Dr. Karen Ruskin, PsyD., LMFT https://www.drkarenruskin.com Relationship Expert Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:14:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tax Season – How to Manage Stress and Anxiety Reaction https://www.drkarenruskin.com/tax-season-how-to-manage-stress-and-anxiety-reaction/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/tax-season-how-to-manage-stress-and-anxiety-reaction/#respond Fri, 23 Mar 2018 19:40:21 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8902

Tax Season Stress is quite common. To say that tax season and stress goes hand and hand would not be an outrageous statement for many.

This morning on NECN I explained the following:

  • Stress-anxiety-worry feedback loop/cycle
  • Top 3 reasons why tax season is stressful
  • #1 tool to manage tax season stress reaction

If you missed my interview live-on-air with anchor Joy Lim Nakrin, it is available to View On Demand: Tax Season Stress

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Tips For Winter Blues https://www.drkarenruskin.com/tips-for-winter-blues/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/tips-for-winter-blues/#respond Sat, 03 Mar 2018 02:22:51 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8792

Dr. Karen Ruskin & NECN anchor Joy Lim Nakrin

Is the ‘winter blues’ real? Yes it is. It has everything to do with the 5 senses. Our senses effect how we feel emotionally and thus what we think and therefore how we act. Are there tips for people who get down in the dumps in the winter months? Oh yes indeed, it is all about controlling your controllables. Within the problem is a solution, of which during my interview on NECN this morning, live-on-air, I shared the details explaining the reason why winter blues is indeed quite real. Additionally I provided concrete tips to manage those blues and feel healthy emotionally.

If you missed my live interview, provided is a link for your viewing pleasure: Winter Blues


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Dr. Karen Ruskin & Associates Announces All Inclusive Mental Health https://www.drkarenruskin.com/dr-karen-ruskin-associates-announces-all-inclusive-mental-health/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/dr-karen-ruskin-associates-announces-all-inclusive-mental-health/#respond Thu, 01 Mar 2018 01:29:54 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8781

Dr. Karen Ruskin & Associates proudly announces our new name: All Inclusive Mental Health.

As a business owner I made a very big decision, and that is to change the name of our group to more clearly reflect who we are and what we have become. “All Inclusive Mental Health” reflects the exciting expansion that has taken place over the past nine years and recognizes and highlights the diverse services our licensed and skilled therapists provide to our community. We are a counseling practice that is All Inclusive for the clientele we serve.
What’s in a name? We are all inclusive in the mental health care we provide.
•Our therapists can assist with a wide range of challenges and diagnosis. Our team is made up of therapists with many specialties and styles to meet the needs of our clients.
•We work with individuals, couples, families, kids, adults, elderly.
•Our diversity allows us to provide a variety therapeutic approaches to counseling.
•We communicate, collaborate, and coordinate with outside agencies and physicians.
•We accept most of the major insurance plans, and recently have expanded to accept
even more…
We invite you to learn more about us on our updated website: All Inclusive Mental Health.

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Teen Sexting – Is this normal? Sex Education in School? https://www.drkarenruskin.com/teen-sexting-is-this-normal-sex-education-in-school/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/teen-sexting-is-this-normal-sex-education-in-school/#respond Wed, 28 Feb 2018 23:54:51 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8767

Host Laura Ingraham of The Ingraham Angle. Guests: Dr. Karen Ruskin & Dr. Gina Loudon.

Is sexting for teenagers normal? Should sexting be taught as a part of sexual education in school? These are the latest questions posed to me during an interview on FOX News Channel’s The Ingraham Angle. This blog article further explores the topic, post the interview.

Is sexting normal for teenagers?

The answer is yes. I am not here to pass judgment as to whether a parent should teach any form of sexual expression as unacceptable or acceptable, and that their teenager must abstain from sexual touch and sexual communication, or to the contrary. That is a parenting and family decision. The focus of this blog rather is to respond to the reality that is going on in our culture for the teenagers of whom sexual expression via the form of touch and/or verbal erotic chat is acceptable in their family. For those children, yes, sexting is normal.

As I provide insight as to the reality of what is happening in America in the world of many teens, know this, many teenagers sext. This is a fact. The Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that one in seven teens report they are sending sexts and one in four are receiving sexts. This has left some parents mortified and others confused as to what to do about it if anything. And has left other parents nodding in understanding that it makes sense. The media has responded by bringing in experts of varied schools of thought to share their perspective. On FOX News Channel’s The Ingraham Angle, I weighed in on this topic through the lens of my understanding of teenagers, in my work with them. I was unfiltered and presented the reality. Of course during a TV interview, and in a debate format in particular, there is a brief block of time to make comprehensive points. As such I wanted to take some time out to follow up with this blog to further address the topic.

The reality of the world of many American teenagers:

Point #1 Parents are giving their teenagers phones.

Point #2 Teenagers are sexually curious with sexually erotic thoughts and physiological desires.

Point # 3 The smartphone has become the #1 vessel that teenagers use to connect and interact with others when not in the same room as the person one is interacting with.


Point #4 Teenagers utilize the vessel of the phone to explore their sexual interests. Flirting and communicating with sexual innuendo occurs indeed.

Sexting risks:

For some teens, they take sexting way too far and put themselves in harms way (e.g., non consensual sexting, sexting coercion, sextortion, sending sexually explicit photos, sexting with multiple people, …). These are all harmful aspects of sexting. Additionally there are some teenagers that have experienced or are experiencing serious emotional/mental health challenges, and as such sexting becomes an added symptom of an already existing problem.

Sexting positives:

For some teens, sexting is empowering (e.g., via the written word they express thoughts, wants and desires via text to a special someone they are connected with). This is not unlike erotic poetry for some teenagers at times. There is a tremendous difference in sending a sexual text, meaning; the written word with flirtatious sexual overtones. In essence, what used to be deemed a sext. This form of sexting for some teenagers is empowering as they experience it as a safe way to access their sexual exploratory side with the written word with someone close to them.

What is sexting?

Sexting at one point in time was known as utilizing the written word via text that is sexual in nature, flirtatious words and/or statements. This is the form of sexting that I spoke of on air when I asserted that sexting can be empowering. Again, can be – for some. Hence the term: sexting. Sexting morphed into also sending sexually explicit images and videos through the internet or via electronic devices such as smartphones. Images, pictures and videos is a huge problem, and puts teenagers in harm’s way, and I strongly advise against it.

Teen Sexting – are parents surprised?

When it comes to teen-to-teen interactions, sexting is typically via smartphones, and it is more common then parents realize. In my work as a therapist with teens, do note that particularly older teens have either sexted as the initiator or received what could be deemed as a sext. In other words, older teens sext much more than younger teens and the fact is, this makes sense. The JAMA study helps the public confront the reality that many teens knew, and parents did not, which is: teens are sexting.  The teen years, particularly older teens, have an increased interest in sexual exploration, and this interest is normal and common. Therefore, in the digital age where the smartphone is a vessel used for expressing, interacting and connecting, it is a normal part of sexual behavior and development to express one’s self in a sexual way via the phone.

“Back in the day”, teens would talk on the telephone with the long wires (remember those) late into the night with flirty words and conversations would get hot and heavy. Sexual in nature sentences and drawings via the pen and paper would be given to a guy or girl of interest at school. At times in the classroom a teenager would get caught passing a note and the teacher would take the paper, other times as the note got passed teen-to-teen to find it’s way to the right person, another kid would open it. These days, the smartphone has taken the place of pen and paper and the wire phone. Getting on your bike and riding down the street to interact physically in a sexual way has been replaced by the written word of sexting for some teens.

Educate yourself as parents and your children

For those who have watched me on air through the years know that I believe the phone has become an appendage for far too many. In a variety of interviews on FOX News various shows I have addressed my concern about the addictive nature of the smartphone.

For those who have seen my interviews through the years also know that I believe we as a culture have gone too far in many areas of permissiveness and sexuality.

The fact also is that most parents are uninformed about the communications their kids are having (just like in our day), except now it is via sexting. Sexual exploration for teens goes on currently, has gone on in our own timeline past in previous generations, and will continue to go on. The vessels that are used by teens to express sexually are based on the time.

There are many parents and teens that do not have an open communicative relationship. And of those who do, many parents are uniformed about what to teach their children about sexual exploration in the digital age. For those parents who are informed and do have a good relationship with their kids and educate them – bravo. For even some of those families, the teens hear their parents perspective but do not take it to heart, for others they do. As parents it is important that we are informed and educate our children about sex, sexting, as well as how the use of technology plays a part in expressing one’s self including the risks and potential benefits.

