Employee Assistance Newsletter Fall 2012
How your mother got it wrong

Susan J. Craig, M.A., O.A.C.C.P, G.T.

Dealing with Anger: Moving Towards Freedomm

Linda Leonard, D.Min., RMFT

Learning Disabilities in Children: Types
of Learning Disorders and Their Signs

Shannon Mossip, M.A., C.Psych.

Welcome to our Fall 2012 Employee Assistance Program Newsletter.

In this edition we are pleased to present articles written by some of our new associates. An article on learning disabilities in children is particularly timely with the beginning of the school year. Also in this edition we are including articles providing strategies to reduce stress and manage our feelings. We continue to invite you to contact us for any information or clarification in regards to the range of services available to you through your Employee Assistance Program.

Virginia Palmer, Editor

How your mother got it wrong

Susan J. Craig, M.A., O.A.C.C.P, G.T.

the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system

Remember the last time your mother told you to “Take a deep breath!” You were frazzled or angry or frustrated and she was just trying to help. To please her you reluctantly took a deep breath. Then you held it and then let it out. Then you got irritated and told your mother “It’s no good! That doesn’t help!”

You were right of course. Holding your breath doesn’t help. In fact, holding your breath can intensify whatever is going on. So why does everyone tell you to take a deep breath when you need to relax? Because they actually have it half right.

Your gym teacher probably told you that you couldn’t control certain aspects of your body, such as your heart beat, salivation, digestive system, sleep or blood pressure, but that you needn’t worry because your autonomic nervous system took care of them. That is true. Your heart beats if you don’t think about it. You breathe on your own with no particular thought and you sure do salivate when you smell that wonderful peach pie baking in the kitchen. But your gym teacher was wrong too. You can control the autonomic system.

The autonomic nervous system has two divisions; the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. To think of it simply, the parasympathetic nervous system controls your relaxation and rest functions: the sympathetic nervous system controls the alerting or stimulating functions – the ones you may have heard called fight or flight. What is the one function of the autonomic nervous system that is under both your conscious or unconscious control? Breathing. You can choose to take a deep breath or you can let your unconscious run the show.

When you choose to control your breath you also choose to make changes in all those other autonomic systems. Your mother wanted you to settle down, so she suggested a change in the breathing pattern. The problem is that the inhalation is part of the stimulating function. Inhaling and holding the breath will just increase your level of stimulation. Think about the last excited person you saw. How was he breathing? No doubt he was breathing fast and using mostly the upper part of the chest to inhale. His ribs were doing all the work of breathing. So taking a deep breath won’t work.

Think now about the last time you saw a sleeping baby. How did she breathe? Her little tummy rose and fell as she breathed and she wasn’t worried about sucking it in. She was breathing diaphragmatically. The diaphragm is a very large muscle that goes right across the rib cage separating the chest from the abdomen. When you inhale, the diaphragm goes down, drawing air in. When you exhale, the diaphragm rises and creates a vacuum, which brings air in again. It is a bit like a piston in an engine. Somewhere in time you, and I, experienced some stress in our lives and we both inhaled – fast and shallow. The sympathetic nervous system kicked in to action and we were ready for fight or flight. Since then, we have often thought we were in danger and continued to inhale quickly and shallowly. Now, even when there is no danger, we breathe as if there was. We forgot the soothing power of diaphragmatic breathing. With that deep exhalation we naturally relax and rest.

Try this experiment: when you next exhale use your abdominal muscles to push the air out. Don’t worry about the inhalation; it will take care of itself. Just let your shoulders relax. Exhale completely every time you take a breath for the next minute. Notice how you feel.

When you can jump-start the parasympathetic nervous system through control of the exhalation, you can jump-start the relaxation response. Remember to exhale.

Your mother was headed in the right direction when she told you to take a deep breath. She just focused on the wrong half of the breath. Mum had it half right.

Susan Craig is a psychotherapist, mediator, therapist and coach with a well rounded background in health, education and social services. She provides individual and couple therapy to adults and families through your Employee Assistance Program and privately


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Dealing with Anger: Moving Towards Freedom

Linda Leonard, D.Min., RMFT.

Dealing with Anger

Let’s Understand Anger

Everyone experiences anger differently, as in the case of a driver who cuts us off on the highway is enough to incite outrage in some while others may remain mildly irritated. Anger is an emotion that comes in varying degrees of intensity and is often exhibited in family and work situations. Anger can be as mild as a simple annoyance or as destructive as a fit of rage. Regardless of how you experience anger, it can be beneficial to identify what triggers the anger and relearn new ways to manage it.

