December 2014

So much of the holiday season is focused inward; what our plans are going to be, what we're going to buy, what we're going to cook, what we want to receive, etc. This is reinforced by the things we read, watch on television, and talk about with our friends and family. It is not a surprise, however, that many folks have very different things on their minds this season; where they'll find the money to afford presents, how they're going to heat their homes, what they'll do about a grandparent who might be ill, or even how the relationships they have with their family will impact their celebrations. Stepping outside of ourselves to feel "with" others rather than "for" others is a worthwhile exercise and it can be practiced at any time, even while the cake is baking.

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Joseph A. Zagame, LCSW describes a way to strengthen those skills in What is Empathy? And How to Practice It!:

A simple way to practice being empathetic is to put yourself in someone else's shoes. This requires the ability to actively listen while NOT providing solutions. You must convey that you relate to their feelings.  For example, if a friend complains about their boss being on their case about their tardiness, instead of providing them with ways to be on time to work, an empathetic response could be, "It sounds like you feel frustrated that your boss has been on your case about your lateness."  This sends the message that you are listening to them and that you understand their frustration.

An empathetic response takes practice and patience, but I am confident that anyone can master it!

Here's a great video to illustrate his point.

RSA Shorts - The Power of Empathy
RSA Shorts - The Power of Empathy



Dear Cathi...

I have a question. A girl named Ashley in my fifth grade class is getting teased all the time by the other girls. It is not that I really like Ashley that much or that I want to be friends with her or anything, but I don't want other girls to be mean to her either. So far, I haven't done anything about the situation. I'm afraid if I stick up for Ashley that the other girls will start being mean to me too. The meanness mostly happens on the playground and at lunch when there aren't any teachers around. What should I do? Should I stick up for her and then does that mean the girls will start making fun and being mean to me?


Thanks for your help,
Emma A. 

Dear Emma,
I first want to commend you for having the heart to understand how badly it must make Ashley feel to have other girls tease her. Seeing the situation from Ashley's perspective is the first step in stopping bullying from happening at your school. You may not want to be Ashley's friend, but you don't want her to be hurt either.
There are a couple of things you can do. 

The first is to make sure that the school counselor is aware of the bullying on the playground and at lunch. Counselors are trained to manage bullying in school, but they can't take appropriate action unless they know what is happening. You don't have to worry about the mean girls getting back at you when they find out you told an adult. Your school counselor can handle the situation without letting the girls know who provided the information. When a situation is hurtful, providing information is NOT being a tattletale. It is absolutely necessary!

The next step you can take in the future is to let the mean girls know that bullying is not OK. You might say, "We don't treat people like that at our school." You are not alone in feeling this way, and I bet there are other bystanders present at lunch and on the playground who would back you up. I know that it takes courage to stand up to someone who is being mean, but doing so sets the stage for other kids to stand up too. Most children want their schools to be safe and respectful for everyone.

Thank you for caring,


New Year, New Groups

We are in the process of forming our new groups for January. We will have openings for Early Childhood, Elementary Age, Middle School, and High School Social Skills groups. For more information, please visit our website.




Considering a private kindergarten for the fall? Two of our experienced psychologists, Dr. Laura Wilding and Dr. Bert Whetstone, are able to administer the WPPSI 4, the most current version of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence test, to aid in the admissions process. Please contact us at if you would like to be added to their clinical calendar or to make an appointment to speak with them.



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