Sex Education in school – sexting education in school

There are many High Schools that provide sex education to their students. If schools teach sex education, in my opinion the education can be improved upon. Imagine a school where there is a course that addresses: the philosophy of abstinence as well as the philosophy of sexual touch that is not intercourse as well as intercourse. In that same course for there to be a discussion about safe touch, love and respect, discussing safe sex, teaching about diseases, addressing topics such as power and control, compassion, and intimacy, and teaching teenagers to analyze and consider their actions before they decide to be sexually interactive. Additionally for that course to discuss the philosophy and psychology of sexting makes sense considering we are living in a digital age and teens are indeed sexting. Specifically including sexting as a topic of sex education, I would suggest the educator speaks on topics such as: digital citizenship (which is in a nutshell acting in a way that is safe, legal and ethical in your online interactions). The topic of sextortion I would also recommend to be discussed if there is sex ed in school and thus including sexting as a topic. Sextortion is when images or videos are used as a form of threat or blackmail. Coercion into sexting vs. consensual sexting is another important subject under the topic of sexting education. Sexting as words for expression not pictures, would also be a very important topic to address, discussing the risks of sending pictures. Talking about the dangers of expressing yourself with pictures. Having a classroom debate about the pros and cons of expressing yourself in a sexual way how it can be empowering for some when using the written word, not unlike poets and writers vs. not empowering for others and as such how it can place some feeling vulnerable and at risk.

In essence, a sexual education course that is non biased one way or the other and rather educational so that teenagers can understand and be informed would be helpful. I believe education is important. For a long time I thought sex education should be left just to the parents and not taught in schools. I shifted my thinking after many years of working with real families as a therapist and discovering that even in the most loving of families, in families where parents are educated, the fact is, there is a lack of information in the digital age coming from parents to their teenagers.

As a Psychotherapist who provides counseling to the youth population and adults, individually and as a family unit, I have become and continue to become more active in exploring their relationship with their technology as this has become such an important part the lives of the many. The fact is, in a school environment with a trained educator that specializes in and understands the importance of sex education with a non biased approach, and up to date in the relationship teens have with their smartphone offers an opportunity to be an addition to what we as parents provide to our teenagers. Not instead of, in addition to. Furthermore, if this type of course existed it offers teenagers an environment conducive to learning in that they are in a classroom of their peers. And as such it offers a space to learn with humor and compassion, serious and exploratory, as the industry of technology continues to transform and how that plays a part in human sexuality is of significance.

If you missed my interview live-on-air on FOX News Channel’s The Ingraham Angle, it is available to view on demand: ‘Should schools teach kids about sexting?’


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Warning Signs Of Violence, Mass Shooting https://www.drkarenruskin.com/warning-signs-of-violence-mass-shooting/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/warning-signs-of-violence-mass-shooting/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 19:23:17 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8731

Following the devastating Florida School Shooting, many wonder if there are warning signs indicating a person has the potential to be violent and/or if there is mental unwell lurking within. During my interview on NBC Boston I answered that very question. If you missed it live, here is the interview: Warning Signs



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How to talk to children about mass shootings https://www.drkarenruskin.com/how-to-talk-to-children-about-mass-shootings/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/how-to-talk-to-children-about-mass-shootings/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 19:07:12 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8725

The tragedy and pain of mass shootings cannot go unrecognized. We are all touched in a very deep way when such trauma occurs. The most recent shooting in a Florida school has left many children in other states experiencing true anxiety reaction symptoms. Parents are left wondering how to help their children to cope so that their anxiety does not cause them to not want to go to school and be unable to function out of fear. I provided on NECN 4 parenting tips as a way to communicate with one’s children to help decrease anxiety reaction. If you did not see my interview live, here is the link for viewing on demand: Talking with children about the Florida School Shooting


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Valentine’s Day Anxiety and Depression Tips https://www.drkarenruskin.com/valentines-day-anxiety-and-depression-tips/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/valentines-day-anxiety-and-depression-tips/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 00:02:23 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8722

NECN’s Joy Lim Nakrin with Dr Karen Ruskin

Are you feeling stressed knowing Valentine’s Day is coming? You are not alone. Single? In a new relationship? In a committed relationship? Married? Been together a short time or long time? Regardless of stage and phase of life, it is not uncommon for some to experience Valentine’s day stress experiencing anxiety and/or depression symptoms. Why is that you ask? And… what are some tips for the stressed feeling? The answers I provided on air during my interview on NECN with anchor Joy Lim Nakrin. If you missed this live interview today, and you are looking for practical insight and concrete tips, I invite you to check out my to-the-point interview: Valentine’s Day Anxiety and Depression Tips.