The cause of anger can also differ. It may be derived from a cognitive, social or a learned response experienced in your family of origin or it may be a response to a feeling of violation, injustice, stress, competition, financial pressure or blocked needs. The root cause of your anger usually is an internal reaction that is perceived to have an external response.

In this article we will identify three types of anger: learned behavioural anger, suppressed anger and explosive anger. Learned behavioural anger is usually understood as a learned response where one or both of your parents have exhibited anger during your childhood and therefore anger is understood as a perceived threat or danger. There is a higher probability that this pattern could repeat if you experienced this type of anger and no matter how hard you try not to repeat this pattern you may find it difficult responding in any other way. This type of learned anger is often internalized and consequently not always understood or rational and can present itself as chronic anger either turned onto self or others which can have profound social implications.

The second type of anger is suppressed anger that says it is not okay to be angry and therefore we suppress it, deny it, avoid it or try to control others. Suppressed anger usually presents itself through passive aggressive behaviour where one expresses anger while trying to look like they are pleasing others at the same time. Fear and resentment can often be the root cause of suppressed anger. Therefore, passive aggressive people aren’t comfortable with the anger and tend to express it via other means.

The third example is explosive anger that can present itself as rage and uses name calling, throwing things or becoming violent. Although primarily used to relieve internal frustration or anxiety the relief is only temporary. These behaviors associated with this type of anger are used to intimidate or control others and can also have severe systemic consequences.

How Does Anger Affect Us?

There are several things that happen in our bodies when we experience anger. Physically our body tenses, our heart races, our blood pressure accelerates, our breathing is short and there is a release of adrenaline. There is also a change in our facial expression, posture or body language and looks as if it is in an attack mode causing a fight or flight response. This can include stomping, yelling or screaming, finger pointing or even

What Kinds of Services are Provided Through the EAP?

Separation Counselling
Counselling for Work Issues
Grief and Bereavement Counselling
Addiction Assessment and Counselling
Chronic Pain Management
Counselling for Seniors’ Placement Issues
Referral Co-ordination
Financial Counselling
Individual Solution Focused Therapy
Marriage and Relationship Counselling
Family Therapy
Play Therapy
Counselling for Child and Adolescent Issues
Counselling for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Trauma Debriefing
Assertiveness Training
Stress Management
Family Life Education
Weight Management Counselling

complete silence depending on the method we have learned in coping with our anger. If anger is substantially elevated over long periods of time it can leave you with physical consequences such as a heart attack or stroke.

Cognitively, logical thinking is minimized and therefore prohibits productive problem solving. Under great stress anger is heightened and we tend to generalize using all or nothing thinking, saying things like “you always” or “you never”. We are also determined to be right, to make our point known trying to convince the other person to see things the way we do.

Steps to dealing with Anger

Being aware of how anger operates and how we can learn to manage anger is the first step toward anger management. Here are some helpful steps in dealing with anger.

  • Think through why you are experiencing anger
  • Ask yourself “what triggered the anger?” What were you thinking, doing and feeling that might have contributed to the anger? Remember logical thoughts tend to be repressed and negative thoughts dominate
  • Recognize the behaviour your anger is exhibiting and stop that behaviour by taking a time out and thinking things over. Return to the situation only after the behaviour has changed and you have calmed down
  • Be aware of how you are handling the problem and adjust your expectations. Anger usually comes when we have blocked goals and feel we cannot control the situation
  • Tackle the problem and not the person. Stick to the facts and externalize the problem. Don’t make it personal
  • Be empathetic as to what the other person is experiencing as a response to your anger
  • Express anger in a controlled and assertive manner by responding instead of reacting. Use “I” statements and own your feelings instead of using blaming statements like “you make me feel”
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, walking and visualization

These are some of the many possible steps to help you handle your anger. However, if your anger is in control of you and you are not in control of your anger or it continues, you may need to seek professional help. You can relearn how to handle anger through professional counselling. So, protect the ones you love and seek support.

Linda Leonard is a therapist for the Employee Assistance Program who works with individuals and couples at Quinte Counselling Services.


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Learning Disabilities in Children: Types of Learning Disorders and Their Signs

Shannon Mossip, M.A., C.Psych.

Does your child struggle with school? Does he or she dread reading out loud, writing an essay, or tackling a math problem? While every kid has trouble with homework from time to time, if a certain area of learning is consistently problematic, it might indicate a learning disorder. By understanding all you can about learning disabilities, you can ensure your child gets the right help to overcome classroom challenges and succeed in life.

