Archive for June 2013

10 Helpful Tips for New Immigrants

Therapeutic Expert Teams

1)      Know your values and goals.

2)      Know American values and culture

3)      Know how to integrate your values with the American value system and achieve your goals

4)      Talk with other immigrants in your community about their experiences.

5)      Set your priorities and know your rights.

To learn more about America and your rights as an immigrant and resident, See

6)      Understand your family members’ unique developmental needs in times of transition and adjustment. For example, a school aged child may experience difficulties in school work, while an adolescent may experience academic difficulties as well as ethnic identity and self-esteem challenges.

7)     Understand that culture shock is normal. Almost every new immigrant will experiences culture shock upon moving to America.

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It starts off with the honeymoon and anticipation stage of being in America, the land of freedom and opportunity. This stage is followed by the reality of the complexity of life in America and the challenges of being far away from home and all that was familiar. Eventually people come out of their culture shock and find ways to adapt to life in America. However, in some situations, individuals may feel stuck in the middle and continue to experience the effects of culture shock for a prolonged period of time. That is the time when seeking help from friends, religious resources, and/or professional resources may be helpful.

8)      Moving to a new country can be difficult and challenging and you may need professional support to aid you in the adjustment process. Here are some questions that will help you determine when to seek help

  • Are you noticing unexplained physical symptoms like headaches, backaches, stomach aches, or any other physical symptom that persists despite your visit with a medical doctor? You may be experiencing the effects of psychological stress. For more on stress, please see
  • Are you finding yourself unable to enjoy activities you used to enjoy? Feeling sad? Feeling lonely? Feeling worthless?
  • Are you finding yourself angry and unable to control or understand your anger? Are you angry and hostile towards self, family, or others?
  • Are you isolating yourself from your friends, loved ones, and community?
  • Are you thinking about death and dying?

If you or someone you know is in immediate dangerbecause of thoughts of suicide

Please call 911 now

If you are not in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide, but need someone to talk with about your suicidal feelings, please do not hesitate to call one of the following national suicide prevention lines:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

9)      Know what psychotherapy is?

  • Effective psychotherapy provides a corrective healing relationship and a safe environment to process experiences and develop insights into- and coping strategies for- current challenges. An effective psychotherapist provides this safe & therapeutic relationship, guides you through your path to growth, and offers you the opportunity to learn new skills and enhance your life.
  • “Hundreds of studies have found that psychotherapy is an effective way to help people make positive changes in their lives.” Katherine Nordal, PhD, executive director of professional practice at APA.
  • Your privacy and confidentiality in psychotherapy is protected (with exceptions related to harming oneself and others). Ask your psychotherapist for more information about confidentiality.

10)   How to seek help?

  • What resources are available to you and are they affordable and realistic in your particular situation
    • Find out if your employer provides mental health services for their employees.
    • Find Therapists on the psychology today website.
    • Find therapists on the American Psychological Association website
    • Find Therapists on Google
    • Ask your friends, doctors, or religious leaders for a referral to a known therapist
  • If psychotherapy is not an option, what other resources are available to you?
    • Does your church or community provide support or resources for their members?

Dr. Caroline Ibrahim

Licensed Psychologist


Psychotherapy or a quick fix for Depression?

13777035-illustration-depicting-a-road-traffic-sign-with-a-psychotherapy-concept-blue-sky-backgroundI was happy to come across the videos I am posting here. It is good to know that there is an initiative to educate and counteract pop culture and media propaganda about antidepressant medications as the “cure-all” “quick-fix” for depression.  I am not saying that medication is not helpful (It is especially helpful for some forms of severe depression and when combined with therapy), what I am saying is that it is definitely not a “cure-all” or a “quick-fix” for depression.

“Hundreds of studies have found that psychotherapy is an effective way to help people make positive changes in their lives. Compared with medication, psychotherapy has fewer side effects and lower instances of relapse when discontinued,” Katherine Nordal, PhD, executive director of professional practice at APA.



