Lepage Associates Newsletter
Mental Health Matters
December 2011
Lepage Associates
Call: (919) 572-0000
In This Issue
Helping Children Improve Grades
Create Your Holiday Joy
Build Career and Marriage

Article Links



Please click on each group for a flier with complete information to include description.


Social Skills -Teens


 Coping Skills DBT  


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Ask for Dr. Freeman 

Monthly Reader

Each month we will recommend a book that someone at our practice has found useful.
This month's book:

Making Marriage a Success:
Pearls of Wisdom from Experts Across the Nation 

 With our own Dr. Tina Lepage & Dr. Nicole Imbraguglio quoted as national experts!


Helping Children Improve Grades:

Determining Why is Essential


As the first part of the school year ends, many parents are faced with trying to understand their child's failing or poor grades. They face two major questions. "Why did my child fail or do so poorly?" AND "How can I ensure the rest of the year will be better?" We can help parents answer these questions.


Determining why a child failed or did poorly: A comprehensive psycho-educational test battery can answer this question with certainty. Testing can distinguish between many possibilities, to include: learning disability, AD/HD, cognitive deficits, behavioral and emotional issues, giftedness, sensory-integration issues, Asperger's, sadness/depression, bi-polar, social anxiety, school anxiety, test anxiety, peer group problems, parent-child relational problems, substance abuse, sleep disorders, etc. Testing is by far the most efficient and effective way to determine why your child got poor grades.


We use and recommend a comprehensive approach because limiting testing based on assumptions can miss the real problem. For example, most often giftedness is not considered when a child does poorly in school, but a gifted child can feel bored and start acting out and ignoring their work; AD/HD can be a conclusion drawn too soon when it could be test anxiety or depression keeping a child from focusing; learning disorders can be missed when they are mild; etc. Also, it is sometimes a combination of factors contributing to problems at school, and a comprehensive approach allows us to identify all contributing factors, and thus design targeted, effective recommendations for intervention.


Ensuring the remainder of the year will be better: By identifying all factors contributing to the child's problems at school, we are able to design comprehensive, targeted interventions. We address interventions across settings, that is, we speak to what could be done directly with the child, what parents could do, and what teachers could do to help the child do better next semester, as well as whether academic interventions alone are needed or whether therapy could also be helpful.


We welcome phone calls and questions, and are happy to help parents determine if testing is the best course of action for their child.

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Happy Holidays

Holiday stress or Holiday joy? Read below to see how to get the most joy from the holiday season! Will both your career and your marriage be strong in 2012? In this issue we discuss how to build a successful career without it interfering with your intimate relationship. Lastly, we talk about how parents can better understand low grades and help their child improve.



Dr. Tina Lepage


Understanding How Holidays Impact Your Life

and How to Get the Most Joy From the Season


The holiday season can be a time full of cheer, parties and family gatherings. But for many people, it is also a time of loneliness, taking inventory on past failures, and family stress. Romanticized expectations of family closeness and wish fulfillment may differ significantly from the realities of many people's lives. The mismatch between unrealistic hopes, as well as the striving to create a "picture perfect" holiday, can create extra tension and disappointment. On the other hand, when people feel free to relax and enjoy each others' company, the holidays have the potential to be a time of reconnection and rejuvenation. Here's a rundown of some of the ways the holidays can affect our lives in both positive and...not so positive ways:


The Joy of Giving

Researchers have long studied the impact that giving has on our emotional state, sense of well-being and health. According to studies, gift giving is a complex and significant part of human interaction, assisting to define relationships and solidify bonds with family and friends. In fact, researchers say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest gains from the gift. Selecting gifts for loved ones can cement their importance in our lives and can provide the giver and receiver with a sense of well-being. In addition, holiday charity in the form of volunteering or helping those in need, not only benefits the person being helped, but also has many benefits for the person doing the helping. Reaching out a hand to lift someone else up is one of the greatest gifts for the heart. The gifts that one receives from giving back and from reaching out to help others are immense and priceless.


Financial Stress

At the same time that gift giving can provide a sense of contentment and connection, it can also feel overwhelming and pressured when budgets are limited. During today's economic climate, tight budgets are more the norm than the exception. In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed by holiday shopping, make sure to take charge of your money. If budget is an uncomfortable word to you, try using "spending plan" - when you are intentional about your spending you may be surprised about the amount of money you can save. Also, start early - research shows the more stressed you feel the more you are likely to consume. Remember to think outside of the box, inexpensive but meaningful gifts or hand-made gifts can go a long way in terms of showing your appreciation for those you care about.


Getting the Most Out of the Hustle and Bustle

The holiday season can provide a well needed break from the regular routine of life, but it can also be a time of excess. Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can culminate in too much holiday stress and leave us feeling exhausted rather than fulfilled. Before you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it's important to set your priorities by deciding what traditions offer the most positive impact and eliminate unnecessary activities. You don't have to attend every party or holiday activity or buy a gift for everyone you meet. Pick a few favorite activities or events to attend that you really enjoy or have special meaning to you and skip some of those that cause the most hassle. Pace your activities and accept invitations to those events that will not overburden your life and cause next day exhaustion. Feeling tired and frantic is not good for your physical and mental health. Remember that having a break from regular life routines can also provide an opportunity for slowing down and clarifying what is important to you as you move forward into the next year.


