanying coping techniques — such as relaxation or imagery exercises can result in a person simply being re-traumatized by the event or fear. Therefore exposure therapy is typically conducted within a psychotherapeutic relationship with a therapist trained and experienced with the technique and the related coping exercises.
Psychological and Psychoeducational Testing
Psychological Testing or a Psychoeducational Assessment by a psychologist can be extremely useful when there is lack of clarity or understanding regarding the reasons and causes of various emotional, psychological, learning, or behavioral problems of a child or adolescent. Psychological testing refers to the administration of standardized tasks and procedures which allow for a sampling of behavior, in order to understand and predict a given individual’s psychological, emotional, and behavioral functioning in a variety of settings. Psychoeducational testing, an even more comprehensive process, includes the aforementioned, as well as an examination of cognitive functioning and learning problems, which might impact a child or teenager's ability to be successful in school. Psychoeducational testing can help to identify the particular learning style of a child, and determine if there is a learning disability, cognitive difficulties, or executive functioning problems which impede the learning process. Both psychological testing and psychoeducational testing assists the psychologist in formulating a mental health treatment plan and/or educational intervention strategy, and educates the school and family about a child’s needs. Psychological and psychoeducational assessment is a comprehensive evaluation process that involves not only the administration and interpretation of psychological tests, but also involves the integration of information from multiple sources. Such sources include child interviews, interviews with parents, collateral information from teachers, school educational or testing reports, medical history, as well as information from other mental health professionals who may have provided therapy to a child or teenager.
Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that helps family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy is often short term. It may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions.