Welcome Alissa Klugh

Unsplash Photo By Chris Lawton

It is with great enthusiasm that Pittsburgh Psychotherapy Associates welcomes the latest member to its family, Alissa Klugh, LPC. Alissa brings with her the same spirit of personal growth and mind/body development for all ages that encapsulates the mission of PghPsych. Get to know a bit more about Alissa by reading her Q/A.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Thoughtful, Intuitive, and Reliable

What was the last book you read? Thoughts on it?

The last book I read was “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” – by Jen Sincero. The book was rather intriguing and took a different spin on manifestation. The content caught my attention, much like the book title, and helped provide a great outlook on change: how to love the things that you are unable to change and change the things you don’t love.

What was the last movie you saw? Thoughts on it?

The last movie that I viewed was the newest version of “The Beauty and the Beast.” This is a classic Disney movie (and a favorite of mine as a kid) and I knew that I had to see the latest version. The movie was done well, as a remake, and touched on all of the original ideas, emotions, and thrills of the original.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could meet someone who is living or dead, I would probably choose my grandfather, who passed away before I was born. My mother spoke so highly of how he influenced her life, and being able to experience just a fraction of that would be fulfilling.

What was the funniest thing you have ever experienced?

I’m not sure what the funniest thing is that I have ever experienced. I am someone who truly enjoys laughter and having fun. I would say it would be a mixture of seeing comedy shows, both live and on television, and/or my own interactions with my friends and family. I have had times where my friends and I laughed so hard that we cried, virtually over nothing, so pinpointing that is not exactly easy for me. I enjoy putting creativity into practical jokes and quick wit. The bottom line: if it makes me laugh, then I’m happy.

What is your favorite art form and why?

Picking my favorite art form is difficult, since the basis of my life has been led through art. I am a huge fan of painting anything in nature and using hand-lettering to create something beautiful. I also grew up as a dancer, so finding emotional movement through physical and musical forms brings warmth to my heart. Finding any way to express oneself through art is an amazing way to demonstrate what it is that we are thinking, feeling, and experiencing.


If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please give us a call at 412-367-0575 or email us at admin@pghpsychotherapy.com to schedule an appointment with Alissa.

Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!

The Eagle

Title of Painting: Eagle Fishing on Lake Malawi
Painter: John Cyril Harrison

Written by Zaithwa Gwaza

The painting above is set in Lake Malawi; it’s the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest lake in Africa.

Firstly, what attracts me to this painting is the eagle and its hard work and patience to be able to catch a fish in the lake; this is an incredible skill that eagles possess. Eagles are phenomenal birds, they work hard. When I look at this painting, it tells me that in life, discipline is very important. The eagle is a very disciplined bird, it has good vision and surely stays focused on what it wants – this is a life lesson to me.

Prior to coming to America, I was told by many people back home that I have to stay focused on my primary objective of being in the US; which is to work hard in my studies to be able to get my undergraduate degree. This is something that this painting reminds me of, the eagle is a bird, and the fish is always in water, therefore to be able to catch a fish requires intense focus. And, that is exactly what I need to do while I’m in the US; primarily focus on my studies. Additionally, it isn’t easy for the eagle to catch the fish, however, the eagle is still determined catch fish so that it can have food to eat. “No pain, no gain” is a philosophy that has been used since life on the world begun, and that also applies for the eagle.

Eagles have as many as a million light-sensitive sensory cells per square millimeter of retina; this is five times the amount allotted to the average. Their vision is incredible; that also speaks to me. In life, it’s important to have a vision for your life. For example, in my life, my single mother has worked hard and sacrificed so much for my happiness and well-being, therefore I envision myself being able to spoil my mother in the future and to help develop my local community back home (in terms of giving some people the opportunity to go to good schools). However, achieving this won’t be easy, so I need to stay focused and implement smaller goals in order to achieve this life goal. The eagle has good vision however if it doesn’t use this skill well, it won’t be able to get its prey. Therefore, that also applies to my life, I have been given the opportunity to come to the US, however, the ball is in my court, it’s my decision to work hard and to be able to sow plenty in the future.

Moreover, the background of the painting also communicates to me; it shows how the weather is about to change, from a bright cloudy day to a dark cloudy day. It reminds me of the sudden change that occurred in my life when I was 9 years old; my father passed away – life took a whole new turn. And, things like this can’t be anticipated. However, for me my father’s death is probably one of the things I’m thankful for; obviously, it’s not like I wanted him dead or anything, no, that’s not my point. The point I’m trying to make is that through my father’s death I was able to learn from it and I am what I am because of all my experiences, so I’m thankful to God for every single thing that has happened in my life. I was able to appreciate my family more, but also able to use this experience to comfort and help those around me. Everything that happens in our life to make us stronger, and in the end, it all works out for our good. Just like in the painting, despite, the weather changing, but this also can benefit the other parts of nature, such as crops.

