The Holiday Season and Why It’s Not Always the Best Time of the Year

Posted by: Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC on November 8, 2019 12:24 pm

It won’t be long before the fall leaves have been raked up, the trick or treaters have come and gone and the countdown to the end of the year will begin. In the midst of all of this revelry, there will be many opportunities for gatherings with loved (or not so loved) ones. Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas are all celebrated closer to the end of the year. Even if one isn’t religiously inclined, the end of the year tends to bring with it multiple occasions for celebration. Unfortunately, along with the food, drinks and presents, there also tends to be a large serving of stress.

There are different reasons why people find the holidays so stressful. It can be busy with every evening or weekend committed to a celebration of some kind. It can be expensive with the list of people to buy gifts for getting longer each year. It can also involve social interactions that can be uncomfortable or downright unpleasant.

In some cases, holiday stress can often turn into distress.  As therapists, we are aware that holidays can be a difficult experience for people.  Family estrangement, grief and financial pressure are some of the reasons why people struggle at what is often promoted as the most wonderful time of year.

So how do we support our clients, loved ones and ourselves to remain emotionally healthy during the holiday season? Unlike other life events that may happen less frequently and are therefore a little easier to grin and bear, the holidays are inescapable. It can be beneficial if we take some time in advance to think about what we anticipate the challenges of the season will bring, and come up with a coping plan. While the hope is to create a plan that can help us thrive, in some cases, simply surviving and making it out to the other side is also a valid goal.

Here are some suggestions to help you plan for the upcoming holiday season:

  • When possible, try declining invitations to certain events. Regardless of how much fun an event is promoted as being (like an annual reunion with your high school friends) or how obligated you feel to attend (a family dinner), saying no to an event or two has multiple benefits. To start with, it gives you back some time in your schedule, spares you the expense of attending, as well as allows you to avoid any unpleasant social encounters. It also helps to build some comfort in saying no and not feeling guilty about it, which is an important life skill.

 

  • If there is a social event that you must attend, recruit a buddy to go with you. Think about what your biggest concern is about attending this event. Is it the small talk with colleagues you only see once a year? Turn to the person in your social circle who is skilled at banter. Is it seeing a family member who often berates you? Take a loved one who can calmly but firmly put an end to the conversation. If necessary, make an appearance and have a signal in case an early exit is required. The benefit here is twofold: you get credit for attending, while also allowing you to avoid some of the more challenging aspects of the social gathering.

 

  • If you feel that hosting a social gathering is an important though stressful element of the season, consider choosing an alternate venue. For example, in lieu of a potentially tense dinner with the entire extended family in your home, consider inviting family members to a public event in the community a few days before or after the holiday season (for example, ice skating at the local rink). This is an opportunity for the family to be together while removing some of the one on one interaction that is often the source of conflict and stress. It also gives an objective goal to focus upon…

 

  • If the holiday season is difficult due to grief, give yourself permission to not celebrate if you don’t feel capable, or to celebrate on a smaller scale. Carve out time and space to grieve. If possible, do something specific that addresses your loss so that it doesn’t feel minimized in the midst of the celebration occurring around you.

 

  • If the holiday season fills you with dread to the point that it is interfering with your well being, consider speaking to a therapist. A therapist can work with you to not only address the source of the struggle, but also to come with strategies for how to manage it. Holidays can have a negative impact on mental health and well being regardless of how well one has been throughout the year. Seeking the appropriate professional support can be very beneficial.

For some people, the holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year. For others, there is less joy and more strain. Regardless of how you feel about the season, remember to take care of yourself, as that is the best gift you can give yourself and others.

Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC




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

How to Rent a Canadian Counselling Office

Posted by: Julia Smith on November 1, 2019 10:07 am

One of the first things to do when starting a Canadian Private Practice is to find an office space to rent. Renting (or buying) your own office is ideal but for most Canadian counsellors, it is too expensive when beginning private practice.  Luckily, there are many professionals and clinics looking to rent out their offices when they are not using them! Here are two factors to consider in your search for the perfect space:

Location
When searching for office space it is important to consider where it will be located. The main thing to remember is that clients will travel to see a good therapist. However, the more convenient your office space is located… the better.

Many therapists feel that if there is a location with lots of counsellors that they should stay away from that area and find a location that doesn’t have any therapists. But usually, if an area has lots of counsellors, it means that there are lots of people willing to pay for therapy in that area! All of the office spaces that I have rented have been in a city where there are many therapists located. What I have found is that people are more willing to travel to a city to see a therapist than travel from a city to a rural counselling office.

