Experts from CCA North Texas Offer Tips to Reduce Back-To-School Stress in Children

By Holly Becka, holly@horsepowercommunications.com

The start of a new school year is both exciting and stressful to children – even for those returning to familiar ground but especially for those going to a new school.200x200 CCA Logo

Experts from Counseling and Consulting Associates of North Texas (CCA North Texas) say parents can help reduce their children’s back-to-school stress and even make school preparations fun with the following five tips.

1. Start or continue back-to-school traditions. Ideas include letting your child choose their own school supplies during a back-to-school shopping trip, planning for special breakfasts kids can enjoy during the first week of school, or preparing special lunches together that students can take to school.

“Back-to-school traditions are rituals, and any shared ritual is an experience that grounds and strengthens families,” explains Dr. Suzanne Hales, a licensed professional counselor and founder of CCA North Texas. “Traditions are great because they provide an overall sense of belonging and establish the building blocks of trust in a family.”

2. Book an appointment to do a walk-through of your child’s school, especially if it’s a new school, and let your child create a special back-to-school photo book prior to the start of school. These creations can be made with colorful construction paper and photos you snap on your phone, says Todd Lawhorn, a licensed professional counselor and certified family life educator who works in private practice at CCA North Texas and serves as a counselor with the McKinney school district.

Todd Lawhorn“Let your child create a page showing them in each room of the school they’ll visit daily,” recommends Lawhorn, who has worked with children for more than two decades. “On each page, they can write down or draw examples of the things they’ll be doing in each room and what they’re most looking forward to doing as a positive affirmation. By visiting the school and becoming familiar with it, and then creating a book that visualizes their entire day, students will have less anxiety because they’ll already know what to expect. Children like routines and they like to have a plan.”

3. Create opportunities for play dates with peers where conversations can be shared about going to school, Lawhorn advises. Play dates may include meeting at the school playground to allow for peer-to-peer interactions that normalize and validate many feelings – such as fears or excitement – that come with the “first-day jitters.” It may even be fun to practice car pool procedures to alleviate any concerns about where to enter the school or where pick-up will occur at the end of the day.

“A combination of facilitated communication, practice and role play events, creative story writing and peer socialization can help minimize the anticipation of transitioning to school and can even maximize your child’s comfort level and confidence,” Lawhorn says.

4. Talk as a family about the new school year in the days leading up to the start of school. Parents can share stories about their school days and help their children strategize about ways to have a successful school day.

“If your child is expressing concerns about school, listen closely and validate their concerns,” Lawhorn says. “Then ask for your children’s opinions about how they might best address that concern – and work together to write out a plan.

“If your child has trouble offering insight into their feelings or needs, it is important to provide a sense of approachability,” Lawhorn explains. “One way to encourage openness is a non-directed approach by providing expressive art activities, cartoon strip writing or interactive play as teacher or student. Get involved, have some fun, and be a kid again modeling your excitement for school.”

5. Establish a routine. In the days leading up to school, students going into second or third grade should begin waking themselves up with their own alarm at a time that will allow them to be ready for school on time. Parents should heavily praise young children for waking themselves up. Older children should begin getting up at a time to ensure they’re used to getting ready for school on time.

“Depending on a child’s maturity level, children in second and third grade are old enough to be responsible for waking themselves up and getting ready for the day, with some assistance from their parents,” Dr. Hales says. “This teaches children they can rely on themselves, which will help their confidence as they navigate the school day.”

Both counselors say parents should keep the lines of communication open and let their children know that they are always there to support and love them unconditionally. On the first day of school, parents should ensure their actions mirror the positive messages they give their children – that school is a wonderful place and they will have a great day.

Lawhorn notes, “Parents need to remember that if they want their child to be brave and strong as they go into the classroom, they need to be able to model the same on the emotional-filled day.”

CCA North Texas offers an extensive staff of experts who provide confidential, comprehensive mental health care for children, adolescents, teens and adults. CCA’s staff is more than happy to meet with parents who would like to gain more effective parenting skills or need help breaking down communication barriers with their children. And, CCA works with children of all ages.

