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 29, 2016

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…


 

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…


 

Susan Borchert
November 14, 2016

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…


 

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 VanDusen
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 VanDusen
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…