Glossary

Glossary

Acting Out: Self-abusive, aggressive, violent and/or disruptive behavior

Addiction: An addiction occurs when you cannot permanently stop yourself from doing something.

Adjustment Disorders: A type of condition with emotional or behavioral symptoms that occur in response to identifiable stress in a person’s life.

Adolescence: Period of growth and development from puberty to maturity.

Affect: describes observable behavior that represents an emotion. Common examples of affect are sadness, fear, joy, and anger.

Affective disorders: Refers to disorders of mood. Examples would include Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia, Depressive Disorder, Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, Bipolar Disorder.

Agitation: Excessive motor activity that accompanies and is associated with a feeling of inner tension.

Agoraphobia: Anxiety about being in places or situations in which escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or in which help may not be available should a panic attack occur.

Algophobia: Fear of pain.

Alienation: The estrangement felt in a setting one views as foreign, unpredictable, or unacceptable.

Ambivalence: The coexistence of contradictory emotions, attitudes, ideas, or desires with respect to a particular person, object, or situation.

Anger: The experience of intense annoyance that inspires hostile and aggressive thoughts and actions.

Antidepressants: Medications that treat depression, as well as other psychiatric disorders.

Anti-psychotic: Medication for the treatment of psychosis

Anorexia Nervosa: Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder

Anxiety: is a complex combination of negative emotions that includes fear apprehension and worry.

Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders cause intense feelings of anxiety and tension when there is no real danger. The symptoms cause significant distress and interfere with daily activities.

Apathy: lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern.

Asperger’s Syndrome: A neurobiological pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), which is characterized by normal intelligence and language development, but deficiencies in social and communication skills.

Attention: The ability to focus in a sustained manner on a particular stimulus or activity.

Attention Deficit / Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorders: An attention-deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a developmental disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, hyper/over activity, and impulsivity.

Autism: A childhood disorder usually appearing by the age of three, which is characterized by withdrawal, self-stimulation, cognitive deficits and language disorders.

Bereavement: A reaction to the death of a loved one (e.g., feelings of sadness and associated symptoms such as insomnia, poor appetite and weight loss).

Behavior Disorders / Emotional Disturbance: Many terms are used interchangeably to classify children who exhibit extreme or unacceptable chronic behavior problems.

Biofeedback: A technique for controlling bodily functions usually thought to be involuntary (not under your conscious control.)

Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression: A serious mood disorder which involves extreme mood swings or highs (mania) and lows (depression), sometimes termed manic-depressive.

Body image: Sense of one’s self and one’s body.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Borderline personality disorder is a disorder affecting others and one’s self.

Bulimia: An eating disorder characterized by binge eating (uncontrolled consumption of large amounts of food), attempts to compensate for food intake by purging.

Coaching: Assists with transitions in their personal life, and in the process of self-actualization.

Childhood Depression: A mood disorder among children that resembles depression in adults, but shows up in very different ways in children. Children with depression may appear persistently sad, may no longer enjoy activities they normally enjoy, or they may frequently appear agitated, hyper or irritable. Depressed children may frequently complain of physical problems such as headaches and stomachaches and often have frequent absences from school or poor performance in school. They may appear bored or have low energy, and frequently have problems concentrating. A major change in eating or sleeping patterns is a frequent sign of depression in children and adolescents. Significant depression probably exists in about 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population. Children under stress, who experience loss, or who have learning disorders are at a higher risk for depression.

Chronic Dieting: Chronic dieting disrupts healthy eating patterns and involves negative self-thoughts based upon external appearance.

Clinical Psychologist: Mental health professionals who have earned a doctoral degree in psychology (PhD).

Cognitive: Pertaining to thoughts or thinking. Cognitive disorders are disorders of thinking; for example, schizophrenia.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive behaviour therapy aims to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns that can lead to feelings and behaviors that may be troublesome, self-defeating, or even self-destructive.

Compulsions: Compulsions are repetitive/ritualistic behaviors intended to ward off harm to the sufferer of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Compulsive Overeating or Binge Eating Disorder: Compulsive overeating is an eating disorder which involves binge eating without the purging behaviors typical in bulimia.

Compulsive Personality: Personalities who are unusually tidy and even rigid in their daily behavior, but do not find their behavior distressing or perceive their behavior as interfering with their lives.

Communication Disorders: A group of disorders where there are problems in communicating, either through difficulties in receiving language or in speech.