Other things to consider:

Parking
One of the most important considerations is parking! In my first office, there was no parking and clients constantly complained about how difficult it was to find a parking space. This also meant that many clients were late for appointments as it took a long time for them to find parking. So, when searching for an office space… make sure there is parking available!!!!

Air Conditioning
In most provinces, spring/summer (and sometimes fall!) can get VERY HOT! Make sure that the office space you rent from has air conditioning. The last thing you want is to be counselling a client in July when it is 30 degrees Celsius! Clients will appreciate the cool office and the cool air will help you stay focused.

Accessibility
If you want to have the option to counsel all populations it is important to make sure that your office space is wheel chair accessible. Being accessible can also be helpful for clients who are injured (i.e. broken leg). The last thing you want are clients cancelling appointments because your office is not accessible.

Counselling At Your House and/or Online Therapy
Renting an office space will not be an issue if you want to build a private practice at your home or online. There are many legal and ethical considerations for these types of private practices so be sure to check with CCPA and your insurance provider before developing your Canadian private practice.

Starting a Canadian private practice at home or online will save you money but you also might lose clients who only want in-person therapy. I offer both online and in-person counselling and also find it healthy to have an office space that is separate from my personal space.

Rent Price
The price to rent an office depends on what city, province, or town you are located in.  You do not want to be ‘house poor’ when renting space so make sure that you rent is no more than 20% of your income. The three ways that most Canadian offices rent out space are either:

  1. Rent per hour: When a practitioner is not using their office at certain times of the day/night and is looking to rent their office when they are not there.
  2. Rent per day: When a practitioner is not using their office on certain days and is looking to rent their office on those days.
  3. Percentage: Instead of paying rent, a practitioner will take a percentage of your counselling fee. This can be useful at the beginning because you will not have to worry about paying rent. BUT as your business grows… more and more of your money will go towards the practitioner/clinic. For example, if you charge $100 per session and the practitioner takes 30%… every time you see a client you will be paying the practitioner/clinic $30… so the more clients you see… the more money the practitioner/clinic will take. Whereas, if you have a set rental fee, you have the ability to make a lot more money in the long run! The busier your Canadian private practice becomes, the more money YOU will make. Plus, when you raise your prices it will not affect how much rent you are paying.

How to find a space:
The best way to find office space is to start sending out emails to other private practice counsellors in your area and/or health clinics (online advertising services like Kijiji.ca can also be helpful). When starting off, it can be best to just rent a day or couple evenings per week as you build your cliental. A simple sample email could look like:

Hi,

My name is Julia and I am a counsellor that is starting a private practice. I am looking to rent office space and am curious if there are any times during the week or on the weekend when you are not using your office?

Thank you,

Julia

Depending on where you rent, you can then choose to rent more time at the place you are renting from OR find another office space that meets your needs. Start small and grow big!

Happy searching,
Julia

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

Reflections of the Future of AI Technology and its Implementation

Posted by: Jeff Landine and John Stewart on October 25, 2019 2:26 pm

In our last three blogs, we provided a brief overview of the field of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the world of work along with suggestions to help career counsellors respond to these innovations with their clients.  While predictions suggest a massive immediate impact on the workforce, in this blog, we will discuss some issues that we think need to be addressed before implementation and that may even delay the use of some deep learning technology.

Predictions are that within five years, deep learning machines with the ability to mimic human cognitive functions will take over many thousands of jobs (1). Currently, these new innovations are being used in law enforcement, health care, scientific research and even determining what information we see on Facebook.  Before these deep learning machines are deployed, there are several social policy and legal issues that need to be clarified (2). One issue focuses on the lack of transparency in the development of algorithms (3). Due to the layering of deep learning algorithms, as the machine processes larger volumes of data, the algorithms make connections between layers that help to make more refined decisions. Some developers have voiced concerns over whether the decisions made by these machines can be trusted due to the changes in the algorithms.

This issue of trust raises legal issues that have yet to be resolved by the courts (4). For example, if these machines make biased decisions resulting in a human rights discrimination against a candidate for not being short-listed for a job, the issue of who is responsible is raised. Is it the developer, the owner of the machines, or the machines? We suggest that before implementing such technology, policies and legal statutes need to be in place. For example, “can a machine be a legal entity much like a corporation?” Or, “what standards of security need to be demonstrated by the machines to ensure user privacy of information before they are deployed?” Such decisions and policies will help to prevent unnecessary legal disputes.

Additionally, there are indicators to suggest the public is already leery about robotic-made decisions, and we think this attitude will have a negative impact on bringing newer innovations online until testing demonstrates no biases or weaknesses in deploying them. For example, autonomous cars have been in the media for over a decade. Current research suggests that 94 % of US citizens know about these cars; however, 56% of them indicated they are not ready to ride in such vehicles citing a lack of confidence and trust in robotic decision-making and a mistrust in the general safety of the technology (5).  To change these attitudes, industry has more development and promotional work to do before the public will use this technology.

