Family Psychiatry
Counseling & Wellness

A comprehensive, integrative psychiatric and wellness clinic serving the mental, physical, emotional and preventative health needs of all members of the family. Find better, one step at a time.

Holistic Psychiatry for your Mind, Body & Soul

At Family Psychiatry Counseling & Wellness, we specialize in performing comprehensive psychiatric and psychological evaluations to establish accurate diagnoses and prepare individualized treatment plans. We combine advanced conventional methods with safe alternative treatment approaches to bring about lasting relief and improved quality of life.

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Keeping Up with New Year's Goals

As we leave week 2 of the New Year, some of us might already be struggling with maintaining our “New Year’s Goals.” It is one thing to set out a list of resolutions and it is another to set out time to do them. We are here to say that building these goals can be daunting, but they can also be achieved. The journey to self-growth can be as simple as choosing to eat a salad over purchasing fast food or as intense as running a marathon. In this article, we will share some studies involving ways to keep up with our New Year’s Goals. First, let us ask why does a holiday such as the New Year tends to be a turning point for people? Why do people feel compelled to change every time the ball drops? Researchers from UCLA and UPenn’s Wharton School published a paper discussing the “fresh start effect” which is what drives people to make grand gestures of change during New Year’s Day, birthdays, starting new jobs, or back-to-school season. This paper discussed why new chapters in one’s life would make people become introspective and wish to make behavioral changes. So why do so many people end up ditching their goals come mid-February? A recent study, published by researchers from Stockholm University and Linköping University in Sweden, observed over a thousand people who made New Year’s resolutions and then were told to follow up with their progress every month till the next year. What the researchers were interested in was the difference between “approach goals” and “avoidance goals.” Approach-oriented goals were about pursing a fresh start and focused on doing something like going to the gym. While avoidance-oriented goals were focused on quitting or stopping a behavior as not eating junk food. They found in this study, that people who had approach-oriented New Year’s resolutions had a higher success rate. This suggests that rephrasing goals to be more approach-oriented can have a better outcome. So instead of saying “I want to stop sitting on the couch” try rephrasing it to be “I will start going for daily walks,” and that might increase your chances of achievement. Changing the way, you approach your goals can be greatly beneficial but there also needs to be time set out to achieve them. There is a common stigma that people who stick to their New Year’s Resolutions tend to have stronger willpower than those who do not. This thought is debunked by a systematic review published in 2015 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that argues creating positive habits is more beneficial to fulfilling goals than willpower. The studies focused on whether people with beneficial habits were more likely to show self-control and complete their goals. People with higher self-control were found to be more likely to have a set time when they would wake up and go to bed. They also showed to be consistent in positive behaviors such as working out and eating well and were less tempted to break their routines. This leads to the idea that people with beneficial habits are more likely to continue positive routines. So how can we keep our goals this year? We can start by rephrasing our goals to make sure that they are approach-oriented and then set out time to make them habits. Remember that habits are formed through repetition so give time to your goals so they can become an everyday routine. Make time to start your day off with a healthy breakfast, ask a friend if they would like to come with you on walks, or reach out to a trained professional to find other ways to make this year the best year. “It is the best time to show gratitude for the past, accept the present moment with joy, and get ready for the change to begin again.” ― Debasish Mridha, MD


The Benefits of Gratitude

“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” -Germany Kent .

As the year is coming to an end and the holidays are upon us it’s important to take some time to reflect on our decisions, behaviors, and future goals. While 2020 has been an extremely difficult year for all of us, we encourage you to take a step back and think of all the positives. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and what better time to share stories and feelings of gratitude and positivity.

Let’s understand the purpose of being grateful and why practicing gratitude is so important?

Gratitude is to be appreciative of the good and express thanks, it is known by some, as a state of mind. Grateful people often look back at the past and appreciate the good, all while reflecting on the little victories. Gratefulness can influence your outlook on life and is proven to be a very therapeutic way of living.

Expressing gratitude has several benefits for your mind and body. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of Psychology at UC Davis, the positive effects of practicing gratitude is both emotional and physical. Studies show that people who are more grateful have increased emotional well-being and are also known to have more impactful relationships. Grateful people feel more connected with others and tend to be less lonely and feel less isolated. Studies also show that people who express gratitude have less depression in mild to moderate cases. Similarly, according to Dr. Wendy Mendes, Professor of Emotion, expressing gratitude even affects sleep. People with higher levels of gratitude, sleep better, and experience lower resting blood pressure.

