When Parenting Pressure Leads to Depression

I wrote recently about the strong link between parental pressure to achieve, and a sense of emptiness that can develop in pressured children as they grow.

One consequence of a childhood spent living up to the lofty expectations of parents is that high-achieving children often internalize the idea that achievement is the lever they must press to receive a pellet of love. Here’s one account from psychologist Dale Atkins:

“[Your child] also has to want to come to you for nurturing. And, he has to know that he’s going to be good enough and wonderful enough even if he isn’t the best, even if he doesn’t succeed […] Our kids come to us to find out who they are and if we’re not letting them know they’re perfect as they are, they’re going to wonder, what do they have to do to be good enough.”

Psychodynamic therapy is the most effective way to untangle the emotional issues associated with parental pressures–no matter how well-intentioned those pressures may have been–and the scars they can leave. Often, by discussing how we understood those expectations, we can diminish their strength and help restore a more realistic internal sense of self-worth.

To learn more about how you may have been shaped and hindered by undue pressure in your youth, I invite you to contact my Philadelphia psychotherapy offices. I specialize in therapy for depression, therapy for anxiety and therapy for stress.

Anxiety Therapy in Philadelphia

One of the primary goals of my job as a Philadelphia psychotherapist is to help patients search for the causes of their distress. Psychodynamic therapy is especially well suited to this task, because it is principally concerned with rooting out the unique personal experiences that may have given rise to the patterns and behaviors which hold us back in the present day.

Recently a controlled study attempted to determine the value of psychodynamic therapy in treating panic attacks, or paralyzing episodes of anxiety whose terrifying power can level otherwise productive and healthy individuals. The results were clear. Psychodynamic therapy proved an effective treatment:

“All treatments showed improvements in patients with panic disorder, but it was noteworthy that psychodynamic psychotherapy showed promise in treating this disorder,” lead investigator Barbara Milrod, MD, professor, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

It isn’t hard to imagine why analytic therapy could have shown strong results. Human anxiety doesn’t arise in a vacuum; often it is the consequence of the emotionally resonant experiences that have shaped our lives. Surfacing and exploring these stories head-on can go a long way toward resolving the anxieties they feed. My experience is that while cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can provide essential tools to alleviate the immediate physical symptoms of panic attacks, psychodynamic therapy is necessary to reduce the prevalence and power of these attacks in the long-term. As a result, I am a firm believer in employing both approaches in tandem.

I am proud to offer experienced and compassionate psychotherapy for patients who struggle with the symptoms of anxiety. To begin a course of therapy with an experienced Philadelphia psychotherapist today, please contact me.

The Roots of Perfectionism

If you chew your nails, tug at your hair, or otherwise fidget incessantly, there may be something more than idle nerves at play. Many psychology experts believe that such behaviors are tied to a deeper and more complicated impulse: perfectionism.

Although it’s popular these days to call someone a perfectionist in a casual way – not unlike our culture’s widespread adoption of “OCD” as an offhand jab – true perfectionism is often paralyzing and deeply distressing. Patients with perfectionistic impulses often find themselves unable to finish what they start, and scared to compete with others in any meaningful way.

Now a new study has linked perfectionism to anxious habits that may seem mindless at first glance. The study shows a strong correlation between repetitive tics such as nail-biting and their underlying psychology. As this article asks, what can be done?

Currently, there are two possible avenues [of treatment] – a behavioral treatment that involves replacing the habit with a competing action, and a separate approach that focuses on the underlying factors that create tension, such as perfectionism and other negative beliefs, according to O’Connor.

As an analytically trained therapist, I believe that our habits are never random, and that they are often symbolic acts designed to help resolve or relieve an underlying issue. Surfacing that issue and understanding its origins is one of the cornerstones of a successful psychotherapy.

My approach to psychotherapy is integrative in nature, meaning that I consider a patient’s current thoughts and behaviors alongside the past injuries and narratives which may be driving them. Treating the whole patient means incorporating the whole history, and my patients tend to see good results from this deeper look at what drives their habits.

If you’re looking to find a Philadelphia therapist who offers successful therapy for perfectionism, please don’t hesitate to contact my practice today.


Welcome to the Philadelphia Psychotherapist Blog

Welcome to the blog of Philadelphia psychotherapist Josh Dodes!

I created this space as a forum to share some of the most compelling news, ideas and developments in the field of psychotherapy, as well as a few of thoughts of my own about how talk therapy can serve us all more effectively.

Briefly: I am a licensed psychotherapist who has received degrees from Yale University and NYU, and has done post-graduate work at New York’s respected Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center. My practice is focused on helping patients understand some of the deeper issues that hold them back and influence their daily behavior, including struggles with perfectionism, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and relationships.

Over time I expect this blog to grow into a sort of comprehensive resource for patients and their families who want to learn more about how psychotherapy works, and where the field is headed.

Feel free to bookmark this page and check back often, as I’ll be posting often in the coming months. Welcome aboard!