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Kathy Marshack News

Exposure Therapy vs. NET – Which Produces Better Results for Anxiety?

Monday, October 17, 2016


Exposure Therapy vs. NET – Which Produces Better Results for Anxiety?Recently I mentioned exposure therapy as a treatment for PTSD, and some of you have been wondering what exposure therapy is and how it works. Here’s a summary of how exposure therapy works, plus an explanation of why I prefer NET (neuro emotional technique).

Fear and anxiety are debilitating states of mind. It causes a person to react in ways that they don’t want to. Often it causes the sufferers to avoid situations, even important events, if they know it will trigger these strong reactions. The problem with avoiding your fears is that you won’t have the opportunity to overcome them. To the contrary, it often makes them stronger.

Exposure therapy makes you confront the situations or objects you fear. A mental health professional will either ask you to imagine a situation that causes you anxiety, or you may literally confront it in real life. Of course, facing your biggest fear right away would only add to your trauma, so exposure therapy starts with a situation that’s only mildly threatening and works up from there. This step-by-step approach is called systematic desensitization. The idea is that through repeated exposures, you’ll gradually challenge your fears, build your confidence, and learn how to control the panic and anxiety.

NET has longer lasting benefits and is a much gentler approach.

First, it’s important to understand how your body reacts to stress. When something disrupts the natural letting go process, the mind and body holds onto this unresolved stress and continues to reproduce the same stress reaction when it's triggered by a stimulus or memory. Then the person experiences real physiological problems such as chronic pain, organ dysfunctions, neurological problems, musculoskeletal and immunological conditions, allergies, and headaches. It may also cause psychological problems such as phobias, depression, anxieties, ADD / ADHD, nightmares, disruptive behavior, fear of public speaking and more.

A NET practitioner treats the disruption with a homeopathic remedy that uses the verified law of pharmacology Law of Similars – or like cures like. For example, a large dose of ipecac will induce vomiting. However, minute particles in a homeopathic remedy will stop vomiting. Once the system is brought back into balance, your body and mind can heal itself relieving you of the headaches, chronic pain, phobia or whatever symptom is caused by this unresolved stress.

NET helps you re-engage the physiological response and complete the unresolved mind/body pattern of stress and extinguish it. Rather than making you relive the experience, N.E.T utilizing Manual Muscle Testing, which pinpoints your very real physiological response (such as a racing heart and profuse sweating) to a stimulus (a situation that brings up the unresolved stress reaction memory). This accesses how emotions affect the way your body works and helps identify the best way to resolve the issue.

In order to help my clients obtain lasting relief, I’ve trained to be a Level 2 Certified NET Practitioner. If you’re ready to get your life back, please seriously consider NET as a highly effective alternative treatment for PTSD and anxiety. And if you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders.

Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?Do you remember when you first heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It wasn’t formally recognized until 1980. That really wasn’t long ago, so therapies for treating PTSD are still in their infancy.

One traditional medical approach involves using medication and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. However, veterans aren’t finding this as helpful as hoped. Rehashing the event, without giving them coping skills, leaves them feeling helpless, which compounds the problem.

As a result, many alternative therapies are springing up. According to a recent New York Times article, some of them are: “therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.”

Are these viable options or are they just ways to avoid the issue?

Some of these therapies challenge veterans to overcome fears and build new experiences that put traumatic memories into perspective, which can be helpful.

However, the overall effectiveness of alternative therapies is hard to assess, beyond anecdotal evidence. Yet I believe that a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Neuro-Emotional Technique, Yoga, meditation or pet therapy can help PTSD sufferers maintain lasting gains. I’ve seen it reduce PTSD symptoms of depression and anxiety without any side effects, plus there’s no stigma attached to it.

I’m by no means alone in believing this. For example, in 2006, Dr. van der Kolk published one of the first studies about the effects of yoga on PTSD. He said that even “after six months the positive effects of yoga are still there.”

