Employee Assistance Newsletter Fall 2007
Relationship stress? There may be more
options than you think …
Couples Therapy and Mediation
Bullying: The Victim becomes the Victimizer
Vitamins vs. Prescription Drugs for Pain
For the Sake of Your Children

As the fall season arrives, we are pleased to present the Fall 2007 newsletter of Quinte Counselling Services Inc. EAP Services. In this issue, you will find fresh ideas and tips and new articles provided by our counsellors. In addition, this newsletter provides up to date informtion; what is new at Quinte Counselling Services Inc. and information on how to access your EAP.

Virginia Palmer, Editor

Relationship stress? There may be more options than you think … Couples Therapy and Mediation

Treena Cook, M.S.W., R.S.W.

Life is ultimately about our relationships – at home – friends, family, and children – and at work – colleagues, bosses. Maintaining important relationships requires both time and emotional energy – and, at the end of the day, it may often seem that we don’t have enough of either. For most of us, work and kids top-the list for obvious reason, which may commonly result in a lack of energy directed towards the maintenance of our other significant relationships, like the one we have with our spouse.

And though we may understand that no relationship is perfect, under stress, we tend to magnify the things that we perceive are barriers to our own happiness, and expect others including our spouse to adapt their thinking and behavior to meet our needs. Those differences that we may have been able to overlook in the past may become the very things that we begin to see as “irreconcilable”. When both spouses are living under “stressed” perspective, a common result is a tendency for polarization and distancing rather than a strengthening of closeness and intimacy – turning away from one another instead of turning towards one another.

Marital therapy or couples counseling can offer benefit to couples whose relationship is under stress. And while relationship counseling is commonly initiated by couple’s as a “last resort” intervention; it can be a useful resource for couples who are considering formalization of their union, offering a supportive forum to openly discuss their expectations of one another, explore the principles of healthy relationships, become aware of common pit falls and adopt early strategies which foster esteem and intimacy.

Just as individuals are unique, so too is each couple; and through the use of a counselor couples may be able to develop a clearer understanding of the source of their conflicts and work towards resolution through facilitated discussion. Counselors may be able to assist couple’s in their other aims including: to develop more effective communication skills; to develop a thorough understanding of the other’s “view of the world” which may result in greater mutual acceptance and more tolerance of difference; to develop a greater understanding of both self and other which can help identify which change strategies may yield greater result; to create a supportive learning environment for each other – fostering change rather than commanding it; and to explore, clarify and respectfully express their core values, beliefs, and underlying relationship expectations.

Even if one partner refuses to attend, the other can often benefit from working with a counselor to recognize and understand how their own reactions and responses may be negatively influencing the relationship. When one person takes active responsibility for doing something different within the relationship, it may cause the other person to take notice and respond in turn.

Though marital counseling is commonly seen as an instrument to assist couple’s in rebuilding a deteriorating relationship, it can also be an instrument to assist them in their decision to consider a trial separation. Relationship counseling during this trial period, where spouses may be living independently, has been used effectively to assist the couple to explore and develop a shared understanding of the problems and make well-thought out decisions about what changes each of them may have to make in order for them to move in a positive direction.

Couples Therapy and Mediation

Once efforts and hope for reconciliation have been exhausted and the decision to formally separate has been made, counseling sessions may be used to help the couple problem solve the variety of issues that will need to be considered, including when and how to tell the children, understanding the impact of this decision on children and other things they can do to minimize the impact. Individuals may also make use of a counselor to assist them in managing their own emotional response and/or the children’s response to the loss.

If the decision is made to end the relationship the couple may decide to elicit the help of a trained mediator to assist them in creating a formal separation agreement. Mediation is a structured process facilitated by an impartial third party whose sole purpose is to assist the couple in negotiating their own unique arrangement, ultimately one which recognizes and respects the interests of both individuals. While consultation with lawyers is required at certain key points during the process (this is to ensure that the agreement meets all legal standards and will be upheld by the court), hourly rates for mediators are generally lower than that of lawyers, so mediation may be less costly. Successful mediation also avoids costly court processes that can drag on for many years. The use of the mediation process may also increase the likelihood of both parties cooperatively adhering to the agreement reached, given that they have had direct influence in its development, which in the long run can also be significantly more cost efficient. For more information or to talk to a counselor about what options might be useful for you, please feel free to contact us at the office. Six sessions for marital or couple therapy are covered by your EAP which is usually sufficient for most relationship issues. Your counsellor can also advise you on Mediation, and while mediation services usually take longer than six sessions, a good start to mediation can be accomplished through your EAP.

Vitamins Vs Prescription Drugs for Pain

Dr Greg Kerr, M.Sc.

ASSERTION GROUP FOR WOMEN

8 Weekly sessions starting in October.

Learn about assertion and assertion behaviours.

Practice using those behaviours in social situations

Group Leader: Eva Mourelatos M.A.

Contact QCS at 613-966-4262 for more information

Pain can seriously interfere with work place functioning, relationships, and overall quality of life.

