Nonconformity in Choosing Counselling as a Career

Posted by: Jeff Landine and John Stewart on January 9, 2020 2:02 pm

Typically blogs about career counselling address issues that relate to the delivery of career counselling, for example, the impact of Artificial Intelligence on future jobs and the need to prepare clients for that eventuality.  For the next few entries, however, we are going to shift our attention to the diverse perceptions that exist on the counselling profession and consider motivations to engage in counselling as a career.

We have, combined, over 50 years’ experience working as counsellor educators at the university level and have both been involved, throughout our careers, with national, provincial and local associations whose mandates are to further the profession of counselling. In these roles we have seen countless students through the process of preparation for a career in counselling and have first-hand experience in the processes of legitimizing these students’ positions as professionals by working with certification and licensing boards and committees.

Despite the recent increase in credentialing and professionalization of the counselling role, one constant we have seen is the frequent consideration by these students of their counselling education as preparation for a professional role somewhere down the road. On more than one occasion, I have heard counsellors-in-training refer to their intentions to have this graduate degree in their “back pocket” for use later in life, either when they no longer want to continue with their present work or as a transition into retirement and as a pension supplement. This approach to counselling as a career is surprising, as we don’t see the same approach employed in other professions. Nobody we know gets their Red Seal as a plumber so that they can open a side business in retirement. We don’t know of any B.Ed. graduates who choose not to teach after graduating, deciding instead to wait until later in their career to join the ranks of school teachers. This phenomenon begs the questions, “Why does counselling, more so than other professions, lend itself to be a career of convenience/second thought?” While people might pursue a law degree, for example, without the intention of practicing as a lawyer, the dynamic we are questioning is whether interest in the subject (in this case counselling) will be used as a support in the work being done or not. John completed a vocational Master of Theological Studies degree out of interest (during the latter parts of his career as a professor), with no intention to be employed as a pastor. Unlike these examples, counselling students appear to be intentional in using the counselling preparation they receive for employment purposes later in their career or after having retired from another job.

The history of counselling as a formal profession starts with the emergence of vocational counselling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Shepard & Mani, 2014).  The advent of large cities, built around manufacturing and industrialization, created the need for vocational guidance; however, the influx of people to these urban centers resulted in increases in unemployment, poverty, poor working and living conditions and crime. Corresponding to the increase in social problems, support systems typically declined as people moved away from their families and home communities. The development of counselling as a profession in Canada over the ensuing century was largely driven by a vocational focus but the resulting profession has adapted itself to the connection between career and personal difficulties and the increasing need for mental health support. Counselling and psychotherapy now make use of psychological theory and concepts and counsellors today are much better prepared to work with psychopathology in their clients.

In the next few blog entries we will explore the nature of Counselling education, credentialing and employment in an effort to decipher the motivations and career planning that have, in many instances, relegated counselling to a “sideline” or back-up profession.

Shepard, B., & Mani, P. (2014). Career development practice in Canada. Toronto, ON: CERIC Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling.



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

Appearing on Network Television: Are You Ready for Your 15 Minutes of Fame?

Posted by: Doc Warren on December 13, 2019 10:45 am

At some point in your career you will likely be contacted by the media. They may ask you to give a professional opinion on a topic they are covering or they may have an interest in the place that you work, the population you serve or even in you and your career. Whatever the reason, there are some considerations that should come into play before saying yes. What follows serves not as a comprehensive nor exhaustive look, but as more of a primer on preparing for what is often considered your “15 minutes of fame.”

Over my career, I have been honored to have been able to help promote our profession in several mediums ranging from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, text books and the internet. In some cases I was little more than filler, providing a few lines of professional opinion for a much broader topic. At others I was the main focus. No matter your role, it is important, even when the only reason the reporter is talking to you is because their focus cannot speak for themselves (like when they were covering a therapeutic animal in my office but alas, Helen, the dog could not talk so they asked me. If I remember correctly, it was my arm that made the front page, wrapped around Helen).

Some folks will decline any type of interviews for their entire careers, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Who wouldn’t want to keep a low profile, do their job and go home? There is much to be said for that. For those who find themselves faced with the decision and are inclined to say yes, consider the following:

What’s your message?
Though the reporter will have their agenda and will serve as a guide for the interview, it is important to know what you want to say, how you want to be portrayed and the overall tone you would like the interview to have. This does not mean that you should stick dogmatically to your original agenda: a certain amount of give is often needed as the interview may take a surprise turn, but have a general idea of what you want your overall message to be.

What are your goals?
After saying yes, what is it that you hope will be accomplished in the interview? Is it realistic? Do they align with the goals of the reporter? Have you discussed them with the reporter? Doing what you can to make sure that there are shared goals can save one from awkward moments when the cameras are rolling. It’s very important to remember that no matter what you say, unless you are on live tv, the editor will decide what makes the final cut. This again underscores the need to mesh your goals and expectations with the reality of what the reporter is looking for. For the most part, put trust in the news-team to do a good job. If you do not trust that they will do so, decline the interview and move on.

Preparing mentally
Most “bad” interviews that I’ve seen are often rooted in a lack of mental preparation or focus. Though there will be varying numbers of viewers depending on whether or not you are doing public, local, state, national or international programming, try to focus on the interviewer and not worry about the viewership. Obsessing about the ratings, number of views and related issues tend to mostly lead to undue stress and possible anxiety attacks. Many times when folks freeze on air it has so much to do with them being psyched out by the thoughts of all the people watching them. Try to clear that from your mind and focus only on those before you. Try to think of the camera as an old friend.

When preparing for the interview, remember your goals, desired message and the approximate time they have given you for the interview. Handle the interview with the same calmness that you would have when conducting a session with a new client.

