Temptations, Habits, and Addictions

Written by Suzanne St. Amour,

Clinical Therapist at Family Service PEI
What comes to mind when you hear the word temptation? Does it have a negative or positive connotation for you?  People can be tempted to do a variety of things,  such as pushing that sleep button one more time in the morning or having another portion of a favorite food.
Temptation can lead to repeating a behavior until it becomes a habit. Humans do things for a reason (even when they do not give it much thought). They may not be aware of the motivation that causes them to act.  People’s actions are actually not random. So a person may be tempted to eat a piece of chocolate cake, because  they  like the taste and they enjoy eating it. Another may start biting their nails when they get nervous because it seems to help calm them down. Over time repeated actions like nail biting can occur outside of conscious awareness. Eating another helping of a favorite food will most likely involve some deliberation. These examples both can become habits. Habits are behavior patters acquired by frequent repetition. Some of them become nearly or completely involuntary, meaning that the individual is no longer conscious of the action. The behavior is repeated because it serves a function or has a purpose (or purposes) such as aiding someone to cope, it can also be a type of self-soothing or calming ones self. Oftentimes it is rewarding and pleasurable. To sum up, temptations can become habits.
Repetition of an activity can result in a habit become more serious. There is a point at which some types of repeated or constant habit can become an addiction. Examples of this include smoking, alcohol and drugs.  One of the frequently asked questions regarding addiction is; when does an activity go from being a habit to so an addiction..  Part of the answer has to do with free will and choice. A habit (although possibly difficult to change) is still a matter choice and retraining the brain. An addiction is a powerful compulsive need for and use of an activity or substance.  The list of potential addictive activities grows longer as technology introduces new areas of potential addiction such as gambling (casinos, machines or online), sex (online pornography and sexting), social media (e.g. Facebook), and the constant use of cell phones for various activities.
Going back to the idea of choice and free will, there is a fine line between habit and addiction and the line is crossed when a person looses control of the act.  With drug addiction for instance, the urge to repeat the experience becomes all consuming and there can be withdrawal effects that impact memory, the ability to make decisions and learn.  Some types of drug abuse become a way of life that must be continued at all costs. There is a complexity to the addiction that includes a physiological dependence and often if not always requires professional help to overcome. .To recap, some habits can become addictions.
Living deliberately and making conscious decisions about temptations can reduce or
prevent the temptations from becoming habits and possibly progressing to addictions. Being aware of our choices and tracking them over time also helps. Ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly; how often do I do this _______ (fill in the blank), overall does it have a  positive or negative impact on my life, do I know the reason I do it, and do I need to stop?

How to Show Others you Care

By Alex MacDonald, Education and Outreach Specialist
“I love you.” Too often, this is something said quickly on the way out the door, rushed at the end of a phone call, or in a short goodnight text. Regardless of how or when you say it, it’s important that you not only tell your loved ones how you feel, but that you show them how you feel. Here are a few ways you can show your loved one just how much they mean to you.
1.  Listen.
This is an obvious one, but it really does make the world of difference. When you’re listening to a loved one, ask them questions about what they’re saying, make eye contact, be sure to let them know they’re being heard. Even try to follow up with them later. Imagine how your child would feel if you asked them what’s been going on in that TV show they’ve been telling you about. They’ll be excited because they know that you’re listening, and that you care.
2. Surprise.  
Do little things to surprise your loved one and make their day. Clean the kitchen. Make their favourite dinner. Write a list of 10 things you love about them. Bring them a coffee at work. The smallest things can put a smile on someone’s face without costing a dime.  A little surprise here and there shows your loved one you’re thinking about them and that they matter to you.  
3. Spend Time.  
Again, this one may seem obvious, but spending quality time with a loved one can do a lot to make them (and you) feel loved. Set aside time with no phones, no interruptions, no distractions, and be just the two of you. This could be the time you spend with your child on the way home from school, the time you and your partner have on dates, or any other time where you can focus on your loved one.
4. Appreciate.  
A great way to make someone feel loved is to show them how much you appreciate them. Say thanks when you notice them doing something for you. Whether they’re doing the dishes, picking you up from work, or if they got the groceries this week, let them know how thankful you are for them!
5. Compliment.
What better way to make someone feel good than to give them a compliment? It could be on something about their appearance if you like a new outfit they’re trying out, but don’t forget to also compliment them on other things! Tell them you enjoyed the dinner they made, or that they always make you laugh, or that you’re lucky to know someone who’s so generous. A little compliment here and there is guaranteed to bring out a smile!
The best years are ones filled with joy, happiness, and love. These five tips will help you ensure you and the people you care about have a year full of love.  

From Worrier to Warrior: Helping you Child be Less Fearful

Many children and adolescents struggle with feelings of stress and anxiety. In a world filled with school, extracurriculars, busy social lives, sports, clubs, volunteering and more, it’s not hard to see where stress can creep into children’s lives. Luckily, Amy Przeworski of PsychologyToday.com has some helpful tips to turn your worrier into a warrior.
1. Help your child face their fears. Oftentimes, avoiding stressful situations only causes more uncertainty and worry. Try encouraging your child to face their fears and help them through the situation that makes them the most nervous. If your child fears large crowds, start by taking them somewhere where you can slowly ease into crowds, and be sure to talk to them through it. After 20-45 minutes, your child should start to adjust to the situation and they should feel more relaxed. When they start to calm down, they may realize the situation may not be so bad.
2. Remind your child that it’s okay to be imperfect. Many kids feel pressure to succeed, and subsequently, have a fear of failure. Remember to tell your child that working hard and trying your best is always important, but that it’s perfectly okay to fail sometimes. Remind them that you love them unconditionally, and that they shouldn’t let a fear of failure stop them from trying new things and  living a happy life.
3. Remember the positives. Fears often arise from focusing on the negatives in life. Instead, make sure your child always sees the best in every situation. As a fun activity, get your child to write down one good thing that happened to them every day. Keep these happy moments in a jar or box, and look over them together when your child is feeling stressed. Seeing the positive in every day can be a big help in reducing fears!
4. Reward bravery. If you notice your child doing something brave, make sure you acknowledge it! A compliment, a hug, a trip to the playground – anything! Research shows that behaviors that are rewarded are much more likely to continue than behaviors that aren’t. No matter how you do it, make sure your child feels good about their brave behavior.
5. Listen. Make sure your child feels listened to when they express their fears. If they don’t feel comfortable opening up to you, their worries will only worsen and be harder to solve. Instead, try making them feel safe within the conversation. If they express their fear to you, say “Yes I noticed you seem a bit worried. Why do you feel that way and how can I help you?” Having an open and honest conversation with your child will do a lot to ease their worries.
6. Use relaxation techniques. In a moment of stress, try using relaxation exercises with your child. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths together. Then, get them to imagine a relaxing place that they enjoy. This could be a beach, a library, their grandmother’s house, anywhere! Next, ask them to use all their senses to imagine this place. If they’re picturing the library, get them to think about the smell of the books, the feel of the carpet, and so on. Imagining their favourite place will help your child feel safe and relaxed.
7. Don’t give up! Although it can sometimes feel like you’re going in circles, repetition is important, so continue with the routine. Eventually your child will learn to stay calm in stressful situations, and deal with their emotions in a productive and positive way. Keep it up!

Q and A: Credit Reports and Credit Scores

Q: What is a credit report?

A: It’s your credit history. It shows:
>When you opened accounts
>Amount owing
>If you make payments on time
>If you miss payments
>If you go over your credit limit
Q: What is a credit score?
A: It’s a number that lenders use to rate your ability to use credit. Credit scores range from 300-900 points. The best score is 900 points. Lenders may also use your score to set your interest rate and credit limit.

Q: Who creates my credit report and credit score?

A: Credit report agencies are private companies that collect, store and share information about how you use credit. There are two main agencies: Equifax and TransUnion Canada.
>You can get your Credit Report at
BDO Accounting Firm
155 Belvedere Avenue
Charlottetown, PE
>You will need two pieces of ID

Q: What can I do with my credit report?

A: Your credit report can be used to:
 >Lend money to you
 >Collect on a debt you owe
 >Consider you for rental housing or for a job
 >Provide you with insurance

Q: How long does information stay on my credit report?

A: The maximum is 6 or 7 years. Accounts paid on time may be kept longer.
Q: How can I build my credit report?
A: The top three tips would be :
>Build your credit history early
>Make payments on time
>Apply for a secured credit card
Q: How can I improve my credit rating and score?
A: There are a few ways you can improve your score.
> Pay a little more than your minimum payment on time
> Keep older accounts, even if you are not using it
> Try to always use less than 35% of your available credit
> Keep Hard Hits down. A Hard Hit would be applying for a credit card and a Soft Hit would be requesting your own report.
Q: How often should I get my credit report?
A: Check your credit report at least once a year for errors and signs of identity theft. You have the right to dispute any information on your credit report!
If you have additional questions or concerns about your credit report, Family Service PEI offers free and confidential credit counselling. Call toll free 1-866-892-2441

Your First Counselling Session


The decision to start counselling is big and takes a lot of bravery. EVERY individual goes through difficult times at one point in their life and struggles with the act of reaching out for help. As a Social Worker, I believe counselling is beneficial for ALL individuals. Unfortunately, I find the service often has a negative label attached to it.  I can’t stress enough the importance of having that certain someone to talk things through with whether it’s with a sibling, parent or friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to talk to the ones we love in fear of judgement, shame and guilt. Having a therapist to talk with allows for a safe place to share while helping to identify your strengths, challenges and goals. Asking for help is probably one of the most difficult things we can do as individuals. Seeking out counselling is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength!

Let me tell you what your first session with a therapeutic counselor is like.  It is definitely normal to feel overwhelmed or unsure about your first session. You might be talking about things you’ve never said out loud before. Maybe you’re unsure what to expect. Here are some things to know about your first appointment:


1)      Your first counseling session is called the intake (or screening). Your therapist will be doing a lot of information-gathering, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. During my intake sessions, I focus not only on what has brought you into my office, but also on the things that are going well for you – supportive family and friends, talents, passions, etc. These things play a big part in your life.

2)      Everyone’s favorite thing, paperwork! You will be filling out some forms about your background and personal information.  Your therapist can help you with this if you have any trouble.  Next your therapist will go over a document called the “informed consent”, which covers what you can expect in counseling – everything from your therapist’s background, specialties, and credentials, to session fees and confidentiality. It is very important to have an understanding of this document, so be sure to ask questions if anything is confusing!

3)      The majority of the intake (or first) session will be like an interview. Questions range from childhood experiences all the way up to how you have been feeling most recently. Depending on your situation, you might take some written questionnaires to help your therapist get an even better idea of how best to help you.

4)      Toward the end of the session, or even at the start of your second session, you and your therapist will start to come up with a few goals. These are the things you would like to focus on in counselling. Try visualizing how your life will look if counselling is successful. How will you feel? What will have changed?

At Family Service PEI we’re just people experiencing challenges like you. We’re a group of people that are helping other people. Our backgrounds range from social work, counselling, business, accounting, psychology, sociology, education and much more. Our team strives to help individuals succeed in this big thing we call life. If you’re interested in booking an appointment with one of our therapeutic counsellors or just looking for more information about our services, please contact our office to discuss setting up your first appointment. We would love to hear from you!

All the best,

Alex Walsh BA, BSW, RSW

Outreach Education Specialist

Family Service PEI





Hello!  My name is Nora McCarthy-Joyce and I am the new Executive Director of Family Service PEI.  I am eager to use my skills in the advancement of providing Island families with services to enhance their daily lives.  I have over 15 years experience working for families in schools, community organizations, universities and government advisory groups and have a passion for helping others become their “best selves”.  I believe that no investment is more important than investing in families!


As Spring turns into Summer here in Prince Edward Island, our children will be eager to finish up the school year and transition into their summer vacation.  This transition is not always an easy one for kids.  As they move away from the routines of school and are thrown into the freedom that summer vacation offers, many kids find it challenging and may become under-stimulated and complain that they are bored.


There are many things that could help to make the transition easier for kids.  Here are some ideas that could help children adjust from their school schedule (and provide fun activities for the family too)!


Create a Summer Calendar


Children get excited about sitting down with parents or guardians and creating a fun list of things to do!  Let your children brainstorm all sorts of activities they would like to do in order to have the best summer possible.  Create a list of all the ideas your family comes up with.  Now you can start penciling activities into your calendar and planning out a summer to remember.  This gives children something to look forward to while creating family memories to last a lifetime.