For more than 25 years, CCA has prided itself on offering the widest variety of counseling services and the most diverse group of specialists in Collin County – all conveniently housed under one roof. Its staff includes a vast variety of licensed counselors, social workers, play therapists, art therapists, psychologists and a psychiatrist offering care for individuals, couples and families.

Dr. Hales opened McKinney’s first family therapy center in 1986.Dr Hales-portrait lowres

“I opened CCA so that families or anyone needing a counselor’s care could find help in one place,” she says. “We recognize that for people who need help, it can be exhausting and overwhelming to seek different specialists for all of the different psychological and social needs an individual or family might have. That is why we provide so many specialties under one roof.”

CCA’s experts realize that life is hard and change is difficult, so their goals are to tailor their approach to each individual situation, Dr. Hales says. “We will listen, offer learning, help uncover your strengths, provide a respite, and allow you to discover what matters most in order to lead a healthier, more productive life,” she says.

Services include:

  • Individual, couples, family and group therapy
  • Diagnostic testing and therapy for autism spectrum disorders and ADD/ADHD (including drug-free therapies)
  • Play/art therapy for children
  • Art therapy for adults
  • Equine and pet therapy
  • Addiction therapy (alcohol, chemical, food, gambling, Internet, relational, etc.)
  • Grief counseling
  • Trauma/post-traumatic stress counseling
  • Attachment counseling
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy
  • Bilingual counseling
  • Psychiatric evaluation and medication
  • Crisis intervention
  • Bedside counseling for the terminally ill and their families
  • Consultations
  • Workshops/presentations

For weekend/week-long retreats and family or group gatherings, CCA offers the new Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center on 160 wooded acres in the beautiful Kiamichi Wilderness near the Texas-Oklahoma border, a pleasant drive from Collin County. To book a stay at the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center, please call 214-926-2074.

To make an appointment at CCA, please call 972-542-8144. CCA accepts most types of insurance, and CCA is proud to partner with the employee assistance programs (EAPs) of many agencies and businesses throughout North Texas.

About CCA North Texas:

CCA has provided counseling services to residents from McKinney and the surrounding area for more than 25 years. Founded by Suzanne Hales, CCA offers a staff that includes licensed professional counselors, social workers, therapists and a psychiatrist who provide counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatric care for adults, children, couples and families. CCA is located at 2750 W. Virginia Parkway, Suite 104 in McKinney. To make an appointment, please call 972-542-8144. For more information, please go to http://www.ccanorthtexas.com. At CCA, our therapy provides encouragement, support, information, and assistance to help you in the changes and transformations you seek in your life. We are honored to be a part of your process of change, and we applaud your courage in seeking assistance to make changes in your life.

About the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center:

Crescent Moon Logo 200 x 200Join us for a retreat into nature. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is a relaxing, tranquil respite for groups, families and friends. The 5,000-square-foot lodge stands on 160 acres of wooded hills in the town of Rattan, Oklahoma, just across the Texas-Oklahoma border. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center provides comfort and quiet reflection amid natural beauty. For more information, please go online to http://www.crescentmoonlodge.com.


Sharing the Love: Kindness Pays in Business

One of the things we most love about owning our business is the opportunity to work with the people we choose to work with.

heartWhen talking with prospective clients and business partners, we recommend considering whether they’re a good fit both business-wise and personality-wise. Are they passionate and excited about what they do? Are they friendly and helpful? Do they treat others well? Will they treat you well? Do you want your business name associated with theirs?

Several months ago, we started working with Megan Hickman, an account manager at TownSquareBuzz.com, an engaging local news site in McKinney, Texas, one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation. Megan is the kind of person you enjoy working with — super nice, helpful at keeping our various client accounts organized, and just all around great at her job. She had sent a note sometime back to provide the latest statistics about stories and ads we helped coordinate for clients — so we dashed off a quick note of thanks and expressed gratitude for all of her help. When she asked if she could use it as a testimonial online for prospective advertisers, we added to what we had already written so that it more fully expressed our thoughts.

TownSquareBuzz just revamped their website, and it looks great — and our testimonial is featured here, on the main advertising page under “Testimonial.”

