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Saratoga Center for the Family News and Updates

Center Names Baldwin Executive Director, Adds Board Members

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Rebecca Baldwin of Schuylerville has been named Executive Director of Saratoga Center for the Family.

“Rebecca brings over 10 years of experience working in the social service field with expertise in program administration, planning, development and oversight,” said James Lombardo, president of the Center for the Family board of directors. “Her experience, passion and enthusiasm will be key to her success as she leads the organization into the future.”

Baldwin previously was Director of Foster Care at Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth. She earned a Master of Social Work from the University at Albany and Bachelors in Social Work from the College of Saint Rose.

In addition, the Board of Directors elected its 2017 slate of officers: James Lombardo, President; Dave Shacket, Vice President; Douglas Gerhardt, Treasurer; and Gregory Moore, Secretary.

The Center also welcomed to its Board of Directors new Board Members John Brooks, Tim Hoefer, Katherine Smith, and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner.

Saratoga Center for the Family is a non-profit organization that provides abuse prevention programs, mental health services, victim advocacy and a variety of services for children and families in Saratoga County, regardless of ability to pay.

Baldwin succeeded Deborah Tomaso, who retired. “I am committed to the mission of the Center and excited about this opportunity to serve as Executive Director,” Baldwin said.

Three tips that will change your life for the better in 2017

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Three Tips that will change your life for the better this 2017

By: Kevin Daugherty, CHHC, AADP

Kevin Daugherty is a Certified Holistic Health Coach with Greater Life Health and is a guest blogger for us and is sharing his thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. I think change comes when changed is needed, not by a turn on the page of a calendar. Nonetheless it’s a new year so let’s look at what we can do to make it the best year ever. There are a lot of little things that can change the whole game of life. Little things that when done compound into the big things which equate to the best life ever. These three tips I’m going to share with you can be implemented in no particular order and be worked on individually or in conjunction with each other.

Tip #1: You Are What You Eat

Sounds like advice from your Grandmother, right? If she did say that, she wasn’t wrong. The fact is that you are comprised of everything you put into your body. Everything you eat and drink as well as the products you put on your body. Every sickness, syndrome and disease we have comes from one of two things: Toxicity or Deficiency and those two things happen because of what we do or do not put into our body. Simply put, Garbage In, Garbage Out. Think about it like you would think of a sports car. You put in high quality fuel, premium oil and top notch lubricant and the cars components will run smooth and that car will fly down the road with no problems at all. If you use poor quality gas, oil and lube then the gears will grind and the added friction would cause heat and stress. The engine would not even come close to running well and the car would never reach its full potential. Your body is the same way! It needs the right fuel and lubricant. It needs high quality stuff to work right, heal properly and fight off problems. Everything you put in or on your body is either going to build you up or tear you down. Every ache, pain, extra pound, syndrome or other ailment is a symptom of what you have or haven’t done including what you have or have not put in or on your body. Taking responsibility and taking charge of this will greatly enhance the quality of your life and can prolong it as well. Let’s face it folks, a long life isn’t worth squat unless it’s a good quality one.

Eating good and getting the right nutrients not only helps build your body become a high functioning machine, but it also helps your mind. Since your body and soul are one, what you put in your body feeds the brain. With that being said, this is the perfect time for me to segway into the next tip.

Tip 2: You Are What You Think

So, what you put in and on your body effects all its functions and what you put in your mind builds you up or tears you down. We spend most of the time in our mind thinking repetitive thoughts which most often are self-defeating. We spend a lot of time up there judging others or ourselves, holding on to the past or worrying about the future and living in some sort of fear. We miss out on all the beauty and splendor of life and can’t see all we have because we are stuck in our heads. We think that most of what we think is helping us get through our day, but it’s holding us back from a better-quality life. Visualize how much better things would be if you could cut your stress in half, your anxiety in half, if all the things you have held onto for all these years just went away. We walk through life with these lead weights tied to us. We choose to hold these weights, nobody is forcing us to. We choose to hold them and the only thing that keeps us holding them is the belief that we can’t let go or don’t know how to live life without them. So many of us rely on medication to deal with stress and anxiety and our past. I will tell you a little secret about those three things. Stress isn’t what happens but rather how you react to the stress. Anxiety is worry about the future; a future that does not yet exist. The third, the past, well simply put does not exist anymore. It’s gone, “POOF”, vanished! Now I understand that it sounds a little simplified but you will be surprised that life really isn’t as complicated as we all believe. The belief that it’s complicated or arduous is what makes it true. The opposite of what you believe is also true. You begin understanding that it’s easy and smooth and that is what you find to be true. It starts by what and how you think. The beginning of successful thinking is taking 100% responsibility for your life and your thoughts. You are where you are in life because of what you have or have not done and because of what you have or have not thought. Your feelings and reactions to people, places or things is 100% your doing. You may not have control over the world or other people, but you have 100% control over how you react, how you think and how you feel.