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Hannah Green’s Death – Family And Friends Struggle https://www.drkarenruskin.com/hannah-greens-death-family-and-friends-struggle/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/hannah-greens-death-family-and-friends-struggle/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 13:34:05 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8706

On 1/17/18 HLN’s Crime and Justice with host Ashleigh Banfield called upon my expertise as a mental health professional, along with attorney Joey Jackson to discuss the tragedy of a teenage girl: Hannah Green. Specifically her death has been stated is a suicide, family and friends are struggling to believe. 

One question asked during my appearance on this program included, the notion: If Hannah Green committed suicide, why did she shoot herself in the stomach? Though only Hannah would know the answer to this, we as humans tend to try to make sense of what seems to not make sense in times of tragedy. Thus, during my interview on HLN I shared through a psychotherapeutic lens one possible theory to explore the question.

Mind-Body Connection: The mind and the body are interconnected. Therefore, it is common to experience physical pain in our body when we are hurting emotionally. In my work counseling teenagers they often report stomach ailments in connection with emotional hurt/emotional pain, especially relationship based.  Alternatively, headaches is a common place where emotional stress response plays out physically.  Therefore, one can analyze and theorize that perhaps the chosen location to inflict the gun shot was the very place desired to end the emotional pain. Of course we cannot know for sure, as I have never met with Hannah specifically.

An additional topic I addressed while appearing on host Ashleigh Banfield’s television program is the very fact that family and friends deny the current experts statement of ruling Hannah’s death a suicide. Why?

Denial: Denial is the first step during a painful journey post a traumatic loss. It is extremely difficult when someone a person loves and cares about would end their life. The inner emotional world of a teenager although one presents with smiles, is not always how that person is feeling internally.

Grieving next step: Whatever the outcome is: homicide or suicide, each will be traumatic for family and friends, though in quite a different way. Homicide tends to bring out feelings of anger. Whereas suicide tends to bring out feelings of sadness and guilt. As I shared on air, and thus shall share here with my readers; the medical facts are always important to be communicated to the family of someone who is deceased, as it is an important piece to help loved one’s come to terms with the facts. Which is one next step to help them on their grieving journey.

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New Mexico School Shooting – How To Help Children https://www.drkarenruskin.com/new-mexico-school-shooting-how-to-help-children/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/new-mexico-school-shooting-how-to-help-children/#respond Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:08:49 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8699

The tragedy in New Mexico has left many wondering about the different types of responses children may have to trauma, as well as how to help one’s children as the story unfolds. During my interview on NBC News Boston last night where I discussed the New Mexico school shooting, I addressed these two topics as summarized in my blog article below. 

Children’s Response To Tragedy

There are different personality styles and ways in which children respond to trauma and tragedy. A few specific reaction response styles include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety/worry
  • Anger
  • Action oriented- wanting to do something about it
  • Compartmentalization/disconnection as though it did not happen

How To Help Children Through Tragedy

An additional question asked of me during this interview included: how can parents help children who are hearing about this tragedy? I explained the importance of parents implementing the following:

  • Be supportive
  • Validate your children’s feelings and thoughts
  • Age appropriate discussions
  • Let your children know you are there for them and they can talk about anything with you
  • Answer their questions. If you do not know the answer be honest and research with them the answer.

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Sexual Abuse – Anthony Edwards Opens Door For Other Men https://www.drkarenruskin.com/sexual-abuse-anthony-edwards-opens-door-for-other-men/ https://www.drkarenruskin.com/sexual-abuse-anthony-edwards-opens-door-for-other-men/#comments Wed, 06 Dec 2017 23:50:07 +0000 http://www.drkarenruskin.com/?p=8684

Sexual abuse – for any parent a frightening notion to even consider could happen to their children. With well known actor Anthony Edwards sharing his personal trauma with the public, specifically alleging that he was molested by producer Gary Goddard when Anthony was a teenager, Dr. Oz provided a venue in which Anthony’s friends Bret Douglas Nighman and Mark Driscoll came out both in support of their friend, and to share their moving stories. I appeared briefly on this segment which will be airing tomorrow 12/7/17.

