Erin Kennedy
December 2, 2018

A Guide to Quit Smoking How to save money and restore your health. If you're tired of: Spending money on cigarettes, dealing with health problems related to smoking, people bothering you about quitting - then this guide (pdf) is for you. Read More ! Erin Kennedy, MS Candidateis a Behavioral Health Consultant and Counseling Intern at Counseling Associates. She is a point person in the integrated care initiative between Counseling Associates and Valley Regional Hospital.


 

Pete Afflerbach
May 21, 2018

Relationship Health: The birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing! Finally, the buds are on the trees, and the daffodils are out. Spring is always a good time to check in about relationship health. Among the top contributors to anxiety and depression, nothing competes with how an unhealthy relationship can impact our lives. We feel tired, trapped, hopeless, or even fearful. We watch the clock, awaiting with dread for the once beloved, yet now despised partner or spouse to come home to a house or apartment of gloom. What happened? Well, there are many factors that can make a…


 

Michelle Harkins
January 14, 2018

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, the trauma or the substance use? Many clinical programs treat PTSD or substance use disorders, but rarely both. Seeking Safety is an integrated model that treats both the PTSD and the substance use disorder at the same time and doesn’t worry which to treat first. The skills gained from Seeking Safety groups will help alleviate the symptoms of both PTSD and the substance use disorder. The title of the Group, Seeking Safety, states the basic mission of the treatment. In this group the goal is for a person to…


 

Ashley Mayo
January 9, 2018

"Kids can't practice mindfulness! That's for adults!" The concept of kids practicing mindfulness might conjure up a laughable image of a group of children sitting calmly while breathing "ohm. " This is NOT mindfulness. A common misconception is that mindfulness is only for adults to understand and practice. When we understand what mindfulness is, and what it is not, it becomes easier to understand how to incorporate mindfulness into a child's routine. Mindfulness is the practice of: increasing attention to the present moment and building awareness of internal (thoughts, feelings, sensations) and external (what is going on around us) experiences.…


 

Susan Borchert
December 13, 2017

The "Golden Years" are often described as an idyllic time of retirement and fulfillment. Yet, the aging process is not always so benign. Chronic illness, loss of friends and family, and the loss of abilities can be a heavy burden on emotional well- being. An older adult can experience a loss of control over his or her life due to changes in eyesight, hearing, memory, or other physical changes, as well as a deteriorating financial condition. These losses can often result in negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety and loneliness. These can, in turn, lead to isolating behavior and hopelessness.…


 

Betsy Harrison
November 28, 2017

Wouldn't it be great if it made no sense for the words holiday and stress to go together? You know what I mean. Rushing around for bargains, over-commercialization, the pressure of social obligations, the ever-growing holiday card list, food extravaganzas, running out of scotch tape, orchestrating increasingly complicated webs of divided & blended families, and feeling like you are the only one feeling less than joyful while everyone else is being merry.... What's on your list? So here are a few thoughts on how to navigate the season and put the things that are important in your front seat while…


 

Michelle Harkins
November 22, 2017

The google search bar entry reads: Do I have an Addiction problem? "Do you drink or use alone? Do you drink or use more than you planned to? Have you ever missed work or school due to drinking or drug use?" stares back at you. The self administered test that Google directed you to indicates an affirmative NO. No, you do not have Addiction. Phew. You tell yourself "Of course I don't have an addiction." Your mind begins supporting that belief. "I work hard. I deserve a reward when I come home." And "I only drink (or use) on the…


 

Betsy Harrison
November 13, 2017

"When it comes to gratitude, the word that jumped out at me throughout this research process is practice." Brené Brown   Research continues to expand supporting a clear connection between an intentional practice of gratitude and a range of health and wellness benefits. I am going to call this compelling research because these are not just pink, fluffy feeling-a-smidge-happier findings. Researchers are finding actual brain changes associated with gratitude practice. Studies also confirm that a practice of gratitude can: improve immune function improve sleep educe symptoms of illness trengthen relationships boost happiness reduce depression enhance resiliency improve motivation for healthful…


 

Pete Afflerbach
November 6, 2017

How to Address Behavior Issues with Children: A Shout-Out to Parents and Teachers! Do you have kids? I do. Sometimes I feel bad for my kids because their dad is a therapist. I'm always asking about their feelings, and frankly, I bet they find this annoying. One thing I've had to realize in this profession, is that I cannot always practice what I preach when it comes to parenting my children. However, I do stand by the practice of being curious about how kids are feeling—whether they are my own children or children I see in my office. Emotional health…


 

Betsy Harrison
October 23, 2017

Integrative Health Coaching (IHC) is a positive, strengths-based approach to optimizing your health and well-being. We will partner with you to create lasting lifestyle and health changes. At Counseling Associates, our tagline is helping people lead thriving lives. This is what Integrative Health Coaching is all about. Health is more than a number. A number on a readout or on a paper doesn't tell your health story. Whether it's the digits on a scale, a heart rate or blood pressure, or even the number of cookies you eat, glasses of wine you drink or cigarettes you smoke, there's so much…


 