Like the food, you put in your body, high quality thoughts will turn your life into a high-quality life. One of the best tools to start turning your thinking around is meditation.

Tip #3: Meditation

Meditation is something that will change every facet of your life and it’s simple and doesn’t cost you anything. We tend to be slaves to our minds and meditation is the key that unlocks the chains that bind us. Simply sitting upright in a comfortable position, clearing our thoughts and focusing on our breathing is the first step. Present moment nonjudgmental awareness is the next step. Allowing what flows by to flow by without judgement. Meditation isn’t the thing that only Sages and Mystics do in a cave somewhere. It’s what someone who wants to be free of their own BS does. When someone has the insight to say “I deserve better!” and is willing to do what it takes to get there. Many try to cope with their stress, anxiety and problems with drugs and alcohol and my rebuttal is: Meditate NOT Medicate! When you partake in drugs or alcohol you are looking to drown out something or create a certain state, but all you are doing is putting a band-aid on and never fixing the problem or if you are looking to achieve a state, that state is fleeting and ever receding. Meditation allows you to go beyond your problems and find real solutions or real states. The mental and physical achievements that can be gained through meditation are limitless.

All you have to do is start with five minutes a day. I know you can find 5 minutes. Think about how much time you spend on social media or bashing your boss or worrying about your problems. Take some of that time and sit down and meditate.

You are your biggest obstacle to your health, wealth and happiness and YOU are also your biggest solution. Take 100% responsibility for your life. Your thoughts and actions are on you and they affect you and those around you. We all want this world to be a better place so do your part. Focus on YOU!

These three steps are building blocks to a better life and a better world. They start small and become larger. It’s not about removing what’s “bad” and not working in your life, it’s about adding “good” and what does work. You add enough good stuff and there is no room for the bad stuff. It’s time to do your part, Make YOURSELF GREAT again and lead by example.

These tips are a gift from me to you. They are priceless so we can’t put a price tag on them. They may seem a little simple, but put them into action and watch your world spin on a dime.

  • You are what you eat
  • You are what you think
  • Meditate not Medicate

If you need guidance or a little boost, ask a friend or family member to be your accountability buddy and help keep you on track!! Happy New Year!


Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Do Children Sexually Abuse Other Children?

By: Kelly Daugherty, LCSW-R, GC-C

With school being back in session, children are making new friends in their classrooms. This may mean new play dates, sleep overs, etc and meeting new parents. With that being said I think it is a good time for parents to review body safety rules with your children. So much of child sex abuse prevention is targeted at teaching kids what to do if an adult touches them in a way that is uncomfortable, but prevention also has to include what to do if a peer tries to do something to them. The reality is that over a third of all child sexual abuse is committed by someone under the age of 18. In 2015 our Child Advocacy Center which is for only Saratoga County had 31 interviews with children who were sexually abused by their peers. And this number doesn’t include all of the children that have been sexually abused by peers that have not told anyone. Studies show that in as many as nine out of 10 cases, kids don’t tell anyone when they are being sexually abused. This blog will explain what is normal sexual curiosity in children, when a parent should be concerned, why children sexually abuse other children and how to prevent child sexual abuse.

It is not always easy to tell the difference between normal curiosity in children and potentially abusive behaviors. Children have different understanding about their bodies and sexuality and this could be impacted because of their developmental age, whether the child has a disability or developmental challenge or because they have older siblings.

