Coping With COVID – 19: Adding Nature Offices to Your Program

Posted by: Geneviève Labbé on September 15, 2020 9:44 am

The world is currently at a crossroads. Many of us are growing tired of the “new normal” that has required us to have varying levels of shelter in place, though we understand the need. As things progress, we are coming out of our cocoons, testing the waters of leaving our homes while still taking the precautions that make sense based on the available data. Masks and hand sanitizer are the new black. We are indeed fashionable.

            So many clinical professionals have moved to telehealth platforms in order to provide much needed care. Some have been doing so for years, while others, like me, avoided it to no end until the pandemic hit our shores. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I as a practitioner and my clients adapted and thrived using this technology. I will admit to still doing that “weird wave” at the end of most sessions but even that has brought cheer.

            Some have reopened their physical offices while taking all available precautions. Many have felt the data did not support this (and this will not be a debate on that issue I assure you). I too would like to reopen, especially since we had been finishing a 1600 square foot addition to our offices as COVID – 19 hit. The offices have sat empty, longing for service for many months now.

            There is however a third option (besides in office and telehealth) that some have started to try. Others, including some colleagues I work with, have been doing it for years but are expanding greatly due to the pandemic. This third option is utilizing nature’s offices.

            Nature’s offices are outdoor offices where clients can meet with their clinical professional outdoors, thus mitigating as much risk as possible. These offices when used correctly, offer privacy, comfort, safety, and so much more.

            A “typical” nature’s office can be set up and used in the following ways during the pandemic:

  • Client and clinician meet in the car park wearing masks.
  • Client and clinician do their best to follow physical distanced requirements in place at the time, as recommended by experts in the field of pandemic response.
  • If available, clinician gives the client a choice of offices.  Ideally there are many offices in differing settings with different designs.  If this is not possible, any nature office will work.
  • Seating is spaced as far apart as practical, exceeding minimum suggested requirements, without being seated directly across from one another.
  • Once seated, client and professional can remove mask if desired but will put them back on at the end of the session as the client returns to the car park.
  • Each nature’s office offers privacy though the clinical professional discusses the possibility that someone could presumably walk into the area in the context of confidentiality. Should that occur, the session pauses until the area is clear.

While not every office has outdoor space, particularly in big cities, the offices that do may find that the transition is easy enough. However, it is important to have a back-up plan such as telehealth, should weather pose an issue. Some nature offices include an option of a roofed structure such as a gazebo that allows air to pass freely while providing shelter from rain or excessive sun. Some have a heating source for cooler temperatures though few will be utilized when full winter cold sets in.

In this setting, clinician and client need not worry about recycled air as you are breathing the air found in nature. The furniture though often used and cleaned regularly, is further “cleaned” by being outdoors, as rain and sunlight (via UV rays) provide natural disinfectant though it is wise to follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization recommendations for cleaning, mask wearing, etc.

When the pandemic passes, these offices can still serve programs regularly. You need not look at this as a temporary investment; on the contrary, these may well become some of your favorite spaces.  

Case Study: Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm, Wolcott Connecticut USA

            Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm’s slogan is “Nurture in Nature” and has utilized fields, woodlands, gardens and other areas of its property for therapeutic services for years. When the pandemic hit, it closed down its physical offices and switched to telehealth pending clear data and understanding of how the pandemic spread. As information became clearer after months of global data collection, it appeared that an important stage between telehealth and in office care would be to utilize existing nature’s offices and build additional ones. Face masks, hand sanitizer and other safety measures would continue while the main building would remain closed to all but essential staff (due to animals that needed care as the farm program could not be run totally from home).

            Taking consideration of folks that have varying levels of mobility and health concerns, a half dozen areas were set up for outdoor sessions. This was made more difficult by a shortage of benches and outdoor seating in the state.  Items were purchased, and existing stock was moved as needed, to ensure that sessions would be able to be offered for those that telehealth was less than ideal for. All clients were pre-screened prior to being offered the opportunity to use this service option. Some were declined due to a lack of safety protocols or other high risk behaviors.

            As the pandemic has continued, nature’s office expansion has continued. Several areas will have or already have had a heat source installed to help in cooler weather.  Options will be explored as winter sets in to determine if in-building sessions are practical and safe or if a move to telehealth only will be needed for the coldest months.

