Educational Background

Donald J Franklin, PhD - Educational Background

Donald J. Franklin, Ph.D. has been licensed in New Jersey as a psychologist since 1987.  These educational programs fulfilled part of the requirements for licensure as a psychologist.. Continuing Educational programs are also listed, as well as an overview of his basic psychological training:

Ph.D., 1985, Fordham University, New York, New York 10023

This degree program included courses in psychometric theory, psychological assessment and testing; personality theory, adult and child psychopathology, theories of motivation, social psychology, theory and practice of psychotherapy and counseling, clinical supervision, theory and practice of marriage and family therapy, several practicums in counseling and psychotherapy, and courses in psychological research methods and the application of research to practice.

MA, 1976, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey

This degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling included courses in the psychological basis of counseling theory, techniques of counseling and psychotherapy, group counseling, medical and psychological aspects of disability and severe disability, psychological testing, psychodrama techniques, and research techniques, with a thesis on alcohol treatment.

BA, 1973, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 17837

This psychology degree program provided the basic theoretical psychological background for graduate training in psychology.  Psychology courses included: Foundations of Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Memory and Thinking, Personality Theory, Study of Freudian Psychology, Perception, Psychological Testing and Mental Retardation, Advanced Psychological Testing, Abnormal Psychology, Physiological Psychology, Psychology of Later Childhood and Adolescence, Psychology of Motivation, and the Sociology of Mental Illness and Suicide.

Continuing Education

Training in psychology does not stop when you receive your final degree. Consequently, Dr. Franklin has continued his education in psychology in many ways since his licensure as a Psychologist in 1987.

Dr. Franklin has participated in many Continuing Education courses since licensure as a Psychologist in 1987. This includes the completion of additional graduate course work in Child Psychology, as well as continuing education workshops in Psychological Testing, Treatment of Depression, Social Phobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Cognitive Therapy Methods, Neuropsychological Assessment, Memory Impairment, Evaluation and Treatment of Sexual Offenders, Divorce Mediation, Child Custody and Divorce Issues, Identification of Child Abuse, Personality Disorders, Diagnosis and Clinical Evaluations, Attention Deficit Hyperative Disorder, Assertiveness Skills, Parenting Skills, Couples Therapy, Short Term Psychotherapy, Coping Skills, Identification of Malingering, and Forensic Evaluation procedures, plus many other areas of psychology.

Dysthymic Disorder

Psychological Treatment of Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder is characterized by chronic depression, but usually with less severity than a major depression. The essential symptom for dysthymic disorder is an almost daily depressed mood for at least two years, but without the necessary criteria for a major depression. Low energy, sleep or appetite disturbances and low self-esteem are usually part of the clinical picture as well.

People who have dysthymic disorder will often report that they don't recall ever not feeling depressed, but they may be relatively functional in managing their life. But, the symptoms are severe enough to cause distress and interference with important life role responsibilities. A complete physical can rule out any physical illnesses that might be causing the depression. If the person has a chronic medical condition that appears to be the cause for the depression (such as any chronic debilitating condition), then the correct diagnosis might be a Mood Disorder due to a general Medical Condition, even if all the criteria for dysthymic disorder are met. The question is whether the medical condition is physically causing the depression, rather than creating chronic psychological distress that is causing the depression. 

Despite the long term nature of this type of depression, psychotherapy is effective in reducing the symptoms of depression, and assisting the person in managing his/her life better. Some individuals with dysthymic disorder respond well to antidepressant medication, in addition to psychotherapy, so an evaluation for medication may be appropriate. You should consult your psychologist if you have questions about treatment.

Identifying Dysthymic Disorder

Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being. Dysthymic disorder results in long term symptoms such as:

Changes in Thinking - Many people experience difficulty with concentration and decision making. Some people report problems with short term memory, forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts and thinking are characteristic of depression.  Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt, and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructive thoughts during more serious depression.

Changes in Feelings - Many people report feeling sad for no reason. Others report that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable. You might lack motivation, becoming more apathetic. You might feel "slowed down" and tired all the time. Sometimes irritability is a problem, and more difficulty controlling your temper. Often, dysthymic disorder leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Changes in Behavior - You might act more apathetic, because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with other people, so social withdrawal is common. Some people experience a change in appetite, either eating more or less. Because of the chronic sadness, excessive crying is common. Some people complain about everything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people may neglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needless to say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so work productivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people have trouble getting out of bed.