With smart machines, there is the possibility of collecting large amounts of personal data from users that could be used for nefarious purposes.  For example, one has only to look to Facebook as a social media platform and how foreign agents were able to use it to influence voters in the 2016 US federal election. There was a public outcry concerning the use of information obtained by Cambridge Analytica from millions of Facebook users by political parties to build US voter profiles (6).  At this point, policies are in short supply to protect consumer information and to regulate accountability should breaches be made. With the use of deep learning machines and the possibility of personal data being collected, safeguards are needed to ensure confidentiality and protection.

Career counsellors can play a significant role in dealing with these concerns. They can be advocates for their clients by working on policy development committees concerning the deployment of smart machines in the economy. Career counsellors have ethical guidelines, which regulate the use and storage of their clients’ personal information. These guidelines would help in developing policies around the storage, use and dissemination of information collected by deep learning machines. Career counsellors, through their professional associations, can send briefs to major banks, food retail companies, insurance companies, medical corporations, professional associations, and politicians to express their concerns over the lack of parameters surrounding the use of deep learning machines.  We think these endeavors will help to raise public awareness and develop policies and laws before deep learning machines become.

By Jeff Landine and John Stewart

Sources Used
  1. AI, automation, and the future of work: Ten things to solve for (June 2018). Retrieved on August 26, 2019 at www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/ai-automation-and-the-future-of-work-ten-things-to-solve-for.
  2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Policy paper. Retrieved on August 1, 2019 at www.internetsociety.org/resources/doc/2017.
  3. Gershgorn, D. (2017) AI is now so complex its creators can’t trust why it makes decisions. Retrieved on August 1, 2019 at www.qz.com/1146753.
  4. Beauchemin, H. (2018). Key legal issues in AI. Retrieved on September 19 at https://www.stradigi.ai/blog/the-key-legal-issues-in-ai/#pll_switcher
  5. Smith, A and M. Anderson. Americans’ attitudes toward driverless vehicles. Retrieved on August 1, 2019 at www.pewinternet.org/2017/10/04/americans-attitudes-toward- driverless-vehicles.
  6. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: The scandal and the fallout so far. Retrieved on August 1, 2019 at www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/us/politics/cambridge-analytica-scandal fallout.html.



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

When a Client Dies

Posted by: Doc Warren on October 15, 2019 11:39 am

I’ll never forget the first time that I received notice that a client had died. I’ll never forget any of them actually. No training truly prepared me and I’ve had far more training than the average thanks to an intense drive on my part and having had some of the best mentors in the field. I can only imagine how folks with minimal training and a lack of good supervision fare.

The longer we are in the field, the more likely we are to have experienced the death of a client. The death may have been through accident or natural causes or by their own or someone else’s hands.  Few, if any, clinical training programs spend any great deal of time exploring this issue unless you are specializing in hospice settings. When a death happens, there are many things that tend to be the focus of supervision and consultation sessions. Below are some of the more common issues that I find in my supervision and consulting work when a client has passed.

Processing the loss yourself
Once receiving notice of the death, many clinical professionals attempt to “work through the pain” by continuing their day as they normally would. Though this may work for some, many, if not most, will require time to process the loss either immediately or in the very near future. Be sure to allow yourself to be human, acknowledge the loss, explore the emotions associated with it and whenever possible, do this with the help of a colleague. You do not have to keep everything bottled in. Remember what you would do for and with friends, loved ones and clients who have suffered a loss and allow yourself to be present with your emotions so that you may heal. While there are times when you may need to continue to work to help aid others who are affected, processing it yourself as soon as possible can be a key factor in moving forward healthily.

Could I be liable?
One of the first fears shared by clinicians when a client has died of anything other than natural causes is that they may be sued or otherwise investigated. In most cases, there has been nothing to indicate that this could happen assuming that  the clinical professional has given nothing but the best level of care to the client that has passed. This fear is sometimes grounded in the grief process itself: the clinician is blaming themselves for not having been able to prevent the death. Other times it can be a simple fear of being sued by a next of kin that is “just looking for someone to blame” regardless of any real malpractice having occurred. A small fraction of the time (I have personally never encountered anyone in this situation) the clinician has indeed made mistakes that could be considered malpractice. In this case, the fear may indeed be founded. Whether or not you feel you did anything wrong, when in doubt, contact your malpractice/liability insurance provider and discuss the matter with them. It shouldn’t cost you anything more than your time and just may help ease your worries.

