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|Prepare Your Child for Next Year! Summer should be FUN and kids definitely deserve a break and some down time from school!
However, summer is also an ideal opportunity to work on problems that may have had a negative effect on your child's performance during the last school year, so that next year they can enter school with these problems lessened or alleviated. Our individual, family, or group therapy formats for children and teenagers can help alleviate problems such as behavioral acting out, sadness, anxiety, social issues, etc.
Summer is also the ideal time to have any testing your child needs done. Some parents want testing to help with eligibility for special services, while other parents utilize testing simply to get a clearer view of their child's strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations to improve weaknesses. We will help you to determine what type of testing would be most useful to answer the question at hand.
Addressing your child's needs during the summer has the added benefit of not worrying about missing school for appointments, and, since the academic and social stresses of the school day are not present, it is a good time to work on improvements and growth to make next school year the best it can be!
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Greetings! Happy Summer! In this issue we look at 'mindfulness' - it's a popular buzzword... do you really know what it means and how to apply it to your life? We also learn about the new 'Green Divorce' in which the concepts of going-green environmentalism are applied to separation. We hope you find these concepts interesting (and potentially calming) as we did.
Dr. Tina Lepage
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Mindfulness is a Popular Buzzword:
What Can it Mean for You?
The term "mindfulness" has become an ubiquitous buzzword in psychology the past two decades or so. Its prevalence has extended to researchers, clinicians and clients alike. Scholarly articles related to mindfulness have jumped from less than 80 in 1990 to over 3,000 in May 2012. And clients frequently enter my office asking specifically for mindfulness techniques.
So, considering its growing relevance, what is mindfulness? Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., who is most responsible for the implementation of these techniques on Western soil, refers to mindfulness, simply and elegantly, as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally." Thus, mindfulness is an accepting and acutely aware relationship to one's current experience. Why has mindfulness gained so much traction recently? For one, because it works. This relationship to experience has been proven to be correlated with any number of psychological and health variables including (but far from limited to): stress, anxiety, depression, disordered eating, substance abuse, and an array of positive psychological factors such as life satisfaction and fulfillment.
For a more nuanced understanding of mindfulness, Kabat-Zinn proposes 7 attitudinal factors: Non-judging, Patience, Beginner's mind, Trust, Non-striving, Acceptance, and Letting go. Each of these is described in-depth in our longer website article on mindfulness.
Having seen its power, what are some ways to cultivate this attitude? Mindfulness psychology has developed an array of tools to increase mindfulness, ranging from short exercises to manualized 30-day meditation retreats. The following is a brief exercise in mindfulness to try. Additionally, working with someone who is well-versed in these techniques can be of great help.
The Three -Minute Breathing Space
Acknowledging Sit or stand with a tall spine. Close your eyes or keep a soft half gaze. Feel the body grounded. Begin to notice the nature of your current experience: begin to tune in with your bodily sensations, your thoughts and feelings. Notice the texture of your experience without becoming drawn into it, or pushing it away. Become a quiet observer, just noticing. Come gently back to this broad, soft awareness, whenever you notice you are becoming entangled with thoughts or worries.
Gathering After a minute or so, gently redirect your attention to your breath - to each inbreath, and to each outbreath. Again, just notice your breathing: its speed, texture, quality; and where you can feel the breath most alive in the body. Your breath is an anchor to bring you back to the present. Keep coming back to the sensation of the breath, whenever you become aware of being distracted. Do this with kindness, without judgment.
Expanding Expand the field of your awareness around your breathing, so that you become aware of your whole body: your posture, breath, facial expression. Gently broaden out this awareness to notice the nature of your whole experience. Hold everything in your awareness with equanimity. This brief activity can be a means of grounding and centering, and can be done anywhere.
For other examples of how to cultivate mindfulness, and a greater description of it, please click to visit our longer website article on mindfulness.
