Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) teaches patients to control self-destructive thoughts, increase self-awareness and deal with conflict and stress through a combination of behavior and cognitive therapies. DBT was first used in the 1970s to treat patients with borderline personality disorders and today is used to treat a wide array of emotional and behavioral disorders. Dr. Teresa Susmaras has used DBT throughout the course of her career as a clinical neuropsychologist.
The practice of DBT involves going through four stages of treatment modules—mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. During DBT, treatment is organized into these phases, with a strict order as to how problems are addressed.
Through DBT, patients focus on changing and controlling harmful behaviors. Benefits of DBT include learning ways to decrease high risk and self-destructive behavior, decreased symptoms related to anxiety and depression and enhanced self-respect. These benefits are achieved through focusing on facts over emotions, enabling patients to react in positive and productive manners without spiraling into destructive behaviors and thoughts.
Doctors have found success in treating a wide range of emotional disorders with DBT including bipolar disorder, depression disorders, chemical dependency and addiction, anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating, anorexia and emotional eating are increasingly being treated with DBT as well due to the emphasis this type of therapy puts on emotional regulation and incorporating healthy coping strategies.
Dr. Teresa Susmaras currently practices clinical neuropsychology in Wisconsin. She has also practiced at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
A study by the Institute of Mental Health suggests that approximately one in ten people suffer from some type of mental disorder in the United States. Bipolar disorder, a condition where individuals experience extreme mood swings, affects an estimated 5.5 million Americans over 18. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Teresa Susmaras treats patients with a wide range of mental disorders, including bipolar disorder.
Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are plagued with mood swings that fluctuate from severe euphoric states to periods of extreme depression. These changes in mood are often completely unrelated to personal events, but can affect the person’s physical health, the ability to function, behavior, and emotional state of mind. Bipolar disorder is rooted in the brain as a neurological disorder and typically starts affecting individuals in adolescence and into early adulthood. However, the disorder can also begin during childhood or even in middle age.
Four distinctive mood episodes have been identified in those who suffer from bipolar disorder, including mania, hypomania, depression and mixed episodes. The disease has no cure, but can be managed with treatment; the National Advisory Mental Health Council estimates that the success rate for treatment of bipolar disorder is a promising 80 percent. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are the most widely used medication to treat the disorder.
Teresa Susmaras has devoted her career to helping those with brain disorders through her work as a neuropsychologist. Susmaras earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University in Boston.
Thirteen miles west of Chicago lies Brookfield, IL, a village with a population of just under 20,000 people. City and suburban living are tightly entwined in Brookfield, with all the attractions and amenities of Chicago close by and the small town feel of the suburbs at the resident’s fingertips.
Brookfield also offers residents excellent public schools, a sizable parks and recreation system, a top notch library, as well as shopping and business opportunities. The village has been rated as one of the top areas for first time home buyers in the Chicago area.
The first settlement in Brookfield was in 1889 when Chicago lawyer Samuel Eberly Gross began selling off plots from the farms and woodlands he had acquired in the area. He called the development Grossdale and claimed to offer land and living that was more affordable for middle class families.
While the village of Brookfield only encompasses 3.1 miles, it also offers both residents and visitors one of the most famous attractions in the area—the Brookfield Zoo. The Chicago Zoological Society opened the Brookfield Zoo in 1934 and was on the forefront of animal care and conservation. Some of their milestone achievements include zoo nutrition residencies, cutting edge medical care for animals and indoor multi species exhibits. Today the zoo is still making history and recently introduced a new practice coined conservation psychology, or the study of the relationship between nature and people.
Teresa Susmaras grew up in Brookfield, IL and looks back fondly on her childhood, which included many trips to the famed Brookfield Zoo. Susmaras is currently a licensed clinical neuropsychologist working for one of the top medical facilities in Wisconsin.
American psychologist Lightner Witmer is credited with being the first to treat a patient with clinical psychology when he cared for a young boy with a learning disability in the late 19th century. Shortly afterwards, Witmer founded the first ever psychological clinic, located at the University of Pennsylvania and specializing in the treatment of children. The term clinical psychology was first used in 1907 when Witmer used the phrase in his new publication, The Psychology Clinic.
Clinical psychology is the combination of clinical knowledge, science and theory for the intention of helping, understanding and preventing psychological dysfunction. Clinical psychologists treat patients through psychological assessments aimed at gaining an understanding of the mental and emotional health of the patient. Mental and emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, anxiety and depression are some of the conditions treated by clinical psychologists.