Protecting the client’s right to privacy
Today more than ever we find ourselves with the ability to emote freely via venues that were unthinkable just a few short years ago. Many find themselves posting to social media for just about everything. Public grieving is considered the norm to many folks but as clinical professionals we need to remember that the client’s right to privacy does not end with their death, therefore we as clinical professionals should refrain from public expressions of grief that either name or share any information that could potentially identify a client that has passed. I’ve seen very good clinicians make this mistake. Comments such as “I lost a client recently to a drunk driver” or “Cancer took a client today” may seem harmless enough but can lead to ethical issues especially if more information is also shared.

I’ve also seen clinical professionals that have made generic statements on personal or professional pages that would appear to be fine. Comments such as “thinking of those lost to cancer” or drunk drivers, suicide etc. may help the clinician process without potentially identifying a recently deceased client.

Should you get a request from a next of kin to provide copies of the deceased treatment records, be sure to consult with an attorney to learn exactly what the next of kin is allowed to access and what they will need to provide your office in order to allow you to release copies. Here again, your liability insurance provider can be a key resource as well as your supervisor.

To go or not to go to services
Going to the services of a client that has passed can be a controversial decision. One side of the coin says that by your very presence you are saying that the deceased was a client unless they were a known friend, coworker or relative of ours. The other side of the coin says that if the service is open to the public then you are free to go with no need to explain. Many a heated conversation has come from posing this question in a group supervision encounter. One quick way to handle this would be to contact your liability insurance provider for guidance. Please note however that the answer may differ from provider to provider.

For me, I have only attended services if a surviving relative has requested me to attend. Even with such a request I will neither confirm nor deny that I ever had a professional relationship and will instead simply say that we live in a small town and that we all seem to know one another.

Erasing” the client from your practice
Many a consult has been spent processing feelings of guilt from clinicians who were feeling conflicted about how “easy” it was to “simply remove a person from my schedule.” The actual act of erasing a client from a schedule may indeed only take a moment. For me, in my office I have opted not to use the electronic scheduler that others use and instead use a pencil and paper system. I have literally erased people after a death and can remember the lump in my throat the first time I did so. I also remember hesitating to “give their time” away to a new client. It required some processing and grief work before I was able to truly move forward. Now, I remember that it was not the time slot nor the written name that made a difference, it instead, was the relationship that we had and that cannot be removed with a number two pencil.

Telling a staff member that their client has passed.
If you are a supervisor you likely will be one of the first people to learn of a death of any client. In my practice I have instructed the reception folks to notify me should there be any calls notifying us of a loss of life. They also will keep up to date on local obituaries as well as in some cases there is no next of kin that knows that the deceased was receiving services.  While there is no one correct way, I would avoid the use of texting, email, private messenger or other electronic means to advise your staff member of the loss. To me, a phone call is a last resort for notification and instead will call and ask the clinician to come see me the first thing when they come in. Once in, I try not to have it be too formal as in having a large desk between the two of us. Although I would never stage the encounter, I have shared the information while walking on one of the dirt roads on our therapeutic farm, sitting by the brook, walking some of our trails or spending time with our therapeutic animals. How I did it had more to do with the clinician and their normal preferences than it did with mine. Ensuring the privacy of the clinician is paramount as well. Should they need to cry, talk it out, yell a bit or whatever, the ability to do so without an audience is key. Many times, we process not just the passing but the process that the therapy took on, the good work that they provided and what they themselves will cherish from the encounter.

Moving forward
After the basic processing has taken place, it is good to remember that there may indeed be a need for further reflection and moments of pause in the future. Allow yourself to not only be a clinical professional but also a human being. We are not machines. Process as needed.

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]




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

Coping with Political Fatigue

Posted by: Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC on October 7, 2019 2:14 pm

I was channel surfing recently and came across a commercial for the upcoming federal election. I changed the channel and came across another commercial. After having watched bits of each I thought to myself that I was ready for this election to be over and wasn’t particularly concerned about the outcome. That thought caught me by surprise as I am a political aficionado. I follow what goes on in government both nationally and internationally and I also love to discuss various hot button issues at length. It occurred to me that if someone like me can be so tired of the political cycle, many people must not only be fatigued but quite possibly overwhelmed by it.

Politics no longer lives in a realm outside of us. Instead, politics are now deeply personal, which means that there is a lot at stake in any given election. Recent elections have focused on issues that are deeply personal and inextricably linked to the type of world we want to live in and build for the next generation. However, with the promise of change and betterment that an election might bring, also comes the possibility that the outcome might be the polar opposite of what we wanted. The consequences of which can feel dire.