We love that they’ve shared our gratitude and given us some love in the process. Thanks, TownSquareBuzz!


Excited to See Mitas Hill Vineyard in McKinney Receive Much-Deserved Publicity

We were honored to have been asked to help Mitas Hill Vineyard in McKinney increase the public’s awareness about this beautiful family-owned/family-managed vineyard and winery.

HorsePower Communications was happy to reach out to a small group of area news outlets to invite them to attend Mitas Hill’s annual public grape harvest, and we were delighted and gratified that Mitas Hill received well-deserved media attention.

MitasHill

The Mitas family are grape-growing and Texas wine experts, and they are about to embark on a huge construction project that will lead to the 2014 opening of a new 15,000-square-foot special events center. The center will offer an elegant venue for weddings, corporate events, wine education seminars — and all kinds of fun stuff. Members of the public will also be able to buy special memberships with unique perks that will allow them to experience the art of winemaking and enjoy the lovely, exclusive wines created and bottled on-site at Mitas Hill (and only available there).

Thank you to our friends in the news media for helping us tell the great story of Mitas Hill Vineyard.

More to come about Mitas Hill Vineyard! Stay tuned!


McKinney Ladies Association to Provide $50,000 for Scholarship Fund Benefiting Children of First Responders

McKinney, Texas – The McKinney Ladies Association (MLA) presented a $50,000 check Friday that will fund college scholarships for the children of McKinney’s first responders during the next 10 years.

“The $50,000 check we gave represents MLA’s commitment to provide $5,000 in scholarship funds each year for the next decade,” MLA President Becky Smeltzer said. “For the past several years, MLA has proudly contributed to this scholarship fund benefiting the children of McKinney’s police officers and firefighters. Our presentation Friday formalizes the commitment we have to continuing our support of this wonderful scholarship fund.”

The scholarship fund was founded by Bob and Sheila Johnson of Johnson Insurance & Financial, a financial service company in McKinney that has served the North Texas area for decades. Sheila Johnson is also an MLA member.

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MLA members presented a check on June 14 to benefit a scholarship fund for the children of McKinney’s first responders. State Rep. Scott Sanford and McKinney Police and Fire Department officials took part in the check presentation.

Also on Friday, MLA donated $5,000 to the scholarship fund from proceeds raised during MLA’s Spring 2013 Yard Sale, which was held in May. The Johnsons plan to present scholarships to deserving graduates this summer.

“MLA is so honored to provide this scholarship money because we feel it’s a way we can give back to the public servants who provide crucial services for our community and who rush to help us all at a moment’s notice,” Smeltzer said.

MLA is already preparing for its Fall 2013 Yard Sale, set for 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 21 in the parking lot of Stonebridge United Methodist Church, 1800 S. Stonebridge Drive in McKinney.

Registration is ongoing for anyone who would like to sell items during the sale, which will also raise scholarship funds for children of first responders. To participate, members of the community may reserve a space to sell items (except concessions) by contacting coordinator Connie Hollstein-Drexel at cjhollstein[at]aol.com. The cost to reserve one of the 126 available spaces is $45. Sellers’ reservations must be received by Sept. 16.

Shoppers are welcome Sept. 21, and the sale will occur rain or shine. Adults are asked to donate $1 in order to browse and shop.

About MLA:

The McKinney Ladies Association (MLA) is dedicated to supporting the children and families of our community through special events and fundraising efforts organized by MLA. For more information about MLA or to find out how to become a member of this exciting women’s organization, please visit www.mckinneyladies.org. Look for us on Facebook at McKinney LadiesAssociation and on Twitter at @McKinneyLadies.

 About HorsePower Communications:

HorsePower Communications is a firm in McKinney, Texas, that specializes in public relations, public participation, business writing/editing and marketing. The firm is owned by Holly Becka, a former news reporter with more than 20 years of communications experience and expertise in public/media relations consulting, project management, writing and editing.


Ad for CCA North Texas and Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center Featured at Cooper Aerobics Center in McKinney, Texas

The ad for Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center and CCA North Texas that we have running on a continual loop at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Craig Ranch, in McKinney, Texas.

