Epic Wellness Clinic

We provide psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families

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Our relationship with food is one of the most important we have. Let us help you make it a healthy one.

Did you know 95% to 98% of people who diet to lose weight regain it in one to five years, and 90% of those people regain more than they originally lost.

Developing healthy habits for kids early on is essential to building and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that 80% of overweight kids remain overweight as they enter adulthood, which increases their risk for developing chronic conditions — like diabetes — down the line. Epic Wellness Clinic helps kids build healthy habits around food and physical activity and keep them on track with weekly counseling sessions and checkin’s throughout the week.

At our conveniently located Miami Beach office we work with you and your child to set personalized goals, provide encouragement and keep them on track for long-term success.

Each week you and a therapist will talk about how you’re doing. They’ll review your progress, listen to your challenges and offer actionable suggestions for improvement or maintaining your healthy habits. This program provides expert support and daily accountability.

Our goal is not to restrict your eating. You do not have to give up your favorite foods. this program Is designed specifically to create a support system for you and your loved ones. We work with kids, teens, adults and families.

It is helpful for parents to realize they are not the only family going through this. When you join our program, you enter a community of people who are getting healthy together. You are surrounded by support. Our intensive 6 week program will change your relationship with food.

Ways Counseling Helps You Stay on Track
Weight-management therapists and counselors can help people bridge the gap between struggling and success. They can:
• Help you put knowledge about weight management into practice. You know what you should be doing to manage your weight, but it can be hard to actually do it. Weight-management experts can help you use all the new information you’re learning to create a specific plan on what to do, one that’s realistic for you.
• Help you find and build strong, positive motivation. It’s not enough to have a plan. You need to build an inner motivation to put it into practice — to find the tools that let you sweep all the old habits out of your mind and replace them with new, healthy habits.
• Help you identify the blocks and obstacles you face. Weight-management counseling can help you recognize the things that make it difficult to stick to your plan and figure out how to work out, or work around, these barriers.
• Help you identify emotions that can trigger overeating or emotional eating and deal with them in healthy ways. The emotions surrounding eating can be complicated. Some emotions can act as motivators or barriers. Therapists can help people sort through the bad (like emotions that trigger overeating) and the good (like positive emotions that help motivate you).
• Help you identify the pitfalls in thinking that can ruin your plan. When you know which things get in the way of your success (like eating pizza when you’re out with friends), you can learn to outsmart them.
• Help you learn self-management skills. Some people need to strengthen the skills that make it possible to stay on track and follow through on a plan.
• Help you adopt positive eating habits. A therapist can help you work to reset old eating habits so you can succeed with a weight-management plan.
• Help you improve body image and self-image. Feeling good about yourself can help you stick to your plan.
• Help you work out other problems that may distract you from putting a weight-management plan into action. Life problems (like issues with school) that don’t get worked out can suck up time and energy that you need for your weight-management plan.
Everyone’s different, so each person’s plan for weight management will be tailored to fit him or her. That’s another useful thing about working with a psychologist or counselor. These professionals understand your unique needs. They’re not trying to fit you into a generic plan. Psychologists and other therapy professionals are great resources to help support you on your way to a healthier you!

A lot of parents start restricting foods, which usually makes the child angry; they begin either sneaking food or using food as weapon against their parents.

The kids enrolled in our Miami Beach program work with licensed counselors who are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, behavior change, and family dynamics.

They will become educated and empowered in a group with other kids who are struggling with similar issues. The group setting will allow them to talk about upcoming road-blocks, like a friend’s birthday party where they know cake and ice cream will be served, and how to handle it. The counselors take the “food police” role away from the parents. Because helping your child lose weight is similar to trying to teach them math: You could do it but you want to bring in a teacher or a tutor so you don’t have to fight with them. The counselor and group offer a safe environment for children to learn about the emotional and cognitive aspects of eating. This program allows children to share their experiences and feel supported. Help your child gain control of their eating habits in a fun and friendly environment by scheduling an appointment today!