Conduct Disorder: A persistent pattern of behavior that involves violation of the rights of others (disobedience, destructiveness, jealousy, boisterousness, and inadequate feelings of guilt). Verbal and physical aggressions are key features of conduct disorder.

Confrontation: A communication that deliberately pressures or invites another to self-examine some aspect of behavior in which there is a discrepancy between self-reported and observed behavior.

Coping mechanisms: ways of adjusting to environmental stress without altering one’s goals or purposes; includes both conscious and unconscious mechanisms.

Cyclothymia: A mood disorder of at least two years’ duration viewed as a mild variant of bipolar disorder.

Defense mechanism: Automatic psychological process that protects the individual against anxiety and from awareness of internal or external stressors or dangers.

Delusions: Gross misrepresentations of reality which are a common symptom of schizophrenia and other psychoses. Typical delusions include those of persecution, romance, grandeur, and control.

Dementia: Dementia is a problem in the brain that makes it hard for a person to remember, learn and communicate.

Denial: A defense mechanism in which a feeling or wish is blocked by the person because conscious admission of the thought or feeling would be too painful.

Depression: A mood disorder involving disturbances in emotion (excessive sadness), behavior (apathy and loss of interest in usual activities), cognition (distorted thoughts of hopelessness and low self-esteem), and body function (fatigue, loss of appetite). Two neurotransmitters/natural substances that allow brain cells to communicate with one another-are implicated in depression: serotonin and norepinephrine.

Detachment: A behavior pattern characterized by general aloofness in interpersonal contact; may include intellectualization, denial, and superficiality.

Developmental Disorders: Serious delays in the development of one or more areas of functioning.

Dissociative Disorders: A mental disorder in which normal consciousness or identity is split or altered; often a result of an intense psychological trauma, as in psychogenic amnesia, post-traumatic stress disorders or multiple personalities.

Dopamine: A neurotransmitter in the brain.

DSM-IV: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.

Dysphoric mood: An unpleasant mood, such as sadness, anxiety, or irritability.

Dysthymia (also known as dysthymic disorder): A mood disorder characterized by chronic mildly depressed or irritable mood often accompanied by a loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities that is present most of the time for at least two years.

Displacement: A defense mechanism, operating unconsciously, in which emotions, ideas, or wishes are transferred from their original object to a more acceptable substitute.

Dissociation: A disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment. The disturbance may be sudden or gradual, transient or chronic.

Distractibility: The inability to maintain attention; that is, the shifting from one area or topic to another with minimal provocation, or attention being drawn too frequently to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli.

Dyslexia: Inability or difficulty in reading, including word-blindness and a tendency to reverse letters and words in reading and writing.


Early intervention: A process used to recognize warning signs for mental health problems and to take early action against factors that put individuals at risk. Early intervention can help children get better in less time and can prevent problems from becoming worse.

Eating disorders: eating behaviors all associated with misusing food for emotional reasons. They range from chronic dieting to compulsive overeating and often involve behaviors ranging from bingeing and purging to self-starvation.

Elevated mood: An exaggerated feeling of well-being, or euphoria or elation.

Emotional abuse: A serious mistreatment of another person’s feelings or emotional needs.

Emotional Disturbance / Behavioral Disorder: classifications to describe extreme or unacceptable chronic behavior problems. In children, there may be delays in social development, isolation. Behavior disorders generally consist of four clusters of traits, including conduct disorders, anxiety-withdrawal immaturity, and socialized aggression.

Endorphins: Chemicals in the brain that influence moods and the experience of pain.

Euthymia: A person’s normal mood state.

Euthymic: Mood in the “normal” range, which implies the absence of depressed or elevated mood.

Expansive mood: Lack of restraint in expressing one’s feelings, frequently with an overvaluation of one’s significance or importance.

Family Therapy: A therapeutic method which involves assessment and treatment with all immediate family members present. This therapy places emphasis on the family as a system rather than focusing on one person who might be deemed the identified patient.

Fantasy: An imagined sequence of events or mental images (e.g., daydreams) that serves to express unconscious conflicts, to gratify unconscious wishes, or to prepare for anticipated future events.

Flat affect: An affect type that indicates the absence of signs of affective expression.