What are learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities, or learning disorders, are an umbrella term for a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Kids with learning disabilities aren’t lazy or dumb. In fact, most are just as smart as everyone else. Their brains are simply wired differently. This difference affects how they receive and process information.

Simply put, children and adults with learning disabilities see, hear, and understand things differently. This can lead to trouble with learning new information and skills, and putting them to use. The most common types of learning disabilities involve problems with reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and speaking.

Children with learning disabilities can, and do, succeed

It can be tough to face the possibility that your child has a learning disorder. No parents want to see their children suffer. You may wonder what it could mean for your child’s future, or worry about how your kid will make it through school. Perhaps you’re concerned that by calling attention to your child’s learning problems he or she might be labeled “slow” or assigned to a less challenging class.

But the important thing to remember is that most kids with learning disabilities are just as smart as everyone else. They just need to be taught in ways that are tailored to their unique learning styles. By learning more about learning disabilities in general, and your child’s learning difficulties in particular, you can help pave the way for success at school and beyond.

Signs and symptoms of learning disabilities and disorders

If you suspect that your child’s learning difficulties may require special assistance, please do not delay in finding support. The sooner you move forward, the better your child’s chances for reaching his or her full potential.

Learning disabilities look very different from one child to another. One child may struggle with reading and spelling, while another loves books but can’t understand math. Still another child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying or communicating out loud. The problems are very different, but they are all learning disorders.

It’s not always easy to identify learning disabilities. Because of the wide variations, there is no single symptom or profile that you can look to as proof of a problem. However, some warning signs are more common than others at different ages. If you’re aware of what they are, you’ll be able to catch a learning disorder early and quickly take steps to get your child help.

The following checklist lists some common red flags for learning disorders. Remember that children who don’t have learning disabilities may still experience some of these difficulties at various times. The time for concern is when there is a consistent unevenness in your child’s ability to master certain skills.

Preschool signs and symptoms of learning disabilities

  • Problems pronouncing words
  • Trouble finding the right word
  • Difficulty rhyming
  • Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week
  • Difficulty following directions or learning routines
  • Difficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and scissors or coloring within the lines
  • Trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to tie shoes

Grades K-4 signs and symptoms of learning disabilities

  • Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Unable to blend sounds to make words
  • Confuses basic words when reading
  • Consistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errors
  • Trouble learning basic math concepts
  • Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences
  • Slow to learn new skills

Grades 5-8 signs and symptoms of learning disabilities

  • Difficulty with reading comprehension or math skills
  • Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
  • Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud
  • Spells the same word differently in a single document
  • Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganized)
  • Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
  • Poor handwriting

The diagnosis and testing process for learning disabilities

Diagnosing a learning disability is a process. It involves testing, history taking, and observation by a trained specialist. Finding a reputable referral is important. A psychoeducational assessment report will provide recommendations for both home and school. Each report is tailored to the unique needs of each child where specific learning strengths and deficits are identified and thoroughly addressed. The report will present parents and teachers with an evidence-based plan of action that can help them provide the best support for a child.

Shannon Mossip is a bilingual Registered Psychologist who provides psychological assessment, intervention, and treatment services to children, adolescents, and adults who exhibit symptoms of inattention, concentration difficulty, memory impairment, hyperactivity, poor academic performance, and learning disabilities. Shannon also provides assessment and treatment of life problems, personal difficulties, and psychological disorders for children, adolescents, and adults.

Did you know…

→Appointments are scheduled at a time that is convenient for you and usually within two to three days?

→No one at your place of employment will know that you have used your EAP unless you tell them?

→Counselling is provided for a broad range of services, including marital and relationship; parenting; stress; separation/divorce trauma; workplace; and personal issues?

→Counsellors can help you access community resources and support groups?

→A comprehensive description of the services provided through your EAP is available through your EAP brochure
or on our website at www.qxplore.com?


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Are you a worried parent whose child or adolescent is experiencing difficulty with:

*not achieving at the expected level?
*Mathematics, Reading, Spelling, or Writing skills?
*paying attention and/or concentrating?
*managing emotions and getting along with others?

A Psychoeducational Assessment by Quinte Assessment and Treatment Group Inc. can identify causes of your child’s problems and recommend what can help.

Sara Kapler, M.A., C.Psych. Assoc., Brian Kong, Psy.D., C.Psych.,
Eva Mourelatos, M.A., Carl Sordoni, Ph.D., C.Psych.,
Shannon Mossip M.A., C.Psych., Mohammad Nikkhou, Ph.D., C.Psych.

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


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