Dr. Eva Fisher

/Dr. Eva Fisher

About Dr. Eva Fisher

Dr. Eva Fisher is the founder and clinical director of Fisher Associates Psychological Services. Based on over 20 years of clinical experience, she is an Ottawa Psychologist that provides psychotherapy to adults, children, couples and families on a variety of issues.


What are the signs of Smartphone Addiction?

By Dr Eva Fisher C Psych

In case you haven’t noticed, there are definitely warning signs of Smartphone overuse. Most people easily admit that they are “addicted” to their Smartphone simply because they are so dependent on this one little device that connects them to the outside world from the minute they wake up to the moment their eyes close.

Smartphones help us stay in touch with family, check in with friends, keep all their work info and contacts in one place, instant message, facetime, social media, music, news and everything else going on in the near and distant world.

So, are you a Smartphone Addict?

Let’s look at the signs. Are you:

Increasing amounts of time spent on your Smartphone, and less time with others?

Compulsively having to check your Smartphone;

Finding it impossible to ignore an alert on your Smartphone;

Spending more and more money on Smartphone data plans, online gaming, freemium apps, apps, Accessories, protective cases, etc?;

Using your Smartphone while driving your car despite laws prohibiting such activity?;

Finding all or almost all your upsets happen from events involving your Smartphone;

Near-death experiences like almost getting hit by a car while wearing your device earbuds;

Going to sleep with your Smartphone under your pillow, beside your bed;

Using your Smartphone to help you fall asleep;

Using your Smartphone when you can’t sleep;

Getting into conflicts with your close family, friends, romantic partners because you’re always using your Smartphone and ignoring them;

Having to check your Smartphone when you’re in a session with your therapist;

If you answered yes to two or more or these signs, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a psychologist.

Overcoming Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. But some people experience anxiety too much of the time, often for no real reason.

Anxiety invades their lives with distressing images, painful feelings, or thoughts of impending doom.  Most are fully aware of the unpleasant feelings resulting from their anxieties, but often the anxieties themselves are subconscious. Yet these anxieties could become recognizable if they could learn to stop and reflect on them when they experience these feelings.


Couples Troubles

Many couples enjoy the change of pace that summer brings. Vacations, musical festivals, cottage getaways with family and lots of outdoor BBQs are occasions to enjoy life and create happy memories. But these can also be times when relationship troubles are camouflaged, then dealt with later.

Is this you? Sad but true, a time to away, meant to grow as a couple, can also be a time of deepening relationship distress. Couples Therapy is an effective way of overcoming a communications impasse.

A recent report on BBC.com states that people between the age of 16 and 44 are having less sex than ever before. Is there something about life today? Are there new ways to hide problems?

Some modern indications of unhealthy couples behaviors include:blog-fighting-loving

  • Excessive smartphone/tablet use/social sites
    • Often in the presence of their partners
  • Excessive organized family activities
    • E.g. not enough free time for individual interests
  • Excessive amounts of time viewing adult web sites (Pornography)

These are ways to fill time and maintain distance when unspoken issues lie beneath a superficial calm. Couples unconsciously collude to maintain the status quo of parallel lives – like railroad tracks going in the same direction but never intersecting.

The issues below are still the ones most often involved in couples’ communication breakdowns:

  • Money
  • Sex
  • Parenting
  • In-laws

These issues are caused and often complicated by values that you and your partner may not always share. Values are personal perceptions about the right way to live your life.  For example, you may believe that it’s better to enjoy life while you have the freedom and resources to do so. Your partner may argue that it’s more important to save money for a nest egg as the priority. Issues become more entrenched when they conceal emotional issues such as insecurities about money or phobias that lead to recurring impasses of communication.

Despite the summer distractions, if you and your partner are stuck in a communication breakdown, it is a good idea to consult a psychologist trained in couples therapy to help you accomplish your goals together.


Dr Eva Fisher is a registered psychologist trained in Ottawa, Canada with training in couples and family issues.

Social Anxiety in the Digital Age & IRL

Dr Eva Fisher M.A., D.Ed. C Psych

When you spend most of your waking hours and your twilight pre-sleep hours in front of a small lit screen, how will feel when making eye contact with a real life person?  What if it’s a person you recently met and who you want to get to know better?

This scenario is a perfect storm for an anxiety attack, above and the usual panic, that you are now being judged and rejected as a nerd of the highest order who can hardly put two words together without stammering and getting red in the face?

The chances are good that you feel awkward, weird, tightness in your chest, have some shallow breathing and find it hard to speak naturally?

You may start to wonder if others notice that you’re tense, and wonder if they are judging you, rejecting you and deciding that you’re a loser?

You have just experienced an anxiety attack IRL, that may be made a lot worse because of your habitual smartphone isolation.

The DSM-5 describes the signs of such attacks as social phobia, a persistent or strong fear of one or more social or performance situations where you are exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny.  You may fear that you will act in a way (or show signs of anxiety) that will be humiliating or embarrassing.  You may be aware that the intensity of your fear is exaggerated or excessive.

Ruling out the cause of your distress as due to a chemical substance, or a medical condition like stuttering, trembling, or palsy, you have a real time case of social anxiety.

Is there an antidote?

The good news is yes, and the bad news is – it may not be fast and will require some work.

Overcoming social anxiety can be managed with some help.  You need to face reality. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you feel more comfortable (safe, secure, at ease) when you are alone with your smartphone and inter-relate with your friends with text messages only?
  2. Do you feel, or have others told you, that you spend too much time playing with your smartphone?
  3. Whose mind is having the thoughts that other people are observing you and judging you a social cripple? Is it yours alone?
  4. Do you think you can train or trick your mind into calming down?
  5. Are there some mental tricks you ever use to feel relaxed in social settings?