Susan Borchert
October 18, 2017

How to tell if you are suffering from a slight case of Cabin Fever or a true Seasonal Affective Disorder and what you can do about it. Recent studies have shown that most people are more prone to sleepiness and low energy in the winter months. You may be more irritable, anxious and sad than during the summer. Whether this is due to changes in diet, exercise or light exposure has not yet been fully demonstrated although studies are ongoing. Some researchers believe that a slowing of metabolism may even be the result of our animal evolution, somewhat similar to…


 

Devon Voake
September 20, 2017

When your teen tells you you're "cisgender": Talking with your teen about gender when they know more terminology than you do Today's teens are talking about gender a lot. This is a good thing! Young people are choosing to share their gender identity with others. This despite the stigma and oppression that continues to breed profound suffering among transgender and nonbinary youth. And cisgender teens (teens whose gender identity is consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth) are exploring gender, too. Teens are reflecting on how prescribed gender roles are influencing themselves and the world around them, and…


 

Devon Voake
September 12, 2017

Many readers of Nurturing Parent-Teen Connection Through Conversations About Identity commented that the ideas in that post could be generalized to other “heavy stuff” that parents discuss their teens. I agree! This feedback got me thinking: What does it take for a parent to be able to talk openly with their teen about...anything? Perhaps surprisingly, a few essential principles can open the door to supportive and impactful dialogue, no matter how “tough” the topic. Let’s take a quick look at three more practices to help you tackle any issue with your teenager. Set expectations around tone Even parents who generally…


 

Devon Voake
July 11, 2017

"Who am I?" "Who do I want to become?" These questions are at the core of the human experience and we revisit them throughout our lives. Even young children consider these seemingly abstract questions. One of the great privileges of parenting can be the opportunity to witness our children's identity development from the very beginning. We remember our babies' gurgles of pleasure and screeches of distaste as they fiercely communicated their likes and dislikes. We recall - often with nostalgia - our toddlers' whispers in our ear about their wishes and their fears. These intimate early exchanges are our children's…


 

Pete Afflerbach
July 1, 2017

With flowers in bloom and garden crops reaching skyward, I can't think of a better time to talk about love. Relationships are like gardens, when we don't pay attention to them, they might not work the way we want them to. The big question is, how much attention is enough? After all, people can over-water. We can spend too much time obsessing over every weed and forget that one person's weed may be another person's landscaping plan. I fully admit that the ferns that grow around my house need no attention and I love the way they look. I've noticed…


 

Pete Afflerbach - Betsy Harrison
May 15, 2017

Mindfulness: What it IS ... and what it's NOT. If the term mindfulness conjures images of sitting still on cushions for intolerable periods of time, we invite you to reconsider. Mindfulness is not limited to meditation. It can be practiced in meditation. It can also be practiced in everyday moments. Mindfulness can be playing a game that involves aiming at target. Mindfulness can be walking. Mindfulness can be having a really focused conversation. It is about increasing awareness and paying close attention — really useful if you are aiming at stuff. If you have a stereotype of who mindfulness people…


 

Pete Afflerbach
April 10, 2017

Spring Is In The Air: Put the spark back in your relationship. April seems like a good time to talk about renewal—especially when it comes to re-lighting the spark in a romantic relationship. Does your relationship feel stuck or does it seem to have “lost that loving feeling?” When I ask many couples about the last time they went out on a date, the response is often either silence or “I can't even remember.” There is a notion that romantic relationships are supposed to feel a certain way at all times. We see movies and commercials putting shiny, smiling people…


 

Sara Bergeron
January 9, 2017

Seriously? Not again! Anger. We all know what that is. Anger is that emotion that we all experience, even though some will say they "never get mad." Sometimes we show it. Sometimes we stuff it down, avoid it and hope it goes away. However we cope with it, we are all different. Anger is defined as "a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility." Anger develops when we feel used, hurt, misunderstood, embarrassed or wronged in some way. We all have situations that upset or annoy us, sometimes to the point where we just want to blow, yell, hit and…


 

Pete Afflerbach
December 30, 2016

For some of us, the weather outside may indeed be frightful. For others, our Yankee spirit sees the snow fly and temperatures drop and we strap on skis or snowshoes. We feel grateful for the trees, minimal traffic, and the clean air of a rural, small town landscape. In the world of counseling, we are concerned with the weather inside. This time of year, our hearts and minds are often bubbling with stress. The holiday season is filled with both abundant joy and sometimes painful reminders of the loss of loved ones who have made their celestial departure. These feelings…


 

Sara Bergeron
December 12, 2016

We all feel worried or anxious sometimes. You might feel anxious about the holidays. You might be faced with a problem at work, taking a big test, making an important decision or trying something new. Occasional anxiety and worry are normal and, actually, healthy parts of our everyday lives. However, when someone is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, there is much more involved than simple worry. Anxiety disorders can be complicated, difficult to manage and involve more than temporary worry, concerns or fear. Anxiety can affect anyone, at any age, at any time in ones life. If you are living…


 