Tips for Parents:

Many of the words that we use in relation to overweight and obesity have a negative connotation. It is important to be empathetic. Negative messages and language about food or restrictive eating rules may only serve to fuel the child’s struggle with weight and lead to more complicated issue such as eating disorders and mental health issues.

Avoid the following words:
Obese, heavy, overweight, fat
Ideal weight
Fix the child
Focus on weight
Diets or “bad foods”

Replace with:
Unhealthy weight
Healthy weight
Family behavior change
Focus on lifestyle
Healthier food choices
Activity or play

Why Seek Professional Help?

There is no better profession to understand and champion the family — especially from a wellness perspective — than counseling,

It is important to seek professional help to ensure your child goes through this process in a healthy way and does not develop a psychological disorder.

Obese children who lose weight are considered at risk for developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Here’s why: When they begin restricting their eating or they start exercising vigorously in order to slim down, these efforts can become a major preoccupation, leading the kids to lose a lot of weight and become driven to continue these new behaviors, often to extreme lengths.

Social factors can contribute to this vulnerability. A study involving 130 overweight teens found that those who experienced teasing by family members and peers had a greater likelihood of having disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, as well as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The more these kids were teased about their weight and the more they were bothered by the teasing, the greater the odds were that they’d develop severe levels of binge eating, in particular.

Sometimes people make comments that we don’t consider harmful however a child may internalize the comment. Negative connotations about weight and body image can lead to low self-esteem, social isolation, poor body image, and has also been shown to directly contribute to the development of eating disorders.

All it takes is one comment to make a long lasting negative impact.
For Kyle, his 7-year battle with anorexia began when a close friend said, “I finally got the abs I’ve always wanted, and look at you with all that belly fat.” Was this comment meant to cause harm? Probably not, but the effect was life-threatening. The friend’s words lit a match in Kyle and set him on the path to an eating disorder. Although he had a supportive family, he hid his disorder. For years, Kyle counted calories, looked in the mirror constantly, worked out obsessively, and lived in baggy clothing, ashamed of his body.

Why dieting isn’t the answer

At Epic Wellness Clinic we advise parents against putting their children on diets. This instills low self-confidence and decreases self-esteem to a lower point than it probably already is before the diet. Also, teaching children dieting behaviors increases the chance of disordered eating, and research shows that diets and disordered eating often lead to diagnosable eating disorders. Even more so, it teaches children yo-yo dieting behavior from a young age. Research has found that yo-yo dieting leads to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and even obesity.

Also, foods should not be labeled as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ All types of food should be allowed in the house and kept in the pantry, because when foods are restricted from anyone, the reward value increases in the brain for that food. So, when the child is exposed to that [restricted] food, they want it even more and it has more meaning.

Even for adults, diets don’t lead to lasting change. What will lead to lasting change, is helping children and families focus not just on doing something differently but thinking about it differently. Diets mean restricting yourself until you just can’t refrain anymore. And when you do give in, you feel guilt and shame, which might lead to more overeating.

Relationship Between Childhood Obesity and Adult Health Status

Most studies have found that children and adolescents who are obese, especially those in the higher range of BMI percentiles, are more likely to be obese as adults. 10–12 The health consequences of obesity can manifest during childhood, but the longer a person is obese, the more at risk he or she is for adult health problems. A high adolescent BMI increases adult diabetes and coronary artery disease risks by nearly threefold and fivefold, respectively. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most serious complications of childhood obesity. Risks of other common comorbid conditions, such as hypertension, abnormal lipid profiles, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, gallstones, gastroesophageal reflux, polycystic ovary syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, and bone and joint problems, are significantly increased in both obese adolescents and adults who were obese as adolescents. There are also mental health issues associated with childhood obesity, such as depression, poor self-esteem, and poor quality of life.

What works?

You have to change your thinking if you want behavioral changes to last. This is extremely important for children since their brains are developing and thought patterns are becoming deeply-rooted. The older a person gets, the more difficult it becomes to change these negative thought patterns.

It is important to connect with a professional treatment team as early as possible. Professionals who are experienced in mental health issues know the best way to navigate through this process in a healthy way. Contact us to enroll your child in a group counseling program today!