Changes in Physical Well-being - We already talked about the negative emotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled with negative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during the night, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many aches and pains.

Now imagine these symptoms lasting for months. Imagine feeling this way almost all of the time. This may be dysthymic disorder, if several of these symptoms are present most of the time, for the past two years. Remember, all of the symptoms do not need to be present! Of course, it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself. If you think you might be depressed, talk to a psychologist for a consultation. A licensed psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, and can determine the proper treatment for your depression. Remember, depression is treatable.

Treatment for Dysthymic Disorder

Psychotherapy is the treatment for choice for this psychological problem. Often, antidepressant medication is also recommended because of the chronic nature of the depression in dysthymia. Psychotherapy is used to treat this depression in several ways. First, supportive counseling can help to ease the pain, and can address the feelings of hopelessness. Second, cognitive therapy is used to change the pessimistic ideas, unrealistic expectations, and overly critical self-evaluations that create the depression and sustain it. Cognitive therapy can help the depressed person recognize which life problems are critical, and which are minor. It also helps them to learn how to accept the life problems that cannot be changed. Third, problem solving therapy is usually needed to change the areas of the person's life that are creating significant stress, and contributing to the depression. Behavioral therapy can help you to develop better coping skills, and interpersonal therapy can assist in resolving relationship conflicts. 

Please contact Dr. Franklin at (908) 526-8111 for more information.

Depression - Unspecified

Some professionals portray this category as a "garbage pail" diagnostic category for depression. That is an incoreect assessment of the category. If someone is obviously depressed, but does not fit into any of the other categories, then this diagnosis is made. However, it is not a garbage pail, but provides a valuable way to categorize depression that does not fit into the other categories. The alternative would be to have several additional diagnostic categories. That is not useful, unless the different diagnoses require different treatment. This category includes people with serious depression, but not quite severe enough for a diagnosis of a major depression, so moderate depression would be included here. This would also include people with mild to moderate depression who have not been depressed long enough to be diagnosed with a dysthymic disorder. Dysthymic disorder requires depressive symptoms to be present for two years. It also includes those individuals who continue to be depressed, in response to some traumatic event, but the depression has lasted longer than expected for an adjustment disorder with depression. In an adjustment disorder, the expectation is that the depression will last no more than about six months after the stressor has ended.

Treatment for Depression

The treatment plan remains the same as for other depressive disorders. Cognitive psychotherapy is effective in reducing depressive symptoms, and the cognitive distortions that appear to cause the mood problem. Interpersonal psychotherapy is used to help the individual resolve relationship problems that are causing the depression. If the symptoms are severe, the individual may be referred for a medical evaluation to assess the need for medication, but in most cases medication is not necessary.

These different diagnostic categories of depression are sometimes more useful for research purposes than for treatment purposes. When making distinctions between different categories within a particular class of disorders, such as depression, psychologists are looking for differences that may indicate different causes, or that require different treatment.

Also, in completing research on treatment for a specific category of depression, the differences become important in measuring the results of treatment. For example, if a study is comparing different treatments, it is important that the treatment groups are similar. We would not want one treatment group to include mostly people with a major depression and another group to include mostly people with an adjustment disorder. If that happened, the research results would be tainted. Generally, moderate depression requires less treatment, and responds better to treatment, than severe depression. If we are comparing different types of treatment, the different treatments must be applied to similar problems. 

To some extent then, the use of a diagnosis helps the psychologist predict the expected duration of treatment, or to anticipate possible issues that might arise in treatment. The history of symptoms, especially the duration of the depression, can help a psychologist understand the overall impact of the depression on a person's life. Someone who has been depressed for many years, either with dysthymic disorder or recurrent major depression, will have a multitude of issues related to how the disorder has taken over his/her life. This is very different than the clinical picture presented when a person becomes depressed initially after a specific trauma, and recovers. 

For more information, contact Dr Franklin at (908) 526-8111

Discrimination Issues

Psychological Assessment - Discrimination Issues

Discrimination, whether it is based on race, sexual preference, gender, religion, ethnic background, age, disability, national origin, or another factor, can have a profound and damaging psychological impact on a person. Psychologists can evaluate that emotional impact.