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Counseling and Consulting Associates Offers New Venue for Retreats, Workshops, Groups and Families

Crescent Moon Logo 200 x 200One of McKinney’s most respected family therapists has expanded her business to fill an unmet need. Dr. Suzanne Hales has opened the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center to provide a serene, natural setting for fellow therapists and counselors to hold workshops, group sessions and retreats.

The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is also available for area nonprofits, churches, scout troops, quilters, scrapbooking enthusiasts, corporate retreats, families or anyone else looking for a natural locale with luxurious accommodations in which to unwind.

“The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is a special, spiritual place, and I opened it to help people heal, achieve peace and realize their true potential,” says Dr. Hales, a licensed professional counselor who in 1986 opened McKinney’s first family therapy center, Counseling and Consulting Associates (CCA) of North Texas. CCA serves clients from throughout Collin County and the surrounding region. Dr. Hales is also a Jungian analyst-in-training who deals with the unconscious, such as a person’s dream life.

“The Crescent Moon caters to anyone who wants a beautiful, calming environment at an affordable price,” Dr. Hales says. “I have had many conversations with colleagues – and we all have been wishing for a place like this. When I opened the Crescent Moon, I wanted to make sure it would be welcoming to everyone, and I am so honored to be able to do so.”

The centerpiece of the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is a beautiful 5,000-square-foot log lodge, which is situated on 160 acres of wooded hills in the Kiamichi Wilderness in Rattan, Oklahoma, just across the Texas-Oklahoma border. Driving to the Crescent Moon is a pleasant, easy trip from the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as Oklahoma City and all surrounding points.

Amenities include sleeping accommodations for 24, three bathrooms, a large open living area with a stunning oversized stone fireplace, a full kitchen, a wrap-around porch and a hot tub. Visitors enjoy panoramic views, cultivated gardens, a five-acre pond, three docks, a river, catch-and-release fishing, bird and wildlife watching, a stone labyrinth and trails for jogging, hiking and exploring. Farm-to-table group meals prepared by a chef are available upon request. For details and photos, please go to www.crescentmoonlodge.com.

Although it’s been open only a brief amount of time, the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center has already received rave reviews.

“I recently returned from a weekend at the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center. A sense of peace and serenity permeates the entire environment,” says Carol Smith, a Jungian analyst from Oklahoma City. “Watching the birds, enjoying the flowers that abound, and taking in the peacefulness of the ponds and quiet land brought an incredible sense of inner renewal. The lodge itself is warm and inviting and echoes the tranquility of the surrounding acreage.

“As a psychotherapist, I believe this retreat is perfect for weekend workshops. For families, the Crescent Moon is the perfect place for reunions or weekend getaways. I plan to return and highly recommend this wonderful place if you are looking for a break from our busy world,” Smith says.

Several workshops are planned in the upcoming months. Please go to the Events section of the Crescent Moon website, www.crescentmoonlodge.com/events/, for updates.

To make a reservation, please go online to www.crescentmoonlodge.com/reservations/ or call 214- 926-2074.

About the Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center:

Join us for a retreat into nature. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center is a relaxing, tranquil respite for groups, families and friends. The 5,000-square-foot lodge stands on 160 acres of wooded hills in the town of Rattan, Oklahoma, near the Texas-Oklahoma border. The Crescent Moon Lodge and Retreat Center provides comfort and quiet reflection amid natural beauty. For more information, please go online to www.crescentmoonlodge.com.

 About CCA North Texas:

CCA has provided counseling services to residents from McKinney and the surrounding area for more than 25 years. Founded by Dr. Suzanne Hales, CCA offers a staff that includes licensed professional counselors, social workers, therapists and a psychiatrist who provide counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatric care for adults, children, couples and families. CCA is located at 2750 W. Virginia Parkway, Suite 104 in McKinney. To make an appointment, please call 972-542-8144. For more information, please go to www.ccanorthtexas.com. CCA’s therapy provides encouragement, support, information and assistance to help you in the changes and transformations you seek in your life. We are honored to be a part of your process of change, and we applaud your courage in seeking assistance to make changes in your life.