Most children will engage in forms of sexual exploration with children of similar size, social status or power. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Most sexual play is an expression of children’s natural curiosity and should not be a cause for concern or alarm. In general, “typical” childhood sexual play and exploration:

  • Occurs between children who play together regularly and know each other well
  • Occurs between children of the same general age and physical size
  • Is spontaneous and unplanned
  • Is infrequent
  • Is voluntary (the children agreed to the behavior, none of the involved children seem uncomfortable or upset)
  • Is easily diverted when parents tell children to stop and explain privacy rules

Common Sexual Behaviors in Children from the Sexual Development and Behavior in Children from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Age Uncommon/Problematic Behaviors
Preschool children (less than 4 years) ·       Exploring and touching private parts, in public and in private

·       Rubbing private parts (with hand or against objects) Showing private parts to others

·       Trying to touch mother’s or other women’s breasts

·       Removing clothes and wanting to be naked

·       Attempting to see other people when they are naked or undressing (such as in the bathroom)

·       Asking questions about their own—and others’—bodies and bodily functions

·       Talking to children their own age about bodily functions such as “poop” and “pee”

Young Children (approximately 4-6 years) ·       Purposefully touching private parts (masturbation), occasionally in the presence of others

·       Attempting to see other people when they are naked or undressing

·       Mimicking dating behavior (such as kissing, or holding hands)

·       Talking about private parts and using “naughty” words, even when they don’t understand the meaning

·       Exploring private parts with children their own age (such as “playing doctor”, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” etc.)

School-Aged Children (approximately 7-12 years) ·       Purposefully touching private parts (masturbation), usually in private

·       Playing games with children their own age that involve sexual behavior (such as “truth or dare”, “playing family,” or “boyfriend/girlfriend”)

·       Attempting to see other people naked or undressing

·       Looking at pictures of naked or partially naked people

·       Viewing/listening to sexual content in media (television, movies, games, the Internet, music, etc.)

·       Wanting more privacy (for example, not wanting to undress in front of other people) and being reluctant to talk to adults about sexual issues

·       Beginnings of sexual attraction to/interest in peers


So when should a parent be concerned?

These may be concerns if you see your child doing any of the following according to the NCTSN:

  • Is clearly beyond the child’s developmental stage (for example, a three-year-old attempting to kiss an adult’s genitals)
  • Involves threats, force, or aggression
  • Involves children of widely different ages or abilities (such as a 12-year-old “playing doctor” with a four-year-old)
  • Provokes strong emotional reactions in the child—such as anger or anxiety
  • The inability to control inappropriate sexual behaviors involving other children after being told to stop.
  • Taking younger children to “secret” places or hideaways to play “special” undressing or touching games

Why does a child sexually abuse other children?

The reasons can be varied and are not always obvious. Some children have been sexually abused by an adult or peer, others have witnessed violence in their home and others may have been exposed to sexually explicit material via video games, movies or internet materials including pornography that may be confusing to them. Some children act out on an impulse not understanding the harm it may do. The fact is that children that abuse as peers and don’t get help are more likely to abuse children as adults.

So what should you teach your children to prevent possible sexual abuse?

  • Communication is key! Talking with your child about healthy sexual activity may feel uncomfortable, but it is important to have conversations about sexuality and from early on in your child’s life. Don’t allow your child to be educated about sex from their peers, tv or other media sources. When you talk with your child honestly about sexual issues they are given the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe and to make good decisions. Also educate them about what is abusive sexual behavior.
  • Encourage children to respect themselves and others.
  • Educate them about secrets and which secrets should never be kept.
  • Teach your child that they have the right to say no and that they need to accept no from others.
  • Provide close supervision of your children especially when they have friends over
  • Provide clear, positive messages about modesty, boundaries and privacy.
  • Educate your children on the accurate names of boys and girls private parts
  • Educate them about body safety rules:
    • We keep private parts covered
    • We do not show other children our private body parts
    • We don’t touch other children’s private parts
    • That boys and girls bodies change as they get older
    • It may feel good to touch our own private body parts, but it should be done in private
  • Talk to your child about what to do if someone tries to touch them inappropriately or shows them pornographic images. Teach them to say No, Get Away and Tell Someone.
  • Identify safe, trusted adults they can tell if someone touches them or asks them to do something inappropriate.
  • Control media exposure. Limit which apps they have on their electronic devices. Make use of parental controls on their devices. Ask someone you may know if you don’t know how to set up these parental controls. Let them know your expectations about using social media, cell phones and electronic devices and teach them to make safe choices.
  • Talk with teens about the dangers and consequences of sexting and sending and/or receiving naked pictures of peers. For more information go to http://www.netsmartz.org/Parents
  • Have a code word with your child that they can call you and say which lets you know they want to come home.
  • Make sure your child knows your phone number.