Betsy Harrison
November 21, 2016

"It is gratefulness that makes us happy, not happiness that makes us grateful." Brother David Steindl-Rast It is logical to assume that gratitude flows naturally from joy. If you have all that joy swirling around, you're bound to be grateful. Studies show that, instead, it is the practice of gratitude that leads toward the experience of joy and well-being. The relationship between gratitude and joy was an unexpected finding in researcher Brené Brown's interviews. As she summarizes in The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown found that those individuals who identified themselves as joyful had an active, intentional practice of gratitude and…


 

CA Blogs
November 7, 2016

Hiking: Nature's medicine for the holidays Fall is one of the best times of year, especially in New England. It is the time of year when the leaves are changing colors. The weather is becoming cooler. Apple picking ensues. You break out the cute, cozy sweaters. There are so many good things about the fall season. With the changing of the season, it also means that the holidays are approaching. For some, the holidays can be a stressful time of year. Holidays can be filled with driving to people's houses, dealing with family drama, and spending money you may or…


 

Pete Afflerbach
November 2, 2016

Stages of Change: On your marks, get set, go! As a counselor with experience and training in the field of addiction, the basic ideas within the stages of change model make total sense. The problem is, knowing about the stages doesn't necessarily get anyone off the couch or out of their local bar in time to avoid disaster. People are often dug in deep with their love of beer, cocaine, or wine. Meanwhile, their spouse is at home wondering how much longer this will go on before calling an attorney to draw up divorce papers. In short, addiction has taken…


 

Susan Borchert
October 16, 2016

"We never talk anymore!" Sound familiar? Communication issues are one of the most common relationship problems. But there is good news. If you and your partner commit to to making some of these changes, with a bit of practice, you will likely feel closer, have more fun and be a more effective problem solving team. You certainly can come in and talk to one of us if you run into trouble. But improved communication doesn't always need a coach or facilitator. This is not extreme sports - You can try this at home. 1. Don't wait - make the first…


 

Amy Mack
October 11, 2016

A child old enough to love, is old enough to grieve. Alan Wolfelt A common myth is that children do not grieve. Death, divorce, relocation, separation from a caregiver, and disruption in social connections are all losses that might affect your child. Children can experience loss at home, at school, and in their social groups. Developmentally, your child cannot stay in sadness for prolonged periods of time. A child may go from playing and laughing, to crying and feeling upset. You might find that your child will exhibit a variety of emotions during their time of grief. Common grief reactions…


 

Amy Mack
October 2, 2016

It is 5pm… Dinner needs to be served. You are just getting home from work. Nighttime routines need to be started … Play, at that moment, might be the last thing on your mind. In our fast paced, goal-driven society, we can easily overlook the purpose of play. Often, there is a belief that children must be accomplishing a goal or working toward something that an adult deems appropriate. Research on the purpose of play tells us otherwise. Play is a child’s first language. Play provides adults the opportunity to connect with children verbally and nonverbally. Research highlights the positive…


 

Pete Afflerbach
September 12, 2016

I did not put the Facebook app on my iPhone. Why? As a counselor who has some information on how we are wired as human beings, I don't want to get hooked. Overexposure to screens—whether video games, Facebook, or pornographic images—can affect the same pleasure center in our brains that interacts with powerful drugs like heroin or nicotine. Clearly, heroin use comes with many more complications, but the neurobiology is similar. It’s not really a stretch to imagine social media taking people on an exhausting ride through highs and lows based on who likes their posts, who unfriends them or…


 

CA Blogs

It's that time of year again: Back to school. The time of year when parents and children of all ages rejoice because they are so excited to start up school again. They think to themselves, "School I've missed you so much!" Ok. So maybe that's not exactly the reality of going back to school. In fact, back to school can be quite the opposite feeling for some. There are some children and parents that actually dread back to school. They might even think to themselves. "Great here we go again. Another year of the same issues. What if we have…


 

Pete Afflerbach
September 1, 2016

I have been working in the field of mental health for a while. The question, "What might help?" is a big puzzle for both clients and clinicians. Or is it? Let's break it down. I'm writing this piece to encourage you to consider counseling if you feel: hopeless worthless worried betrayed scared misunderstood or find yourself in any negative state of mind for too long. Counseling can also be helpful if you are a happy person who is trying to better understand yourself or your relationships. We don't think twice about seeking regular maintenance for cars and trucks. Why not…


 

Jim Esposito
August 14, 2016

Social exclusion is becoming a more common and subtle form of bullying and probably more on display with girls than with boys. This is more a "crime of omission" and therefore not so readily apparent on the radar of many parents and educators. We could debate stereotypes, however, girls do exhibit a subtlety that readily appears to elude the social repertoire of boys, for better or worse. However, these are patterns and not absolutes, as many exceptions abound. As long as there have been communities there has been exclusion and exile as a means to punish and banish unwelcome members.…


 

Betsy Harrison
June 5, 2016

Do you journal? Do you commit to a regular journaling process in your life? Or are you a journaler who writes here and there? Maybe you journal and rarely even write, preferring to doodle, draw, paint or collage? There are as many reasons for journaling as there are individuals journaling. You might turn to a journal: for expression to make connections because you have a passion for writing to track or process daily events to not forget things to capture moments and experiences you don't want to forget to document epiphanies to illuminate themes to work through difficult decisions and…