Author Archives: Amal Souraya

Working With Clients Affected by Divorce

Posted by: Amal Souraya on February 26, 2016 12:13 pm

A common population that many counsellors will inevitably work with is individuals coming from a divorced family household. It is projected that about 40% of newly wed couples will end in divorce by their 30th anniversary (Employment and Social Development Canada, 2016). Counsellors may work with the children, the mother or father, the couple, or the entire household of these divorced families. Each of these client scenarios brings about their own individual challenges.

RingFor instance, when counsellors are working with only one of the partners, then it is imperative to remain neutral and continue therapy in this manner. Therefore, regardless of the client-therapist relationship and the number of sessions held, counsellors need to be mindful of their own actions and the potential for countertransference in the therapeutic process; counsellors are not to take sides when working with divorced couples. Other times counsellors may be working with the children alone and access to one or both of the parents may be difficult, which can undermine treatment. I believe it is necessary to include any active guardians in the therapeutic treatment of these minors. Sometimes this may also call for the therapist to make out-of-the-office telephone calls to the other parent/guardian and fill him/her on the progress of therapy or what he/she can do to assist their child more readily.

Counsellors will encounter working with clients from divorced backgrounds. Sometimes these clients may pose some interesting challenges for the counsellor including remaining impartial, setting boundaries, being aware of oneself, and attempting to work with the entire family unit, especially when dealing with minors.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Reflective Practice from a Cultural Standpoint

Posted by: Amal Souraya on January 5, 2016 9:59 am

diversity.relfective.practiceMany of us are cognitively aware of the importance of reflective practice in our work with clients. Reflective practice allows us to stop for a moment and look back at our past actions and experiences in a critical and effortful way. Although reflective practice is beneficial when working with clients in general, I believe it especially important when working with clients from cultures much different than our own. According to the American Psychological Association, it is imperative for psychologists to recognize themselves as cultural beings and as such hold attitudes and beliefs that may inadvertently influence clients that come from a different background. Psychologists, like others, are shaped by their worldviews, ethnicity, culture, heritage, past experiences, family dynamics, nationalities, age, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, media influences, education and other significant culturally related dynamics. Hence, it is advisable to recognize this phenomenon when working with clients in general, but particularly with those who may have a cultural framework that is vastly different than the therapists’. This allows counsellors to be more cautious of their own agenda in the counselling relationship. Additionally, it increases the likelihood that the client will feel comfortable and heard in therapy.

If counsellors fail to view the client relationship from a cultural lens, then some detrimental consequences may occur. A common cultural error that many western therapists make is applying individualistic ideologies to clients who come from collectivistic cultures. For example, in many collectivist cultures the family and the group are more important than the individual himself/herself. Hence, if a therapist were to be working with an individual from a collectivist culture and attempted to counsel this client in ways that were more in-line with an individualistic standpoint, then this could potentially really harm not only the therapeutic relationship, but possibly interfere with that client and his relationship to others in his life.

I am aware that it is impossible to take “ourselves” completely out of the therapeutic process, therefore it is of utmost importance to engage in reflective practice and understand our presence during interactions with clients and how our own worldviews and ways of being may interfere with the therapeutic process. Once we do this we begin to learn more about ourselves; about how our culture is influencing our work with others; and ultimately how we can be more culturally sensitive and present for the clients that we serve.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Parenting children with ADHD

Posted by: Amal Souraya on December 2, 2015 4:20 pm

Parenting can be a hard task for anyone. It is particularly stressful for parents rearing a child diagnosed with ADHD. Theule, Wiener, Tannock and Jenkins (2010) indicated that parents of children with ADHD reported significantly more stress than their counterparts.

Fortunately these parents are not alone, and there has been a lot of research completed in order to look at ways to decrease the challenges associated with raising children with ADHD. Specifically, some parenting training has been found to have positive effects on the prognosis of ADHD. Vaughn et al. (2015) showed that parents who engaged in an 8 week Behavioral Parenting program had observed a decrease in child symptomatology and indicated and increase in their ability to parent their children.