            Nature’s offices currently include areas of sun, shade, flowering plants, stone benches and other options. Some offices are within feet of the car park while others require a short walk. All will continue to be used post pandemic so the costs associated with building, furnishing and maintaining them is considered an investment in improving the infrastructure of the program and not as a drain on funds.

            For more information and photo examples of nature’s offices, please visit this link. https://www.docwarren.org/nature-offices

Be safe, do good

-Doc Warren

“Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org). He is internationally certified as a Counsellor and Counsellor Supervisor in the USA and Canada (C.C.C., C.C.C.-S, NCC, ACS). He can be contacted at [email protected]  His program has also been featured on NBC




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

Therapy in the digital age

Posted by: Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC on July 2, 2020 1:29 pm

I had originally written this article prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. The pandemic however has put a spotlight on this topic and has added some urgency to the discussion.

The internet offers us many conveniences. From online banking, to ride sharing and food delivery, the internet is not only making things more convenient for us, it is also providing us with life changing opportunities that previously did not exist. During a global pandemic, the internet has allowed many services to continue functioning in a way that would not have otherwise been possible. Virtual or digital service platforms have allowed clients to access mental health care services without interruption/with minimal disruption. This has no doubt provided a lifeline for many people who are experiencing challenges with their mental health that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

As a therapist, I have spent a large part of my career providing services to clients over the phone and using digital technologies (email-based counselling, live chat and video counselling). The demand for mental health services that are more accessible is growing steadily, as is the recognition by therapists that not all clients are well served through in person counselling.

There are a few reasons why clients request online services:

  • In a country as large as Canada, location can often be a challenge. Most mental health services tend to be concentrated in urban areas. If services exist in smaller communities, waiting lists can be long and often the service provider is personally known to clients, making them feel uncomfortable with accessing service and disclosing personal things.
  • Convenience is also an important consideration. The need for a client to travel to a therapist’s office can pose significant challenges including cost, time and physical barriers for clients with mobility issues
  • Demographics: there is a generation of people who have grown up doing almost everything online. The online world is their comfort zone and being able to access mental health services online can significantly increase the likelihood of them doing so.

Even prior to the pandemic, there was demand for online services, but many therapists were resistant and or uncomfortable. This resistance to digital services could be attributed to a few different thought processes.

  • Some therapists believed that therapy at its core is a process that must occur in person. Physical presence is vital, and without it the therapeutic process cannot be effective.
  • Some therapists also held the view that online services can be complementary to but cannot replace the in-person experience.
  • Lastly, some therapists do not feel sufficiently skilled with technology to deliver quality therapeutic services effectively.

Since the onset of the pandemic, I have spoken to many therapists who have had to confront and have successfully overcome the aforementioned criteria and are themselves surprised by how much they enjoy a virtual medium and how effective it is for clients. Many therapists have advised that even when they are able to resume in person practise, they will likely devote some portion of their practise to online service delivery.

Outside of the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic, virtual therapy is not about replacing the traditional in-person experience. Rather it is about increasing accessibility for clients who may not be able to engage in person. Providing digital therapy is not about simply replicating the in-person experience in another medium. Successful digital therapy requires planning for the benefits and challenges of each medium.

As an example, let’s consider video counselling. There are numerous benefits to the client and therapist as location does not pose a challenge. The client and therapist can be in two different locations with hundreds (or thousands) of kilometers between them. This helps a therapist avoid the cost of renting an office and affords them some convenience. This also enables a client to access good quality therapeutic care that may not be available in their geographic location. The client may also feel more comfortable/safe in their own physical environment and may be more engaged in therapy as a result. While the benefits are undeniable, we also must be mindful of some of the challenges.

  • What does the therapist’s regulatory college/association say about providing online therapy?
  • Do the client and therapist have enough knowledge about the online platform which is being used?
  • Do both the client and therapist have a private space in which they can engage in the therapeutic process?

None of these issues are meant to be deter a therapist from offering digital services. Rather, being aware of these issues, helps one plan accordingly. For example, many insurance companies who provide professional liability insurance now explicitly list digital services as something that is covered within the policy. Additionally, there are a number of secure digital platforms through which therapy can be conducted. elivering online services might require us as service providers to behave differently but this method of service delivery can be beneficial to clients and therapists.