If a child confides in you about sexual abuse:

  1. Believe them
  2. Be calm and supportive
  3. Limit questions to: Who, What, When, Where
  4. Call the child abuse hotline in NY at 1-800-342-3720 or contact your local law enforcement department

For More Information:





Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Monday, April 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm


If you had to guess, how many times a day do you think you speak to family, friends, co-workers, strangers?  And what do you talk about?  Chances are it is casual conversations, jokes, plans for the day, gossip, and probably some meaningful important topics too.  Now, if you had to guess, how many times in your lifetime do you think you’ve spoken to anyone about child sexual abuse?  I would be willing to bet that number is very low or even zero for most of you.  Why is that?  The reasons probably vary: it’s an uncomfortable conversation, you may not feel you know enough about it, you don’t know how to begin the conversation, or you may think it’s never going to affect anyone that you know so you just avoid the conversation all together.

Unfortunately, if you think that it will never affect anyone that you know; chances are you’re probably already wrong.  The truth is that 1:10 children will be victims of sexual abuse prior to their 18th birthday. In a classroom of average size that’s about 2 children per room.  Predators of sex abuse do not discriminate; anyone’s child is at risk.  Now, wouldn’t you rather be the one to speak to your child about sex abuse before something happens to them?

TALK = PREVENTION   If we don’t talk about it, we don’t stand a chance at preventing it.  If your child is armed with knowledge about what to do if someone tries to be inappropriate with them, and if they know what to do/who to speak to if something has already happened to them – they will be in a much better position than a child that does not have that information.

Children who have been abused often feel shame and are afraid to tell anyone.  Children need to always feel reassured that anything that has happened to them is not their fault and that they won’t get in trouble.  Perpetrators use threats as leverage.  Let your children know in advance that you will always believe them and that you are on their side.

Perpetrators don’t look like the boogie man and statistically they are NOT strangers, they are someone that your child and quite possibly you too already know, love and have a trusting relationship with.  Please visit our website www.saratogacff.org for more information on signs and symptoms of abuse and helpful information if you suspect that abuse has occurred.  TALK = PREVENTION, it can be that simple.


Deb Tomaso Retiring in August as Executive Director of SCFF

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Monday, March 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Deb TomasoDeb Tomaso, who has been part of the Saratoga Center for the Family leadership for 20 years, is retiring as executive director at the end of August.

Tomaso joined the nonprofit organization as a board member in 1996 and became executive director in 2004. She gave eight months’ notice in announcing her retirement plans to the board of directors.

“I wanted to give them ample time to find the right person,” Tomaso said.

Board President Jim Lombardo praised Tomaso for her longtime commitment to the organization. “Deb has been an excellent manager over a time of significant growth for the Center,” Lombardo said. “She led the staff through major changes and the expansion of services for children and families.”

In 2002, Tomaso supervised a milestone move for the organization, the conversion of a private residence into the facility where Saratoga Center for the Family provides mental health counseling, abuse prevention programs, education programs and victim advocacy to hundreds of local children and families each year.

After a fire in 2013, she managed the Center through a move to temporary quarters and oversaw the building renovation. “Deb and her team made sure there was virtually no disruption to the Center’s ability to serve its clients,” Lombardo said.

Kelly Daugherty, the clinical director for the Center, has been with the agency about three years.

“She’s been an amazing mentor to me and amazing for the agency,” Daugherty said of Tomaso. “Last year we served a record number of clients through our mental health counseling services, our prevention and education programs and our Child Advocacy Center program.  And she was instrumental in helping us grow into the Shenendehowa school district and creation of the Heel to Heal program. I’m sad to see her go, but happy she’ll be able to enjoy retirement.”

Jennifer Wormley, the coordinator of the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center, a program of the Saratoga Center for the Family, and has worked with Tomaso for five years.

