NAVIGATION- Dr. Charles R. Davenport; Licensed Psychologist

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Mental health to blame for shootings?

In a recent address, president Trump said, “We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary involuntary confinement.”

President Trump may not be an expert on mental health but one accurate point is the need for increased access to mental health treatment.

Another comment he made, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” Well, experts may not agree with the president here. There seems to be a theme of fear and separation between groups of people in recent years. When we are scared and separated from others we loose many of the more developed of human skills. Infact, when humans are scared the fight or flight response can be triggered and it becomes mach harder if not impossible to use higher order thinking such as future planning, empathy, and advanced problem solving.

The fight or flight response is a powerful force to keep us alive however, it has one purpose to keep us alive number one. Anything else can get tagged by this system as auxiliary and a possible risk to survival. Taking the time to think about a possible threat can get us killed so quick decision to destroy the threat or separate ourselves from it are frequently the only options when the fight or flight system is actiavted.

The fight or flight system is not bad or good but it is a very powerful system. It frequently is at work as a reflex meaning we typically are not aware of its impact on us. As individuals and as a society increased awareness of this process in our lives can be powerful and freeing!

Experts from the American Psychological Association, have called it “unfounded”to blame mass shootings on mental illness in place of considering other possible factors, such as hate, bigotry and access to assault weapons. Not that access to assault weapons has to be good or bad. However, access can increase risk statistically.

Calling every mass shooting a mental health problem is “inaccurate and it’s stigmatizing,” said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association.

Mental illness affects millions of adults across the country. About 1 in 5 adults in the United States, or 46.6 million, experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

It might be suggested that, when fear activates the fight or flight systems, people are more willing to destroy things and each other and others are more willing to control and isolate individuals who are identified as a threat rather then working to better understand what is occurring. Labeling scary things like shootings as the direct result of mental health is not likely helpful or accurate in the long run.

Dr. Davenport is. a Licensed Psychologist in Sarasota and Venice, FL who treats anxiety, depression and relationship problems with children, adolescents, and adults. Please call 941-321-1971 to schedule an appointment.

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Your psychological well-being may be reflected in your skin

Recent studies by the American psychological Association (APA) suggest a connection between common skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, itching, pain, and hives may be related to significant experience of stress, anxiety, and depression among other psychological concerns.

To some, this may be expected, to others they may be surprised to hear. has a licensed psychologist I many patient seem to have physical symptoms that are made worse or brought on psychological stress or conflict. Just as our emotions can be a source of critical data about things going on in our body, so can skin conditions according to these recent studies. Many times migraine headaches, increase in autoimmune dysfunction, and gastrointestinal disruption are also seen with increased emotional distress. Many times these physical manifestations suggest that the stress the person is experiencing his overwhelming their ability to let the stress out or cope. Finding new ways to work through overwhelming problems is something Dr. Davenport does with many patients at his practice Charles R. Davenport, Psy.D., LLC. with locations in Venice, FL and Sarasota, FL.

 

How Long Should Psychotherapy Last?

Ever wonder how long therapy takes?

This is a great question that comes up for many people as they learn more about therapy and counseling.

“How long will it last?” is one of the questions people most often ask when they are about to begin psychotherapy–especially if it’s their first time.

The answer I usually give is not one people feel comfortable with, because I answer with a question: “How long should yoga last?” “How long should you study piano?” “How long should you learn chess?”

The answer to that question will depend on the counselor and treatment approach used. A behavioral psychotherapist who emphasizes eliminating symptoms may answer that the therapy will be completed when the symptom is gone, which may be a matter of weeks or at most a year. A cognitive psychotherapist may reply, “The treatment will last long enough to replace your negative thinking with positive thinking.” Someone who specializes in short-term therapy may say, “We will set goals and the therapy will be over when we reach those goals, which will be no more than a month or two.”

Of all the modalities, psychoanalytic psychotherapy may last the longest. Sigmund Freud often compared psychoanalysis to an archeological dig. When do you stop digging? Indeed, the deeper you dig, the more you find. And when do you stop examining what you dig up? And when do you stop trying to put it all together?

In Freud’s day psychoanalysts saw their analysands (as they were called) six times a week. Psychoanalysis was an intense intellectual and emotional experience. It was, in fact, the most intense relationship in an analysand’s life. In the beginning, the pioneers of psychoanalysis thought a year of psychoanalysis was enough. Then they extended it to two years. Then they began to realize that psychoanalysis could be, in Freud’s words, “interminable.” Although many of Freud’s theories have been questioned, the talk therapy he began has continued up to the present in many forms.

Today, psychoanalytic psychotherapists know that a client’s particular issues will determine the length of the treatment. Since we generally only see patients once or twice a week, the treatment will take longer than it did in Freud’s day because it is not as intense. Sometimes it can take a year, sometimes it can take several years and sometimes it can be “interminable.”

The length of psychoanalytic psychotherapy has to do with the psychoanalytic approach. It is the opposite of a goal-oriented modality. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy uses free association as the cornerstone of the treatment. We ask clients to say whatever is on their mind on any particular day. This serves a number of purposes. First, it promotes spontaneity. Many people have become overly defensive and distrustful, due to experiences they encountered growing up, and for them spontaneity begins the growth process and builds trust between the psychotherapist and the client.

Free association also serves to get a client to a deeper level of thinking. A client may free associate about the artifacts she sees on my library shelf and then may remember an artifact on her father’s desk during her childhood, and this memory may lead to other memories which in turn may lead to long-buried emotions that underlie recurring conflicts in her life. If I were simply to instruct her to remember such things, she might feel put on the spot and unable to do so.

As this free association continues, week after week, it goes ever deeper into the areas of the mind that were formerly unconscious. It reaches into regions that the client has avoided. When it reaches that level, the client’s instinct is to pull away, and hence the treatment may become a grind. It is like any relationship; there is the honeymoon period, in which there is a new and exciting beginning of intimacy. And then the honeymoon is over and the client begins behaving in therapy the same way he behaves outside of therapy; he begins to have the same abandonment fears, the same trust issues, the same anger problems, the same mood swings, and the same obsessions that he has in his life in general.

Such issues do not just disappear overnight. You can remove a symptom, but that does not remove the underlying unconscious conflict that caused the symptom. The symptom will just come back in a different form. A person may come to grips with his drinking problem, but may then become continually irritable. A person may get control of his tendency to act out anger, but then will fall into a depression.

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is not right for everybody. Indeed, research has shown that different people respond to different approaches. People who respond to psychoanalytic psychotherapy are people who want to understand themselves. How long will that take? You can stop an archeological dig at any time. Or you can keep digging and see what else turns up. It’s your choice.

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Dr. Charles R. Davenport is a Licensed Psychologist
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