Offering digital therapeutic services even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted, is going to be essential if we want to ensure that everyone who needs mental health services can access it. We are seeing an increase in academic and professional coursework that aims to equip therapists with the skills to effectively deliver digital services. Regulatory bodies and insurance companies are also recognizing the efficacy of digital services. It is now up to us as therapists to understand and explore whether incorporating digital services in our practises would be suitable for us and our clients.




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

Self-Care in 2 Minutes: 4 Ways to Refresh Between Clients

Posted by: Annelise Lyseng, M.Ed, CCC, R. Psych on June 30, 2020 9:48 am

When I first started practicing counselling with my peers in graduate school, I was surprised at how much energy it took to be fully present with another person’s story and carefully weave in emerging counselling skills. I came out of practice sessions feeling both excited and drained. Thankfully, my counselling skills and energy regulation have evolved since those early days. There are specific, quick strategies that help me to remain centered and grounded during sessions and between clients, and I’d like to share them here with you.

  1. Hydrate. This was one of the best pieces of advice that I heard in my graduate degree courtesy of Dr. Dawn McBride – she recommended drinking plenty of water during sessions to remain hydrated. This helps prevent literal headaches for me, which makes life easier! Taking a thoughtful sip of water can buy a moment of reflection to respond to an unexpected client statement. As a bonus, the act of getting up after a session to refill a water bottle allows for a quick physical break and sense of movement between sessions.
  2. Imagine. I work with clients on creating containment imagery to help them feel safe, and I use my own mental container when I need to disengage from a persistent thought or story after a session. I reserve this for the “big stuff” that would otherwise affect my ability to be fully present with my next client. Alternatively, I might visualize thoughts as clouds that are drifting by or another similar image to gently detach from them.
  3. Sense. After a heavy session, I often like to do a quick act of self-nurturing with one or more of my senses. I keep a little self-care first aid kit in my office with things like mints, lip balm, hand lotion, a peppermint essential oil roller, and river stones. I can use any combination of these to anchor and nurture myself in the brief space between two clients.
  4. Write. In a perfect world, I complete my notes in the 10-minute space between clients -when this happens, I feel like a rockstar. Realistically, my notes are usually done at the end of the day. Concisely distilling 50 minutes of work to capture progress and plans helps me to clearly mark a boundary between one client and the next. At the end of the day, it helps me to draw a line in the sand between work and home, the professional and the personal. Either way, I feel that my work is safely (and ethically) contained and I am free to move along with the next part of my day.

Well, there are a few quick strategies that I use throughout my workday to refresh and stay regulated. What are your favourite ways to care for your needs between clients? Feel free to reflect or post in the comments below.

Annelise Lyseng is a registered psychologist at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.

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




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

Reflections on Quickly – and Ethically – Moving Online

Posted by: Annelise Lyseng, M.Ed, CCC, R. Psych on May 29, 2020 9:04 am

Before March 2020, I had hoped to eventually take a course to learn more about online counselling in case I ventured into it at a future date. Little did I know that I would soon be plunged unceremoniously into telehealth thanks to the impacts of COVID-19. I am happy to report that it has been a fairly smooth transition, with special thanks to colleagues who researched digital counselling platforms and configured doxy.me and VPN access to our online records management for our team. Here are a few of my key takeaways from the transition to online counselling:

  • Ethics first: For our team, this meant carefully revising our informed consent documents, emergency planning protocols, and intake process. We had to consider the additional risks, particularly around security and privacy, connected to telehealth and communicate these effectively to our current and new clients. I completed several extensive online courses that clearly outlined the ethical and legal considerations of telehealth. This training was invaluable, and I felt more secure in my practice after thoroughly reviewing these unique ethics.
  • Find a community: Amidst the dubious benefits of working from home, such as sweatpants and fridge proximity, I struggled with being physically distanced from my vibrant and supportive team of colleagues. We continue to engage in regular virtual meetings, consultations, and ongoing group chats, which I deeply appreciate. One of the online courses also helped me connect with an online community devoted entirely to practicing online therapy – learning from others and sharing resources has helped immensely with improving confidence and decreasing isolation.
  • Save your sight: For me, this meant ensuring that I’m wearing my blue-light blocking prescription glasses, trying to follow the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to stare at something 20 feet away), calibrating the height of my laptop to find the right angle for looking thoughtfully at clients without straining my neck, and adjusting the lighting in my improvised home office to a comfortable level. I also activated the blue light filter on my laptops and other devices.
  • Reflect and appreciate the old, and new, office: As mentioned, I appreciate my colleagues even more now that we have been distanced. I miss other aspects of the old office – using experiential interventions in session such as a picture card sort task, having access to a large shredding unit for session notes, enjoying a comfortable and devoted counselling space without interruptions from a neighbour’s barking dog or an exuberant toddler, and in general delineating a clear boundary between work and home. However, I have also appreciated aspects of my new office, especially the lack of a commute through rush hour traffic, an ability to prep supper while I’m on my lunch break, and an opportunity to push myself and grow professionally. I am saddened at the circumstances that brought telehealth into my practice, but I am grateful for the privilege that I have in my work and the learning that this has brought into my personal and professional life.
Annelise Lyseng is a registered psychologist at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.