What about the effects of gratitude on the brain? Glenn Fox, a postdoctoral researcher at USC and head author of “Neural Correlates of Gratitude,” led a study on how our brain reacts to feelings of appreciation and gratitude. They conducted an experiment to scan the participant’s brains when they are exposed to emotions of gratitude. The research team found that a grateful brain showed high activity in two primary regions: the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. These areas are responsible for emotional processing, moral judgment, connecting with others by understanding their mental state, and rewarding social interactions. With this information, it can be noted that gratitude shows to have a connecting and bonding effect with others resulting in feeling connected to one another.

The act of expressing gratitude encompasses self-reflection, selflessness, and generosity. This Thanksgiving, during these tumultuous times, we at FPCW recommend taking some time out to journal your thoughts and think about the positives. However, we are aware that for some, dealing with your emotions, feelings, and these uncertain times has been very difficult. We want to let you know that we are here and grateful for you. We want to take this time to thank all our patients for committing and sticking through with us this year. We hope the next year brings all of us joy, laughter, and stability.

“No duty is more urgent than giving thanks.” -James Allen

From Family Psychiatry Counseling & Wellness, We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!


How To Develop Psychological Resilience While Facing Adversity

Tips for Your Mental Strength

"Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill." – Muhammad Ali

Society is often fascinated with stories about people facing adversity. We love to root for the underdog, the person who seems to achieve their goals when it looks like the world was against them. We are often mystified by their journey and sometimes envious of their success.

How can they do it?

Research has shown that people who are mentally tough tend to achieve more goals, are better with stress management, are more positive, and are more efficient leaders.

What is Mental Toughness?

According to Mental Toughness Partners, mental toughness is defined as “a personality trait that determines your ability to perform consistently under stress and pressure, and is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit, and perseverance.”

The people who are mentally tough don’t let stress get in the way. They will be consistent in achieving their goals. They will push forward even when times get hard.

The good news is that mental toughness can be learned and strengthened. Just like doing a bunch of pull-ups, each day can make you physically strong, developing positive mental skills can build mental strength.

Here are 3 exercises to help build mental toughness:

1. Changing the Thoughts in Your Head

Studies from the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging suggest that the average person has about 70,000 thoughts per day. That gives you 70,000 chances to use those thoughts to either hinder or strengthen yourself.

How you think about yourself can have drastic impacts on your day to day life. If you are constantly thinking negative thoughts like, “I will never find love” or “I never get the opportunities I want,” then unfortunately those thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Those negative thoughts will wear you down even before you start. You are already stacking the cards against you.

Instead, change those thoughts into more realistic dialogues. Avoid using absolutes and start actively trying to recognize that those thoughts are not necessarily reality. Take steps to be gentle with yourself. Think about how you would talk to a loved one who needed advice.

2. Take Pride in the Small Victories

Life can sometimes be unpredictable and uncontrollable with many difficult hardships. What we can control is how we perceive things. Even if it is in small victories.

We often see Mental Toughness as someone who can hold themselves together during stressful times. What we don’t see is the little battles that strengthened the mental fortitude along the way.

Think of mental toughness as a muscle. You must keep doing exercises that help build and strengthen that muscle. You cannot start lifting heavy weights till you practice with lighter weights. Doing many small exercises on a day to day basis can help you stand strong against the days when things get hard.

Start with choices that help strengthen you mentally, like not going for a donut when you have an apple or go for that job when you would rather take a nap on the couch. Choose to do more when the easier option is to do less. Challenge yourself with little battles so you can be tougher for when the storm comes.

3. Reach out

While using your own resources and tips can be helpful. Sometimes you need an extra push or a helping hand.

Building mental toughness is an up-hill journey. Some days might be harder than others but it is important to check in with yourself and know that consistency does pay off. It is also essential to know that you are not alone.

It is okay to seek help!

There are many trained professionals to help aid you in your journey toward mental toughness all you have to do is reach out.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." – Aristotle


(805) 341-3416
Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 6:00pm


31194 La Baya Drive
Suite 202
Westlake Village, CA 91362


30851 Agoura Road
Suite 304
Agoura Hills, CA 91301


© 2020 Family Psychiatry Counseling and Wellness.