Additionally, discussions about politics have become inescapable. With the upcoming federal election in Canada and what seems like an ongoing election cycle for our American neighbours, politics remain constant even when the seasons change. Whether it is the onslaught of 24 hours news channels that are constantly dissecting every piece of information, or online message boards where people openly share antagonizing opinions without any responsibility to fact check, it is easy to get caught up in the negativity.

So how do we not just survive but thrive in this increasingly politically charged atmosphere? How do we remain engaged in political dialogue without becoming disillusioned about the world we live in? How do we support our clients as they navigate relationships with family members, friends and colleagues that quickly become hostile due to divergent political and personal views?

It is important to begin by recognizing that how we approach these issues will determine the outcome we achieve. Responding angrily to a tweet or getting into a heated argument with a family member over dinner is unlikely to produce civil discourse. Recognizing that what we talk about has an impact on the daily life of the other person can help build empathy. The point of a discussion cannot be to change the other person’s opinion. Discussion is about planting seeds and exposing people to things they may not have considered. We cannot go into conversations expecting to change someone’s opinion. If we do, we are bound to be disappointed.

Let’s also give ourselves permission to tune out or disconnect as needed. While smart phones and app notifications make it easy to constantly be plugged in, periodic breaks can help us avoid becoming overwhelmed by the information. Unless it is your profession, political engagement doesn’t have to happen 24/7. Taking a break from the deluge of information can help us process the information better and also provides an opportunity to focus on other equally important things.

Lastly, when it all seems too much, let’s take a moment to reflect on how far we have come. Let’s celebrate all that we have accomplished, the battles that were won by previous generations that have had positive impacts on our lives. History books are filled with stories of human triumph. Let’s use this to energize us for what lies ahead.

Political engagement is important; our democracy depends on it. However, political engagement should not compromise our mental health or well being. Maintaining optimism in the current political climate is not easy, but it is possible.

Coretta Rego MA, RP, CCC




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

Animals in Schools

Posted by: Derek Collins on September 20, 2019 11:28 am

Part of our mission at Vermilion Outreach School is to create a safe place for our students. Vermilion Outreach is an alternative school for students who have not had success in a regular program. Many of our students find it difficult to focus on their work; this may be for personal reasons or academic difficulty. As the principal and counsellor, I am constantly looking for strategies that would allow the students to overcome some of these barriers. I knew other outreach programs that had a school pet program but it was not something I thought I was ready for. That is until my own dog, Kona, needed to wait somewhere for her veterinarian appointment. With no other options available I brought her to school.

The effect on the students was immediately apparent to  the staff and me. Kona, an older miniature schnauzer-poodle cross, would trot to the door and greet everyone. She would then continue to walk around the school stopping at different locations where a hand would reach down and give a scratch or a pat. Some students would try to get her to jump into their lap, although Kona was not quite ready for that. But she loved the attention. Work only stopped briefly as she walked by but often the students would continue to read or work on an assignment as they gave Kona some attention.

There have been studies on the success of animal-assisted interventions. A systemic review of animal-assisted interventions found that there are some positives for students when dogs are in classrooms. Animals appear to be buffers to psycho-social stress. Classrooms reported that there was an improvement in motivation, focus and a sense of well-being. (Brelsford, Meints, Gee, Pfeffer, 2017)

The most impactful moment for me was when Kona helped me make a connection with a student. I noticed that a relatively new student to our school left her desk and headed to one of the side rooms. I gave the student a few minutes of quiet time before I knocked on the door. The student was crying and I offered to listen. The student nodded, I sat down, but the words were not coming. I tried to be patient. We heard scratching at the door.

“Is it okay if Kona comes in?” I asked. The student nodded. Kona strode into the room and looked up at the student. Then suddenly, she jumped up into her lap.

“You don’t have to hold her if you don’t want to,” I reminded the student, both of us a bit surprised.

“It’s okay,” the student answered. She started talking while petting the dog. Somehow Kona knew she was needed. Her presence gave that student something to focus on while she told her story. That event led to many other sessions.

I encourage other programs to consider a school dog or pet and I would love to hear stories and share ideas.

Brelsford VL, Meints K, Gee NR, Pfeffer K. Animal-Assisted Interventions in the Classroom-A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(7):669. Published 2017 Jun 22. doi:10.3390/ijerph14070669



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

Managing Teenagers’ Stress

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on September 9, 2019 3:00 pm

I have seen a number of teens who are adjusting to the demands and pressures of their last year of high school as they transition into college. In particular, American teens feel a tremendous pressure during this phase of life. Parents should be aware of these pressures and seek to assist their adolescent obtain balance, a healthy lifestyle, and good coping skills. Although I could provide my professional thoughts, I wanted to share some insights from teenagers who have experienced this phase of life stress firsthand.