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

The Role of Varying Motivations to Counsel

Posted by: Jeff Landine and John Stewart on April 28, 2020 12:55 pm

The impetus for this series of blogs comes, for the most part, from conversations we have had with recent Counselling Program graduates and from our efforts to assist past graduates in the later stages of their careers as they try to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of counsellor regulation. In the interest of transparency, the majority of graduates we know who see counselling as a work role for implementation later in their career, already have a career path established as teachers, nurses, social workers, etc. The majority of students who graduate from our Counselling Program and others that we are familiar with, seek work in a counselling role immediately or go on to pursue more education. It is the small, but perplexing, group of graduates who complete the degree, and then put the counselling role on hold, that we want to consider for this series of blogs. We want to discuss a number of motivations people have for choosing counselling as a profession and to determine if, within these motivations, societal change enables, even demands, continuing work after people retire from other professions to practice counselling therapy.

Most, if not all counsellors, have entered this line of work because they want to help create positive change in the lives of others. But people are able to do that in the relationships they already have in their lives or by volunteering, neither of which requires extensive education and supervised experience, not to mention the expenditure of time and money. It wasn’t too long ago, in fact, that a significant amount of counselling was provided in lay-counsellor roles. The early 20th century saw the emergence of an increased emphasis on the value of all human beings and, coupled with the changes brought on the Industrial Revolution, the need for mental and emotional support increased. The medical community (including psychiatrists and psychologists) were managing the more difficult cases but many people didn’t require that level of service to function normally. So well-intentioned and caring members of public and church communities volunteered to provide a listening ear to those in their community who needed it. Students in the public school system learned who the teacher was in their school that they could go talk to when they had a problem. Pastors provided counselling services to their congregations. Counselling as a profession has grown in the context of historical events such as the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression and world conflicts. Counselling started becoming professionalized in the 1950s and as a result, it is now possible to combine the motivation to help people with other motivations for becoming a counsellor. The question that persists, like a mosquito in a dark tent, is why individuals are waiting until one professional practice ends to start taking the necessary steps to engage in professional counselling? Perhaps it is a growing awareness of the need for a counselling therapist in their interpersonal sphere. For example, school teachers, social workers and nurses all experience clients who need additional interventions that furthering their educational and professional training enables them to provide.

We have heard a good number of secondary reasons for making the decision to complete the Counselling program that we work in. We have had people apply who are working in other non-helping professions who are seeking more meaningful work. Others are looking for flexibility in their career. For those applicants coming from the school system, many have a desire to keep learning and pushing themselves forward and counselling is the most interesting option. Unlike many other graduate programs, Counselling is typically found in Faculties of Education, which bring opportunities for part-time completion, flexible class scheduling and online course options. For someone looking to increase their education (and pay), these programs are particularly attractive because they don’t require the applicant to quit their current job. Finally, counselling is a profession where life experience is valued, so we often get applicants from people looking for a second career.

There are many viable reasons for starting down the path towards becoming a counsellor and it is not our intention to judge the motivations of people who have considered and are considering counselling as a profession. Social desirability often masks the motivations people have anyways. The decision to “sideline” the counselling role until later in one’s career, however, has ramifications for the individual, counsellor education programs, regulatory bodies and the profession. We will discuss these ramifications in more detail in the next blog.