Additionally, dark clouds aren’t always going be there forever, the clear clouds will come out again. That’s how life is, we all go through painful circumstances, but pain helps us grow. So, the background speaks to me about being positive, life isn’t easy; it was actually never meant to be easy. It’s important to be positive, yes, I will admit, it’s easier said than done, however, it’s always important to try look at the brighter things of life while accepting whatever hurdle is there. I’m thankful for everything I have, my life, family and even the fact that I was able to having a mother that didn’t ever give up on me. Lest I forget, I’m also very thankful I was able to come to the US to complete my undergraduate studies.

***

Zaithwa Gwaza is a student at Robert Morris University where he majors in economics. Among his many goals Zaithwa wants to own a family farm and launch a start-up business in his hometown of Malawi, East Africa. He one day hopes to use his earnings from these endeavors to help others pay for school.

May I Have This Dance? Introducing Lauren Heaton

Lauren HeatonWe are excited to announce that Lauren Heaton, MS, CAADC, LPC, will be bringing her valuable skills and talents to our practice! We are pleased and thrilled to have her on board as a member of the PghPsych family! Join us in welcoming Lauren by reading her Q & A.

In Good Health,
Don

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Enthusiastic, Inspired, Determined

What is your style as a therapist and how might someone benefit from your services?

To assist my clients to see the strengths they already possess and to build upon them. As well as to identify their core beliefs and the place these beliefs originate. Without an understanding of where we came from, we can never truly know where we are going. The benefit of this approach is looking at therapy as a dance that is ever-changing. Some days we are doing a waltz and others it may be a rumba, but the journey to “their best life now” is always discovered in every step.

What was the last book you read?

The Unbroken Brain,” by Maia Szalavitz

What was the last movie you saw?

A Walk in the Woods” with Bill Bryson and Robert Redford

What was the funniest thing you have ever experienced?

The night before my wedding. As I was getting ready to go to sleep one of my bridesmaids turned to me and said “has $h*t gotten real yet?” I said, “Not yet.” She said, “Just wait.” As the procession was about to begin the next day, I turned to her and said “$h*t just got real.” Just as our pastor was walking by. Great way to start your wedding. As I walked up to take my soon-to-be-husband’s hand our pastor turned to me and whispered in my ear. “Now $h*t is REAL real.” I could not do anything but laugh. A day I will remember for a few reasons.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to be meet Abraham Lincoln. I have a been a huge fan of the Civil War since I was a little girl and one of the first questions I would ask him would be “what do you feel was your biggest accomplishment in your life, and how did you face so many people that were against you.

What is your favorite art form and why?

I greatly enjoy the performing arts. For ten years of my life I was very active in the musical theater scene with two well-known performing arts companies in the Pittsburgh area. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to be able to travel, as well as be given the opportunity of self-expression.


If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please give us a call at 412-367-0575 or email us at admin@pghpsychotherapy.com to schedule an appointment with Lauren.

Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!

Fawn M. Clark: Good Therapy Happens

Join PghPsych in welcoming Fawn M. Clark, MA, NCC, LPC to our growing family of professional therapists!  Fawn brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our practice and we are pleased to welcome her! Discover more about Fawn and her talents in today’s blog post.

In Good Heath,
Don

What kind of services do you provide as a psychotherapist?

I use a variety of modalities: CBT, DBT, RT, and Gestalt to aid in the treatment of substance abuse, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, crisis intervention, stress and anger management, bipolar disorder, couple and marital counseling.

What does good therapy mean to you?

Good therapy starts with having a trusting partnership between therapist/client to do life-changing work. Life-changing because when a client comes to therapy it is because there is pain; something off or out of his/her control. As the relationship strengthens, clients become more comfortable and see that positive change is possible. That is when good therapy happens.

What is the last book you read or movie you saw?

The last movie I saw was “Room”.  I recently learned that the actress who portrayed “Ma” won an Oscar award. It is a story about the resilience of the human spirit in the face of pain and tragedy. The last book I read was  “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. It is about how we feel and show love differently.

What prompted you to become a therapist?