When assessing patients, clinical psychologists employ a variety of techniques to determine the root of the particular problems they are experiencing. Methods may include psychological testing, interviews with family members and friends, observation of the patient and intelligence testing. Interviewing friends and family allows for an outside perspective of the patient’s personality. Through these methods, clinical psychologists seek to determine the possible causes and foundation of the patient’s mental state.
Teresa Susmaras became interested in clinical psychology while working as a research assistant as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. She went on to earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University and is now a licensed psychologist.
Teresa Susmaras eventually transferred her studies to the University of Illinois at Chicago in her early years of post-graduate study. But Susmaras time at Illinois State University, where she enrolled after her high school graduation, was rich in the learning experiences which assail the first-time university student.
Illinois State University was founded in the town of Normal, or rather, the town of Normal took its name from the original purpose of the institution: to act as a ‘normal’ school, training teachers who would educate the citizens of Illinois. Abraham Lincoln was the attorney hired to prepare legal documents for the funding of the school. Its original name was Illinois State Normal University, and it was first located in downtown Bloomington, Illinois, at the state’s center. Eventually, the school relocated to its current campus in North Bloomington, which promptly adopted the name ‘Normal’.
The name of the university would change twice more, to Illinois State University at Normal in 1965, and to Illinois State University in 1968. ISU is the oldest public university in Illinois, and continues today to turn out well-prepared teachers, remaining in the top ten largest producers of teachers in the United States. Illinois State, by the era of Teresa Susmaras’ enrollment, had expanded far beyond its meager academic beginnings. Today ISU offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level programs in the academic colleges and research centers typified by the College of Applied Science and Technology, the College of Arts and Sciences, The College of Business, The College of Education, The College of Fine Arts, The Mennonite College of Nursing, and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
Dual brain theory has proponents today in neuropsychology, the field of Dr. Teresa Susmaras. During the 19th century, it was believed that each person had two completely formed brains, and that each side of the brain was specific to gender: the left with the masculine, the right with the feminine. The right side of the brain was viewed at the time as inferior, common to women, savages, children, criminals, and the insane. This notion was utilized in the fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.
Dualism studies waned when psychiatrists turned to the behavioral and psychological hypotheses made popular by Sigmund Freud. However, Roger Sperry, a 1981 Nobel-prize winner for his work with split brain theory, revived interest in the dual-brain hypothesis, continuing today in research studies by neuropsychologists like Teresa Susmaras. Sperry “showed a split-brain patient a picture to his right brain and the left hemisphere, responsible for verbal responses, could not articulate what was being seen. But the patient’s left hand, connected to the right brain, was able to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down showing whether he approved of the picture or not.”
Severely epileptic patients may undergo corpus callosotomy, in which the front two-thirds of the corpus callosum is cut to attempt to reduce seizures. It is also possible to undergo a second procedure and cut the remaining third of the corpus callosum, thus resulting in a complete severing of the two hemispheres. Teresa Susmaras and other neuropsychologists have observed that the psychological effects of two independently thinking brains are profound: changes in learning, social functions and thinking are drastic.
Teresa Susmaras’s career in neuropsychology has only just begun, and within her field are different subsets of study which she may pursue. Susmaras may utilize the study of healthy human functioning in a laboratory to reveal the mutual work of the nervous system in reasoning, thinking and remembering. This experimental neuropsychology could reveal yet more links between neurology-concerned anatomy and the psychological functions of the brain.
Teresa Susmaras can also take a clinical approach to her field, evaluating, overseeing and treating patients who suffer from neurocognitive disabilities due to illness or injury. Susmaras’ specialty of neuropsychology helps in understanding the effects of injury, and how patients will be affected psychologically by their conditions. Susmaras’ may also offer professional diagnosis differentiating the source of behavioral consequences, whether from brain injury or other causes, such as emotional disorders. Specific diagnoses can result in more accurate treatment for patients.
Cognitive neuropsychology studies brain-damaged patients to link specific problems in thinking and processing to particular neural regions of the brain. This area of research is relatively new, and uses both experimental and clinical neuropsychology elements, as well as neuropsychiatry which utilize mental illness findings as part of research. Teresa Susmaras utilized the Brain Imaging Analysis Laboratory at Suffolk University in Boston as she worked on her dissertation in antisocial personality disorders and their possible origins in the brain. Neuroimaging, another facet of neuropsychology, takes readings from the brain as it performs a task. Magnetic Resonance imaging, or fMRI, is used to test a task’s relationship to a specific area of the brain.