The use of prescription pain pills has increased by almost 90% over the past decade. There are often a lot of minor side effects associated with these medications. Even more concerning is a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine involving over 80,000 women. It was found that if you take pain pills regularly you will have an 86% higher chance of developing high blood pressure because of it. Other studies have determined that people with high blood pressure, even those with blood pressure levels at the high end of normal are much more likely to later develop heart disease.

Truth is, many doctors aren’t completely sure how to deal with types of pain, don’t have the time to seriously investigate the issue, and so it’s sometimes easier to simply write a prescription. Then if you develop high blood pressure caused by the prescription, then write another for the high blood pressure. It’s a strange situation is it not?

There are alternatives. Chiropractors and physiotherapists are trained to provide alternative treatments for pain.

On the nutrition side recent studies have shown that a combination of B vitamin supplements, specifically thiamin (B1), pyridoxine (B6) and cyanocobalamin (B12) have been helpful with musculoskeletal and related pain problems.

High blood pressure is normally associated with lifestyle factors such as being overweight, high salt intake, smoking, lack of exercise and emotional stress. However, scientists are now suggesting that low levels of the minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium in your diet can also be a major factor. Other studies have shown that the anti-oxidant vitamins C and E can also play a part in lowering blood pressure.

Pain is a complicated subject as it is highly individualized to the person’s personality and condition. There are also many different approaches, physical and psychological for dealing with pain. If it seems to you that the writing of a prescription for pain pills may not be the only or best way to go, then counselling and nutritional supplements may be an alternative legitimate approach to address pain.

Dr Greg Kerr is a Chiropractor and Counsellor and provides pain counselling and nutrition services through your EAP.

Bullying: The Victim becomes the Victimizer

Julia Sorensen, M.A.,CCBT

COUNSELLORS AVAILABLE THROUGH YOUR EAP:
  • Anita Chard, M.S.W.,R.S.W.
  • Rev. Dr. Kent Clayton
  • Treena Cook, M.S.W.,R.S.W.
  • Dr. Greg Kerr, M.Sc.
  • John Lunman, M.S.W., R.S.W
  • Eva Mourelatos, M.A.
  • Ginny Palmer, B.A.
  • Julia Sorensen, M.A., CCBT
  • Alice Olson, M.S.W.,R.S.W.

Trepidation. For some students, the school year brings dread and fear as incidences of bullying or harassment rear their heads. Schools have improved their interventions over the years and many programs have been implemented to help victims. However, many interventions are still under funded, unsupported, and their importance unacknowledged.

Much debate and research has been levied in past years towards academic curriculum and the roles of educators in implementing social emotional learning, caring climates, and environments that promote learning. We now know that the affect of stress and fear in young developing brains and cognitive processes can shut down their natural zest and appetite for learning – setting the stage for depression, anxiety, helplessness (where victimization breeds) and disempowerment.

Asking educators to implement and educate themselves about the crippling affects of bullying on students is only half the battle, parents and community also need to do their part in speaking out against incidences of bullying between siblings, friends, and families long before young children hit preschool. I have often observed young children’s behaviours excused, minimized, denied, and ignored by parents and schools as “roughhousing”, “boys will be boys”, “they’re just playing”, “let them let off steam” and other such excuses toward violent behaviour.

It is critical that we intervene because it is often the disempowered student victim that takes the law into their own hands and becomes the victimizer in an effort to end the emotional pain, either through externalizing behaviours or internalizing behaviours.

Add to the mix, a steady stream of sitcoms, movies, internet sites that take pleasure in putting down children and adults alike, a fashion industry that glorifies using young people to gain economic power, and the romanticization of violence in our culture, it is no wonder our children (and adults) are wielding power inappropriately.

Aron Beck wrote “Prisoner of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence” a few years ago to demonstrate how we must look individually to solving the basis of hatred between countries and nations first, before we can expect peace at a global level. The same cognitive distortions and beliefs that are developed in childhood through numerous messages heard in early years are the same as the distortions and beliefs, nations develop such as: “I am unlovable” “I am disrespected” “I am unworthy” “I am powerless”These powerful and distorted beliefs set the stage for disempowering behaviour in children and at a global level, nationalistic consciousness.

So how do we intervene at the individual level? Firstly, speak up if your child or a friend is being bullied and ask for help. Ask your school to intervene early, implement programs andbecome more knowledgeable by learning to observe and recognize bullying behaviours while developing cultures of nurturing and respect. Remember, the better your child feels emotionally, the better they will learn. Also recognize that bullying behaviours occur in every group, school and industry. Our economic industries are based on the principles of competition and power and hierarchal behaviours are as old as civilization itself. The test is how these relationships are managed through appropriate leadership in which one student is not allowed to be denigrated at the expense of another student but each student’s unique abilities are promoted and respected. It also means teaching students to resolve conflicts, to cognitively restructure thoughts and beliefs, develop empathy, and generate tolerant perspectives.

There are a great many sites that offer free programs and help for children; some are listed at the end of this article. Your schools counsellor is also a good place to access wealth of resources and assistance for your child. Please contact our office if you would like to receive a Bullying Book list or resource list where you can access appropriate programs (some are listed here):

http://www.police.govt.nz/service/yes/nobully
http://www.casel.org
http://www.antibullying.net
http://www.kidshelpphone.ca

Julia Sorensen is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and author of “Overcoming Loss: Activities and Stories for Children who have Experienced Grief and Loss” to be released April 08 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

For the Sake of your Children

John Lunman, M.S.W.,R.S.W.