Growing up my grandmother provided home-health care to people in her home who didn’t have family. I saw their pain and loneliness. I began reaching out to them, if only to smile, to sing to them, to draw them pictures. I was happy to ease those feelings of pain and aloneness. I was also the friend that everyone talked to about problems. I think those things prompted my journey to becoming a therapist.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

I became a cat person. I was a dog person throughout my life. Recently I inherited a fluffy black cat named Pretty Girl, who won me over. Dogs are pretty transparent. They love you, they’re happy, or they’re hungry. I have learned that cats are different creatures. She is independent, moody, loving (when she wants to be) and doesn’t need me as much as she lets me think she does. Learning her moods has been a comical process for me. It has taught me patience and that the relationship is the reward for my patience in getting to know, and love her.

What is your life philosophy?

Try to treat others the way I want to be treated, forgive (it really is for you), and just love. At the end of the day, to me, that is what matters.

How would you describe yourself in three words: 

Resilient, Nurturing, Listener.

Who or what is my greatest inspiration?

My parents are my inspiration and my family. My parents have been married 52 years. They have shown me that life and relationships aren’t about perfection, they are about not giving up; keep trying, keep moving forward. I have learned that the word failure only means I now know what doesn’t work, so I’ll try something else.


Fawn M. ClarkIf you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please give us a call at 412-367-0575 or email us at admin@pghpsychotherapy.com to schedule an appointment with Jennifer.

Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!

The Helping Relationship with Jennifer Halper

Join PghPsych in welcoming the latest addition to our growing family of professional therapists!  Jennifer Halper, MSW, LCSW brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our practice and we are pleased to welcome her! Discover more about Jennifer and her talents in this week’s blog post.

In Good Health,
Don

Unsplash Photo By Seth DoyleWhat kind of services do you provide as a psychotherapist?

My approach to therapy is integrative. I don’t marry myself to one style of treatment but rather work with my clients using approaches that best fit their personalities and needs. I typically use a combination of psychodynamic psychotherapy, play therapy, behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) while intermingling relaxation and creative therapy techniques into my sessions.

What does good therapy mean to you?

I greatly respect the strength that it can take to walk through the door of a therapist’s office. It is my belief that good therapy begins with establishing a trusting therapeutic relationship and builds from there. I believe that it is imperative that my clients feel safe in sharing their vulnerabilities so that they can work toward making positive changes in their lives.

What is the last book you read or movie you saw?

I love to read and am a huge movie buff. What haven’t I seen? I’ll watch almost anything though I have to admit that I foster a soft spot for anything that involves zombies and vampires. It’s sad but true. We all have our little indulgences.

My favorite book over the past few years is, hands down, “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb. The main character is so wonderfully fallible and human. It is a book that relates the journey to self-acceptance and the struggles that we face as we choose to heal the wounds we’ve gathered in our lives.

What prompted you to become a therapist?

I have been on this track since I was a teenager but even then there was no single event that lead me down this path. I have seen over and over the relief people feel when they work through their struggles. I was always drawn to that.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

This has been a hard question to answer. I even asked family members to help me remember the funniest thing that’s ever happened to me. The resounding response has been that there are just too many to remember. I like to laugh (a lot) and provide myself and others with opportunities to do so every day.

What is your life philosophy?

Laugh hard and often!

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Caring, thoughtful and beautifully imperfect!

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

My family.


Jennifer Halper, MSW, LCSW

Jennifer Halper, MSW, LCSW

If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please give us a call at 412-367-0575 or email us at admin@pghpsychotherapy.com to schedule an appointment with Jennifer.

Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!

Hello Jo!

Unsplash Photo By Patrick Hendry

Educated but forever learning, middle aged but young at heart, a citizen of the globe but very happy at home. Join us in welcoming Jo Ellen Smith to our growing practice. Jo brings with her the same spirit of personal growth and mind/body development that has always defined the mission of Pittsburgh Psychotherapy Associates. She is a welcomed edition and will be accepting new clients beginning this week! Get to know a bit more about Jo by reading her Q/A. 

In Good Health,
Don

What kind of services do you provide as a psychotherapist?

Having experiences in settings which include inpatient behavioral health, community mental health and private practice has allowed me to provide numerous services. Crisis intervention, stress management, treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, interpersonal relationship difficulties, parenting as well as issues regarding sexuality and gender have been focuses of services I have provided.

Where did you go to school and where did you receive your training – facilities, internships, awards?

I completed my undergraduate degree in Recreation Therapy at Kent State University. My graduate degree, Master of Science Counseling Psychology from Chatham University, was earned as an adult. My goal was to complete my degree before my daughter left for college. Well, my graduation was at 10:00 am in August of 2001 and at noon the same day we were on the way to State College for my daughter’s freshman year. I was confident I would reach my goal, and did so with an hour to spare!!!! In 2006 I was awarded the Graduate Alumni Award in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University. 