Psychological evaluations to assess the effects of discrimination must consider many of the same issues addressed in evaluating sexual harassment. After all, sexual harassment is a specific form of discrimination, only it can also include additional behavioral trauma, as well as the emotional damage. There needs to be a distinction made between perception of discrimination and the legal definition of discrimination, which is a legal issue, not a psychological one. However, beyond that issue, psychologists can assess whether an individual presents with psychological distress or a disorder, and whether this condition appears to be preexisting the alleged discrimination, or as a result of the incident. Psychologists can also identify the functional emotional impairments that have resulted from the discrimination, including any disability, if evident.  When discrimination occurs within the workplace, it can create a hostile work environment that not only results in distress, but can limit a person's capacity to care for themselves and their family, because it affects their capacity to earn a living.

Psychologists can offer an opinion regarding whether a person's expectations about how s/he was treated were reasonable, based on the circumstances of the incidents. The ultimate determination, regarding whether discrimination took place or not, is made by the court, but a psychological assessment can describe the extent of emotional harm and the potential for recovery, if discrimination is established.

Dr. Franklin provides psychological evaluiations
to assess the emotional impact of discrimination. 
For more information, call (908) 526-8111.

Depression

This article describes the various types of depression, including major depresion, dysthymic disorder, non-specific depression, adjustment disorder with depression and bi-polar depression. It also provides links to all depressive disorders.

Please use the menu on the left sidebar to access information about specific depressive disorders.

Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone through either personal experience or family involvement. Most people have a sense of depression being related to a sad mood, but it is much more than that. It is normal for our moods to fluctuate, and every time we are sad, we are not "depressed."

Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel, and also affects your social behavior and sense of physical well-being. We have all felt sad at one time or another, but that is not depression. Sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. This too, is not depression. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But, if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities, it may be depression.

Depression can affect anyone. Once identified, most people with depression are successfully treated. Unfortunately, depression is not always diagnosed, because many of the symptoms mimic physical malaise, such as sleep and appetite disturbances. Recognizing depression is the first step in treating it.

Identifying the Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being.

Changes in Thinking - You may experience difficulty with concentration and decision making. Some people report problems with short term memory. Negative thoughts and thinking are characteristic of depression. Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt, and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructive thoughts during a more serious depression.

Changes in Feelings - Many people report feeling sad for no reason. Others report that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasureable. You might lack motivation, becoming more apathetic. Sometimes irritability is a problem, and you may have more difficulty controlling your temper. In the extreme, clinical depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Changes in Behavior - The changes in behavior common during depression are reflective of the negative emotions you experience. You might act more apathetic, because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with other people, so social withdrawal is common. Some people complain about everything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people may neglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needless to say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so work productivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people even have trouble getting out of bed.

Changes in Physical Well-Being - We already talked about the negative emotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled with negative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during the night, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many aches and pains. Others are restless, and can't sit still.

Now imagine these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months. Imagine feeling this way almost all of the time. If many of these symptoms are present for at least several weeks, you are probably depressed.

Bi-polar depression is a very different and more complicated form of depression with many unique problems. Formerly called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar depression is a type of depression, and usually includes depressive episodes as well as hypomanic episodes

Of course, it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself. If you think you might be depressed, see a psychologist soon. A psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, or just under a lot of stress and feeling a little sadness. Remember, depression is treatable. Instead of worrying about whether you are depressed, go do something about it. Even if you don't feel like it right now.

Types of Depression

There are several different diagnoses for depression, mostly determined by the intensity of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms, and the specific cause of the symptoms, if that is known. Dr. Franklin provides treatment for the following depressive disorders:

  • Major Depression
  • Dysthymic Disorder
  • Depression, unspecified
  • Reactive Depression (Adjustment Disorder, with Depression)
  • Bipolar Depression

Major Depression versus other Depressions

The differences between Major Depression and other depressions, such as bipolar depression, dysthymia, or reactive depression, are more important for psychologists planning treatment, and are of less concern to the average person. When you review the list of symptoms for major depression, and you have four symptom clusters, instead of five, you should not ignore it or forget about it.  Moderate Depression is not a separate diagnosis, so if the symptoms do not fit a specific category, the depression is simply called "unspecified." Ask yourself this question: "Does the depression interfere with my life, my relationships, my productivity or my happiness?" If depression is interfering with your life, then don't wait, talk to a psychologist soon.

For more information, please call (908) 526-8111.