Organize Educational Activities


It is important that children have learning opportunities throughout the summer to prevent summer learning loss.  There are lots of ways to maintain skills throughout the summer.  For example, teachers often offer reading materials or other practice activities for students to complete over the summer break.  It is your job as parent to make sure your student completes the assigned task.  You can make it fun by creating rewards together for each completed assignment.  If no work was assigned from their teacher, you can make a fun and educational trip to your local library.  They often offer free reading and craft programs that children can attend, in addition to taking home books, videos, and other great literacy materials!

Stay In Touch With Friends


Staying social with friends is very important to children over the summer.  Help your children stay in touch by planning for fun with other parents or events.  Summer barbeques, a trip to a local park, or taking part in a community celebration is a great way to do this – it can even be added to your calendar of fun!  Strengthening friendships over the summer will help ease kids back into the upcoming school year with confidence!


I hope you will find these tips useful as our weather gets warmer and the school year comes to a close.  Wishing you a all a wonderful summer this year filled with many memories and lots of fun!







To Lend Or Not To Lend? 4 Things To Consider

LendMoneyBy: Ellan Dickieson, Family Service PEI

We have all been asked to lend money. It may have been $5, $500, or even $5000. Chances are, the person doing the asking viewed you as someone they could trust and turn to in a time of need.

Adult children, grandchildren or even friends may be coming to you to lend money. They might be purchasing a car, going to school or need a new appliance for their home. It might just be for weekly groceries, gas for the car, school supplies or to buy someone a gift. Helping others can make us feel good about ourselves and can be extremely rewarding, but if you are considering lending money you must always remember to put yourself first.

1) Do Your Research

If someone has approached you to lend them money, get as many details as possible. Regardless of the amount, the person should be able to provide you with the information that is necessary for you to consider a loan. Give yourself 24-48 hours to think about it. Some extra time will help you to gain confidence to form an answer. Be sure that you only lend what you can afford to live without and also consider the impact your lending decision will make on other family members or friends.

2) Don’t Be Afraid To Say No

If you have decided that now is not the best time for you to lend money, then you must stand your ground. Be firm and concise as you explain that you are not in a position to help out at this given time. People might assume that you have money to spare, but make it known that it acts as an emergency fund to protect you against unexpected expenses.

3) Help In Other Ways

With the life skills that you have, could lend a hand for someone in different way? Perhaps reviewing their finances or finding ways for them to earn extra income. Maybe you can provide them with services like babysitting, home cooked meals or drives to work. For an upcoming birthday or holiday, consider giving a cash gift this year.

4) Get Details When Saying Yes

If you do decide to lend a large sum of money, you should discuss all of the terms including: the amount being loaned, interest rate and repayment schedule. The key thing to remember is to write it all down! A personal loan agreement form can be helpful. Having it on paper will help avoid any confusion in the future.

In most cases, it is hard to say no but your financial stability is just as important as anyone else’s. Learn from the experience. Teach the person who has asked for a loan about self-sufficiency and independence. Both of you will feel better about your decision in the long-run through one another’s strength and support about financial matters.

For more information about lending and giving money visit: www.It’sYourRight.ca


Trina O'Brian Leggott, Chief Librarian at the Confederation Centre Library receives the "It's Your Right" toolkits in March 2015.

Trina O’Brian Leggott, Chief Librarian at the Confederation Centre Library receives the “It’s Your Right” toolkits in March 2015.

Family Service PEI (FSPEI) is pleased to announce the It’s Your Right- Protecting Yourself Financially As You Age toolkit is now available through the PEI Public Library service.

Over the past year FSPEI has worked with PEI seniors to create a toolkit that addresses the financial needs of the PEI aging population. The toolkit is designed around 8 core topics:  Who can you trust; Lending, giving, donating; Having a conversation about money; Scam and Frauds; Tips and safeguards; Planning for the future; Financial abuse; and Getting help.

“When you create such a resource, the questions is always, how do you get in the hands of as many people as possible in a cost effective manner?” Says Ellan Dickieson, Education & Outreach Specialist with FSPEI. 

 Although the toolkit is fully hosted on the Internet, FSPEI understands that not everyone has access to, or is comfortable retrieving the information online. Many people would prefer to have the hard copy to read.

 This has been made possible through the PEI Public Library Service, which now has numerous copies which will be on display in public libraries available for loan. 