“We have come in to work to paint walls on the weekends and we cried together as we walked through the Child Advocacy Center the morning after the fire,” Wormley said. “Yet through it all are the moments when we can appreciate the fruits of our labor. I get to share with her the excitement that is expressed by the children who come to the CAC and get to put their handprints on the wall, or a quote by a child when they tell us how much better they feel now that they have ‘let it all out.’”

Wormley said Tomaso would respond to those moments saying, “That’s what it’s all about, that’s why we do what we do.’”

When Tomaso first joined the board, she was executive director of an independent, nonprofit health center in rural Corinth. That facility became a satellite of Glens Falls Hospital at about the same time the Saratoga Center for the Family’s executive director position became open.

“Deb’s move from board member to administrator made for a smooth transition for the Center,” Lombardo said.

Tomaso agreed.

“It’s a bonus to have sat on both sides of the table. I’m responsible for running the agency and I’m accountable to the board, but I also have an appreciation for how the board looks at things,” Tomaso said. “You can have a better exchange of information.”

Tomaso said her decision to retire this year was sparked in part by her husband’s decision to retire and a desire to spend more time with their two young grandchildren. Still, she said, she is so proud of the good work of the organization, and the decision was not easy.

“It’s been a wonderful time. I have been so blessed by the people I’ve met along the way, and inspired by the caring, supportive people in our community,” she said. “There are so many agencies vying for the same dollars, and from where I sit in the nonprofit sector, the people here are so generous.”

A search committee to fill the vacancy will begin its work shortly, Lombardo said.

2015 Year In Review

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 10:50 am

2015 Year in Review

Helpful Apps for Children

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Monday, December 14, 2015 at 10:05 am

Helpful Apps for Children
By: Kelly Daugherty, LCSW-R, GC-C

Since Christmas is only a few days away and I know that many of my clients are asking for electronics especially tablets, etc. I thought I would combine a list of some helpful apps that you may want to include on your child’s new electronic device.  Since they will probably be attached to their device, why not purchase some apps that are going to help them with their challenges. These apps are designed to help children with a variety of issues including children who have experienced trauma, children who are diagnosed with ADHD and children who may have a hard time developing social and emotional skills.

TF-CBT Triangle of Life
A new mobile game app helps children who have experienced trauma by letting them use their tablets or smartphones to practice life skills they have learned in the therapist’s office. During the game, TF-CBT Triangle of Life, created by mental health professionals at Allegheny Health Network and students at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, the player takes the role of a lion in the jungle guiding other animals toward positive experiences and relationships.

CBT*ABC way!
The CBT*ABC way apps from TikalBayTek are to help young kids, teens, and adults practice paying attention to their upsetting thoughts, and practice challenging them with new, reasonable, and truthful thoughts!

Designed by PBS helping kids learn emotion recognizing skills, gain vocabulary describing emotions and feeling, all through fun games. All characters in the app are from the popular PBS show The Electric Company.

A role play game app aiming at tween and teens, teaching the essential social emotional skills. Kids enter the virtual world of Greenberry, help rebuilt the community, interact with various characters, and learn social skills, such as sharing responsibilities, calming down after unhappy encounters. The whole curriculum is built in the game setting and fully individualized based on players choices of actions.

Be confident in who you are
A comic book for tween and teens addressing common concerns for this age group: self-consciousness, stress, bullying, fitting in, body image, and sticky issues in friendships. All these issues are presented in story setting in an age appropriate manner.

Real Friends vs. The Other Kind
Another comic book app addresses friendship among middle school age kids. What does real friend mean? What to do when friends are doing something you don’t like? The app also has short quizzes asking kids what to do in different scenarios, all are real life scenarios. Highly recommend middle school and high school kids do the exercise.

An app for teens to access help and consulting to sensitive and challenging questions they face in everyday life, like “I feel sad”. The app provide professional yet personal help, help teenage kids understand why they feel that way, if necessary when and where to get help.

Positive Penguin
Offers solutions on how to control emotions and feel more positive. The app offers step-to-step guide for kids to express how they feel and how to turn negative emotions into positive feelings.

