EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM AUTUMN 2005
301-460-2100 • FAX 301-460-2113 • www.mcps.k12.us/departments/EAP • Vol . 4, No. 1
Managing Difﬁcult Life Transitions
Life is a process of beginnings and of vulnerability. Most life transitions ing a house; serious illness; signiﬁcant
endings. In both life and nature, there begin with a string of losses: loss (of a person, job, pet, or anything
are times when things move slowly important); or starting a career.
and don’t seem to change very much. ß The loss of a role
Then, suddenly, things change quickly. ß The loss of a person Stages of Life Transitions
Moving from August to September, the ß The loss of a place Successfully moving through a life
weather changes gradually at ﬁrst, and ß The loss of your sense of where transition usually means experiencing
then it seems that suddenly summer is you ﬁt in the world the following stages:
over. It is the same in our lives; transi-
tions are as natural as the changing Life transitions can include accidents; ß Experiencing a range of negative
seasons. Life transitions are challenging buying a house; changing jobs; divorce; feelings (anger, anxiety, confusion,
because they force us to let go of the fa- getting married; having a baby; leaving numbness, self-doubt).
miliar and face the future with a feeling for college; relocation; retirement; sell- ß Feeling a loss of self-esteem.
ß Beginning to accept the change.
ß Acknowledging that you need to let
Why Worry? go of the past and accept the future.
ß Beginning to feel hopeful about the
Do you worry about things that you 4. Can you do anything about the prob- future.
can’t control? Worrying is harmful. It lem? (Can you change whether it will continued on page 2
adds to stress. But people often say they happen? Can you change its outcome?)
“can’t help” worrying. Some people 5. Did it already happen? (Did it aﬀect
worry about everything. Worrying you or someone else? Is it likely to Inside
doesn’t make a problem go away. In happen again? How likely? Can you
fact, it often makes the problem worse. prevent it?)
Worrying keeps people from facing 6. Are you responsible for doing some- 1 Managing Difﬁcult Life Transitions
their problem and trying to solve them. thing about the problem? (Why? Do 1 Why Worry?
If you are worrying about a problem, others agree that you are responsible?
3 Having Conﬂict? Welcome to MCPS
ask yourself the following questions: How do you know?)
Dispute Resolution Program
1. What is the problem? You may ﬁnd that there is nothing you 3 Recipe for a Successful Marriage
2. Is it really a problem? (What signs can do to change the problem. Or that
3 Web Sources for Health Information
show you that it is a problem? What do someone else is responsible for the
you think those signs mean? Are there problems. If that is the case, try to stop 4 Ask the EAP
other ways to look at things?) worrying. And remember, that the EAP 4 EAP Workshops
3. How important is the problem? is always available to help you learn to
4 Upcoming Events
(What would happen if you did noth- worry less and enjoy life more.
ing about it? What would happen if 4 10 Reasons to Recognize Your Staff
Taken from Managing Stress, American Institute
you stopped worrying?) for Preventive Medicine.
ß Feeling a rise in self-esteem. gained and learned from each experi- ing the new. Think about how you
ß Developing an optimistic view of ence. Such transitions can provide a respond to endings in your life: Do
the future. productive time to do some important you generally avoid them, like the
The process of moving through a tran- self-exploration. They can be a chance person who ducks out early on her last
sition does not always proceed in order to overcome fears and to learn to deal day on the job because she can’t bear
of these nice, predictable stages. People with uncertainty. These can be the to say good-bye? Or do you drag them
usually move through the process in gifts of the transition process—to learn out because you have such a hard time
diﬀerent ways, often cycling back and more about yourself and what makes letting go? Perhaps you make light of
forth among the stages. you happy and fulﬁlled. endings, refusing to let yourself feel
sad. Before you can welcome the new,
Coping Skills Don’t be in a rush. When your life is you must acknowledge and let go of
Life transitions are often diﬃcult, but disrupted, it takes time to adjust to the the old.
they have a positive side, too. They pro- new reality. Expect to feel uncomfort-
vide us with an opportunity to assess able during a transition as you let go of Keep some things consistent. When
the direction our lives are taking. They old ways of doing things. Try to avoid you are experiencing a signiﬁcant life
are a chance to grow and learn. Here starting new activities too soon, before change, it helps to keep as much of
are some ideas that may help make the you have had a chance to reﬂect and your daily routine consistent as you
process rewarding. think about what is really best for you. can.