If you are a veteran or are experiencing PTSD for another reason, you deserve these life-empowering skills. You don’t have to settle for feeling broken, helpless and hopeless for the rest of your life. With patience and the help of a professional, you can get your life back. Please contact a qualified health care specialist in your area as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can determine and get started on the best therapy for you.

Read more on my website: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Letting Go to Achieve Greater Happiness and Health

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


There isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of as you become okay with the situation and experience greater health and calm.Many people today are dealing with chronic problems – mental issues, broken relationships and ongoing pain, to name just a few. An important phase of healing is to quit fighting it and begin surrendering to it.

Surrendering or “letting go” doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself, that you start self-medicating to forget, or that you’re practicing avoidance behavior. It simply means that accept the way things really are. Rather than continually knocking your head against the proverbial wall, you’ll be able to move in a better direction. When you come to terms with your situation in life, your happiness and health will improve.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to become congruent with your present-day situations. Yes, some of the life challenges in the following list can be really tough to handle. But with the right tools and support there isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of in time. A few of the difficult life situations we face are and need to become okay with might include:
  • Your current health level.
  • Your current level of pain.
  • Your limitations.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Being lonely.
  • Your body image.
  • Who you are.
  • Your single or marital status.

It’s important to note that being okay with something doesn’t mean you like it. Many of life challenges require that we practice self-compassion when addressing a chronic negative reality. Be patient with yourself as you process it and learn to live with it.

Never give up on finding a treatment that works for you. One type of treatment may work for one person, whereas a different treatment will help another person better. As a qualified psychologist and N.E.T practitioner, I’ve seen many clients respond well to alternative, holistic treatments. These include dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, movement therapies, specialized diets, and neuro-emotional technique.

There are ups and downs in the process of living. Sometimes our problems turn out to be gifts that provide us opportunities to grow as individuals. If you’d like to explore your options and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

The Psychological Toll of Entrepreneurship

Monday, September 19, 2016


When you think of a successful entrepreneur that you admire, what traits come to mind? Creative, strategic or tenacious? How about depressed or anxious? 

Successful entrepreneurs are often viewed as heroes. We marvel at the speed at which they grow their businesses. They push themselves beyond physical and emotional limits. However, this can be a problem, because before they make it big, many experience periods of deep anxiety and despair.
This issue is thoroughly examined in an article by Inc. Magazine. If you are thinking of starting a business or are currently a business owner, I encourage you to read the article. It revealed the hidden, internal struggles of entrepreneurs because of something called “impression management” or the idea of “fake it till you make it.” Business leaders avoid showing any sort of vulnerability. That is, until recently. More and more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their feelings and experiences in order to combat the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety.

Why is it that some of the most creative, energetic, driven people suffer with these debilitating issues? The article pointed out something I’ve observed for years as a psychologist, the very qualities that make someone a successful entrepreneur can also make them vulnerable to mood swings and high emotional states. Those states can include depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and lack of motivation. Also, because entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy for them to push through tough times without pausing to evaluate if their negative feelings are part of a bigger issue that needs attention.

Additionally, the uncertainty of running a business can lead to trouble. Startups face a high risk of failure. Entrepreneurs also must wear many hats, playing different roles within the company. Often they deal with setbacks as they try to compete in an increasingly crowded market. The demands of owning a business can lead some entrepreneurs to neglect their physical health as well. Not exercising, eating too much or too little, and not getting enough sleep are common issues.

Even though entrepreneurship can be a stressful, wild ride, you can maintain a healthy balance! Here’s what I recommend to my entrepreneurial clients – stop and honestly evaluate how you are feeling. Do you sense an imbalance? Then it is time to take a timeout. Take time for a hobby, your friends, and especially your family. Perhaps take a vacation, or even just a long weekend. Whatever you need to do, do it immediately. Business success is wonderful, but not at the expense of your mental and physical health.

Stress (and the accompanying negative symptoms) comes when you allow any part of your life to become out of alignment. If left unchecked, other areas of your life are affected, producing more stress. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to, and take care of, the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body, and spirit.

