Behavioral health is the field psychological care focusing on disorders or problematic behavior patterns that can be treated with a combination of scientifically informed counseling and medicine. It is critical that victims of behavioral disorders reach out for professional assistance and resources in order to bring their symptoms under control and regain a healthy margin of control over their lives.
Minimizing or outright eliminating dysfunctional behaviors is best done without the use of drugs or alcohol to relieve discomfort. Rather than relying on easy drug-related measures, behavioral health processes investigate the founding causes behind a person’s need for drugs and alcohol, addressing these and bringing resolution through understanding. In other words, know your enemy.
Behavioral health is a whole-person practice that emphasizes the bigger picture of a person’s life, using techniques custom-implemented to erase poor habits and replace them with new positive habits. Behavioral treatment powers this changing process, in part, with concrete goals that incorporate an appreciation of why we behave the way that we do.
The caring professionals at Southern California Addiction Center have both the knowledge and experience to help willing individuals change their lives for the better, leaving addictions behind and moving ever forward.
Damaging Behavioral Patterns Treated at SCAC
Eating disorders are characterized by unhealthy relationships with food. This includes conditions in which a person exhibits destructive patterns of eating behavior, whether they eat too much or too little. Bulimia, anorexia, and overeating represent eating habits that use or ignore food in order to bring some version of comfort.
Overeating may, for instance, represent a learned behavior that treats food as a resource for the avoidance of negative feelings. On the other hand, anorexia can be a method used by someone to assuage powerful, persistent anxieties that are predicated on a false body image.
Treatments for eating disorders include a variety of psychotherapeutic practices that generally aim to reduce or eliminate thoughts, habits, and other factors that allow eating disorders to hold sway over their victims’ lives. The first goal is almost always to reduce eating disorder behaviors, followed by an emphasis on retraining the mind and body in accordance with the psychotherapy in use.
An overeater may have a history of excess consumption as a means to suppress the emotional damage from a critical parent. A reduction in eating frequency, along with the development of healthy coping mechanisms for negative feelings, can assist in treating him. He comes to understand that he did not deserve the criticism he endured as a child, and to recognize scenarios in which his eating habit is likely to be triggered.
Trauma/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Behavioral conditions resulting from trauma can intermix with other behavioral issues like eating disorders or sleep disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is widely known for its prevalence among veteran communities. Soldiers often return home from war with their minds changed, personalities adjusted to extreme-stress environments in which they witnessed and experienced terrible violence, loss of comrades, persistent anxiety, and all of the other profoundly disturbing consequences of life in the midst of combat.
However, PTSD and similar products of trauma are not limited to warfare. Victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, including children and adults, can suffer very severely from trauma disorder symptoms.
Often the dysfunctional behaviors are actually developed in order to adapt to a traumatic environment. It is highly beneficial for a soldier to be hypersensitive to sound, for example, in a war zone. Noise can represent danger, and recognizing it can save one’s life. Alternatively, a woman with an abusive father may be intensely and unbearably fearful of grown men who stand in line with her at the post office. As a little girl, this fear made her sensitive to the volatile presence of her angry male parent, helping her to assuage and evade his wrath.
These behavioral disorders are characterized by an inability to adjust to normal life well after victims have escaped their original traumas. Treatments for PTSD focus on the elimination of destructive feelings and behaviors, usually through the careful examination of traumatic memories. This can assist victims in identifying the root causes of the trauma, their role in the experiences, and where the trauma fits in the broad context of their life.
With the help of sensitive health care professionals, the abused woman may work through her father’s cruel habits, relating them to his own childhood abuse and his reliance on alcohol — she learns to view herself as an innocent bystander in one man’s destructive and sad whirlwind, rather than someone who is inherently deserving of men’s anger.
This disorder is characterized by the dysfunctional experience and management of intense feelings from opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. It was formerly known as manic-depressive disorder for the two defining emotional states that rule over their victim. Alternating at a rate particular to the individual, manic episodes and depressive episodes take full control of the person’s life, creating an ongoing experience of volatile unpredictability that is untenable for both the victim and his/her loved ones.
During depressive episodes, the individual becomes nearly indistinguishable from someone with major depressive disorder. They may experience lethargy, numbness, inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia), pessimism, or even suicidal ideation.
This low state will eventually cycle into a manic state in which the person is now a polar opposite version of their depressed self. They may experience a need for less sleep, a bevy of new interests, a relentlessly high energy level, or the desire to commit to future events or plans that they will probably not be able to fulfill, especially once the mania cycles back into depression. Gambling, hasty romances, and excessive spending are all symptoms of a manic episode.
Various medications and psychotherapies are offered in the treatment of bipolar disorder. This behavioral condition creates tremendous chaos, and treatment efforts emphasize bringing about stability. This may include the development of anchor thoughts that can be used as a reference during times of emotional highs and lows.
Identifying and recognizing the signs of a bipolar episode will also allow individuals to prepare for the incoming polar extreme. Good routines, supportive friends and family, and regularity are all important for bipolar individuals. Together they help to create a solid foundation that discourages emotional extremes and mitigates their eventual occurrence.
These conditions range from insomnia to hypersomnia — patterns of behavior that are colored by unhealthy relationships with the sleep cycle. Other types of sleep disorders include narcolepsy, parasomnia, and even sleep apnea. Symptoms of a sleep disorder may include chronic fatigue, daytime sleepiness, a literal inability to stay awake, night terrors, snoring, or the inability to fall asleep for more than a few minutes at a time.