As a 17-year-old teen who is about to enter my senior (4th) year of high school, I find that transitioning into adult life is stressful. I take a college class over the summer vacation which entails writing papers, researching, and reading a lot of material. My current college class has 12 required books. I am volunteering at a hospital to gain experience, preparing to submit my college applications, and attending practices for an All Star Cheer Team, to say the least. Here is how I manage my stress:

  • I listen to my favorite music. People suggest listening to “relaxing” music; my favorite music isn’t always relaxing music but that type is not for everyone. Listen to what you prefer, as long as your choice of music relaxes you. Another way I de-stress is by taking a shower. I also enjoy taking a 30-minute nap. Sometimes a nap as short as 15-20 minutes works as well.
  • If none of those approaches work, I try calling a good friend. Talking helps me relieve stress. I feel better after Face Timing (video conferencing) or after a long phone call with a friend. I feel more relaxed/distressed and ready to take on the world. Last, exercising or being active is another way to de-stress. Considering taking on a sport either in school or as an extracurricular activity. (Lathanise Cox-Moscatello, July 2019)

Life is both stressful and challenging, at times. I am 14 years old and going into my junior (3rd) year of high school. I am two grades ahead for my age and still take challenging classes like pre-AP Chemistry. As both an artist, and a soccer manager for our school team, I am very busy. I have attended both science and art camps like this over most summers. I also volunteer at a local hospital over the summer to gain experience. The following is what I recommend to maintain a healthy lifestyle (Ramona Cox-Moscatello, July 2019):

  1. Do not allow your stress to build up, because you may blow up or overreact to a situation.
  2. Find what works for you. Take some time to figure out [what you like].
  3. Cold showers wake you up and warm showers help to relax your muscles.
  4. If you can’t find anything that works, ask your parents about seeing a mental health professional.

I concur with their recommendations. Additionally, taking on a hobby such as gardening, playing an instrument, or art might be useful. Exercising is also important in our overall health. In a Vancouver study, older adults executive brain functioning increased between 11%-13% when the participants received resistance exercise training (Liu-Ambrose et al., 2010). Exercising can allow us to accomplish tasks better. In fact, additional studies have demonstrated that participants performed better over a range of cognitive tasks, when they exhibited greater muscular strength (Boyle et al. 2009; Narazaki et al. 2014). Choose an approach for managing your stress that is pro social, in which you can find balance, stay healthy, and obtain good coping skills for better managed teen aged stress.

Lakawthra Cox, MA, MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC
Lathanise Cox-Moscatello, Contributor
Ramona Cox-Moscatello, Contributor

References
Boyle PA, Buchman AS, Wilson RS, et al (2009). Association of muscle strength with the risk of Alzheimer disease and rate of cognitive decline in community dwelling older persons. Arch Neurol 66(11):1339-1344, 2009 19901164. In Noordsy, D. L., editor. (2019) Lifestyle psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. Washington, DC.
Liu-Ambrose T. Nagamatsu LS, Graf P, et al: Resistance training and executive functions: a 12-month randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 170-178, 2010 20101012. In Noordsy, D. L., editor. (2019) Lifestyle psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. Washington, DC.
Narazaki K, Matsuo E, Honda T, et al: Physical fitness measures as potential markers of low cognitive problems. J Sports Sci Med. 13 (3): 590-596, 2014 25177186. In Noordsy, D. L., editor. (2019). Lifestyle psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. Washington, DC.



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

How to Build Your Canadian Private Practice Website

Posted by: Julia Smith on August 21, 2019 2:47 pm
Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Creating a private practice website should be your priority when starting a Canadian private practice! It’s important because most people find their therapist through the internet nowadays. There are so many options when choosing how to build your private practice website. You could build it yourself from scratch, create one through a website builder like Wix or Square Space, or hire a company! The two most important things that you need to consider when building a Canadian website are:

  1.   SEO (search engine optimization) – SEO is fancy tech coding for your website that helps it rank high on internet searches so that people can easily find your website.
  2.   Flexibility – You want to make sure that you have lots of options when developing your website so that when your private practice grows… your website can grow with it!

Because of these two considerations, I highly recommend choosing WordPress to build your Canadian Private Practice website. WordPress websites have AMAZING SEO and unlimited options for creating your website! With website builders you are confined to a template and the SEO is restricted.