ABA Flash Card Emotions
For younger kids, a critical step in emotional well-being is the ability to recognize the emotion and articulate the feeling when experiencing it. This app showing pictures of different emotions and associate the word with the faces. Kids learn intuitively what different emotions are.

iLearn With Poko
Emotions : help young children learn about emotions by showing them short videos and kids identify the emotions the characters were experiencing. When kids have good mastering of different emotions, they are asked to provide solutions to make those characters feel good.

Avokiddo Emotions
A fun app letting kids explore different emotions and facial expressions while interacting with 3 highly responsive animals. Each animal has a different personality. Kids learn to recognize feelings and emotions by interacting with the animals. A great tool for kids who cannot read or talk well.

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings
A great app from PBS Kids, it offers various activities to help kids put names to their feelings and begins a discussion about strategies to handle them. Those helpful songs will stick with kids for a long time.

How Would You Feel If…
Poses that question in 56 different life situations designed to lead to discussions of a child’s reaction and feelings. Each illustrated “card” asks a question, such as, “How would you feel if your favorite football team lost?” The appropriate and incorrect responses receive feedback, and a child’s results can be viewed on a graph.

Model Me Going Places
This app presents slideshows of children modeling appropriate behavior in everyday places, such as school, a store, or a restaurant. Each slide is accompanied by audio narration and descriptive text. Model Me Going Places helps reinforce expected behavior and lessens the fear of new places in a child with autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

Sōsh is designed to help tweens, teens, and young adults improve social skills by focusing on five essential abilities: Relating, Relaxing, Reasoning, Regulating, and Recognizing. Developed by two psychologists, Sōsh’s “5R” strategy serves as a road map for individuals who want to be social, but may have faced obstacles in the past.

The Social Navigator
This revolutionary, albeit pricey, app was designed especially for children with ADHD and other social/behavioral difficulties. The Social Navigator can be used as a behavior-management device or as a teaching tool anytime your child is becoming agitated. The app promises to reduce oppositional behaviors, improve communication skills, and develop greater social awareness for kids ages 6 to 16.

Calm Counter
A social story & a visual & audio tool to help people calm down when they are angry or anxious.

Mindfulness For Children
This app provides the opportunity to guide your child through short exercises and to choose what your child wants and is in need of in his or her daily practice. Beautifully spoken meditation exercises aimed specifically at children! Exercises guide children to a calm/relaxed state using easy to understand imagery. Mindfulness for Children provides relaxing sounds of nature to help children calm down and improve focus/concentration. Calm, reassuring voice gives step by step audio instructions on how to meditate. With descriptions and terms aimed at children, users are taken through body scans, visualizations and breathing exercises.

Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is modern meditation for young people. It is a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives. It is a not-for-profit initiative based on a process that provides a sense of clarity, calm and contentment.


The Silver Lining by Jennifer Wormley

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 9:03 am

Some people like to tease and compliment me by saying that I always find the silver lining in situations, but I never really thought about it before.  Since I’ve become aware of this, I’ve realized that I do naturally tend to find the positive aspects of situations, especially negative ones.  I don’t really know if I’ve always been this way or if it’s something that has developed in me as I’ve grown older and wiser, but what I do know is that it’s a good thing.  Finding the silver lining in situations can help you maintain a positive attitude, it can help you process and get through difficult times and it has a way of helping others too.  This morning when I was driving in my car, I found myself thinking about how much I really don’t like cold mornings.  Right now I can’t find my ice scraper so that didn’t help matters much.  Sometimes it seems like the car doesn’t get warm until I reach my final destination and I avoided a trip to the gas station because it is so uncomfortable going out into the windy cold air.  And then I happened to notice the trees and all of their boldly colored leaves against the back-drop of the bright pink-red sky.  When I was breathing in I could smell that distinct scent of a wood-burning fireplace nearby and I suddenly didn’t feel so cold anymore.  Through using my senses, I was able to find things to be grateful for.  I was thankful that I have a car that runs and gets me from point A to point B.  I was thankful that I could find my gloves that helped keep my fingers warm.  This is just a very simple example of my ‘silver lining’ technique, but it’s one that everyone is capable of practicing.  So give it a try today, when you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative – stop yourself, take a deep breath and switch that gear in your brain.  You’ll notice that your days become more enjoyable, stressful situations more tolerable and being thankful can only lead to better things ahead.

