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Family Therapy Specialist

Barbara J. Novak, MD

Psychiatrist located in Bethesda, MD

Dr. Barbara Novak is a Board Certified psychiatrist who specializes in helping individuals resolve family conflicts. Dr. Novak's office is located in Bethesda and is conveniently close to Rockville, Travilah, Potomac, Cabin John, McLean, Tysons, Pimmit Hills, Woodland Acres, Falls Church, Arlington, Washington, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Kensington, and Garrett Park.

Family Therapy Q & A

What Causes Feelings of Abandonment?

Feelings of abandonment can be caused by a parent or other loved one leaving the home or distancing emotionally from the family. Children of divorce may feel abandoned by the parent who left the marriage or moved out of the family residence. Even if the parent is still available to the child, the fact that the person left results in the child feeling abandoned or isolated. Dealing with feelings of abandonment can take several years. Depression can also play a role in how someone deals with being left behind. A psychiatrist can help the adult or child understand how familial conflicts have contributed to current difficulties and make adjustments leading one to feel more connected in intimate relationships.

Who Experiences Separation Difficulties the Most?

Separation difficulties can be experienced by anyone who is involved in a relationship where a parting of the ways occurs. Children who leave home to go to college and the parents who are faced with an empty nest may all feel the repercussions of separation anxiety. Separation difficulties may also be present when a person in the military deploys to a far off destination, leaving behind a spouse and children. The difficulties of being apart can take a toll on both those leaving and those staying at home. Psychotherapy can help a person become aware of the factors that are causing her anxiety and address the situation head on. This allows her to take a proactive approach and find ways to correct the problems at the core before the emotional difficulties affect the relationship.

What Causes a Person to Feel Trapped?

Feeling trapped is the other side of the “relationship coin” of fearing separation or abandonment. Each person experiences personal boundaries differently. Everyone balances their needs in relationships so they can feel the most comfortable and confident. This optimizes intimacy and the ability to function most effectively in life. Events that can destabilize this delicate balance include obstacles to achieving one’s goals or the threat that comes with change. A person can begin to feel trapped when he is no longer able to do many of the things he used to enjoy. In some cases, the feeling of being trapped is self-imposed and the person sees his options as limited. Threatened or actual loss of one’s livelihood, an important relationship, or just change of any sort can lead to sticking to the same routine over and over again to avoid change that might disrupt the norm. A psychiatrist can offer the person insight  and the tools needed to feel comfortable and confident again, necessary to resume life energetically, seeing all the possibilities.