Eating and Drinking

Holiday parties, family gatherings, and celebrations may bring holiday "cheer" but an overabundance of eating and drinking can lead to negative health effects. The temptation to overindulge in desserts or alcohol can cause many people the lasting stress of dealing with consequences that can last long after the season is over. Research has found that holiday binges may be a way of blunting the brain to family tensions. Finding healthy ways to combat stress, say by taking a long walk or eating less protein and fat (you'll feel most relaxed if you eat 5:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein) can help to give your brain a biochemical boost and avoid overindulgences. If you are feeling uneasy at a holiday event it is also recommended to skip the hors d'oevres table which is often packed with foods ill-suited for mood improvement. But do indulge (in moderation) in all of the wonderful holiday foods!

The Pros and Cons of Togetherness

        People who have close ties to their friends and family tend to be better off physically and psychologically than loners. In fact, studies have shown that a lack of social relationships rivals the negative health effects of smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. The holidays are a time when extended families tend to gather, providing ample opportunity for the positive health benefits of emotional and physical closeness. On the other hand, even the most close-knit families can overdose on togetherness, making it hard for family members to maintain a comfortable balance between bonding and alone time. Many families also have 'roles' that each member falls into that have more to do with who individuals used to be rather than who they are today, which can sometimes bring more dread than fun to these gatherings. If you have a particularly difficult time with certain family members, bring along a supportive friend to the holiday gathering. Also, give yourself and everyone around you permission to be less than perfect - the holiday image of the "perfect family" is an unreality that can create tension and impede our ability to enjoy relationships.


For those who don't have these family issues, loneliness can be just as much of a problem. As the world seems to be gathering with family, those who rely more on friends for support can feel deserted and alone. It is important to recognize that loneliness is a common experience for many during the holidays. In one survey fifty-percent of respondents said that they experienced loneliness during the holiday season. In order to combat loneliness, get connected to others, even by simply taking time to say hello to neighbors or participating in an internet forum can help to ease holiday loneliness. Also, filling your time with enjoyable activities and/or volunteering your time can elevate your mood and help you feel connected to others.


Prepare Your Approach

The great thing about holiday stress is that it's predictable. Unlike many other types of stress we encounter in life, we know when holiday stress will begin and end, and we can make plans to reduce the amount of stress we experience and the negative impact it has on us. Remind yourself of this during the holiday season and remember to relax, expect imperfection and indulge in moderation, as all will help you to bring the "cheer" into this time of year.
 How to Build a Career  and Protect Your Marriage: 

Directed Focus for Future Happiness


If someone were to ask you are you satisfied with your life right now, what would you think of first? Would your mind race to the stable career you have built by contributing years of education and countless hours behind a cluttered desk until late in the evening? Or instead, would you think of the relationship you have nurtured with your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend? Not too surprisingly, many Americans today first consider their job title as an indicator of how satisfied they are with their life. In fact, little attention is given to the status or happiness of relationships, which can leave some marriages in shambles.


Press releases this past year seemed to be highlighting the detrimental effects of over-investment in professional development on a healthy relationship. Sports giants, Hollywood stars, politicians and top businessmen were all examples highlighted by the year's news. Media, business, and political giants developed astounding careers through dedication and hard work, but the broken state of their relationships has been a target for reporters. Now ask yourself: does a powerful career really bring you the same satisfaction as a healthy, rewarding relationship?


The answer to this question should be easy; there is no comparison! A happy marriage can be the support you need to make it through that long workday with a smile on your face. Recent research has shown satisfaction within a relationship is significantly more likely to predict happiness than career satisfaction. So, what can you do to foster and maintain a blissful relationship?


There are a few basic rules to keep in mind when trying to moderate the time, energy, and devotion towards work and your relationship. There will always be times when you need to work late on a critical project, but make sure you know when to close up shop and go home to your family. Never underestimate the value of spending the evening with your spouse. Having ample time after work means more time that could be spent cooking dinner together, finding something special to share in, or just talking about each other's day. This means you are able to relax and get some of the stressful events from the office off your chest. Turning off cell phones and email is essential to uninterrupted connection.


Some couples try to put off taking time off of work for that amazing dream getaway. Vacation doesn't always have to be such a hassle. Sometimes, couples worry over how to save up time and money to spend on that three-week vacation experience in a resort or on a cruise, only to back out on their plans. This doesn't have to be the case. Taking a day every once in awhile for an extended weekend will mean more time together without the worry of having to afford such a costly experience. Remember, just because a vacation is less expensive, doesn't mean it will be  less valuable to your relationship.


Making these changes to improve your relationship can be challenging, but you don't have to work on this alone. Attending couples counseling sessions is a good way to sit down together and work out a plan, with the help of an experienced couple's counselor. If you have been stuck trying to balance work and family before, sitting down with a therapist can help you manage your schedule and develop a long-standing plan to balance work and relationship time together. The open communication skills and life planning you gain from counseling sessions together will strengthen your relationship and make the life you share together happier and more satisfying than ever! It is possible to build a highly successful career and still build a strong marriage as well, it just takes some planning so you can give enough focus on happiness within your relationship to keep it healthy, vital, strong, and a source of great contentment and happiness.