Due to the sheer variability of sleep disorder types, there is no established treatment for sleep issues in general. An individual’s specific sleeping problems will dictate the nature of the treatment. Importantly, sleep issues that are linked to other issues, such as PTSD, can be treated with psychotherapy that addresses the companion disorder.
If the sleep condition is purely non-psychological in nature, there are medications that can assist with the readjustment of a person’s circadian rhythm. Bedtime routines and regulated thought patterns may be helpful, as well as diet, exercise, or relaxation techniques.
It is entirely reasonable and even healthy to undergo a grieving process when someone loses a loved one. However, if the grieving process exceeds reasonable estimations of what constitutes a normal mourning period, it may be time to diagnose complicated grief. Grief should abate somewhat in the months following the death of a loved one. While it is also normal for sadness to be permanent with regard to thoughts about the loss, a grief state that remains constant and intense for months is a sign that something is wrong.
Everyone’s grieving process looks different, and intense grief may even flare up at certain times, like on death anniversaries or other meaningful dates. Unrelenting or complicated grief is often treated with something called complicated grief therapy. Strategies include the reduction of blame or guilt, fully exploring a loved one’s death to reduce distress caused by related memories, and redefining life goals as a means to adapt to significant change.
Socializing, support groups, learning new skills, and better stress management are all personal strategies that can allow the grief process to relent in a rational and healthy way.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is now the broad label for these behavioral disorders, divided into three subtypes:
Inattentive: Characterized by poor concentration, easy distraction, and poor organizational skills.
Hyperactive-Impulsive: Characterized by a constant state of hyperarousal, strong impulses to interrupt others or take risks, as well as excessively rapid speech.
Combination: Possessing multiple symptoms from the diagnostic criteria from the other two subtypes.
Each of the three types reflects a person who is generally unable to sustain a concentrated effort in the pursuit of some goal, even if the goal is extremely important to them. It is common for individuals with ADHD to feel pulled in many directions at once, or to experience a sense of confusion amidst a dizzying blur of oncoming thoughts, feelings, and environmental stimuli. Either the person can’t slow down, or their thoughts can’t, or both.
The inattentive type, in particular, may be misinterpreted as laziness, but the opposite is typically the case — they are so profoundly consumed by a flurry of shifting thoughts and distractions that at the end of a day spent doing very little outwardly, they are just exhausted. All types are characterized by a failure to follow through on instructions, misplacing objects repeatedly, and the inability to listen when spoken to directly.
Stimulants are commonly used as medicinal treatments for attention deficit conditions, although psychotherapy is the other half of the treatment coin. Therapy can assist in developing organizational schedules and routines that help to ground someone with ADHD. Time management, the presence of mind, and plans featuring small stepping-stone rewards are all used in the treatment of ADHD.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy
CBT and DBT are two of the most popular psychotherapy models in psychology, and SCAC employs both in its treatment of behavioral health conditions. CBT emphasizes the reformulation of thoughts behind problem behaviors, seeking to uproot the behaviors by changing the thoughts from which they grow.
CBT posits that the way in which we think can cause pain, and isolating “thought distortions” is the best way to bring behaviors back in line with reality. Much of this is achieved through talk therapy with a counselor, and together the patient and therapist detect patterns of distorted thinking to eliminate them and prevent their reoccurrence. In this way, new habits are formed in the thinking process, replacing their dysfunctional predecessors and giving way to improved mental health.
DBT was initially formed to help patients struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder, but has since been adapted to treat other behavioral conditions. DBT incorporates the thought modification of CBT, but it adds a particular emphasis on the patient-therapist relationship. DBT involves a balance of cognitive management and validation of patient feelings.
DBT takes extra time to allow the patient to feel that their emotions are valid and real, even if they are unhelpful in the long run. DBT is, in part, a process of acceptance that helps patients to accept themselves as valuable individuals with feelings that matter. To this end, DBT includes a unique five-skill development plan designed to conduce to patient mindfulness distress tolerance.
DBT also tends to involve group therapy sessions, which help patients to feel at home in, and as valuable members of, a like-minded community.
Why Choose SCAC?
Founded in 2015 by addiction treatment professional Dr. Aaron Browner, SCAC follows a proven treatment philosophy that draws from a decade of psychological research and therapy. As a company and treatment center, we primarily value compassion, integrity, and respect. Our mission is to provide a stable, loving, and caring environment that will help our clients obtain the goal of long-term recovery.
Our primary vision is a two-part model of reformation through rescue and transformation. Every admission of a client into our care is, by our measure, a “rescue.” The hopeless state of body and mind that results from addiction and alcoholism creates victims in need of help, and that is what we provide.
The process of addiction is so powerful that it consumes entire lives. For this reason, we regard clients who complete our programs as “transformations.” As we see it, only a transformed individual can lay claim to having left addiction habits behind them.
Are You or a Loved One Suffering from an Addiction or Behavioral Disorder?
If you or a loved one are struggling with dysfunctional behavioral patterns including but not limited to addiction or any of the listed disorders on this page, contact SCAC immediately. Don’t wait to get your life on track — you deserve the happiness and love that can spring forth from a life free of hurtful thinking and addictions.
Psychotherapy and recovery are to the mind as medicine is to the body. There is no shame or weakness in deciding to change your life for the better. In fact, it takes a strong person to stand up and admit that they want to change. Even so, an addicted person may not know where to start. That’s where we come in. Reach out today if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, and experience the compassionate professionalism that defines our institution.
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If you or you’re loved one is in need of help with addiction, contact us today. Our team is standing by, ready and willing to talk about your problems, and help you find the best solution.