What is virtual reality therapy treatment?

Virtual reality therapy (VRT), also known as virtual reality immersion therapy (VRIT), simulation for therapy (SFT), virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), and computerized CBT, is the use of virtual reality technology for psychological therapy. Patients receiving virtual reality therapy navigate through digitally created environments and complete specially designed tasks often tailored to treat a specific ailment. It is widely used as an alternative form of exposure therapy, in which patients interact with harmless virtual representations of traumatic stimuli in order to reduce fear responses. Virtual reality therapy has also been used to help stroke patients regain muscle control, to treat other disorders such as body dysmorphia, and to improve social skills in those diagnosed with autism.

Virtual reality therapy (VRT) uses specially programmed computers, visual immersion devices and artificially created environments to give the patient a simulated experience that can be used to diagnose and treat psychological conditions that cause difficulties for patients. In many environmental phobias, reaction to the perceived hazards, such as heights, speaking in public, flying, close spaces, are usually triggered by visual and auditory stimuli. In VR-based therapies, the virtual world is a means of providing artificial, controlled stimuli in the context of treatment, and with a therapist able to monitor the patient’s reaction. Unlike traditional cognitive behavior therapy, VR-based treatment may involve adjusting the virtual environment, such as for example adding controlled intensity smells or adding and adjusting vibrations, and allow the clinician to determine the triggers and triggering levels for each patient’s reaction. VR-based therapy systems may allow replaying virtual scenes, with or without adjustment, to habituate the patient to such environments. Therapists who apply virtual reality exposure therapy, just as those who apply in-vivo exposure therapy, can take one of two approaches concerning the intensity of exposure. The first approach is called flooding, which refers to the most intense approach where stimuli that produce the most anxiety are presented first. For soldiers who have developed PTSD from combat, this could mean first exposing them to a virtual reality scene of their fellow troops being shot or injured followed by less stressful stimuli such as only the sounds of war. On the other hand, what is referred to as graded-exposure takes a more relaxed approach in which the least distressing stimuli are introduced first.VR-exposure, as compared to in-vivo exposure has the advantage of providing the patient a vivid experience, without the associated risks or costs.

Virtual reality technology is especially useful for exposure therapy – a treatment method in which patients are introduced and then slowly exposed to a traumatic stimulus. Inside virtual environments, patients can safely interact with a representation of their phobia, and researchers don’t need to have access to a real version of the phobia itself.

Virtual reality exposure therapy is also commonly used for treating specific phobias, especially small animal phobia. Commonly feared animals such as spiders can be easily produced in a virtual environment, rather than requiring the therapist or researcher to go find the real-life counterpart.This technique has also been used experimentally to treat other fears such as public speaking and claustrophobia.

What is neurostimulation?

Neurostimulation uses proprietary waveforms to gently stimulate the brain to produce serotonin and other neurochemicals responsible for healthy mood and sleep. Proven safe and effective in multiple published studies.

Most of those afflicted by anxiety and depression try several antidepressant treatments before they find one that works, and 40-60% of sufferers don’t adequately respond to medication-based treatment. All medications work differently and present different side effects, and finding the right one can be a laborious, time consuming process. Alternative methods of treatment, like brain stimulation, offer a more direct, effective approach towards treating mental health issues.

Several of these new neuromodulation treatments, which focus on directly stimulating nerves in the brain with electrical impulses, have recently been approved by the FDA as anxiety and depression treatment methods

Bio-dot Stress Analysis

These skin thermometers are small self-adhesive, temperature sensitive discs that are placed on the skin to monitor the skin temperature. Changes in skin temperature are due to changes in the amount of blood flowing through the skin. More blood flow – the skin is warmer; less blood flow – the skin is cooler.

When a person is tense the skin blood vessels constrict, reducing the blood flow; the Biodot will appear yellow, amber or black. When a person is calm and relaxed the skin blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow; the Biodot will appear turquoise, blue or violet. A color interpretation chart is used to relate the color of the Biodot to the level of relaxation and tension.
Biodots are particularly useful in biofeedback during relaxation training and for motivating and providing reassurance to the user that they are achieving relaxation and tension reduction.

