Quinte Counselling Services Newsletter Winter 2014

Emotional Regulation

Donna Boulton, M.Sc., C.Psych.

Difficulties at School –
Address Them Early

Shara Highgate, Ph.D, C.Psych.

Educational Consultation: Helping to
Address Learning Difficulties, Assessment
Recommendations, Transitions, and Future Plans

Tina MacCauley-Gray, M.A.

The fall season is often described as a time of reflection, a time when we often reflect on our present challenges and future possibilities. We all face challenges and some degree of stress during the life cycle. Quinte Counselling Services has a number of counsellors who have extensive experience in assisting individuals and families to address areas of concern such as parenting, step-parent challenges, personal and workplace stress and marital/relationship issues, to name a few. Counsellors take a solution-focused approach and aim to assist individuals and families to communicate and find viable solutions to their concerns and issues.

In this issue we are pleased to provide you with an article by Registered Psychologist Donna Boulton regarding Emotional Regulation and some helpful emotional regulation techniques. In addition, we have two articles on assisting students who are having difficulties or needing assistance in moving forward with their educational program. The first is by Registered Psychologist Dr. Shara Highgate on Psychodeducational Assessment and the second is by Tina MacCauley-Gray on a new Educational Consultation service she is providing to families and students who need assistance with addressing educational difficulties and needs and who will also provide follow up assistance on addressing recommendations from a Psychoeducational Assessment.

Virginia Palmer, Editor

Emotional Regulation

Donna Boulton, M.Sc., C.Psych.

Emotional Regulation

Most of us have had something happen and afterwards, wish we had reacted differently, very often in a more positive manner. How we
regulate our self depends on the mental and behavioural processes we use to influence our own feelings and that of others. We are able to regulate both emotions and moods. Emotions are usually briefer than moods and are directed at something specific. Feelings can be organized into categories such as pleasure and activation.

For example, high anxiety involves low pleasure and high activation, whereas euphoria involves high pleasure and high activation.
Emotional regulation has a lot to do with the temperament with which we are born; however, there are ways to increase our ability to regulate our emotions. Coping is different than regulating our emotions, as coping is always done in response to negative events and involves more than just how we feel (“affect”). It is also important to recognize that we should not always regulate feelings towards the positive, but sometimes need to regulate our feelings in the opposite direction, for example from happy to somber. Sometimes we have things that make us genuinely happy and exuberant, but then find we have to deliver some difficult news. In that situation, in order to successfully regulate our emotions, we need to be able to regulate our emotions downwards.

There are numerous ways we can regulate our emotions in either direction. One way is to change the way we feel about a situation, referred

to as “affect regulation”. Maybe you need to look at a person you have negative feelings about, in a different light and have empathy for them. That irritable co-worker may be going through a tough personal period and you may need to be more tolerant. Another way to regulate our emotions is to change the way we think about a situation, referred to as “cognitive regulation”. We sometimes have thoughts and beliefs that have persisted over time, which may not serve us well any longer. For example, we hear of road rage and perhaps we have come to believe that anyone driving erratically is suffering from road rage which makes them a careless irresponsible person. Instead of getting emotionally fired up about that driver, we need to emotionally regulate ourselves and change our thoughts (cognitions) about it. Who knows, maybe that person is responding to a personal emergency. We can also regulate our emotions by “behavioural regulation”. Instead of responding in like manner to an emotionally charged incident, we may choose to do something pleasant as a distraction. That may mean removing ourselves from the situation and taking a leisurely walk or meditating.

Many people attempt to regulate their feelings by either venting their feelings at others or just ignoring what has happened. These are not very effective ways to regulate emotion as the first usually escalates the negative feelings and the second just pushes them away without dealing with them at all.

While the temperament we are born with has a lot to do with the way we emotionally regulate, we have the power to change our abilities to self-regulate by learning new skill sets. This is increasing our emotional intelligence. If you are able to overcome negative feelings, you are also most likely able to overcome negative events more quickly.

Generally speaking reappraisal, (thinking about things from a different perspective) and distraction, (either thinking about or doing something different) are the most effective ways to regulate emotions.