“Having the toolkit in our public libraries will be beneficial to those living in smaller communities around the province, especially seniors,” said Minister of Tourism and Culture Robert Henderson. “The project is relatively new and some senior populations may not be aware of the toolkit and how it can help improve financial literacy. This especially useful for seniors who cannot access the digital toolkit online.”  

The It’s Your Right project is unique in the sense that it is designed to educate and empower the senior themselves, encouraging them to utilize available resources to take a pro-active approach to protecting themselves financially as they age. Although designed primarily for seniors, this toolkit contains information which is relevant to all Islanders, young and old alike.

FSPEI encourages all seniors and Islanders to take advantage of the information provided through this toolkit by visiting their local library, attending a training session, or visiting www.ItsYourRight.ca.

 “Learning is a life long process, and so is managing money,“ says Dickieson.

Family Service PEI is a local not-for profit, charitable organization, offering therapeutic counselling and credit counselling services to all Islanders. The organization is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada. This project was originally made possible through the Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Wanted: Co-Location Partnership

sharing_0In this day of rising costs, decreasing stability of funding, and movement towards greater efficiencies we are seeking a partner with which to co-locate our services in Summerside.

In that office we currently have 3 employees – 1 who is full time, and 2 who are part time (2 – 3 days per week). Yet, we have an abundance of space – 3 private offices; a waiting room; and a kitchen/storage area.

We are very happy with our current property management company. However, we have a need to reduce our overhead costs. We are willing to move to another location, or work with our current landlord to expand/reconfigure our space to accommodate a partner agency.

We see the benefits of doing so as:

  • Shared/reduced overhead costs
  •  More efficient use of resources
  • Shared common space(s)
  • Possible shared reception position(we currently don’t have any)
  • Cross promotion of services and/or greater visibility
  • Creation of synergy as a result of partnership initiative(s)

However, there are also some challenges:

  •  The need to protect the confidentiality of clients
  •  Finding a partner organization that ‘fits’ well with our services
  •  Developing a strong partnership agreement that works for both agencies

We are willing to work with anyone who is interested in formally partnering in this way. We feel that if there is interest and commitment, solutions can be found to any and all barriers to making this work.

If you are interested, please contact Denise Lockhart, Executive Director, via email: director@familyservice.pe.ca or phone: 902-892-2441 ext. 3 or 902-436-9171.

We’re Hiring! Master of Social Work Therapist

Employment Opportunity: Part-time contract position, Charlottetown, PEI

Family Service PEI, an Island-based, non-profit family service agency, is recruiting an enthusiastic, experienced professional to join our team in our Charlottetown office.

We currently require a Master of Social Work Therapist in order to meet the needs of clients presenting for service who have private insurance coverage that is limited to this type expertise.

This Therapist will be required to work flex hours, on an as-demand basis. Current demand indicates carrying a caseload of up to 5 clients at a time, but there may also be times with 0 clients. There is room for growth in demand for the Therapist who is self motivated and driven to grow their practice. The full scope of duties is as follows:

  • Provision of professional therapeutic counselling services to children, adults, couples and families utilizing a variety of client-centered treatment models
  • Provision of screening, clinical assessment, case planning, case coordination, direct service, consultation, evaluation and referral services to clients
  • Prioritizing and effectively managing caseload expectations
  • Utilizing various computer programs to conduct work tasks
  • Maintaining appropriate client records and other related files and performing other case-related administrative tasks in a comprehensive, up-to-date manner


  • Master’s Degree in Social Work with current and ongoing registration with a regulating body
  • Professional social work experience including Therapeutic counselling experience
  • A valid driver’s license and access to a reliable vehicle,
  • A good work and attendance record,
  •  Current and ongoing acceptable criminal record checks

The successful applicant must be willing to sign a conflict of interest agreement prohibiting the provision of competing services outside their hours of work with FSPEI.

Remuneration is based on a ‘per client’ basis.

No phone calls please. Any inquires regarding the position may be sent via email to the address below.

Please submit your resume and letter of application by 4:30 PM April 17, 2015 to:   

Family Service PEI, 106 – 155 Belvedere Ave; Charlottetown, PE, C1A 2Y9 Fax: 902-892-4998, Email: director@familyservice.pe.ca.

We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those under consideration will be contacted.