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

Working with Animals in Practice – Terminology

Posted by: Eileen Bona on March 30, 2020 3:15 pm

The last article “Working with Animals in Practice” provided an overview of the important ethical considerations for including animals in professional practice. These considerations apply to including animals into any workspace or public setting where the animal and people can be negatively impacted if the practice is not informed or thoughtfully prepared.

This article will provide details on the terminology in animal assisted practices. The first point mentioned in the last article was: Understanding the many terms in the field to determine where your particular practice, skills and knowledge might fit. This information can also be helpful for you to discern any training you or your animal partner may need to work in your particular domain.

Working with animals therapeutically has many names and is done in many different ways. As the field is not yet standardized in Canada, it can be confusing trying to understand all the different kinds of animal-related work and what you might need to practice effectively. Other places in North America and the world have been incorporating animals into healing and learning practices for far longer than here in Canada and as a result, there are some commonly agreed-upon terms including:

Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs)

(AAIs) are therapeutic processes that intentionally include or involve (certified) animals as part of the therapeutic process. Animal-Assisted Therapy, Animal-Assisted Activities, and service animals are some examples of animal assisted interventions.”  Fine (2006)

AAI is an umbrella term for all aspects of involving animals to facilitate or enhance human health and learning. Every other term for working with animals to help people in any capacity falls under this term.

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is directed and/or delivered by a health/human service professional with specialized training and expertise in AAT and within the scope of practice of his/her profession.” –Pet Partners

 Key Features of AAT

  • A certified animal is included to enhance or facilitate the therapy process.
  • There are specified goals and objectives for each individual.
  • A qualified professional, trained and certified in AAT, is involved in the animal interactions for a specific purpose.
  • Progress is measured.

Examples of Goals of AAT Programs:

The following are some examples of AAT goals:

  • Physical Health – Improve fine motor skills, balance
  • Mental Health and Cognitive Ability – Increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, increase attention skills, process traumatic events
  • Social Skills – Increase verbal interactions, develop leisure skills
  • Developing and increasing Empathy

Animal Assisted Education and/or Learning (AAE/L)

AAE/L incorporates animals into the learning environment.  The certified, trained animal in educational settings is either the subject of the lesson plan to facilitate the learning or is included to enhance the environment for learning to take place.

 Key Features of AAE/L

  • A certified animal is included to enhance or facilitate the learning process.
  • Educators, aides or knowledgeable volunteers are trained in AAE/L and conduct the sessions.
  • Educational content is planned and can be within or outside the classroom environment.

Examples of AAE/L

  •  Reading Assistance programs where certified animals are present as motivators and read to by people who are reading-challenged.

Animal Assisted Activities (AAA)

“AAA provides opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life. AAA are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, paraprofessionals, and/or volunteers, in association with animals that meet specific criteria.” Pet Partners

What does this mean?
AAA are basically the casual “meet and greet” activities that involve animals visiting people. There are not typically any particular or measurable goals and the “visit” does not have to be carried out by a qualified professional. This is often referred to as “Pet Visitation.” The term “Pet Therapy” is outdated. The animal is certified for this work.

Key Features of AAA

  • Treatment goals are not planned for each visit.
  • The animal is certified for its work.
  • The animal handler is certified for this work.
  • Visit content is spontaneous and visits last as long or as short as needed.

Examples of AAA:

  • Volunteers certified in AAA take their certified animals to a nursing home once a month to “visit.” No formal goals are expected to be reached.

Animal Assisted Crisis Response (AACR)

“AAC) gives…trained professionals an additional means with which to help people affected by crisis. AACR teams can be used to establish rapport, build therapeutic bridges, normalize the experience, and act as … a catalyst for physical movement.” Greenbaum, S.D. (2006).

What does this mean?
AACR involves professionals trained both in crisis response and AACR. They work alongside certified therapy animals to relieve stress and build bridges between them and the people they are attempting to help.

 Key Features of AACR

  • Specific treatment goals are not planned for each visit.
  • The overall intent is to help people at the moment of crisis and to alleviate the side effects of crisis.
  • AACR professionals are cross trained in crisis protocols and animal assisted methods.
  • Animals are screened, trained and certified to do this work in a variety of crisis situations.

Example of AACR:

  • A person is rescued from a burning house and is too traumatized to respond to questions of whether or not there is anyone else in the house. The AACR specialist, with the help of the certified dog, assists the survivor of the fire to become de-escalated and lucid enough to tell the firefighters if anyone else was in the house.

These are the most common terms for working with animals in the helping profession including mini horses. When working with ponies, full-sized horses, donkeys or mules, the terminology is equine specific. We will discuss equine-facilitated terminology in the next blog!

Do you know what you’re working title is? If you have any questions or comments, please leave them here and a response will be provided.

Eileen Bona
Registered Psychologist
Animal Assisted Therapist
CEO/Clinical Director/Executive Director/Founder of Dreamcatcher Nature Assisted Therapy
www.dreamcatcherassociation.com



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

5 Steps to Starting an Online Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on March 13, 2020 11:51 am

Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Starting an online Canadian private practice can be a great option for Canadian counsellors who don’t want to spend money on renting an office. It also allows you to counsel clients from the comfort of your home (or when travelling J). There are many considerations when starting an online counselling business or even adding it to your existing Canadian private practice. In addition to the article: 15 Steps to Starting a Canadian Private practice, the next five steps will help you in opening your online Canadian private practice!

  1. Liability Insurance

One of the main questions Canadians have when starting an online counselling business is if you can counsel clients who live outside of Canada. Though BMS CCPA insurance covers e-services worldwide, all claims must be brought forward in Canada. This means that if a client from outside Canada files a complaint in a different country, BMS will not cover you! Since you have no control where international clients file complaints… it may be wise to only offer e-services to people living in Canada. What kinds of measures can practitioners take to ensure that they are properly marketing their services exclusively to Canadians?

  1. HST Rates

If you are making over $30 000 you will have to charge the sales tax that is required in the client’s province. That means that if you live in Toronto and have an online client that lives in Halifax., you will have to charge Nova Scotia’s 15% HST and not  Ontario’s 13% HST rate. If you have clients that are not Canadian citizens and live outside of Canada, you cannot charge sales tax. Click here for more information about sales tax in Canada. Didn’t you just advise in the previous paragraph to only counsel Canadian clients? A bit confusing… Also, what happens in the case of Canadians who are temporarily residing in other countries? Ex-pats? Snowbirds?

  1. Build a website

Having an awesome website with amazing SEO (search engine optimization) is VERY, VERY, VERY important for an online Canadian counselling business. Your website will be one of the main ways people find you. So, you will want to invest in having a beautiful website that also appears in internet searches. Check out Brighter Vision and Beam Local to get help with creating your website 🙂

To learn more about SEO and why it is so important, read this article: https://www.fearlesspractice.com/website

  1. EMR

It is very important that you understand Canadian’s privacy laws when it comes to online counselling. Video counselling sessions should be encrypted and the content of the video should never be recorded or stored anywhere to make sure that it is secure. Canadian Based EMR (Electronic Medical Records), Jane or OWL include secure video sessions. Ideally, you want to be using an EMR that includes video counselling as it is easier to schedule clients, send appointment reminders, and log on to the online counselling session all from one platform. I recommend using a Canadian EMR like Jane or OWL , especially if you live in British Columbia or Nova Scotia (where you have to have a Canadian EMR) as these platforms follow Canadian privacy laws.

  1. Psychology Today

Ideally, you will have a Psychology Today profile for your online services in all Canadian/US cities. But that can get very expensive! So instead, in your account, you will see the “Edit Profile” icon. Select that and then from the drop-down menu select “Target Your Listing”. You can then choose two more locations where your profile will be advertised for free!

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!



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

Working with Animals in Practice

Posted by: Eileen Bona on February 26, 2020 10:26 am

Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs) are interventions which are based upon the belief that interactions with animals have inherent value for humans on behavioural, cognitive, emotional, physical, psychological, relational and spiritual levels. AAI’s are intended to be carried out by qualified helping professionals who are trained animal handlers working with specially screened, trained and certified animals.

Although there is evidence to support the benefits of partnering with animals in all ways aforementioned and in doing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as a formal medium of therapeutic intervention, there is no standard code of practice in Canada.

As a psychologist who has been working in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for nearly 17 years, I am excited by the momentum AAT is experiencing in Canada. I am contacted daily by Canadians who are exploring the intricacies of integrating animals into their practice and am aware of the current and interested practitioners.

There are several important ethical considerations for including animals in practice and they include the following:

  • Understanding the many terms in the field to determine where your particular practice, skills and knowledge might fit.
  • Staying within your scope of practice.  As many people are attracted to animals in practice, often practitioners are requested to work with those who may not fit into their scope.
  • Researching and attaining thorough training and certification as an animal assisted therapist. Certificates in AAI/T are available at the college level in some provinces in Canada (i.e., Alberta and Quebec) or training and arranging consultation with a credentialed, well known and ethical AAT professional.
  • Ensuring your animal has been screened, tested and certified to work with you in your setting and with your population. Animals have preferences and ‘scopes of practice’ too and these should be discerned before the animal is integrated into practice.
  • Consultations and training with skilled and trustworthy animal trainers or animal behavioral specialists who are cross-trained in AAT are vital to your animal being well prepared for its work and for you as the animal’s handler to be trained in understanding your animal’s communication and stress signals.
  • Garnering advice about working animals’ schedules and the ratio of client/animal interactions is important to the health and well being of the animal and can be attained from these professionals or the AAT professional.
  • Having a regular veterinarian who is knowledgeable about AAT, understands your species/breed and can advise on changes your animal may be experiencing is invaluable for your AAT animal’s health and welfare.
  • It is often necessary to have extended insurance coverage (alongside professional liability insurance) when involving animals in practice. Determining whether both the practitioner and the facility require insurance for the AAT is necessary.
  • Providing a waiver to participants is recommended to ensure fully informed consent for participation in AAT. The waiver should provide details of the AAT as well as a release of reliability for the therapist in the event of any unfortunate events that may occur during the AAT. The waiver requires the signature of the participant or guardians of minors.

It is an exciting time in our AAT field and I look forward to the promise of soon having approved guidelines to direct our practices and one day, a thorough Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to govern us. Stay tuned for more-detailed Emergent Guidelines for Animals in Practice. In the meantime, I hope this information is helpful.

Eileen Bona
Registered Psychologist
Animal Assisted Therapist
CEO and Executive Director of Dreamcatcher Nature Assisted Therapy
www.dreamcatcherassociation.com



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

Locating an Appropriate Office Space

Posted by: Grant M. Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III on February 19, 2020 3:00 pm

Is it just me or is locating a space to practice one’s craft a journey of trust, faith and patience?  How many of the readers of this blog have had a similar frustrating experience in seeking an appropriate office space for your counselling practice?  When this writer states, “appropriate”, what I mean is: one that has natural light and is not placed in the middle of a building.  It means paying less than $1,000 per month for 100 to 200 square feet of space; or finding a space that is accessible to both seniors and those with special needs. Is it too much to ask to find an office that is within walking distance of a parking lot?

This writer lives in what I would refer to as a “village” even though others prefer to call it a “city”.  I believe that this has something to do with access to more funds.  The relevance of this statement relates to my dilemma with the lack of office space and the cost of office space in a village that is far removed from a big city environment.  How many of you relate to this quandary?

I now understand why many counsellors choose to share an office space with several other practitioners: to share the cost along with other resources; I also understand that this allows for the appropriate cross referral of clients between counsellors with different skill sets.  I now comprehend why it is quite common for many practitioners to work from a home setting, since it allows them to write off a portion of their home and to not have the pressure of additional rental expenses.

Another challenge that this writer has observed, especially in a smaller locale is the number of practitioners.  The word “competition” never crossed my mind when I changed careers from the business realm to the helping domain; and yet, it is becoming more and more apparent that concepts like networking, marketing and communications are all fundamental to setting up a new practice.  I am thankful that I have these transferrable skills from my old career; however, I would simply prefer to focus my energy on helping my clients.

I am curious to hear other tales that ring of persistence, patience and frustration regarding this topic.  I thank you for reading this writer’s concerns.