Additionally, Au et al. (2014) conducted research on Chinese parents of children who had been diagnosed with ADHD and had participated in a Positive Parenting Program (PPP). According to Au et al. (2014) there were several notable positive differences between the experimental group: PPP program and the control group. Parents whom had attended the level 4 Triple P parenting program noted an increase in self-efficacy in managing disruptive behaviors, and reported improved personal measures on mentallittlegirl health variables such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

Cassone (2015) mentioned the effectiveness of enrolling children in a mindfulness-training program. Mindfulness was found to assist these clients in sitting with their impulsive thoughts and potential hyperactivity. The study found that these patients were better at regulating their attention processes including orienting, alerting, and executive attention (Cassone, 2015). Van der Oord, Bogels, and Peijnenburg (2012) conducted a similar study by evaluating not only children with ADHD but simultaneously with their parents in an 8-week mindfulness training program as well. The parents in this latter study might not have otherwise enrolled in such a program, although they may have undiagnosed ADHD as this disease has a hereditary component (Van der Oord, Bogels, & Peijnenburg, 2012). The results of the study yielded a significant reduction in overactive parenting and parental stress.

Hence many new research favors including the parents in the therapy process of treating ADHD in children for several reasons. In many cases, the parents may be inadvertently be behaving in ways that mimic ADHD because he/she may also be unknowingly suffering the disorder due to its heritability component. This may play a negative role on the parents’ ability to more effectively parent the child, as well as be more likely to be overwhelmed by the task of parenting. Hence, it is especially beneficial for parents who may be suffering from ADHD, as well as their ADHD diagnosed offspring to engage in mindfulness-based practices in order to better manage the symptoms of ADHD. Most parents would also benefit from additional support and knowledge about parenting by engaging in training such as behavioral parenting training and Triple P training.

Parents have the power within themselves to gain information and skills in order to better help themselves in their parenting skills and overall health, which will ultimately assist them in helping their children with the struggles associated with ADHD.

Au, A., Lau, Kam-Mei, Wong, A., Lam, C., Leung, C., L., J., & Lee, Y.K. (2014). The efficacy of a group Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) for Chinese parents with a child diagnosed with ADHD in Hong Kong: A pilot randomized controlled study. Australian Psychologist, 49(3), 151-162. doi:10.1111/ap.12053

Cassone, A.R. (2015). Evidence-based treatment for ADHD within families. Journal of Attention Disorders, 19(2), 147-157. doi: 10.1177/1087054713488438

Loren, R.E., Vaughn, A.J., Langberg, J.M., Cyran, J.E., Proano-Raps, T., Smolyansky, B.H., Tamm, L., & Epstein, J.N. (2015). Journal of Attention Disorders, 19(2), 158-166. doi:10.1177/1087054713484175

Theule, J., Wiener, J., Tannock, R., & Jenkins, J.M. (2010). Parenting stress in families of children with ADHD: A meta-analysis. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 21(1) 1-15. doi 10.1177/1063426610387433

Van der Oord, S., Bogels, S.M., & Peijnenburg, D. (2012). The effectiveness of mindfulness training for children with ADHD and mindful parenting for their parents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21(1), 139-147. doi 10.1007/s10826-011-9457-0

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Role of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion in Self-Care

Posted by: Amal Souraya on October 28, 2015 5:00 am

In our daily lives we juggle a multitude of roles. Professionally we are called counsellors. As counsellors we spend our time working with and assisting people on bettering their lives and living more healthfully. We do this in real time while we are working with these clients in an individual counselling session, while we are involved in case consultations pertaining to these clients, while we write assessment reports, and case notes; we spend a great deal of our time investing in client change.

For most therapists, this professional role is not the only identity that we hold. Some are also business owners, teachers, volunteers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, and students. With this vast array of roles that we juggle it is paramount that we find balance in our lives. This is a rudimentary skill that we thrive to teach our clients. Do we not deserve the same principles for ourselves? Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA