The Secret to Building and Maintaining Relationships

The Secret to Building and Maintaining RelationshipsMD post Apr 2016

Are relationships important to you? Do you want to build strong and meaningful relationships?

Social support has been studied at length in psychology. In general, social support is related to decrease stress. In order to build and maintain relationships, it is helpful to know what to do to achieve this goal. The straightforward tips below can help you with this goal. Continue reading

The Power of Saying No: Communicating Your Boundaries

The Power of Saying No:

Communicating Your BoundariesSaying No

Every person has their own unique boundaries. Boundaries help us define who we are. Some
examples of boundaries include what you feel is and isn’t acceptable, and what you want and do not want. Boundaries can be communicated verbally and non-verbally, and there are different types of boundaries we can have. An example of a specific type of boundary is physical boundaries, such as the physical space between you and the person next to you that you feel most comfortable with. Examples of different types of boundaries (emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, physical and material) can be found here.

We are going to focus on how important communicating your boundaries with others can be. Setting appropriate boundaries, like saying no when you want to, can pose as more and more challenging as responsibilities increase and relationships expand; although challenging, boundary setting is essential to healthy relationships, self-expression, and empathy. Continue reading

Effective Communication Through Assertiveness

Effective Communication Through Assertivenesstalking

One of the most important aspects of maintaining healthy relationships is effective communication. Whether you are talking about your day or working through a disagreement, communication is the key to expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your needs. Depending on the nature of the relationship and the topic being discussed, effective communication can be challenging; this is especially true when the conversation requires confrontation around difficult subjects. Assertive communication is an effective way of expressing yourself that allows for consideration of the thoughts, feelings and needs of both you and the person with whom you are communicating. Learning how to communicate assertively can turn this challenging confrontations into productive conversations. Continue reading

How Anxiety Disorders Develop: The “Spread” of Fear

How Anxiety Disorders Develop: The “Spread” of Fear

Clients often ask, “Why do I have an anxiety disorder?” or “How did this happen to me?”. The Behavioral Associates Los Angeles Mental Health Psychiatric Resources for Anxiety and Mood Disorders Symptomsdevelopment of anxiety disorders is complex combination of genetic predispositions and learning experiences. However, this post will discuss one factor that distinguishes individuals with an anxiety disorder from those who do not develop anxiety disorders: fear generalization. Fear generalization refers to the process by which fear “spreads” from one object, sensation or situation to others that are similar to it. For example, a soldier returning home from combat may have fear when driving because his convoy was attacked on a road in the war zone. As this fear spreads to more and more situations, the individual may report greater impact on his daily life. Continue reading

Where Are You Letting Your Thoughts Take You?

Where Are You Letting Your Thoughts Take You?

The Anxiety Responsethinking head

Anxiety is a response to a perceived threat. Sometimes, there really is a threat. We have to jump out of the way of a car or are in a dangerous place. Often times however, we are actually in a safe place with no threat in sight. Yet threats in our minds (our thoughts) can often create the same anxiety response as a real threat right in front of you. Continue reading

Mindfulness Can Help Your Anxiety

Mindfulness Can Help Your Anxiety

Components of Worryingmeditation on beach

Ever notice that your worries are typically concerning something in the future, or something that happened in the past? Feelings of anxiety, worrying, or ruminating are often related to past or future events. This is because when something just happened that made us feel nervous (i.e. going on a first date) we tend to interpret that event based on our feelings (nervousness/anxiety). This leads to us worrying about what we said, how it went, and what our date thought of us. Regarding future worrying, this is often because uncertainty or lack of control can make anyone a bit anxious. In order to deal with the anxiety about the next date, we worry about all the potential outcomes or possibilities.  Thoughts about the future and the past are common, and not always anxiety provoking – but can be a huge part of someone’s anxiety. Continue reading

Why Can’t I Get A Good Night’s Rest?: The Relationship Between Anxiety and Sleep

Why Can’t I Get A Good Night’s Rest?

  • Do you have trouble sleeping because of anxiety?
  • Does it feel like every time you lie down to get some sleep, your brain starts running through every possible worry from the day?
  • Are you waking up in the middle of the night and can’t seem to shut off your brain?


Anxiety is a common causes of insomnia. With so much going on in our lives during the day (school, work, family, friends, bills, chores, etc), there is not only a lot to think about but also very little time to think about it…that is until our head hits the pillow at the end of the day. No matter how tired we may be, stress and anxiety seem to find a way to perk us and leave us sleepless. Understanding the impact of anxiety on sleep (and vice versa) is the first step to making changes that can lead you to a good night’s rest. Continue reading

Exposure Therapy: Learning to Feel Safe

Exposure Therapy: Learning to Feel SafeBrain_thinkdesign_shutterstock_176571203

As discussed in previous posts, a core component of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is overcoming avoidance and starting to face your fears. This is known as “exposure therapy” and is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobia. Continue reading

“Bringing Your Anxiety With You” For The Holidays

Bringing Your Anxiety With You For The Holidaysman with suitcase

We have waited all year and they are finally here: The Winter Holidays. Holidays can be a time of
excitement, fun, and celebration. They often brings us together with loved ones near and far, giving us the opportunity to reconnect and strengthen our relationships. The holidays are also a
time to relax and unwind from the busy year behind us. For those who struggle with anxiety, however, holidays can also be a time of great trepidation. Family get-togethers, office parties, gift exchanges, and more can lead to increased anxiety. While it may seem necessary to “get rid” of your anxiety before you can enjoy the holidays, this blog will teach you how to “bring your anxiety along with you,” allowing you to enjoy the holidays in spite of your anxiety. Continue reading

Evidence-Based Treatment of Depression

Treating DepressionHappy neutral sad faces

Signs of Depression

You may have heard people say, “that makes me depressed,” or “I feel so depressed,” but what is the difference between being sad and being depressed? An emotion like sadness is usually temporary, lasting seconds or minutes. However, clinical depression includes feelings of sadness, as well as other symptoms, that last two weeks or more. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders lists common symptoms of depression as including:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, almost every day
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in activities on most days
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling agitated/keyed up or really slowed down
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death *

Depression is a common and serious illness. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health describes depression as one of the most common mental health concerns, impacting nearly 7% of adults in the United States each year. If you are experiencing depression, it is helpful to see a medical doctor to determine if the symptoms are caused by a medication or medical condition (including thyroid disorders).

Help is Available!

The good news is, several effective treatments for depression exist, including psychotherapy. A qualified and experienced licensed mental health professional can help you determine which treatment is a good fit for your presenting concerns. One type of therapy shown to help people recover from depression is Cognitive-Behavioral therapy.

A Look Inside the Treatment

So what would it look like to get help? Cognitive Behavioral Therapists use several interactive ways to help patients recover from depression.


The first phase of this treatment is an assessment phase. During this part of treatment, a therapist will ask questions about relevant learning history and family background, current symptoms, common beliefs and thinking patterns, emotions experienced, situations that may trigger emotions, what a typical day looks like, and current ways of coping.


Therapists use different ways to help decrease symptoms of depression and increase a client’s ability to connect with meaningful aspects in life. A therapist may focus on helping you change your relationship with your thoughts, change your daily patterns and behaviors, eliminate or decreases environmental stressors, recruit appropriate support, and interact effectively with others.

Therapy sessions are interactive and collaborative. Typically, your therapist will ask you to come up with a problem you want to discuss each session. Your therapist may ask you to complete worksheets together in sessions, participate in engaging exercises, and provide feedback about how therapy is working.

Get The Support You Need Today

If you think that you or someone you know may be suffering depression, please contact us to find out more about treatment options that may be helpful. You may also find helpful tools at The Beck Institute or books like Mind Over Mood on our CBT Resources page.

Michelle Dexter, Ph.D. | Behavioral Associates Los Angeles

Behavioral Associates Los Angeles is a group of cognitive-behavioral therapists specializing in the
treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. To find out more, contact us by phone at 310-205-0523 or by email at

You can also request an appointment with a Behavioral Associates LA psychologist by submitting a brief patient assessment form on our Website. Our clinical staff will follow up with you within 24 hours of submission.