Dr. Karen Ruskin, Dr. Oz, Bret Nighman, Mark Driscoll

Having the opportunity to speak with Dr. Oz, and these brave men pre and post the segment behind the scenes, it was significant to me that I was asked various questions directed to me by Dr. Oz and the producer. As a mental health professional, I am mindful that this is a very important topic, and important that as a people we are talking about it! It was meaningful to me that I had the opportunity to get to know Bret and Mark, hear their stories of pain and triumph and discuss various topics with them. Therefore, following filming, I decided to take some time today to put together in a Q&A format 5 top questions answered – that the public may wish to know about sexual abuse and pedophilia, based upon the topics explored behind the scenes between myself, Dr. Oz, the producer, and Bret and Mark. I hope you find this information helpful. The 5 topics in today’s blog article includes: 1) grooming the child victim, 2) how child molesters are able to get away with it for so long, 3) pedophilia profile, 4) why some victims maintain a relationship with their abuser, 5) what parents need to know to protect their children from child molesters. 

How important is grooming the victim for pedophiles?

Grooming is the process the molester undertakes to gain a child’s trust and sometimes the parents trust as well. Over the course of months or even years the child molester increasingly becomes a trusted friend (e.g., takes child shopping or on trips, offers to spend time in other ways).  GROOMING is the KEY, it is very important as it is the process in which the thoughts/desires pedophiles have shift from thoughts to actual action. Not all pedophiles are child molesters. Many pedophiles won’t begin abusing a child until trust has been gained- and that is when thoughts shift to actions.

How are child molesters able to get away with it for so long?

  • Confused: Often this person has become such an important person in the child’s life, so trusted that the child feels confused about what is happening. It is hard enough to understand it themselves, let alone communicate it to someone else. Especially in cases of grooming – the child has been groomed and thus the connection, the closeness, the bond, the trust is already there that runs so deep, before the molestation begins.
  • Fear: Fear that if they share the information they won’t be believed since this person is often so trusted and liked by adults. Fear that if they do say something and they are believed fear of the consequences (e.g., how others will view them, what bad things will happen to this person that was their friend, fear that the benefits of what they have from the relationship will end and thus the child fears: where will that leave them?).
  • Shame/blame: Feeling ashamed, that this is only happening to you and blaming yourself for it. 

Is there a “profile” of a pedophile or some shared general characteristics?

  • There is no one physical characteristic, appearance, profession or personality type that all child molesters have.
  • They can be any sex, race or religion.
  • Often appears charming and loving.
  • They can be and often are – in good standing with the community.
  • Most child molesters are known to the children they abuse.
  • Many sexual predators have a history of abuse in their own past (physical or sexual).
  • Many have mental illness.
  • Child molesters tend to talk about and treat children as though they are adults and refer to a child like they would an adult friend or lover.
  • They often say they love all children and feel like they are still children. A child molester often does not display as much interest in adults as they do in children.
  • They may have jobs that allow them to be around children or contrive other ways to spend time with children (coach, babysitter, neighbor trying to help). They attempt to step in as “parent figure” for the child.

Why do victims maintain relationships with their abusers?

There are several reason why this occurs. The main feature is that since the abuser, the child molester is often an important person in the victim’s life, there is a double side to this person. The side that the victim is close to, in essence the side of the abuser that has been so nice and loving to them, is the side that the victim wishes to keep in their life. Therefore, for some victims they are able to compartmentalize the abusers horrific actions from their positive side. For some victims it is because the abuser helps them (e.g., get a job/boss). For others it is because the victim is able to “make sense” of the abuser’s behavior believing that the abuser is ill, and therefore wants to help their abuser. For most victims there is a desire to heal from the trauma, thus there is a belief (albeit often subconscious) that if you continue to have a connection with the abuser, and he/she stops abusing/changes, then you can heal from the trauma and your own pain is not “for nothing” so to speak.

What should parents know to protect their children from child molesters?

  • Parents be aware and alert for signs of grooming. 
  • The main thing parents can do to protect their children is: be involved in your child’s life – that’s the best way to guard against child molesters. As they will look for a child who is vulnerable and isn’t getting attention from parents. Attend games, practices and rehearsals, chaperone filed trips, spend time getting to know the adults in your child’s life. Make it clear that you are an involved present parent. Express interest in all of their activities.
  • Take the time to talk to your child every day to have an open trusting relationship.
  • Never dismiss a child’s claims or observations.
  • Have regular discussions with your child about who he or she is communicating with online and in person.
  • Ensure your children know if someone asks them to keep a secret from you it is not because the child will get into trouble it’s because the person who asked them to keep the secret knows what they are doing is wrong.  
  • Teach your children the difference between appropriate adult behavior and unacceptable behavior. For example, sex jokes, touching is never okay.
  • Make sure your child feels emotionally supported by you.
  • Let your child know he or she can tell you anything.

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