Plus, if you choose a website builder, all of your content is stored on their servers, so if you ever decide to switch to another company or take full control of your website… you will have to start from scratch and will lose all your content and SEO that you’ve built! It’s best just to start with WordPress where you can easily switch from templates to having full control of your website.

Recommended Options for Building Your Own Canadian Private Practice Website:

Below are my suggestions on what companies to work with when building your Canadian private practice website. Most of the companies I am suggesting include a domain web address (ie. www.fearlesspractice.com). BUT, for myself, I like to purchase my domains outside of the companies that I work with so that I own them separately. I purchase my domains from I Want My Name as I find it easy to purchase from them and to revenue each year.

WordPress Website Options:

Level 1: WordPress.org ($5.35 CAD per month for hosting)

This option is great for Canadian counsellors who are tech-savvy and have a very tight budget! WordPress.org is hosted on your own server that you purchase through a hosting company. This means that you own your website completely. I recommend Bluehost. Once you have your host you can choose from free themes to help build your website! The downside is that you will solely be in charge of updates, security, plugins, and design which can take up A LOT of your time.

Click here to purchase Bluehost. Click here to learn more about WordPress.org.

Level 2: WordPress.com ($10 CAD per month for their premium plan)

This option is great for Canadian therapists who are NOT tech-savvy and have a very tight budget. WordPress.com will host your WordPress website and provide you with security for your website. You can choose from VERY cheap monthly plans and the best part is, as your Canadian private practice grows and you want more flexibility with your site… you can switch to WordPress.org! The downside is that if you use WordPress.com you will not have full control of your website and you will be limited to what you can create on your website. Plus you still will have to design your website solely by yourself which again can take up A LOT of time.

Click here to build a wordpress.com website! Also, here is a great article that reviews the differences of wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

Level 3: Brighter Vision ($100 (USD)/ $130 (CAD) start-up fee and then$59 (USD)/ $77(CAD) per month)

Brighter Vision is what I use for my private practice. With Brighter Vision you can choose from WordPress templates that have been specifically designed for counsellors! Plus you get free counselling content, amazing SEO, and it’s mobile responsive! Instead of putting hours and hours into designing your website… they do it for you! You also get unlimited support so if you want any changes made… they will do it! Brighter Vision freed up my time so that I could focus on building my private practice rather than building a website.

Click here to get one month free!

Level 4: Beam Local ($1995 CAD to build the website then $79 CAD per month)

I used Beam Local when I created my consulting website because they offer custom designed WordPress websites! I wanted the freedom to design my website instead of just using a WordPress template. Templates can get frustrating when you want to add personal touches to your private practice website. With Beam Local, you can start with one of their stylish templates and then the team will create animated features and design to meet your website needs! They also offer unlimited support, mobile responsive design, and SEO!

Click here to get 2 months free!

Happy building!

Julia

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

Indigenous History – Towards Honouring and Healing

Posted by: Gloria Pynn BA, BEd, MEd, CCC, RPsych on August 13, 2019 11:42 am

In recent times, we see more and more reflection on culture, diversity and our history in Canada. I think we all talk a lot about cultural celebration and respecting all religions and cultures, but how do we translate talk into action? How can we not just “talk diversity” but move to true “inclusiveness”? Diversity focuses on differences whereas, inclusiveness intentionally welcomes  and celebrates diversity. Canada is diverse but we need to really focus on inclusiveness to thrive as a community.  In very simple terms, diversity is who we are whereas inclusiveness is what we do.

In my opinion, cultural appreciation has to start by acknowledging our collective Canadian history and the experiences (good and bad) of all our people, children and families. In saying that, we must honor our Indigenous history and the lived experiences that have created much inherent fallout for mental health as well. This is the first step in any commitment to moving forward toward reconciliation and true support.

So how do we do this? Again, the psychologist and thinker in me, sees the first step as being to feel and immerse ourselves as much as possible by listening, reading, watching and discussing those experiences with those who “hold that history”. That has been one of my goals over the last year: to take time and reflect, participate and hopefully, understand a little better the rich culture but also the many shameful parts of our history. We all own a part in these stories of Indigenous children and families and of all Canadians who allowed this narrative to occur.

The following are just a few of the amazing connections I have made over the last year to better feel and understand these issues. As often is the case, music touched me. The artistry of the seven young women of Eastern Owl in the song “Baby” transports you to the days of Residential Schools. Give it, and their full album Qama’si – “a call to action” a listen by click the image below.