 What does good therapy mean to you?

I believe that relationship if the foundation of good therapy. Meeting clients where they are, moving at their pace, working toward their goals (not mine) promotes an atmosphere conducive to growth and change. Being present, authentic, honest, and curious are qualities which allow good therapy to happen.

 What is the last book you read or movie you saw?

 Reading is a favorite pastime, and it seems that the book I am reading is my favorite at the time. However, one book does stand out: “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. One of my favorite movies is Grand Canyon. Both have themes of love and vulnerability, issues that we all relate to and at time struggle with.

 What prompted you to become a therapist?

As a teenager and young adult in the 1960s and early 70s, the political atmosphere was highly impacted by the Vietnam War. As a college student at Kent State University, it was impossible to be unaffected by the student groups on campus, Black United Students (BUS) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). To me, it felt like an overwhelming task to take on “The Man” as the dominant political position was referred to. I was not political, but was a witness to the campus shooting on May 4,1970. I believe the event was the catalyst for my personal understanding that I could accomplish more change on an individual basis than my classmates were trying to do as a group. This experience was a trauma to all of us, and out of trauma can come healing, compassion and understanding.  

 What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

Humor and laughter are important in my day to day life. No singular event comes to mind. I do enjoy making others laugh. Each Halloween my little dog Layla has played along with my attempts to photograph her in a funny costume for my friends amusement. 

What is your life philosophy?

 I work to maintain of position of being present. Limit contamination from past wounds as well as minimize worry about the future. Trust myself, I have landed on my feet after several significant challenges and have faith that I have the ability to do so in the future. Life is precious.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

 Patient – Optimistic- Creative

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

The wonder of nature is a true inspiration for me. Having the opportunity to travel and experience the ocean, desert, forests and mountain tops fills me with awe and amazement. 


If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please give us a call at 412-367-0575 or email us at admin@pghpsychotherapy.com to schedule an appointment with Jo.

Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!

Finding Yourself in the Age of the Internet

by Christy Gualtieri

“Everyone on the Internet…they are not having a great a time as you think they are.”
– Portlandia

Young woman with laptop at home.

When I was a freshman in college, our class was the first in our school’s history to assign each student a laptop computer.  We had to bring (more like drag, it was as wide and thick as a shoebox) it to each class, where our teachers were instructed to assign us tasks on it; and eventually, we were expected to use it to complete and turn in our assignments.  We did that, but we also discovered the first social medias – group chat rooms like ICQ, and message services like AIM.  We agonized over what to write as our perfect “away messages” – messages that would automatically pop up if we weren’t around our computers.  We pored over movie quotes and song lyrics that we thought defined us best, and we set those as our profile quotes.  We needed to identify ourselves using outside resources, and that’s what we presented to our world.

It seems so innocent, doesn’t it? Who wants people to think we’re losers? Or worse, who wants others to see us as out of touch, irrelevant?

It still carries on today – maybe you recognize it in yourself.  The things we share on Facebook – do we think twice about sharing that article we really like, or second-guess the thoughts we enter in that status prompt? Instagram has an option for posting your photos unfiltered – but it’s only one option.  There are myriads of filters that help you tweak your photo to perfection – or what you think your Instagram followers might find acceptable.  Pinterest gives you the option to create “secret” boards – boards that you can keep private so you can pin images and quotes to them that you like, but you think others might find unacceptable.

Living in today’s age of the Internet is such a fascinating thing, the way it must have been fascinating living at the cusp of widespread electricity or when people were stupefied by the first wireless communications.  Society is held captive by these new inventions, but no one’s really sure yet how it impacts us as a whole.

These days, I’ve been thinking more and more about being present in my own life, and I’m finding that being constantly connected to the Internet has become more of a detriment.  It’s neat to catch up with friends, but it’s also strange to know all this information about them without actually talking with them.  But I have friends who love it, who can effortlessly glide from leaving Yelp reviews of their haircut to Instagramming their awesome-looking dinners to updating Facebook with their next weekend’s plans. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s interesting to see how social media impacts our lives.  It’s becoming something that I feel I’m not needing anymore, but it’s so hard to break the habit!

How do you feel about social media? If it stresses you out, you’re not alone.  Let’s try something together: if constantly being online is negatively affecting your life, try to have two set times during the day where you’ll check your sites — maybe a half hour in the morning, and one in the evening.  Try it for a week, and then post in the comments how you feel.  Do you feel better? Worse? More bored? Less bored? Anxious? Afraid you’re missing out? Let’s talk about it, and try to build each other up!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

Christy GualtieriChristy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!