Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Individual psychotherapy for adults
Individual therapy for children
Individual therapy for adolescents
Couples counseling and marital therapy
Family therapy
Psychological and neuropsychological evaluation
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders : child and adult
Psychiatric-services
Forensic-evaluation, consultation and court testimony
Online counseling and psychotherapy
Group therapy: Child and adult
Eating-disorders – Anorexia and bulimia – Bariatric eval.

Individual psychotherapy for adults

Adults may seek individual psychotherapy when experiencing the following issues:

Anxiety, depression, relationship stress, separation, divorce, mood swings, bipolar disorder, panic , phobias, social anxiety, life transitions, job stress, loss of loved one, stress due to medical illness or injury, sleep problems, substance abuse, eating disorders,(anorexia and bulimia), weight management, PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder, trauma, OCD (obsessive compulsive ), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Individual therapy for children

Treatment for child behavioral problems begins with an initial meeting with parents to acquire a developmental history. Parents often seek treatment for the following problems: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities (reading difficulties, math difficulties, writing problems), developmental delays, aspergers, autism, anger, aggression, peer conflicts, separation anxiety, school phobia, depression, sad mood, adjustment problems, sibling rivalry, parent-child conflict, defiance, oppositional, school suspension, running away, suicidal gestures, self-mutilation, sleep problems, sleep terrors, enueresis, social skills.

Individual therapy for adolescents

Treatment for adolescents ages 12 years old to 18 years old requires a specialized approach in which the parent is initially involved to allow the therapist to acquire a developmental history and assess family interaction problems. The adolescent may meet with the therapist with a confidential agreement and right to privacy unless they are engaging in risky behaviors at which point the parent or guardian will be informed. Parental participation is paramount such that the parents are strongly urged to meet with the therapist on a regular basis to participate in treatment in a conjoint manner. This ensures appropriate interaction, communication and understanding between all parties to accomplish effective treatment.

Adolescent treatment issues include the following: depression, bipolar, anxiety, panic, phobia, obsessive compulsive (OCD), irrational thoughts and behaviors, aggression, oppositional behavior, defiance, running away, school truancy, suicidal gestures and ideation, legal infractions, substance abuse, self-esteem issues, self-mutilation, cutting and burning, eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), weight management, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning difficulties (reading, writing, math), family problems, post traumatic stress disorder PTSD), trauma, loss, grief, step parenting and blended families, separation, custody disputes, visitation conflicts.

Couples counseling and marital therapy

Couples counseling and marital therapy enables the couple to address issues of communication, understanding, and listening in a supportive environment. Couples are encouraged to learn new healthy patterns of interaction, both verbally and behaviorally, to assist them in developing and maintaining a productive, growing, committed and satisfying relationship for life. Couples often seek counseling to assist them with the following: communication difficulties, intimacy, emotional expressiveness, alternatives to separation or divorce, promoting family cohesiveness and cooperation, cooperative parenting, affairs, conflict resolution, sexual difficulties, balancing relationships and family responsibilities, time management to enhance couple intimacy and satisfaction, improve marital satisfaction, couple enrichment, strengthening partnership and committment, improving the quality of life as a couple, enhancing romantic love, learning to prioritize the marriage, couples communication assessment, exploring patterns of interaction, the development of healthy patterns of communication and behavior for new couples as they strive to build a strong foundation of love, learning how to speak with respect and understanding with their partners, avoiding abusive and toxic interactions.

Family therapy

Family therapy utilizes a group format in which all members of the family meet in a neutral supportive environment mediated by a skilled family therapist. Treatment goals often focus on enhancing communication and understanding between family members to evoke a positive change within the family. Families often seek treatment for the following issues: parent and child conflicts, ineffective parenting strategies, blended families, sudden changes and adjustments to family structure, problems dealing with teenagers, inlaw disputes, reintegration of grandparents or college students returning to live at home, substance abuse, family roles and responsibilities, dealing with impact of medical illness, injury, impact of unemployment, loss of a parent.

Psychological and neuropsychological evaluation

Effective treatment requires competent and comprehensive assessment and diagnoses.

Testing and evaluation may be indicated if a patient is experiencing unremitting depression, severe anxiety, personality changes, co-morbid conditions unresponsive to treatment, and or any other difficulties that may require differential diagnoses.

Patients seek psychological and neuropsychological evaluation for the following possible diagnoses: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, reading disorder, writing disorder, math disorder, language disorder, Asperger’s disorder, autism, developmental delays, cognitive impairment, memory and concentration impairment due to illness, accident, aging, closed head injury, intellectual functioning determination, school assessments and achievement testing for grade level placement, IEP’s (individual educational plan) , gifted and talented assessment and placement, personality assessment and differential diagnoses of personality functioning and disorders, sensori-motor integration issues, perceptual motor disturbances, preop bariatric testing and evaluation.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders : child and adult

Attention Deficit Disorders in children and adults clearly effect performance in school and the work place. ADD may result in lower self-esteem and self worth, anxiety, depression, and interpersonal conflicts with family, friends, and co-workers. Effective treatment requires competent and appropriate assessment. The Center’s computer assisted diagnostic protocols will evaluate you or your child. The Center’s board certified psychiatrists can provide rapid medication solutions in conjunction with behavioral strategies and support from psychologists working as a team with you and your child.

Psychiatric services

Patients often benefit from a combination of therapy and medication, which synergistically enhance the response to both therapeutic and pharmacological intervention. The use of therapy and medication has been shown to be significantly more effective than the use of therapy or medication alone. This strategy is often the most effective approach for the treatment of the following: depression, anxiety, panic, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other treatment issues. The Center offers coordinated care between the therapists and the psychiatrists on staff to ensure a comprehensive and integrative medicine approach for patients.

Back to top

Forensic evaluation, consultation and court testimony

Patients seek Forensic Evaluation for the following : when facing legal proceedings with respect to violations of the law for driving under the influence (DUI), competency to stand trial, misdemeanor and felony offenses, school suspension for aggressive behavior, arrested for theft or aggressive offenses, shoplifting, possession of controlled substances, assault, and other offenses. Forensic Psychological Evaluations may provide mitigating evidence to assist in defense and make alternative sentencing recommendations. Patients may be referred by attorneys or the court system. The Center provides pretrial and posttrial therapeutic care.

Our forensic program assists criminal defense attorneys in areas that include: criminal competency, criminal responsibility, DUI-DWI and substance abuse assessment, insanity defense, recommendations for therapeutic and rehabilitative programs and alternative sentencing.

A full psychodiagnostic evaluation provides a clinical history and an assessment of intellectual and personality function, analysis of substance abuse, impulse control, sexual concerns executive function, organic issues, characterological concerns to present an integrated evaluation of the individual.

Psychological and neuropsychological evaluations add valuable data in the mitigation phase of criminal proceedings by allowing the court to understand issues of personality dynamic, impulse control, dangerousness, amenability to treatment, adjustment to incarceration and concerns with respect to recidivism.  The use of standardized test instruments, in a carefully constructed psychodiagnostic test protocol may allow for alternative sentencing, appropriate therapeutic interventions and reduction of sentences.

Expert witness testimony is provided by Dr. Ken Ellis, a licensed psychologist and former Chief Psychologist for the Maryland Department of Corrections. Dr. Ellis has been qualified as an expert in psychology in the state and federal systems.

Back to top

Online counseling and psychotherapy

For those patients who are unable to travel to the Columbia Counseling Center or prefer to engage in a therapeutic relationship in the privacy of their own home or other private setting, online therapy may be the treatment format to meet your needs. Technology enables us to conduct video conferencing from anywhere in the world allowing you continuity of care with your therapist as needed. Contact Dr. Kenneth Ellis dockrellis@gmail.com or Dr. Susan Minsky at DrSMinsky@gmail.com to schedule a convenient time for a therapy appointment.
Back to top

Group therapy : child and adult

Women’s Support Group offers women the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues involving relationship conflicts, social isolation, depression, loss of a partner, transitions such as reentry to the work setting, empty nest, and life adjustments.

Men’s Support Group offers men the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues involving partnership conflicts, committmemt, juggling work and family responsibilities, adequacy issues, and an opportunity to connect with other males struggling with similar issues with a male mediator and group leader.

Social Skills Groups for children and adolescents address peer relationships, coping with ADHD, anxiety, self-esteem, self- concept development, blended family issues, parent conflicts in a safe peer environment with a skilled group therapist.