We need to recognize that sometimes it is normal and often helpful to have upsetting feelings or to feel anxious. We need to move through certain feelings such as grief or failure as ways to learn more about life and ourselves. Anxiety and anger can be positive emotions when used to motivate us to make positive changes.


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However, some people experience serious emotional problems which have become disabling and persistently problematic or have conflicting beliefs about their emotions which leads to over-regulation. Others resort to alcohol or drug use as a way of managing their feelings. At these times, psychotherapy may be required to help work through the issues and arrive at a healthier, more productive state of mind.

Emotional regulation affects us all in our everyday lives. If we are not able to regulate our emotions, it will negatively affect our own wellbeing, work, parenting, health, performance and relationships. If we can do it well, it can enhance our capacity and satisfaction in all areas of our life.

Donna is a Registered Psychologist with 25 years experience in providing psychotherapy and
psychological assessments to adults, adolescents and children. Donna is in Private Practice at Quinte Assessment and Treatment Group and Quinte Counselling Services. Donna is a current member of Toastmasters and has held the positions of President and Vice President
Membership. Donna is available to present seminars or workshops in the areas of Stress Management, Emotional Regulation, Self-Esteem and Relaxation.

Difficulties at School – Address Them Early

Shara Highgate, Ph.D, C.Psych.

October – the excitement of the new school year has diminished and families have settled back into familiar rhythms and routines of daily life. But for some children and youth, the progression of the school term appears to be connected with considerably less enthusiasm about school-related subjects, activities or even attendance in general. The potential sources and contributors to disinterest, disruptive behavior and/or academic underachievement are numerous and at times complex. These include stresses within the family, problems with peers (social skill deficits, bullying), mental health issues (anxiety, depression), neuro-developmental conditions (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder) and/or subject-specific difficulties or learning disabilities.

Early identification is important as developmental and academic stages build on previous stages. Missing or delaying a stage can have profound long term effects. The earlier the problem is identified and understood the earlier it can be addressed.

The first step is to meet with teachers to discuss their observations about the learning difficulties. But when difficulties are not easily explained or remedied, a psychoeducational assessment may be required. These are typically obtained publicly from the school system, or from a hospital or agency (if the individual has some connection through a specialist or clinic). An alternative for individuals who do not want to wait for a publicly funded assessment is to obtain one privately from a psychologist within the community.

Although most often conducted for school-aged children and adolescents, psychoeducational assessment can also be beneficial for older students who are considering various choices related to further education and potential career selection. Adult learners contemplating career shifts and/or related education can also benefit from psychoeducational assessment.

Psychoeducational assessment is a fairly intensive and somewhat lengthy process. The process generally begins with initial interviews with the student and, for school-aged individuals, parents or caregivers to gain a perspective of concerns including relevant history. This interview is followed by 4-5 hours of data collection involving 1:1 testing and completion of various psychological measures related to cognitive and academic functioning as well as aspects of social, emotional and behavioural functioning; parents and teachers provide ratings for the latter (with consent). Other areas may be examined depending upon initial concerns and emerging findings

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?

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

Test data are scored, interpreted and then combined with other relevant information in an assessment report. The findings as presented in the report, along with recommendations, are then discussed with the parents and/or student as appropriate within a feedback session. The preparation of a meaningful report is labour intensive, since the goal is to provide an integrated and comprehensive understanding of the student’s functioning that will inform recommendations. The recommendations are used by parents and school personnel in making meaningful interventions within the school system to address areas of concern toward the goal of improved functioning and success. Additional recommendations may also be made around social, emotional and/or behavioural functioning (e.g., managing problematic behavior at school or at home) or suggest further services/referral.

Overall, the psychoeducational assessment provides an individual-specific picture of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, explaining academic struggles, and provides parents and teachers with the information and means to address identified needs.

Dr. Shara Highgate has over 20 years experience as a Registered Psychologist and is in Private Practice at Quinte Assessment and Treatment Group and Quinte Counselling Services. Shara provides psychological assessment and psychotherapy services for children, adolescents and adults.