(Thess videos are part of the APA (American Psychological Association) initiative to “educate consumers about psychotherapy’s effectiveness and encourage them to ask their physicians about it as a treatment option”)


Here’s my list of the top 8 books I recommend in therapy



Here’s my list of top 8 books I recommend in therapy for a variety of issues, including self-esteem, mindfulness, meditation, parenting, and relationships. 

1)  The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi (Author)

I have recommended this book to several of my clients in the past few years. I have used chapters from it as a resource for clients while they are engaged in therapy. I found that it helped increase clients’ awareness regarding matters related to their self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence. Most of my therapy clients found this workbook helpful and a number of them purchased it as we wrapped up therapy as a tool to refer back to.

2)   Wherever You Go There You Are [Abridged] [Audible Audio Edition]by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Author, Narrator)

I recommend this book in audio format to introduce mindfulness and meditation to my clients. It is an easy listen and a nice orientation to incorporating mindfulness and meditation in your life.

3)   1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 [Paperback] byThomas W. Phelan PhD (Author)

Very effective and simple parenting book. I recommend for all my parents to encourage effective strategies for disciplining children. I have also either used or allowed the parents to borrow the DVD to further illustrate the 123 strategy.

4)   Parenting From the Inside Out [Paperback]Daniel Siegel (Author), Mary Hartzell (Author)

This is a great book that I highly recommend for parents and parents-to-be. Be the best possible parent you can be by reading this book and discovering how your past childhood experiences influence your parenting decisions, and what to do to change unhelpful parenting practices and improve your relationship with your children.

From the book description on Amazon: “Drawing upon stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, they explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories, which will help them raise compassionate and resilient children.”

5)   Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love UNABRIDGED by Amir Levine , Rachel S. F. Heller

Another attachment book that I highly recommend for improving interpersonal and romantic relationships. The book helps readers identify their attachment styles, as well as their partners’ attachment styles in order to navigate relationships in an effective and healthy manner.

6) ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life [Paperback] by Judith Kolberg (Author), Kathleen Nadeau (Author)

Having ADHD myself, I found this book helpful and I have recommended to several of my clients.  It is easy to read, ADHD-Friendly, and full of resources and strategies.

7)   The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts [Paperback] by Gary D Chapman (Author)

This is a very good relationship book. Easy to read, understand, and remember. The simple notion of identifying and understanding how you want to be loved and how similarly or differently your partner may want to be loved is a powerful one in improving relationships. That understanding can also be applied to a variety of other interpersonal relationships (i.e. with parents, children, friends, etc.).

8)   The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older [Paperback] by Elkhonon Goldberg (Author)


What is the big deal about motherhood?


What is the big deal about motherhood?

Understanding the impact of motherhood requires an understanding of the psychological concept of attachment. I will not get technical because I intend to be light and informal in this post. Attachment is simply another word for bonding, bonding typically happens between a mother and child, beginning soon after birth. The result of a secure bond or a secure attachment is a child and later an adult who is healthy, curious, connected, and confident. These qualities translate into healthy self-esteem, healthy relationships, and healthy future mothers and fathers! Oh, also the mother-child relationship contributes to the development of gender roles and gender expectations. If you have a good husband, wife, partner, etc. then thank their mothers on this mother’s day!

How do mothers create these attachments?


How do they communicate that love?

Warmth, protection, responsivity, emotional attunement, care, etc.

SO…besides, the sole responsibility of providing the building blocks for little humans to be the amazing adults they become, motherhood is really no big deal!

What if mothers make mistakes? What if we have unhealthy relationships with our mothers?

Well, human beings are malleable and there’s always room for mending and healing from insecure early attachments through other significant (healthy) relationships, psychotherapy, spirituality, or other means. So, although, it is easy to blame our mothers for all our faults, let’s remember that: 1) they do their best with what they have, 2)they had mothers too (Do you ever wonder about their attachments/relationships with their mothers?), 3)  we have choices,  AND 4) we are responsible for our personal growth and healing.

Stay tuned for my two cents on fatherhood on father’s day! 

—Dr. Ibrahim