Biofeedback Relaxation

At Epic Wellness Clinic, our biofeedback system measures minute changes in skin pore size and sweat gland activity as it relates to tension.

It sits in the palm of the hand. Feedback includes variable pitch tone. As tension increases, tone increases, as tension decreases, tone decreases. The goal, when using the feedback tool is for relaxation and to focus on the feedback tone and try to get it lower and lower, or just listen to it in the background as you focus on your breathing.

This tool provides a relative measure of skin conductance, as opposed to an absolute measure. For relaxation purposes, one only needs an indication of whether a physiological signal is going up or down.

Guided Meditation (EEG)

EEG devices are widely used by neuroscience researchers around the world. It uses advanced signal processing to interpret your mental activity to help guide you. When your mind is calm and settled, you hear peaceful weather. Busy mind? As your focus drifts, you’ll hear stormy weather that cues you to bring your attention back to your breath.
Finely calibrated EEG brain sensors – 2 on the forehead, 2 behind the ears plus 3 reference sensors – detect and measure the activity of your brain.

This does not use electrical stimulation – it’s a PASSIVE tool that gives you accurate, real-time feedback on what’s happening in your brain. EEG technology has been used in hospitals and research institutions for nearly a century to study the brain.

After each session, you’ll see how you did through a series of graphs and charts in the meditation app. It will show you how your brain activity did from moment to moment through simple, easy to understand graphs and charts. You will be able to follow your progress over time and learn new things about your own mind, heart, breath, and body.

To help keep you motivated and improving, it also gives you points, goals, challenges and bonuses to strive for. With every session you earn points, and can adjust your goal to fit your needs.

Bariatric Psychological Evaluation

If you become a candidate for bariatric surgery, you will likely be referred for evaluation and consultation with a mental health professional. Although this may seem surprising to you, it has become a routine part of your preparation for surgery. Your follow-up care will be provided by a team of professionals and each of them, will need to become more familiar with you and your individual situation and needs.

People sometimes ask, “Why do I have to see a mental health professional?”
There are two very good reasons for this evaluation. First, many insurance companies realize its importance and require a psychological evaluation before they will approve bariatric surgery. More importantly, your entire surgery team of physicians, nurses and dietitians want you to maximize your success – to lose excess body weight, become a healthier person and improve the quality your life to the greatest possible extent.

The psychological evaluation can help identify your strengths, such as a strong motivation to exercise as your weight is coming off, a complete understanding of the effects of surgery. It can also help find areas where you might need support after surgery, such as depression or mood swings, lack of family support or triggers for past emotional eating.

The thought enters some people’s minds, “Do they think I’m crazy?”
It is important for you to understand that people with obesity are usually psychologically normal and do not fit any specific psychological profile. Our main purpose at Epic Wellness Clinic is not to find underlying problems and conflicts that might have caused you to become affected by obesity. Most mental health professionals who perform these evaluations specialize in weight and health, and as such, are looking for ways to help you prevent disease and promote health in the future. Our purpose is never to “fail” people and exclude them from surgery. In fact, studies have shown that a very small number (perhaps four percent) of individuals are found to be poor candidates based on their psychological evaluation results.

You will also be asked about your past and present eating patterns, your level of activity and exercise and your current family and social situation. The mental health professional can often answer questions you might have. For instance, some people are fearful of the surgery itself and may be able to benefit from stress management techniques. There is evidence that people who are relaxed prior to many types of surgery not only heal faster, but also have less post-operative pain. Our clinicians may be able to guide you toward techniques which may help with this.

Others may be concerned about future feelings of “deprivation,” such as not being able to eat their favorite rich, high-calorie foods after surgery. The clinicians at Epic Wellness Clinic can help you to understand these feelings, and they will usually be short-lived. Just remember, the mental health professional is part of your “safety net” after your surgery whose primary focus is your ultimate success.