Do not let your work define who you are. It is something you do, not your identity. It is important to feel successful in areas outside of work. Don't let a business failure define you either. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don’t exaggerate and become overwhelmed by a “failure.” Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in your life, pay attention to what is good.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed as you navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Yoga PLUS Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise Alone

Monday, July 11, 2016


Yoga plus Exercise Improves Mood Faster than Exercise AloneHave you noticed that familiar words and names elude you sometimes? If you’re over 40 be assured that this is a common occurrence. While some memory decline is inevitable over time, there’s much we can do to slow it down by how we live and move our bodies.

We’ve known for some time that staying physically active is crucial to mental wellbeing. Interestingly, a New York Times article recently reported on how you can intensify the effect of exercise by adding yoga and meditation to your weekly routine.

In one study, people suffering from depression were asked to meditate before they went for a run. In an amazingly short period of time, they showed greater improvements in their mood than those who did either running or meditation alone.

Another study
, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that all participants performed significantly better on their cognitive-thinking tests after increasing their exercise. However, only after adding yoga to the 12-week exercise routine, did the mood of the participants significantly improve. Exercise alone was not as affective in altering moods.

They also did brain scans on both groups (only exercise v. exercise plus yoga), which showed improved communication between the brains areas involved in memory and language skills. People who practiced yoga had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability to focus.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A. who oversaw the study noted that the reduction in stress hormones and anxiety likely played a substantial role in the improvement, as well as, an increased level of biochemicals in the muscles. I encourage you to read the entire article here.

If you have severe depression or trauma-induced depression, yoga in conjunction with working with a professional who has special trauma therapy training might be a better treatment for you. Sometimes yoga brings up too much painful stuff to be handled without therapy. If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.


Have You Tried these Anxiety Busters? They Really Work!

Monday, June 06, 2016


Anxiety disorders are highly treatable yet millions of people are letting them ruin their lives needlessly – try these anxiety busters and see if they help.Do you suffer from anxiety? You are by no means alone. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Are you seeking treatment or are one of the two-thirds of the U.S. population who haven’t received treatment yet?

We can all use help at times, so here are four anxiety busters that really work. The good news is that they’re really easy to do.

Anxiety Buster 1: Breathe deeply.
People experiencing anxiety breathe shallowly and rapidly. This makes less oxygen available to your brain, which triggers more anxiety. By taking slow, deep breaths you’ll increase oxygen to your brain and regain control.

Do you know how to breathe from your diaphragm? If not, try this:

Lie on your back and place a small book on your belly.
As you slowly inhale through your nose, make the book go up.
Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
When you exhale, make the book go down.
Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
Inhale again and repeat 9 more times.

Anxiety Buster 2: Don’t be a bolter.

When the going gets tough the anxious ones run away. Running from or bolting prolongs the agony of your anxiety. It takes courage to face your fear, but by doing so you regain your sense of control and no longer feel powerless.

Anxiety Buster 3: Challenge your distorted thinking.
Anxiety is made worse by our negative thinking. This distorted way of thinking needs to be challenged. You can do this by writing your thoughts down and seeing if they make sense. Or better yet, say them out loud to a trusted friend or mental health professional. They can help you discover a more realistic version of the same thought.

Anxiety Buster 4: Treat anxiety holistically, and if needed, medically.
Too many people are going untreated and are suffering needlessly from chronic anxiety. Often anxiety is allayed when a person gets plenty of rest, good nutrition and regular exercise. Listening to music has proven to be effective too. Adopting a holistic health approach can also include supplementation with herbs, vitamins, minerals and hormones. Your physician should oversee your use of these as well as any other medication prescribed. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and you’re ready to stop debilitating anxiety, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders and Holistic Health.

Stress Can Be a Friend or an Enemy

Monday, May 23, 2016


Stress is your friend because it’s telling you that something isn’t right in your life and you need to do something; it’s how you react to stress that’s good or bad.“What?! Everyone says stress is bad, Dr. Marshack. How can you say stress is your friend?”