Eating disorders – anorexia and bulimia bariatric eval.

Patients may be self referred or referred by inpatient programs including Saint Joseph’s Hospital or Sheppard-Pratt who require outpatient follow-up treatment. Patients often present with a variety of degrees of eating disordered behaviors such as binge eating, restricting, purging, obesity, unhealthy eating habits with improper nutrition, and weight management issues including bariatric surgery preoperative and post operative needs for evaluation and treatment.

Previous Articles

Dream a Little Dream

It is common practice in psychoanalysis for the patient to report the content of dreams as part of treatment. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were a window into the unconscious mind. Therefor, by understanding and interpreting the content of dreams the patient would reveal thoughts and images that would possibly clarify current or past experiences, feelings and actions.

Dream analysis, once in vogue for both patients and doctors, has given way to what is termed cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. A CBT approach to treatment might view dream content as random neural activity. However, if one considers the complexity of our dreams and the fact that there are repetitive themes and images,frankly, that hardly seems “random.” CBT examines cognition,our manner of thinking about issues. It also evaluates and treats behavioral concerns, like nail biting, smoking or other compulsive behaviors. Dream analysis is more within the realm of psychotherapeutic approaches that incorporate a deeper analysis of the complex developmental issues, or psychodynamics, which are the causal basis of personality and cognitive concerns.

The dream is divided into two components. The first level of analysis is the manifest content ( which is the actual experience of the dream). “I was driving my car down a mountain road and I had no brakes!” The second level is the latent content of the dream,( what the dream really means). In this case it might be a feeling of loss of control or an inability to control something. We dream in symbols. If we identify certain people in the dream that image could be a “stand-in” for someone else. Dreaming about snow could represent depression or a desire to “cover up” something or jus a pleasant memory of childhood.. So, how do we know the “correct” interpretation? The symbolic items in the dream can be better understood if interpreted within the context of that particular person. Freud suggested that we dream in symbols to “protect” our sleep. If we see through the symbolic process it can cause anxiety and would awaken us, possibly identified as a nightmare.

Dreams can be viewed as the dreamer’s attempt to “work through” or resolve some conflict that they are experiencing in reality. Another aspect of the dream is “wish fulfillment.” Within a dream one can see themselves mastering a task or problem. Apparently, we experience dreaming several times on most nights, even if we do not recall the experience. However, some medications can interfere with neurological function and inhibit dreaming. Interestingly, we seem to have a need to dream.In a classic study people were awakened as they began to dream.It was easy to identify the dream state since dreams are accompanied by rapid eye movements that can be identified and recorded. This procedure occurred for several days. Finally when the subjects were allowed to sleep, their number and frequency of dreams increased. Deprived of dreams, people began to dream more; possibly to make up for the deficit. Dream deprivation increases dreaming when subjects are permitted to have normal sleep.

Finally, dreaming is the only time that we can really “time travel.” One can be a young child in the dream and instantly become a teen or young adult. While the meanings in dreams may be elusive, they can provide meaningful thoughts and ideas that can help the patient to overcome the challenges and the demands of life that have brought them to treatment.

The Columbia Counseling Center offers an eclectic and integrated approach to treatment. The doctors on our staff are trained in the use of multiple techniques and strategies to relieve anxiety, improve mood and effectively modify coping strategies.

You can call 410 992 1949 for the first available appointment.

The Serotonin – Depression Connection

Recent articles( such as this piece from psychcentral.com have posited the notion that serotonin is not a significant component of the depressive process .Further, that drug companies, having developed serotonin enhancing medicines, began an advertising campaign to “convince” the public that serotonin was the “cure” for depression.The idea that drug companies would conspire to mislead the public is quite questionable ( although I do enjoy a good conspiracy theory). One of the problems is that we cannot measure serotonin in the brain directly. Further, if we manipulate serotonin with an SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor), this also disturbs the balance of norepinephrine and dopamine- two of the major neurotransmitters. Now, it is really more complicated than this. There are many sub-types of each of these substances so it is not a simple matter of manipulating one of these chemicals.There are also many sub-types of receptor sites in the brain. The more we learn about the chemistry and structure of the brain, the more complicated it becomes.

