Dr. Katherine Crits-Christoph

Stress - Life Transitions - Infertility Concerns - Anxiety & Depression

Specializing in Counseling for:

College, Graduate students and Young adults

College and graduate school is the time of transition and growth in so many areas - educational, social, self identity and self care. Psychological concerns of every type pop up because the demands of change are now greatest just at the time when you're trying to deal with life on your own. I have been working with college and graduate students at local universities since the beginning of my career and have come to understand that developmentally you are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, relationship and sexual identity concerns. On the other hand, experience has shown me that despite this stressful period of transition, you are best equipped to grow and conquer any and all of these issues because you are so open and ready for change. You may have to inform others in your life that accessing counseling does not mean you can't do something on your own (yes that outdated notion is still out there), but that you are ready to become your own person with the confidential, knowledgeable and non judgmental help of a psychologist who shares your goal.

Stress and Relationships: From calming the psyche to a new beginning

Managing stress has always been at the core of wellness and healthy living. Counseling both focuses on what is needed to calm the psyche and to go further in identifying the sources of stress. It is at its best when it is flexible and creative in coming up with new choices and coping that fit you and your individual lifestyle. Stress, in this perspective, is our emotional and physical "red flag" that invites a new beginning or new balance. This new balance is especially important when it comes to stress that evolves out of relationship problems. Sometimes, before you can find the new, you have to discover and reflect upon the old. All of us have ways of relating that worked for us as children or with our family dynamics and that we unconsciously repeat in new relationships. Self help books have been pointing this out for years in a generic, one size fits all way. In individual counseling these blind spots, whether ingrained emotional reactions or styles of communicating, come into a personal clarity and are now choices that can be understood and decided upon. In couples counseling, the goal is how to negotiate and communicate a new balance that allows both partners to find satisfaction. In either form of counseling, my work focuses on a joint exploration and problem solving that treats the person or couple, not merely "the stress."

Anxiety and Depression: When they get out of hand!

Trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and currently serving as Adjunct assistant Professor of Psychology in Penn's Department of Psychiatry, I know the importance of keeping up with the most current effective treatments for depression and anxiety. My involvement in research studies at Penn as therapist and therapist supervisor has guided me to the usefulness of short term treatment that focuses on achievable goals and a strong alliance between client and therapist.

Like stress, though, anxiety and depression can be nature's way of telling you that something's wrong. Sometimes finding out what's causing these emotions to be all consuming takes time and patience. Often you have no idea whether the causes are psychological, physical or a combination of both. Counseling is open to all causes and all solutions. If we find that medication will assist us in achieving your therapeutic goals, I collaborate with several psychiatrists who will work with us as a team. It's unfortunate that in the medical model emotional symptoms are often either viewed either as a physical disease or "just normal," - very black and white. In real life emotional problems not only have different and multiple causes but effect us in equally diverse ways. With or without medication, counseling is valued by more holistic psychiatrists as an important part of treatment.

Life Transitions and Hormonal/Aging Changes

The downside of all our readily accessible biomedical and alternative advances in health care is that it can be confusing what is "treatable" and what may be understood as changes associated with natural aging. Sometimes the choices we make depend upon how we individually define our values and goals for healthy living as we age. Everyone recognizes that the menopausal transition is not a medical disorder or condition, but women in this life passage face hormonal changes that effect mood, sleep, energy levels, and intimacy. Research shows that past psychological vulnerabilities like depression and anxiety resurface during these transitions to further complicate coping with new but normal stressors like empty nest syndrome, divorce, taking care of aging parents, and loss of loved ones. Advanced Counseling and Treatment can help you negotiate all these advances in health care with the knowledge and support that allows you to make the choices that are best for you. Facing stressors of middle and older age can feel daunting and lonely, but with support, education, and individualized treatment, baby boomers can experience the second chapter of their lives as the beginning of a new dawn.

Infertility Concerns

A huge area of stress for women of child bearing age revolves around our biological clock and how we balance work, relationships, and our desire to have a family. Infertility and its treatment are concerns that require support, education, and counseling. Since both hormonal fluctuations and emotional stress are inherent to the infertility process, I work closely with infertility specialists to keep abreast of the latest developments and know of their impact on day to day living and relationships.

Resolving Grief and Trauma

From loss of loved ones to loss of health/control. Loss and grief are normal but sometimes difficult and lonely roads to travel. Close relationships provide support but ultimately if grieving gets stuck, individual counseling can nurture and individualize the healing process. There is no single recipe for acceptance and each person will find their own resolution given the safety and unconditional support of working through all the feelings related to loss and trauma.

Eating Disorders and Treatment

When eating becomes twisted, a struggle, and ends up all consuming - That's not a nightmare, its what everyday life is for those with an eating disorder. Cut off from feelings, using food as an escape or to restrict one's awareness and create the illusion of control, these clients need therapy to help them find their voice and feed their souls in healthy ways. Again no recipe fits all, and the safety to find balance and comfort for a lasting recovery requires an active give and take with a strong therapeutic alliance.

Not Sick but Not Healthy Either?

No diagnosis required for wellness and holistic health coaching. Fancy words for counseling that supports new lifestyles, including exercise, meditation, yoga, spiritual exploration and new commitments to healthy living. The goal here is to integrate counseling with health care advances , unifying physical and mental well being.