Fragile X Syndrome: Fragile X syndrome is a hereditary condition which can cause learning problems in both males and females. It is the most common cause of genetically-inherited mental impairment. The spectrum of intellectual involvement ranges from subtle learning disabilities and a normal IQ, to severe mental retardation and autism. Fragile X syndrome is characterized by a group of symptoms, which include physical and behavioral characteristics and speech and language delay.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): An anxiety disorder which results in a continuous state of anxiety or fear, lasting a month or more, marked by signs of motor tension, autonomic hyperactivity (a pounding heart), constant apprehension, and difficulties in concentration.

Grandiosity: An inflated appraisal of one’s worth, power, knowledge, importance, or identity.

Hallucinations: Abnormal auditory (hearing), olfactory (smelling), visual (seeing), gustatory (tasting), or kinesthetic (feeling) perceptions.

Hyperactivity: Behavior marked by high levels of activity and restlessness.

Hyperlipoproteinaemia: the presence of excess lipoprotein in the blood.

Hypomania: An episode of illness that resembles mania, but is less intense and less disabling. Hypomania is characterized by a euphoric mood, unrealistic optimism, increased speech and activity, and a decreased need for sleep.

Impulse-control disorders: Disorders characterized by the inability to control impulses that might be harmful to oneself or others.

Inappropriate affect: An affect type that represents an unusual affective expression that does not match with the content of what is being said or thought.

Individual Therapy: Therapy tailored for a patient/client that is administered one-on-one.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT): one-on-one counselling which focuses on the patient’s current life and relationships within the family, social, and work environments. The goal is to identify and resolve problems with insight, as well as build on strengths.

Labile affect: An affect type that indicates abnormal sudden rapid shifts in affect.

Language Disorder: A lag in the ability to understand or express ideas that puts linguistic skill significantly behind an individual’s development in other areas.

Learning Disabilities: Impairment in a specific mental process which affects learning.

Lethargy: A feeling of tiredness, drowsiness or lack of energy.

Mania: A symptom of bipolar disorder characterized by exaggerated excitement, physical overactivity, and profuse and rapidly changing ideas (scattered or tangential thoughts).

Marriage Therapy: A treatment in which a therapist consults with both the husband and wife to help them learn to communicate better, to provide more support to each other, and to understand their interactions.

Medication Therapy: Prescription, administration, assessment of drug effectiveness, and monitoring of potential side effects of psycho-tropic medications.

Melancholy: Symptoms usually found in severe major depressive episodes, including loss of pleasure, lethargy, weight loss and insomnia.

Mental Health: How a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life’s situations.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Drugs used in the treatment of clinical depression. These substances decrease depressive symptoms by stopping an enzyme that breaks down the mood stimulating chemicals in the brain.

Mood: A pervasive and sustained emotion that affects the perception of the world.

Mood Disorder: The term Mood Disorder refers to the family of depressive disorders, including Depression, Bipolar Affective Disorder (manic depression) and related diagnoses.

Multiple Personality Disorder: A rare dissociative disorder marked by the appearance, within one person, of two or more distinct personalities (multiple personalities), each with its own name, history, and traits.

Neurotransmitters: Chemicals in the brain used to transfer messages from one nerve cell to another, affecting mood.

Norepinephrine: A hormone that regulates blood pressure by causing blood vessels to narrow and the heart to beat faster. It also has a role in regulating mood.

Obsessions: unwanted, unpleasant, and intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses that repeatedly well up in the mind of the obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferer and cause a high degree of anxiety. Some examples of obsessions include fear of being contaminated with germs, repeated doubts (is the stove on?), aggressive impulses, or sexual images.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): A neurobiological anxiety disorder.

Oppositional-Defiant Disorder: A disorder of early to middle childhood that may evolve into a conduct disorder usually diagnosed before the age of twelve; children with oppositional defiant disorder defy adult rules, are angry, and often lose their tempers.

Panic Attack / Panic Disorders: A stress-related, brief feeling of intense fear and impending doom or death, accompanied by intense physiological symptoms such as rapid breathing and pulse, sweaty palms, smothering sensations, shortness of breath, choking sensations, and dizziness.

Paranoia and Paranoid Disorders: Symptoms of paranoia include feelings of persecution and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Pastoral Counseling: Pastoral counsellors working within traditional faith communities to incorporate psychotherapy, and/or medication, with prayer and spirituality.