“Baby” by Eastern Owl is a tribute to survivors of the Canadian Residential School System, and their families. It features the word “baby” in the three Indigenous languages of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As indicated in the YouTube description, “for more information on residential schools and their devastating impact on generations of people, please speak to Indigenous people in your community, or contact the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada at http://www.trc.ca/resources.html

I then decided to get out there and attend various events, like the Sunrise Ceremony in Bannerman Park, St. John’s NL to celebrate the Summer Solstice with prayers, drumming, singing, a “smudging” ceremony as well as the prayers, giving and laying of tobacco on a monument to Shanawdithit, the last Beothuk in NL to mark her death in 1829. The prayers, songs and “smudging” ceremonies themselves were open, inviting, family oriented but also very somber and respectful of hurt that accompanies such history. In the “smudging” ceremonies, healing is offered to all those needing it, in any way. It was very moving, beautiful, and absolutely inclusive.

It is vital to speak and listen to those who have experienced these unique stories such as life in residential schools. To listen to Inuk Elder Emma Reelis speaking and giving prayers at events such as ceremonies that honour Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women is truly amazing. Personally, having a first cousin murdered, these words are heartbreaking but it is reality and these are stories that have to be told and stories that must be truly heard.

Also, the integration of such elders in programming for Social Workers is invaluable for insight and understanding as well: https://gazette.mun.ca/campus-and-community/visiting-aboriginal-elders/

While honouring and connecting with the atrocities in our history, we must also acknowledge and absolutely celebrate the success and resiliency of Indigenous peoples such as Eastern Owl, Elder Emma Reelis, and Brian Pottle Engineer and his wife Megan Pottle, both amazing advocates in Newfoundland and Labrador. The following is Brian Pottle’s CBC interview, as a powerful Indigenous role model in NL and his need to give back. He is one of numerous talented Indigenous peoples and amazing children that can heal, and will grow to develop and shine bright.

There is also great honoring in creating more opportunities for awareness, learning and understanding like Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education with its first graduates in 2019.  The following article looks at this innovative, although time limited program.

These are just a few humble personal reflections I make as a psychologist, counsellor and a fellow Canadian and human being to help the healing process. I truly believe there are concrete ways that we can all build true empathy to honour and “hold our history” together to move forward and create a new narrative for our national story.

A saying I have always strongly disliked (because I hold no hate for nothing or no person) was “On a go forward basis…” My experience is that we must honour and “feel” our collective past to build any different future. The past and all stories must be shared, heard, held and honoured. Only then, can we begin to write a new narrative that is fully informed, inclusive and Canadian.

Think, talk, and always take care,

Gloria Pynn
B.A., B.Ed., Diploma in Behaviour Therapy, M. Ed Registered Psychologist C.C.C.

Gloria is a School Psychologist in St. John’s NL and owns a private counselling and consulting practice called PAX Psychological Services Inc. It is Gloria’s belief that we all need to support one another in life, wherever and however we can, to find happiness and peace. PAX is a place where she hopes to help others on that journey. We are all only “passengers” in this life, looking to find our own “peace”.



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

Playing the “Long” Game

Posted by: Derek Collins on July 26, 2019 3:29 pm

At Vermilion Outreach School, we become invested in our work. The result is that we want to see immediate change and growth in our students. The reality is that teaching and counselling are what I call a “long game”. I have a dedicated staff trained to assist students returning to high school; students attending our alternative school often face personal issues and past trauma. We have found that because students have not experienced success at school, there tends to be a reluctance to talk and work with us.

One particular student spent most of her first year virtually silent. Fortunately, she connected with one of the school coaches. During their conversations, the young woman revealed her anxious thoughts. It was clear to the coach that this student needed to connect with a community counsellor with proper resources and training to help her move forward. The coach offered the young girl the opportunity for that connection, however, the student remained uncertain and provided no definite answer.

It was not until nine months later that this individual approached the school coach and said she was ready to see a counsellor. It is no surprise that the staff member was full of excitement and energy at a staff-planning meeting. We needed to connect her right away, and we needed to talk to her mother as soon as possible in order to gain for permission for a referral to our mental health professional. The excitement was infectious and soon everyone on the team took on a task.

Days passed quickly. Mom said she was willing to sign papers but they were routinely forgotten or misplaced. My staff grew more concerned that the student herself was falling into a “silent mode” again. Staff excitement turned to concern and then worry.

This was a time for us to come to a realization we knew, but often forget. Change is not something that comes quickly. Often change is a long process; this is why we have come to label counselling as the “long game”. It is unfortunate that many of our students are not with us for long. A significant number enroll in school and withdraw during the year for many reasons. Sometimes, we are fortunate and honored to see them grow and graduate. For others, change takes many more years and they leave school and the community. We rarely find out what happens with those students. As for our young student, she eventually met with our community counsellor and made plans for more meetings over the summer. We all look forward to hearing more from her when school reopens in September.




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