Accept that change is a normal part of Expect to feel uncomfortable. A time Accept that you may never complete-
life. People who have this attitude seem of transition is confusing and disori- ly understand what has happened to
to have the easiest time getting through enting. It is normal to feel insecure and you. You are likely to spend a lot of
life transitions. Seeing changes as anxious. These feelings are part of the time feeling confused and afraid. This
negative or as experiences that must be process, and they will pass. makes most of us very uncomfortable.
avoided makes them more diﬃcult to The discomfort and confusion will
navigate and less personally productive. Stay sober. Using alcohol or drugs dur- pass, and clarity will return.
ing this confusing time is not a good
Identify your values and life goals. If idea. It can only make the process more Take one step at a time. It’s under-
a person knows who he/she is and what diﬃcult. standable to feel like your life has
he/she wants from life, he/she may see become unmanageable. To regain a
the change as just another life chal- Take good care of yourself. Transitions sense of power, ﬁnd one small thing
lenge. Such people are willing to take are very stressful, even if they are sup- you can control right now. Then break
responsibility for their actions and not posed to be happy times. You may not it down into small, speciﬁc, concrete
blame others for the changes that come feel well enough to participate in your steps. Write them down and post
along without warning. normal activities. Find something fun them on your computer monitor or
to do for yourself each day. Get plenty mirror. Cross oﬀ each step as you ac-
Learn to identify and express your of rest and exercise, and eat well. complish it.
feelings. While it’s normal to try to
push away feelings of fear and anxiety, Build your support system. Seek the Times of life transitions oﬀer you
you will move through them more support of friends and family mem- the chance to explore what your ide-
quickly if you acknowledge them. Make bers, especially those who accept you al life would look like. When things
them real by writing them down and without judging you and encourage you are in disarray, you can reﬂect on the
talking about them with trusted friends to express your true feelings. A time hopes and dreams you once had but
and family members. These feelings of transition also is an excellent time perhaps forgot about. Take this time
will have less power over you if you face to seek the support of a mental health to write about them in a journal or
them and express them. professional. He or she can guide you talk about them with a trusted friend
through the transition process in a safe, or therapist. Now is a good time to
Focus on the payoﬀs. Think about supportive environment. take advantage of the fork in the road.
what you have learned from other
life transitions. Recall the stages you Acknowledge what you are leaving Adapted from an article by Herb
went through, and identify what you behind. This is the ﬁrst step to accept- Cantor, Ph.D. Used with permission.
Having Conﬂict? Recipe for a
Welcome to the Successful Marriage Web Sources
MCPS Dispute for Health
Resolution Program Researcher John Gottman claims to be Information
able to predict, in ﬁve minutes, those
marriages that will end in divorce with According to the Washington
Conﬂict is inevitable. When people
91 percent accuracy. For more than two Post (June 21, 2005), the following
work together, disagreements can lead
decades, this professor of psychology Web sites were considered excel-
to conﬂict. Usually people can resolve
at the University of Washington has lent sources of health informa-
this conﬂict with little or no input from
interviewed hundreds of couples at his tion:
others. However, sometimes people
Family Research Institute, also known
need help to resolve their diﬀerences.
as the “Love Lab.” This research has www.nih.gov
The Dispute Resolution Program pro-
revealed four behaviors that can kill a Sponsored by the National Insti-
vides free mediation services to MCPS
relationship if they are not curbed— tutes of Health, has lots of general
employees who would like help resolv-
criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and information on a wide range of
ing workplace conﬂict. Whether it is a
matter of feeling disrespected, dealing
Gottman proceeds to explain fac-
with someone who’s always late, or
tors which are essential for successful www.my.webmd.com
working with someone who encroaches
marriages. In one surprising revelation, Lots of information on numerous
on your personal space, mediation can
Gottman claims that friendship is more topics.
help. With the assistance of a neutral
important than communication. “At
mediator, provided through an agree-
the heart of my program is the simple www.mayoclinic.com
ment with the Conﬂict Resolution Cen-
truth that happy marriages are based Sponsored by the Mayo Clinic for
ter of Montgomery County, people are
on a deep friendship,” he asserts. “By Medical Education and Research.
able to ﬁnd their own solutions to prob-
this I mean a mutual respect for and Geared to consumers seeking
lems. A private, informal, conﬁdential
enjoyment of each other’s compan. health information.
agreement may help you resume a more
They have an abiding regard for each
workable relationship with someone
other and express this fondness not just www.medicinenet.com
with whom you’ve had diﬃculties.
in the big ways but in the little ways, Articles written by physicians
day in and day out.” and reviewed by a team of health
To learn more, or to schedule a media-
tion at a convenient time and place, call professionals.
