Author Archives: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.

Dealing with Depression

There is a handy paperback to help those with depression: Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. It is not the typical self-help book in that it is based on cognitive therapy research. There are many types of charts and plans that can be done as the book is read. All of these are intended to […]

Special Needs Children in Harder Economic Times

Parents of special-needs children know this, but others might not. Viz., there is a continuum of care and interventions for special-needs children. During the past 32 years, since the enactment of Public Law 94-142 (PL 94-142), different programs of different intensities (and expense) change, depending on the political or economic climate of the times. For […]

Genetic Research and Mental Health

The New York Times recently reported on cutting-edge research with direct implications for mental health. Genetic researchers discovered a variety of gene mutations in the genes affecting the enzymes produced by the liver: chemicals that are the first step in changing psychiatric drugs into other chemicals that can then influence the brain. (The variety of […]

Aging Well!

There is a great book that has been out several years now: Aging Well by Dr. George Vailland. He is a psychiatrist and long-time researcher. Vailland studied three different groups from radically different backgrounds, levels of IQ, and income. He sought to find the best predictor of aging well. It was not cholesterol. It was […]

Watch out for Dual Roles

Lately in the media there has been great attention toward physicians who do research and also have a financial interest in a drug company or receive benefits from a drug company. At least one profession cautions against such “dual roles.” The primary and over-riding loyalty of mental health clinicians is to their clients. although there […]

The Psychology of Gratitude

On this Thanksgiving Holiday it’s great to know that mental health professionals are more and more emphasizing GRATITUDE in their therapies and publications. Just one example is Martin Seligman’s book on POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY. While insight about the past can be helpful for some, an attitude of appreciation for life in the here-and-now is a good […]

Preschool Intervention

Now that preschool classes are under full swing, there may be some parents who wonder if their own child is keeping up with milestones. A common reaction of all us may be to try to look at the bright side and call this a “stage” or something “that will be grown out of.” Yes, it […]

Learn about Down Syndrome

Here is the link for the American Down Syndrome Association: National Association of Down Syndrome

Reaching an Autistic Teenager

An excellent feature story about a young man with autism is in the Sunday New York Times for Sunday, October 19, 2008: Reaching an Autistic Teenager

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association, a group of over 100,000 psychologists in the U.S.A., offers helpful information for professionals as well as the public on its website: click here for APA link

The Bipolar Child

An outstanding article appeared in The New York Times Magazine on September 14, 2008: click here for bipolar children article Reading this will provide anyone with a greater understanding of bipolar children and the problems that they and their families face. There is hope for the future, as advances in psychopharmacology, genetic tests for liver […]

A graduate student’s thoughts on depression

We are very lucky that so many talented young people are choosing to devote their careers to helping other people in the mental health field. Here are some ideas on “depression” from a young woman who is studying to be a New York State Certified School Psychologist: Depression is a disorder that affects all types […]

Anna Freud, WAR AND CHILDREN, 9-11

On this day of sadness and mourning I’m thinking about a book that Anna Freud wrote during World War Two. CHILDREN AND WAR was written for the women of London who were holding down the country during the deadly German bombings. These heroic women did just about everything to keep London alive in front-line conditions. […]


I have been reading a wonderful book, DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey. M.D. This book brings to a general trade audience wisdom gained from peer-reviewed studies and research. Unlike some books on this topic, there is no ax […]


In the latter part of the 20th century a dramatic shift occurred regarding the manner in which psychiatrists and other mental health professionals described and diagnosed psychological problems. DSM I, the first version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, was a modest size paperback handbook providing broad categories of mental health problems. It was the […]

Help for our older relatives, friends, and neighbors

In the 1990s a new specialty area emerged in psychiatry—Geriatric Psychiatry. Mental health problems in older persons can be effectively treated. In the New York City area, the Weill Cornell Medical College offers research and clinical services. To learn more about help that is available, click here.

Finding helpers to assist parents

The New York Times on Tuesday August 12th offers an article describing the problems faced by parents with special needs children when it comes to finding “sitters” or “helpers”. They even report on a national service that can match parents with caretakers. When one imagines the difficulty encountered just in finding a sitter for a […]

Individual Therapy with Aggressive Children

Dr. David Crenshaw is one of the leading experts on psychotherapy with children and we are grateful to him for writing this for our blog: Aggressive Children have too many Tears Buried Inside David Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP The profound losses of those born and raised in extreme poverty; urban youth who grow up in dangerous […]

Licensure as Psychoanalyst in New York State

Several years ago New York State added new mental health positions that are licensable in New York State. Among these were licenses in psychoanalysis, mental health counseling, and marriage and family counseling. All of these require the minimum of a master’s degree and certain kinds of supervised experience. Previously the major licensed/certified positions were for […]

Depression, Narcissism, and Dr. Karasu

The article about Dr. Karasu about the Very Rich in psychotherapy noted that young persons born into Very Wealthy families “are so often narcissistic in a way that excludes depression.” This made me stop to think about the many people from history where we think there is suggestion of depression or some kind of mental […]

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