The data from numerous studies indicates that psychotropic medications may only work about 50% of the time. In addition, psychiatrists may have to try a number of different medications in order to gain a positive effect. Of course, patient compliance is always a problem. It is not a good idea to wash your Prozac down with scotch whiskey – but I have had a number of patients who have done just that!

Michael Greger points out that diet ( whole food plant based nutrition) and exercise may be just as effective as some anti-depressants. While there is merit to this assertion, trying to get a depressed patient to exercise and eat properly is quite challenging – to say the least! It is my impression that “comfort foods” carbohydrates, potatoes, bread, mac and cheese act as “comfort foods” because they do, in fact, raise serotonin levels along with a number of other “calming” chemicals (such as tryptophan) that do cross the blood-brain barrier. Unfortunately, a bag of potato chips only increases serotonin levels for a couple of hours.

It does appear that cortisol is a precipitating chemical in the depressive process and influences a decrease in certain neurotransmitters. Indeed, being in a stressful situation for two to six weeks can trigger a depressive episode. This is chemistry, not “psychological” weakness. The notion that neurotransmitters are the causal factors in the depressive process is strengthened by the apparent genetic relationships within families. If we examine the family of origin of a depressed patient we will find both genetic and psychogenic factors that contribute to the depressive process. Further, it is interesting to note that if a particular antidepressant medication is effective for a “blood relative” ( biological parent or sibling) there is a high probability that the medicine will be effective for the patient.

The “holy grail” of treatment for depression will not be easily discerned. Light therapy can be effective. Likewise, trans-cranial stimulation shows promise. Various approaches in psychotherapy can be quite effective. However, anti-depressant medicines will continue to be a major component of treatment.Columbia Counseling Center’s integrated treatment protocol carefully evaluates the multiple causal factors in depression and provides both pharmacological and psychotherapeutic approaches for maximum effective treatment of depression.
Call 410 992 9149 for the next available appointment.

The Most Powerful Treatment for Depression

The title of this 2008 study says it all: “Faster remission of chronic depression with combined psychotherapy and medication than with each therapy alone”. The study of over 650 patients with depression compared medication treatment alone to medication treatment plus psychotherapy. The results were clear: patients on medication and therapy recovered from chronic (meaning repeated episodes of) depression faster than patients on either treatment alone.

Many studies over the years have identified both cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy as being just as effective as medication in reducing symptoms of moderate depression. Other studies have shown that the improvements gained in therapy alone can last longer than the improvements gained from medication alone.

In my opinion, it’s the minority of cases that improve on just medication. The job of antidepressant medicine is to reduce the most immediate and troubling symptoms that interfere with your ability to function at home, at work, and socially: low energy, loss of interests, poor concentration, crying spells, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts. The job of therapy is to identify the life issues that have led to depression and make changes in how you deal with those issues so they stop depressing you.

Therefore, we have two powerful and effective tools to treat depression. Use them together and you are likely to get the fastest and most enduring relief from your symptoms. At Columbia Counseling Center, the psychiatrists and therapists are all under one roof and we work with each other to ensure that your treatment is coordinated and efficient.

Written by: Dennis Glick, M.D. Board Certified Psychiatrist at The Columbia Counseling Center

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common and recurring condition. Typical symptoms include near-daily worry, anxiety, tension, feeling on edge, irritability, and sleep disturbance. Features of panic attacks and/or social anxiety may also be present. Your primary care doctor may have already ruled out medical causes such as thyroid, electrolyte, cardiac, or nutritional abnormalities.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a very effective form of treatment, typically requiring 6 to 12 weekly sessions that may include the use of workbooks and homework. The SSRI and SNRI antidepressant medications (Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq) are highly effective and should be continued for a period of 6 to 12 months following symptom reduction. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin are best used on a temporary basis due to the risks of addiction, memory impairment, physical incoordination, and potentially endangering combinations with alcohol and pain killers. Other medicines such as Buspar, Vistaril, Gabapentin, and Seroquel are occasionally used but are not specifically approved for treatment of GAD.

Many patients will benefit from the combination of CBT and medication. The Columbia Counseling Center is uniquely able to provide coordinated treatment as our staff includes both psychiatrists and psychologists specifically trained to diagnose and treat GAD and other anxiety and mood disorders. Your clinicians work together to ensure you are receiving the most effective treatments for your condition.