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

Memes a Medium for Generation Z: Managing Collective Anxiety

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on February 7, 2020 3:30 pm

After recently spending time with a generation Z teen (ages 4-24) watching two hours of meme videos—memes mock some element, aspect or circumstance of life through use of video, photo, with words, music, and or images, that is meant to be shared and passed along to others—on the potential threat of WWIII and a potential military draft due to recent world events, I realized that this medium is their way of communicating their collective anxieties of how they perceive possible outcomes of events. These memes, in particular, were meant to use humor, but also provoke thoughts on recent dynamic occurrences. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, does recommend using humor as a strategy to help cope with anxiety (2020, ADAA). Secondary students nearing the age of 18, young adults in college, and those young adults already serving in the military have chimed in and expressed their concerns, fears, and anxieties over the events. Research on Generalized Anxiety Disorder, demonstrated that the perception of lacking control, can yield increased anxiety (Mineka, S. and Zinbarg, R., January 2006). It is often believed that each generation displays more and more anxious characteristics.

How should we as a culture prepare our youth to deal with similar events while the world watches things progress? As a mental health professional, I avoid watching the news, intentionally, for the primary purpose of lessoning exposure to negative information. After serving victims of trauma regularly for several years, I stopped watching daily news. The premise behind recognizing triggers, is to decrease exposure to things that provoke your anxiety, or if not, at least prepare an appropriate response. There may come a time when watching the news is necessary, but until that time appears, there’s no need to expose ourselves to unnecessary negativity and damaging messages.

Dr. Pennebaker (1990) recommended sharing one’s thoughts and feelings, particularly when there has been a death. Many times a loss leaves an individual with the same feelings and emotions of a death. Perhaps the memes display their collective anxiety over perceived consequences to a set of events. Nonetheless, it is important for us to share our thoughts and concerns in a pro social manner.  Generation Z is so closely connected, yet so disconnected in that technology brings instant gratification and information, but draws away from traditional means of socialization. Communicating their concerns to a trusted family member or mentor may prove impactful in keeping them mentally healthy.

In addition to reducing exposure to possible triggers and sharing one’s thoughts and concerns, but not addressing too deeply a discussion of types of losses, such as ambiguous loss, disenfranchised, or complicated grief, developing resiliency, is helpful in addressing grief from associated loss.  In a study of 14 cases of children in a group home who had experienced trauma and abuse at home in the Philippines, the researcher concluded that the children preferred to share their challenges with their peers over health care professionals (Espina, N.D.). The researcher postulated that the children’s resiliency was best demonstrated in their laughter and socialization with their friends (Espina, N.D.).

Last, although it is perfectly normal to prepare for the future, limit the time that you spend pondering future events. Often times we spend time worrying about potential negative events or circumstances that many times never occur, but our anxiety increases as a result of our worrying. Likewise, don’t spend time reflecting on past negative events unless you are using those occurrences to help you cope in a ‘positive’ way in the ‘present’. Otherwise, countless thoughts about negative past events may result in feeling depressed. Being in the present, both mentally and physically, is the psychologically safest place to be, unless of course, you are presently experiencing some form of abuse or crisis.

References
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Coping strategies. https://adaa.org/tips
Espina, M. (N.D.). Keystone of adolescents coping silks capabilities. University of Southern Philippines Foundation. Retrieved 9 Jan 2020 from https://www.academia.edu/41009316/Keystone_of_Adolescents_Coping_Skills_Capabilities_KEYSTONE_OF_ADOLESCENTS_COPING_SKILLS_CAPABILITIES
Mineka, S. and Zinbarg, R. (January 2006). A contemporary learning theory perspective on etiology of anxiety disorders: It’s not what you thought is was. The American Psychologist. https://www.academia.edu/12984203/A_contemporary_learning_theory_perspective_on_the_etiology_of_anxiety_disorders_Its_not_what_you_thought_it_was
Pennebaker, J. (1990). Opening up: The healing power of confiding in others. New York: Morrow, 1990.

 

Biography
Lakawthra Cox, MA, MAPC, Licensed Public Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Certified Canadian Counsellor has earned four degrees ranging from an associate, two master degrees, and she’s completed doctoral coursework. Her studies include areas of psychology, political science, communications, professional counseling, and education. She grew up in Europe from preschool to her second year in college and has lived in Germany (Schweinfurt, Nurnberg, and Augsburg), Belgium (SHAPE), and Italy. She is also a third generation American Army veteran. Last, she’s previously taught, as faculty, with the University of Phoenix for five years, while co-authoring a children’s book, Aerola’s Big Trip (published), Aerola’s Book of Safety (unpublished), and Aerola’s Trip to Canada (unpublished) with her children. Lakawthra plans to publish a series of self-help works.



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