It’s true that we hear everyday about how stress is killing us. It’s often associated with problems such as:


Increased appetite for sugar and fats
Abdominal obesity
No energy
Poor concentration
High cholesterol levels
Heart disease and hypertension
Risk for strokes
Diabetes
Alzheimer’s disease
Osteoporosis
Anxiety
Depression
Compromised immune system

But without stress you wouldn’t be motivated to do anything. You wouldn’t get out of bed. You wouldn’t leave your home. You wouldn’t work to solve problems. You wouldn’t strive for excellence. You wouldn’t work at patching up relationships. You wouldn’t get out of the way of a speeding car.

Stress is simply a red flag that you NEED TO DO SOMETHING. It’s telling you that something is not right in your life. How you react to that red flag is the good or bad part of stress. Often you know what you should do, but you don’t follow through, so you add fighting against yourself to the original stressor, which launches the dangerous threat to your health.

It’s your choice to get angry at something someone says or let it go. It’s your choice to suffer in silence or to stand up for yourself. You can decide to sit on the couch watching TV eating bags of chips or go outside and walk in the sunshine. You can choose to tell yourself, “You’re so stupid and you can’t do it.” Or instead say, “I am capable. What I do is good enough.”

However, if stress is prolonged and has already caused serious health problems or is the result of trauma, a chemical imbalance or a nutritional imbalance, you’ll need more than positive thinking and meditation to get you back on track to optimal health. Maybe it’s been going on so long you don’t even know where your stress is coming from.

A psychologist experienced in a holistic health, NET and varying forms of psychotherapy can provide you with a mental and physical health program tailored to your specific biochemical, emotional and mental needs. If you’re experiencing unrelieved stress, please consult with a professional as soon as possible. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more: Mind and Body Health.

Anxiety Is a Real Brain Disorder, Not a Personality Flaw

Monday, May 02, 2016


anxiety is a real brain disorder not a personality flaw“Oh, she’s just a worry wart. She wouldn’t be happy if she didn’t have something to fret about!” It used to be a popularly held view that anxiety was a personality flaw instead of recognizing it for what it really is – a brain disorder. Rather than dismissing anxiety as a personal choice, science is proving that chronic anxiety isn’t something that people choose to experience. Their anxious brains are actually different from healthy brains.

While trying to pinpoint the brain changes caused by anxiety disorders, Offir Laufer, David Israeli and Rony Paz, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, found that people diagnosed with anxiety are less able to tell the difference between a neutral or safe stimulus and one that was previously associated with a threat.

In their study, these researchers trained people with anxiety to associate three distinct sounds or tones with one of these outcomes – money loss, money gain, or no consequence. Then these participants were presented with one of 15 tones. They had to identify if they’d heard that tone before or not. They were rewarded with money if they were correct. Interestingly, the subjects with anxiety were more likely than the healthy control group to think a new sound was one they’d heard earlier. Why?

Rony Paz explains: “We show that in patients with anxiety, emotional experiences induce plasticity in brain circuits that last after the experience is over. Such plastic changes result in an inability to discriminate between the originally experienced stimulus and a new similar stimulus. Therefore, anxiety patients respond emotionally to new stimuli, resulting in anxiety even in apparently irrelevant new situations.”

What does this mean? People with an anxiety disorder associate a new experience with an old emotional response that lingers in their brain. The previous anxious feelings are now attached to the new and often unrelated experience. So even though there’s no reason for anxiety, their brain tells them that there is. This behavior is known as over-generalization.

Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of the anxious brain versus healthy brains showed response differences in the amygdale and in the primary sensory regions of the brain. These results support the theory that emotional experiences cause changes in sensory representations in anxious brains. This reaction isn’t something that an anxious person can control, because it’s a fundamental brain difference.

Anxiety can be a completely normal and beneficial emotion when it alerts you to potential danger. However, full-blown anxiety can keep you from leading a full and happy life. Thankfully there are a variety of treatments that can help you cope with your anxiety and drastically minimize its impact on your life. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to learn how to deal with your anxious brain, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders.

A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!How would you like a no cost way to stay in shape, clear your mind, spark creativity, reduce depression and anxiety, and change the way your brain works? It’s easy. Just go for a hike! Now that spring weather is warming up here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great time to get outside and take a hike in the woods. Not only will you see beautiful scenery, smell wonderful woodsy scents, and exercise your muscles, you’ll actually be making positive changes to your brain, as the following studies show.

University of British Columbia researchers found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in women over the age of 70. That’s the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory. Who doesn’t want a better memory? Hiking will do that and so much more. It also reduces stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem, and releases endorphins.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on a study about how rumination (repetitive negative thought about self) is affected by urban setting versus a 90 minute walk in the woodsy park. Not surprisingly, they found that spending time in nature significantly decreases obsessive, negative thoughts. It also reduces neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through an urban setting, however, didn’t receive these benefits. In fact, the researchers discovered that increased urbanization correlates to increased mental illnesses.

When you go for your hike, leave your phone off! Here’s why…Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem-solving skills are greatly improved by ditching technology and going for a hike. After a 4 day backpacking tip, (without any tech tools turned on), the participants’ creative thinking and problem-solving skills improved 50%. It also improves your relationships since you’ll have more of an opportunity to talk. For your safety, I would suggest having the phone with you, but only turn it on if you experience problems and need help.

Hiking also helps children with ADHD. Frances E Kup, Ph.D. and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D. found that children with ADHD improved their ability to pay attention and control their impulsive behavior when they engaged in nature activities.

We live in such a beautiful area. I hope I’ve motivated you to find a few trails and recharge. However, it’s important to realize if you or your loved one is experiencing serious mental health issues such as persistent anxiety or depression, it’s important to consult a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Discover Neuro Emotional Technique to Make Emotional and Even Physical Healing Possible

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Discover Neuro Emotional Technique to Make Emotional and Even Physical Healing PossibleIt’s said that we all carry scars – scars from past emotional and physical wounds that shape who we are today. How you remember a past, painful occurrence will determine your present ability to experience emotional health.

If you’ve properly processed the negative past and extinguished it, it won’t present itself as a problem for you now. Oftentimes, however, if the original conditioning event is not processed correctly, you’ll experience a physiological response each time you experience that event.

For example, physiologist Pavlov conditioned dogs to associate the sound of a bell with the sight and smell of meat. So each time the dogs heard the bell, they would salivate. They were conditioned to respond in that specific way because of their memory of what the bell represented.

When clients are asked to re-experience a past emotion, such as anger or fear, they’re being asked to go back and relive a memory. By reliving that memory, they produce a feeling. And that feeling can be used by a NET Practioner to help a client overcome a phobia, resolve life-altering stresses, and heal mental disorders.

Scientific research is connecting the dots between painful events, stress, and the physiological changes to the brain. As the Dec 2015 study “Could Stress Contribute to Pain-Related Fear in Chronic Pain” stated:

“A difference between acute and chronic stress is supported by data outside of the pain field: Early adversity as well as chronic stress has been linked to structural alterations in the brain causing a hyperactive amygdala and impaired prefrontal inhibition. These alterations could underlie the extinction impairments observed in several mental disorders, which is interesting in the context of chronic pain given the high comorbidity between chronic pain and affective disorders. Finally, effects of acute stress on pain-related memory retrieval may be fundamentally different in normals and patients with chronic pain. While stress-induced effects in normals are adaptive, they may be altered and in fact maladaptive and in patients with chronic pain. For example in patients with PTSD, cortisol enhanced rather than impaired memory retrieval.”

Paradoxically, we can use the power of past, negative events to help us heal our present. The job of a NET practitioner is to gently help a client go to that place of unresolved negativity so he or she can complete a process that allows them to move forward from that painful place.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. As a NET practitioner, I will help you remove the block, so your body can repair itself naturally.

Read more on my website: Releasing Unresolved Stress.


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