Dr. Kevin Metz has been trained in depth in mindfulness and acceptance based theories and techniques, to include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Insight Dialogue, in addition to others. He has extensive experience incorporating these concepts into his individual psychotherapy with clients. Dr. Metz has also facilitated meditation groups and led meditation-oriented outreach presentations to the community.
The Green Divorce:
Financial conservation. Emotional preservation.
Divorce is painful. There is no denying it. For many, it is the worst event of a lifetime, and recovery is slow. Sadness, anger, and fear are inherent in marital dissolution, and no process can shield the parties completely from the negative emotions associated with the end of a significant relationship and the accompanying major life change.
Often times, however, parties are so focused on what they want out of the divorce process (the house, the money, the kids, all of the above) that they forget to focus on the process itself. It is important, for all those contemplating divorce, to consider how to best approach what is undoubtedly an already painful transition in order to best preserve the financial and emotional resources of all members of the family, including the children. Below is a short summary of a new model, the "Green Divorce," which was designed in an attempt to preserve and conserve the resources of the family and to replace adversarial competition with collaborative cooperation. (To contrast this with other models such as traditional and collaborative, visit our separation and divorce page.)
Green Divorce Process & Principles: The Green Divorce process offers the parties the ability to meet with one mediator (who happens to be a trained and experienced family law attorney, but who is not representing either party) in several short sessions. The short sessions are designed to prevent anyone from agreeing to something simply because he/she is hungry, exhausted, depleted, or worried about missing another commitment. It also gives both parties an opportunity to gather their thoughts and connect with their support systems between each session. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator, and the parties are encouraged to abide by certain principles, many of which are shared with the collaborative law model.
Conservation- We hire one mediator and share the cost. The mediator meets with both of us and acts as a neutral facilitator of settlement to conserve financial resources by keeping them within the family. We conserve our energy and our time by meeting in several short sessions, as opposed to one very long session, so that we are fresh and engaged in each meeting.
Cooperation- We embrace a spirit of cooperation and focus on the impact that each decision will have on ourselves, on each other, and on the children. We seek creative and workable solutions without a "winner" or a "loser."
Sustainability- We strive for solutions that allow the family to sustain itself emotionally and financially both during and after the transition.
Creativity- We use limited resources creatively to maximize their value for the whole family. We may consider options that are "outside the box" since the needs of each family are unique and therefore cannot be dictated by generalities.
Holistic- We understand lawyers may not be the only professionals or the best professionals to help us negotiate certain areas, so we are open to contacting therapists, child specialists, tax professionals, financial planners or any other expert who may contribute to constructing the best possible outcomes.
Resource Sharing- We share resources such as experts, consultants and other advisors to prevent duplicating efforts and to save time, money, (and paper).
Paperless- We strive to do all of our communicating and negotiating electronically or in person. We seek to avoid the use of paper until the final agreement is generated. The final Separation Agreement is printed one time, on recycled paper, and signed by both parties.
At any point, either or both parties can consult with or hire an attorney (who cannot be the attorney who is acting as mediator) to assist him or her in understanding or completing the process. But for most clients who have completed the process, the Green Divorce was an opportunity to cooperate together in an effort to maximize the available resources and sustain the mental and financial health of the family during a very difficult time. Additionally, parties are often more likely to honor their agreements because the terms were devised by the parties themselves, rather than forced on them by a judge.
The Green Divorce process is not for everyone. It requires a certain level of communication, cooperation, and equality between the parties to be successful. In situations where there is or has been domestic violence; where one spouse dominates the other physically, emotionally, or verbally; or where one or both spouses are in an emotional place where they are unable to be honest, or to communicate productively with the other spouse, another process may be more appropriate. But for those looking for an alternative to the traditional adversarial model of divorce, the Green Divorce may fill that gap. It is important, for all people experiencing separation and divorce, to be thoughtful about and select the process that is right for them. It can make all the difference.
Written by: Jennifer Drorbaugh,Esq., Haas & Associates, P.A.