Welcome to the Family – Paula

Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

PaulaWe are growing here at the Center and are thrilled to welcome Paula Zimmerman, LMHC, DCC to our clinical staff.

What inspired you to pursue a career in counseling?

My parents worked in human services as far back as I can remember. My father worked for OASAS for over 30 years and has been in this field for over 45 years. My mother worked with people with developmental disabilities for over 20 years. They raised my brother and me to be conscious of other people’s feelings and how others experience the world. My parents were really my first “professors” for learning to have empathy for what people struggle through. I remember when I was 12 years old, I said to my father that I want to do what he does. I am very thankful for what they taught me.

What do you love most about your occupation?

I love that no two people have exactly the same experience. Some people may have some similarities, but everyone has a unique story to tell. Even when I have worked with identical twins, each person still had his or her own experiences and ways of seeing the world. There is something unique and interesting about everyone’s story.

You are credentialed as a Distance Credentialed Counselor {DCC}- what does that mean?

I obtained that certification because at my last position many teens I worked with had families who lived far away. Often the only way to have their families involved in therapy sessions was to ask them to participate by phone. The DCC curriculum taught me to think of the ethical and practical aspects to facilitating a family therapy session where one or more participants are not able to see your nonverbal responses. I learned to be mindful that sometimes I had to use more words than usual to express a response or to let someone know that I was hearing him or her.

What do you like to do in your spare time for fun? 

Over the past couple of years, I have gotten back into some bike riding. No marathons for me though; I am a casual “ride around the neighborhood” rider. I love genealogy. I have done much research on ancestry.com on both sides of my family and it is so fascinating to find old newspaper articles on ancestors or to find old family secrets that wouldn’t be news worthy in today’s world, but scandalous back in the 1800’s. There’s still a mystery to a great grandfather that I haven’t been able to solve. In general I love spending time with family and friends as often as I can.

Are there any fun facts we should know about you?

I am 6th cousins with Josh Groban. They did a family history show on him recently and it turns out we both have Johann Jacob Zimmermann from the 1600’s as a direct ancestor. Something tells me this is much more interesting to me than it would ever be to Josh Groban. I once danced with the Atlanta City Georgia Ballet. I was about 8 years old and all I did was run across the stage, but I like to count that as having been in a professional ballet performance.


Posted in General by SaratogaCFF on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 12:13 pm




Saratoga Center for the Family Labyrinth                        

By: Kelly Daugherty, LCSW-R, GC-C

On Saturday, May 30th, members from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Saratoga Springs and Brookside Nursery came together at Saratoga Center for the Family (SCFF) to help rebuild and restore the labyrinth at the Center.  We are so grateful for their donation, their time, their hard work and their enthusiasm of rebuilding our labyrinth.

So what is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth is an intricate structure of interconnecting passages or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. The labyrinth that is at SCFF is considered a medieval labyrinth. Each person that walks through a labyrinth has a different experience every time.  Some utilize a labyrinth to help clear their mind and center themselves, others enter with a question, some utilize it as a walking meditation and some do it to help themselves relax or just for fun. Labyrinths can be very healing.  Labyrinths can be walked individually or as a group (single-file), and is often done slowly, in silence or to soft music.

I utilize labyrinths in many different ways with my clients. One way I utilize it is to help my clients with practicing mindfulness (being in the present moment).  I ask them to observe what they hear, see, feel, smell and taste as they walk through the labyrinth silently. I meet with my clients in the center of the labyrinth at the end of their walk and we share our experiences and what we observed.  My clients including children report that the experience helps them relax and they enjoy the experience.

How to Walk through a Labyrinth?

Begin with an intention; e.g. to feel peaceful, to gain clarity on a situation, etc.
Sing a songIMG_0916
Repeat a mantra
Recite a prayer
Repeat an affirmation
Walk with a specific intention or none at all
Practice mindfulness- be aware of the things you hear, see, feel, smell and taste

If you are interested in visiting the newly redone labyrinth please visit Saratoga Center for the Family at 359 Ballston Ave in Saratoga Springs.  For more information about SCFF please visit www.saratogacff.org or call 518-587-8008.