Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLCs) and comprehensive counseling are the keys to success at the new Princeton Group Support Centerat 88 Orchard Road in Skillman, where group support therapy, mindfulness training and supports for change are used to help people challenged by stress, depression and anxiety, as well as those affected by the emotional impact of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Charles Leighton, director of PGSC, states that “the mission of PGSC is to treat the whole person, using a group centered, multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach. We are not just about treating people’s symptoms — we want to helpthem achieve lasting happiness.”

Leighton continued, “fields as diverse as cardiology, oncologyand neuroscience have provided evidence that human happiness is enhanced by the very behaviors and habits we teach and reinforce in our groups: strong interpersonal connections; a healthy diet and exercise program; controlling stress with meditation techniques; and having a spiritual or religious affiliation. When you add these TLCs to traditional approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy, group members discover ways to not only reduce symptoms but also to understand and resolve the actual underlying causes of their distress.”

Group support therapy is a perfect vehicle for addressing these issues. It is as effective as individual counseling (or more so) for treating such mental health issues as depression and anxiety, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, and adolescent issues. It is also cheaper and affords more people the opportunity to connect with and learn from others in similar circumstances.

“The healing power of a well-run group can be extraordinary,” says Leighton. “When we find out we are not alone in our suffering, when we can test our long-held assumptions in a controlled environment, when we see that others truly care about our well-being, and when we have a safe, non-judgmental place to finally share some long-held, intimate concerns that we have hidden, sometimes for a lifetime, it is as if we can breathe again. Our innate creative and healing capacities are unleashed and we can feel a sense of deep happiness and confidence.”

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Group Psychotherapist, trained cognitive behavioral therapist and certified yoga instructor, Charles Leighton has run support groups for more than 20 years. He is a senior trainer for The Dr. Dean Ornish Reversing Heart Disease Program and The Smith Center for People Living with Cancer program. Leighton also is the cofounder and director of The Heart Group at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, a lifestyle program for people with heart disease that began 17 years ago and was recently featured in the PBS documentary, “The Mysterious Human Heart.”

New support groups will begin in August at Princeton Group Support Center. One new group will serve people suffering with anxiety; the other is for people with heart disease. Additional information is available at www.charlesleighton.com or by calling 973-851-5095.

Princeton Group Support Center, Charles Leighton, LCSW, CGP, CYT, 88 Orchard Road, Skillman. 973-851-5095 or www.charlesleighton.com.

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