Divorce and separation affect on your children

Marriages or common law relationships can end in divorce or separation through the wishes of one or both partners. If this occurs, you cannot rely on the legal standard of “best interests of the child” to protect your child from the conflict. Your lawyers won’t protect your children – for the most part, they are your hired guns employed to get you the best deal in a win/lose environment. Both parents need to step up to the plate and make active decisions to behave in a way that guarantees the best interests of your child. This behavior needs to inform all aspects of the process from the decisions about schedules through to how you speak to each other and when you do it.

Think for a moment: Would you run into a burning building to save your child’s life? Would you donate an organ to guarantee their health? Would you move to another city to ensure that they received necessary special education or medical intervention? Now for a really tough one: Would you stop fighting with your ex-spouse because this has been proven to be the most damaging pre & post-separation event in a child’s life regardless of age? Would you give up being “right” or some of “your rights” to keep your child from being damaged by your separation or divorce?

Children of different ages are affected by divorce in different ways. Barring proven physical or emotional danger, (and I emphasize “proven” – meaning understood by a neutral third party not just your family and close friends) all children need the most contact that they can reasonably get with each of their parents. To do this effectively requires an understanding of your child’s current stage and how they will view divorce and separation. Children younger than two years first need their physical needs met in a stable manner before considering the parental need for visitation. Children under 6 have difficulty with long separations because they cannot hold the absent parent’s image firmly in their minds. Time flows differently for them than adults. This is the age of “Are we there yet?” and “Exactly how many more sleeps until I see mommy/daddy again?” A day without mom or dad can seem like an eternity and a week is a long chasm of loneliness that is almost unbearable. These are just two factors to consider in setting up parental contact schedules.

I am often asked “What do I need to do to prevent my child from being harmed by our divorce?” The answer is simple: Keep your children out of the war zone. Do not try to make them allies or prizes in the conflict. Be prepared to take the high ground and give in rather than let this happen. Yes this may mean that you will lose some ground especially with an ex who will do anything to win – but you will not have harmed your child by trapping them in a “Loyalty Bind” where they are forced to choose between Mommy and Daddy.

There are some basic rules that will assist you, in this endeavor: Speak no ill of the other parent, ever; likewise his or her relatives or friends. Discussions about all aspects of the divorce are subjects for adults not children – this includes discussions and/or complaints about child support and its amount or frequency. Do not make your child feel bad because s/he loves and speaks well of the other parent. Do not interrupt the other parents visiting schedule by arranging events during their time, calling too frequently, failing to show up for the visit or being late returning or picking up the child. Do not ask the child to carry messages to the other parent or to spy on the other parent for you. Do not use guilt to try to get the child to love you more or see your side of the conflict. Most importantly realize: Your child now has two homes each equipped with a parent that they love dearly and whom they want to love. If you think that your child is presenting with allegiance to one parent over the other – this may be because they are reading subtle cues in your behavior as to what answer you wish them to present to you. Children are far better than adults at reading physical cues and as they do not wish you to be unhappy, will modify their behavior to make you feel better. While it will hurt them to say that one parent is bad or wrong, they will do it if it will make you happy.

The process of setting up a child friendly divorce requires work for the couple at becoming good co-parents. They need to redefine their relationship to one of business partners. You don’t have to like each other but you have to present a unified front for the shareholders (your children). Counseling, both individual and group, can help you achieve this balanced state. Using mediation to develop a parenting plan rather than the adversarial legal system can also help. Both of these are offered by the author and some are covered by your employee assistance program. Please feel free to call and discuss how we can help you keep your children first during divorce and separation.

John Lunman offers all types of individual, couple and family therapy. He is an accredited mediator as well as a play therapist. He has been working in the field for 14 years. This fall he will be offering a group on Co-Parenting during divorce. This 10 session course can be covered by most EAPs please call if you are interested.

Cooperative Parenting

Quinte Counselling will be offering an 8 session course in Cooperative Parenting – Protecting your Child from Parental Conflict. Each session will be 90 minutes in length and offered in the early evening. This course will help you understand how children respond to divorce and conflict as well as teaching you skills to communicate better as co-parents. Each session will cost $30 per person but many Employment Assistance Programs will cover the entire cost of the course. If you are interested please give us a call. While space is limited, multiple sessions can be offered. Times and dates to be arranged. Group Leader: John Lunman, M.S.W.,R.S.W.

Quinte Counselling Services Inc.

208 John Street
Belleville, Ontario, K8N 3G1
Tel: 613-966-4262
Fax: 613-966-4265
Toll Free: 1-800-527-7793
qcs@qxplore.com www.qxplore.com

QUINTE COUNSELLING SERVICES INC.

Qxplore employee assistance program

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Serving clients in Central and Eastern Ontario with a focus on Napanee, Belleville, Trenton, Quinte West, Prince Edward County, Hastings County, Lennox and Addington County and Northumberland County.