If any of these questions (or answers) are causing issues in your life, contact us for a consultation.


And tune in next week for the next installment of Social Anxiety IRL.

Headaches and Medically Unexplained Symptoms

Headaches and Pain

Dr. Eva Fisher D. Ed., C. Psych

It’s upsetting to go to your family doctor for help with headaches, or any pain, and to be told that there is no obvious cause or medical reason for them. You might consider seeing another doctor, only to hear similar conclusions.  Since the headache (or pain) feels real, why can’t doctors find a “real” cause or fix for it?

The fact is that psychological pain can feel just as real as physiological pain, only the cause cannot be found by standard medical testing such as X-ray/MRI or other imaging technologies. It can be additionally frustrating that in many cases, pain medications help little, if at all.

If you are  provided with a referral to a psychologist with training in psychotherapy for medically unexplained symptoms, you may have found new hope for a solution.

A new field of treatment, called Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, or ISTDP, is re-visiting the relationship between emotion suppression and pain. Psychiatrists working in this area have determined that psychological or emotional issues may indeed be implicated in symptoms of headaches, as well as back pain and digestive disorders.

If you or someone you know suffers from unexplained medical symptoms, it may be helpful to schedule an appointment with a psychologist with training in ISTDP.

Dr Eva Fisher is a clinical psychologist with ISTDP training, in private practice located at 436 Gilmour St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Family Therapy and Pokémon Go™

Can Augmented Reality games like Pokémon Go help in family therapy? Possibly. Let’s explore how;

Before, during and after dinner, are one or more family members on their smartphone?  Do you see a smartphone at each place setting?  Are dinner conversations interrupted each time someone’s smartphone rings?

These can be signs of family togetherness problems.  But there are simple alternatives that can be easy to try and even fun.  Here are some suggestions.

Family meetings. Talk about family times and fun times together. This could include routines for doing things together without smartphones, but can also include new kinds of fun involving everyone’s smartphone.  Why not integrate smartphones into a family activity?

Learn to play Pokémon Go together.  Even better, ask your kids to teach your how to play.

Pokémon Go is a mobile game app that pairs GPS with a smartphone camera to create an augmented reality.  Players earn points by “catching” virtual characters in real outdoor environments. Players get to see the characters in their real world environment by looking at the screen and “capturing” the Pokémon character.

Pokémon Go can be used to encourage families to do things outdoors, while sharing fun and laughter of outsmarting the Pokémon characters.  Having a family team can be a great way to strengthen your family unit.

Of course, there are things to watch out for, so some rules could be:

  • Let the family decide where and when to play, in a safe location
  • Choose an identified “Pokémon scout” who makes sure you don’t walk into traffic or stumble over obstacles while looking at the screen
  • Be respectful of others when playing – you may be disturbing them.
  • Set a time limit for playing the game and take time to talk with your children about their favorite parts of the game
  • Give everyone a chance to be the leader – it’s family fun and different family members have different skills

Contact Dr. Eva Fisher and associates today to book your couples/family appointment today!


Copyright©, 2016, Dr. Eva Fisher & Fisher Associates, http://ottawa-psychologist.net

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/97373666@N00/29289085485″>Pokemon Swag</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>.

Smartphone Addiction – Part I

By Dr. Eva Fisher, c. Psych.

How your Smartphone trained your brain.

Smartphones are smarter than you are. Really. What’s the last time you got a notification and simply ignored it? Bet you couldn’t keep concentrating until you checked it out.

There’s no shame in it, your Smartphone really wants you addicted. It’s deliberately designed to do that.

The technique that Smartphones use to get you hooked, and keep your hooked, is called Classical Conditioning, and a scientist called Dr. Pavlov dreamed it up. Here’s how.

In the 1920s, Dr Pavlov discovered that he could get dogs to salivate at his command.

The first step was this. When the animals got a bowl of food, he arranged it so a bell would ring at the very same time. Each time they were fed, he rang the same bell.

Within a week, the animals learned that when the bell rang, food was on the way.

It worked.

But then, Dr Pavlov tried something different. He was curious what would happen if he rang the bell, but withheld the food.

What happened? The animal’s salivary glands became active at the sound of the bell alone, whether or not there was food, and whether or not they were hungry.

The animals had learned to associate the sound of the bell with just the *MEMORY* of the food. Their brains had become conditioned to associate the sound of the bell with the anticipation of the reward, e.g., the food.

And so, learning theory, called Conditioned Response came into being.

Smartphones use this same Conditioned Response to train you to pay attention, and to have you anticipate a reward whenever your Smartphone notifications, or alerts, go off. Doesn’t matter whether you choose the bells, chimes, or your fave song, it always works.

Your brain has been trained to respond, even when there is no message waiting from your bae or BFF.

You can’t turn your brain off, but you can definitely turn off your Smartphone.

But I bet you won’t.

Smartphone addiction help

Smartphone addiction

Sexting the one you love

Justin returned from a business trip earlier than expected.  As he unpacked his suitcase he heard his wife, Ashley’s cell phone ringing.  He picked it up out of curiosity. He didn’t expect to find a sexting message from an unknown man with genital photos in full display.  Scrolling through the history, he found photos of Ashley  naked with flirtatious come-ons.  He was shocked and disturbed and he had certainly never seen that side of her before.

It takes a congressman sexting on Twitter, to bring to light something that has been causing couples to fight since the earliest days of the Internet and social media.


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436 Gilmour St. Suite 101

Ottawa, Ontario

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