Personality Disorders: Psychological disorders in which maladaptive personality patterns cause personal distress or inability to get along with others.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder-not otherwise specified (PPDnos): A diagnosis which is often given when all the criteria for autism or Asperger’s syndrome have not been met but the child’s difficulties are of the kind found within the spectrum of autistic disorder.

Phobia: Persistent fear of specific things or situations, which leads to avoidance of such things or situations.

Play Therapy: play therapy uses a variety of activities-such as painting, puppets, and dioramas-to establish communication with the therapist and child to resolve problems.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD): An anxiety disorder in which symptoms develop following a psychologically distressing event that is outside the normal range of human experiences (military combat, sexual assault, natural disasters, severe auto accidents).

Psychiatrists: Health professionals who have earned their M.D. and specialize in the field of psychiatry.

Psychologists(Clinical): Mental health professionals who are NOT an MD but have earned a doctoral degree in psychology (PhD) and have received extensive clinical training.

Psychosis / Psychotic Disorders: An extreme mental disturbance that involves an actual break with reality, involving distorted perceptions of reality and irrational behavior, often accompanied by hallucinations and delusions. The disturbance may have either psychological or organic causes.

Psychosocial: Involving both psychological and social aspects or relating social conditions to mental health.

Psychotherapist: A person who practices psychotherapy; a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, professional counselor, social worker or other mental health professional.

Psychotherapy: The treatment of mental disorders, emotional problems, and personality difficulties through talking with a therapist. There are dozens of different styles of psychotherapy

Quality Assurance: An approach to improving the quality and appropriateness of medical care and other services. Includes a formal set of activities to review, assess, and monitor care to ensure that identified problems are addressed.

Rage: A state of intense emotional experience associated with uncontrolled destructive behavior.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): is a form of depression that some professionals believe is related to fluctuations in the exposure to natural light. Many physicians have the opinion that depression is present year round but symptoms are magnified at certain times of the year (winter, holidays, etc.).

Schizoid Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are often cold, distant, introverted and have an intense fear of intimacy and closeness reality.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder marked by some or all of these symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, incoherent word associations, inappropriate emotions, or lack of emotions. It is characterized by serious disturbances of thought and perception, which cannot be attributed to brain damage.

School Phobia: An anxiety disorder characterized by inappropriate fear of attending school; this phobic behavior often represents a dependency problem that is reinforced by parental attention.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): A commonly prescribed class of drugs for treating depression. SSRIs work by stopping the reuptake of serotonin, an action that allows more serotonin to be available to be taken up by other nerves.

Separation Anxiety: Intense anxiety experienced by children whenever they are separated from their parents.

Separation Anxiety Disorder: A disorder usually occurring before the age of 18 with an inappropriate anxiety regarding separation from home or family.

Serotonin: A chemical that transmits nerve impulses in the brain (neurotransmitter), causes blood vessels to narrow at sites of bleeding and stimulates smooth muscle movement in the intestines. It is thought to be involved in controlling states of consciousness and mood.

Serotonin and Norenpinephrine reuptake inhibitors: A commonly prescribed class of drugs for treating depression, which work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, an action that allows serotonin and norepinephrine to be available to be taken up by other nerves.

Spectrum disorder: In a spectrum disorder the symptoms and characteristics can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe.

Substance Abuse: Misuse of medications, alcohol or other illegal substances.

Suicidal behavior: Actions taken by one who is considering or preparing to cause their own death.

Suicidal ideation: Thoughts of suicide or wanting to take one’s life.

Suicide: The intentional taking of one’s life.

Suicide attempt: An act focused on taking one’s life that is unsuccessful in causing death.

Suppression: The conscious effort to control and conceal unacceptable impulses, thoughts, feelings, or acts.

Tourette’s Syndrome: Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by tics (involuntary, rapid, sudden movements and/or vocal outbursts that occur repeatedly). The symptoms change periodically in number, frequency, type, and severity – even disappearing for weeks or months at a time. Some common examples of motor tics include eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, and facial grimacing. Vocal tics include throat clearing, barking noises, sniffing, and tongue clicking.

Tricyclic Antidepressants: Drugs used in the treatment of clinical depression. Tricyclic refers to the presence of three rings in the chemical structure of these drugs.

Withdrawal: refers to the characteristic signs and symptoms that appear when a drug that causes a physical dependency is regularly used for a long time and then suddenly discontinued or decreased in dosage.

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