While it seems unlikely that the perfect
the Dispute Resolution Program at the
recipe for a successful marriage may www.kidshealth.com
EAP at 301-460-2425.
be developed, Gottman oﬀers interest- Sponsored by Nemours Foun-
ing insights and helpful techniques for dations Center for Children’s
improving marriage. His book, Seven
National Depression Principles for Making Marriage Work:
Health. Lots of content focused
on children’s health.
Screening Day A Practical Guide from the Country’s
Foremost Relationship Expert, provides www.medscape.com
National Depression Screening Day further information. It is published by Sponsored by WebMd, for con-
is October 6. The EAP will be con- Three Rivers Press, Michigan, and is sumers who want professional-
ducting screenings for Depression, available in bookstores. level articles on health-related
Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxi- topics.
ety Disorder, and Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. If you think you or
a member of your family might have
one of these mental health issues, “When you do the
please call the EAP at 301-460-2100 common things in life
to schedule an appointment for a in an uncommon way,
screening. Screenings take no more you will command the
than 30 minutes and include attention of the world.”
an opportunity to discuss your
results with a trained mental health —George Washington Carver
Did you know that the EAP is avail-
able to come to your school or oﬃce
EAP Workshops: and present one of our workshops?
• September 28, 2005 Throughout the year, we oﬀer many
The Sandwich Generation: Caregiver Resources and Information: workshops that are available to all
4:00–5:00 p.m., at the MCEA conference center (60 W. Gude Dr.), employees. However, if you would
rooms ABC like the EAP to tailor a workshop to
• October 18, 2005 your staﬀ’s needs, please contact us
Stress Management: 4:00–5:00 p.m., Montgomery Blair High to discuss what you want us to do
School and when. Topics currently include
• November 16, 2005 the following:
Managing the Stress of the Holidays: 4:00–5:00 p.m., North Lake Stress Management
Center (15101 Bauer Dr.), Rockville, Media Center Time Management
• December 13, 2005 Managing the Stress of Relationships
Managing the Stress of the Holidays: 12:00–1:00 p.m., Central Overcoming Burnout
Oﬃce (850 Hungerford Dr.), room 223 Stress and Its Impact on Your Health
• April 26, 2006 Four Steps to Better Workplace
Substance Abuse Information for Parents: What You Need to Relationships
Know: 12:00–1:00 p.m., (850 Hungerford Dr.), room 120 Anger Management: Real Strategies
for Real Life
To RSVP, please call us at 301-460-2100 or contact us via e-mail at
If you have questions or would like to talk about EAP workshops, please call us at
A Healthy Outlook
Ask the EAP 10 Reasons to To help employees with
Q. Can the EAP be used more than
Recognize Your troubling issues before they
one time in a given year? Staff
A. Yes. Generally speaking, the EAP is As we return for another school year,
intended to provide short-term coun- supervisors and administrators once EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE
seling and referral services. While the again face the challenge of how best SPECIALISTS: Debbie Tipton
EAP is not intended to be used for on- to retain a productive and motivated Robyn Rosenbauer
going counseling, it’s certainly available staﬀ. According to the National As- Jeff Becker
EAP at North Lake Center
to those who may experience more sociation of Employee Recognition
15101 Bauer Drive
than one incident in a given year—the (there is such an association!), it is Rockville, Maryland 20853
short-term counseling beneﬁt may be suggested that you recognize staﬀ phone: 301-460-2100
accessed for each incident. If someone members when they model behavior www.mcps.k12.md.us/departments/E A P
is coming to the EAP for the same that exempliﬁes any of the following:
incident multiple times, it is likely that 1. Innovation Important Notice: Information in A
Healthy Outlook! is for general information
the person needs a referral to a long- 2. Initiative purposes only and is not intended to replace
term service; and the counselor would 3. Loyalty the counsel or advice of a qualiﬁed health
discuss that with the you. 4. Leadership professional.
5. Teamwork For further questions or help with speciﬁc
Do you have a question for the EAP? 6. Creativity problems or personal concerns contact your
Send your questions via FirstClass, 7. Eﬃciency employee assistance professional.
Outlook, or the Pony to Jeﬀ Becker. 8. Quality You may contact us or send your questions
9. Superior Service and comments to
10. A Positive Attitude Debra_Tipton@fc.mcps.k12.md.us.
Published by the Department of Communications for the Please note that e-mail is not necessarily
Employee Assistance Program
0455.06 • ELECTRONIC GRAPHICS & PUBLISHING SERVICES • 8.05