Educational Consultation: Helping to Address Learning Difficulties, Assessment
Recommendations, Transitions, and Future Plans

Tina MacCauley-Gray, M.A.

Learning difficulties - assessment recommendations

“Students may be physically awake but their disengagement with the learning process, their institution and the opportunities around them can be likened to a state of unconsciousness, of auto pilot, of sleepwalking. It is not necessarily their fault; education is marketed as a means to an end; there is little focus on the journey or the learning process to get there” (Kasmi, 2010).

Being disengaged with the learning process presents a challenge for many students. There are different factors and reasons for this disengagement but in light of the needs of 21st century learners, who will require at least a secondary school diploma to have any job and most likely some form of post-secondary diploma, students need all the opportunities possible to achieve success. In addition, for some students who may have accompanying learning difficulties, this disengagement can be even greater and present significant concerns
for their learning journey and overall success.

Education is a process and learning is life long, yet there can be a tendency to focus on it as a product. This narrow focus can lead to significant frustration and stress. Viewing education in a broader context of being a process offers students an opportunity to map out various paths and overcome roadblocks. Taking an active role in this process is also necessary for students to be successful. For students who may struggle with learning, the process of learning ‘how’ to learn is as important as the ‘what’ they are learning.

In regards to post-secondary education in particular, with increasingly higher tuition costs, it becomes even more critical for students to ‘wake up’, actively engage with their learning and draw a roadmap for their learning goals. An Educational Consultation is an added layer of planning which provides an opportunity to clarify and assist in pathway planning and preparation.

An Educational Consultation provides an opportunity to sit one-on-one with a certified educational consultant. The consultation takes into account multiple sources of information including the following:

  • recommendations from a Psychological-Educational assessment
  • current educational situation
  • other relevant assessments and information
  • personal interests
  • future hopes and career goals
  • supports and services available
  • learning modalities (multiple intelligences etc.)

In this personal dialogue, the consultant will facilitate a discussion on your educational journey including:

  • clarification and suggestions on implementing any recommendations
  • discussion of available resources to assist in the educational process, including technology
  • personal dialogue with students considering post-secondary options to map out various pathways and possibilities
  • skills and strategies for student to develop in regards to self-advocacy and to develop responsibility for their own learning
  • consolidation of strengths, skills, strategies and assessments in preparation for transitions, for example elementary to
    secondary, secondary to post-secondary, post-secondary to work place

Educational Consultations can vary in the number of sessions depending on the needs of each individual. Generally one to five
sessions of approximately an hour each time will provide a comprehensive and personalized plan.

The overall goals of an Educational Consultation are:

  • to build capacity for student success
  • to develop skills and strategies for lifelong learning
  • to maximize resources and supports

An Educational Consultation is very much an interactive and personalized service. In order to be most successful, it is important that students and families take an active role in the process in order to best utilize strengths and resources/suggestions to their fullest. Building a supportive atmosphere of inclusion, creativity and inquiry based learning offers students the opportunity for success. But student success is not just characterized by the ‘what’ students know but the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, that is, the process of learning, as opposed to the knowledge product, “One can make a useful difference part way below the surface or make a significant difference at a much deeper level, for example, teaching a child to read is an important contribution, but inspiring him or her to be an enthusiastic, lifelong reader is another matter” (Fullan, 2003, p.29).

Tina MacCauley-Gray M.A. is an experienced Educator who has worked with many students and their families to help them in the development of a positive base for lifelong learning. Tina is a school Principal with an extensive background in special education. Tina is available for consultation through your Employee Assistance Program and to provide follow up assistance on implementing recommendations from a psycho-educational assessment.


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

*transitioning to college or university?
*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.

Donna Boulton, M.Sc., C.Psych.; Shara Highgate., Ph.D., C.Psych.;
Eva Mourelatos, M.A.; Shannon Mossip, M.A., C.Psych.;


An Educational Consultation can help examine the current situation, help to determine if a Psychoeducational Assessment is needed, help to implement the Recommendations from a Psychoeducational Assessment, and assist in educational and/or vocational transitions.

Tina MacCauley-Gray M.A.

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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