Preparing the office
If your interview will be done in the studio, there is nothing that needs to be done in terms of office prep; but when the crew comes to you and your office, that changes things considerably. When doing an office-based interview it is advisable to clear the amount of time that the interviewer has estimated. On a recent interview, the producer estimated that the interview and B Roll (extra filming for filler or to do voice over work with) would take no more than 30 minutes. Once they got on scene and asked a few questions, they pleasantly discovered a much bigger story. Two hours later I needed to hold a session and they had not yet filmed their originally planned footage. Thankfully, what they needed to film was out of the office and in part of the 50 acres that surrounds it.

When a film crew is present it is best not to have clients around so as to avoid any potential privacy violations. Also be sure not to have any charts or other medical records in view.

Some folks will want to stage their offices prior to the interview, others will just make sure it has had a good cleaning, there really is no wrong answer.

How to dress
Depending on the type of interview, you would likely either dress much like you would for a typical work day, or perhaps dress more “corporate.” Dress according to how you want to be portrayed. It is not uncommon to see one dressed in a “smart” suit or similar fashion but many exceptions exist.

Setting boundaries
Don’t be afraid to say no to a reporter, producer or other member of the crew should they ask you to do something that you feel uncomfortable with. This includes saying no to the whole interview if the timing, location, topic or whatever feels wrong.

Protecting client privacy
Your clients deserve respect and the law and code of ethics demands that their privacy be protected at all costs. Be sure to read, understand and follow the laws and codes of ethics related to client\patient privacy. Avoid giving details of any actual client that could potentially lead to their identification. Do not have any identified clients with you as part of an interview and keep all notes, charts or other documents out of the area where the film crew may have access. This applies even when you have a high-profile client or clients that the news community would be very interested in. Do not risk your career for a chance at a few minutes of fame.

Getting over yourself
Ok, your segment has been filmed and edited and is about to go on the air, the teasers (promotional commercials) are in rotation on the network and folks are starting to notice and contact you. It is fine to acknowledge the upcoming interview and to share the promos and information but remember to keep things in perspective.

As the segment(s) air there will likely be an increase in calls, emails and social media response. There may be many messages of praise and some level of fanfare. There could also be a fair share of skeptics or naysayers as well. It is best not to tie your self-esteem to your public standing. There may be some hype surrounding the event but it will die down in short order. Remember who you are, what you do and stay grounded. You are no better than you were prior to the interview and soon enough, folks will have moved on to the next big thing. Acting superior now will likely just help kill any positive vibe the press gave you in the first place.

Case Study:
A short while ago I was contacted by the Today Show to offer an expert opinion on a story they were covering for their site. They found me after an internet search for professionals associated with the topic. After a brief exploration of the story, message, goals and related issues we agreed on a day and time to conduct the interview via telephonic means. The interview took place and a day or two later it went live internationally. NBC Universal cross-promoted the story and soon I found that several people who had seen the story but had not read it yet had forwarded it to me as they thought I may have found it of interest. I also shared it on social media and mentioned that I was in it. I then went to work doing my normal client load and farm chores.

A matter of days later NBC Connecticut contacted me about doing a story about the program that I founded and run in Connecticut. They had read the story and my part of it and thought it could be of interest to Connecticut viewers. We explored the items as described above and I set aside four chunks of time that they felt they would need for filming. I cleaned my office and made sure no clients would be scheduled at the office for any of our other clinicians as well during that time.

As our program was the focus, I decided to dress much like I normally do for work as I wanted to appear genuine. My wife did buy me a new Carhartt Tshirt because she felt some of my daily shirts would not look great on television, but otherwise I wore what I often do, right down to my New Balance sneakers and cowboy hat.

As the B Roll was being filmed and small talk between the news anchor and myself took place, there seemed to be a change in both scope and direction of the piece. Though I was prepared to discuss the programming and only a bit about myself, once the cameras were rolling for the formal interview I found that much of the interview focused directly on me and the program itself was second. As the news anchor remained in due bounds, we continued and I followed her lead as she had my full trust and respect.

Two hours into the process, they had not filmed the animal sanctuary that I thought was going to be the main focus of the spot. Having to get back to work, they filmed the animal spot without me (they were well aware of the fact that privacy was paramount and did not attempt to film any client that may have come to the property).

In the end, the minute or two segment that I had planned for turned into a day or so of teasers followed by in studio conversations by the entire news team and two segments in the morning. The evening news team had their own conversations and a single but expanded version of the interview was played. I had no idea what would be in it until I watched it on TV. My wife, also a clinician and member of our clinical team, was interviewed as well and my son Warren IV was shown and discussed. We could not have written a better PR piece if we had tried.

The morning it aired I decided to watch it, something I rarely do as I view interviews as part of the job, something to do, move on and forget about. I was glad that I did. I was super impressed by the quality of the piece and how they treated our program. I then got out of bed, cleaned the drain in the tub, got ready for work as normal, meaning a full round of sessions intermixed with farm chores.

We shared the links on social media and gave them to our website tech to have them embedded as soon as we could. Otherwise, it was business as usual, with the exception of the increased requests for services that often come with media attention.

Days later a different network requested an interview but we declined. It was felt that the timing was wrong, the set up was too rushed and there was concern that the producer did not fully understand or respect the need for privacy for our clients. Though we respect the team, we could not in good conscience do the interview under their terms.

The experiences were good, the added attention for our program was better than an expensive ad campaign, but in the end, we remain the same people and the same program as before. No better, no worse. It is after all just part of the job…

So there you have it, sometimes you become the story. Do your best and move forward. I’m rooting for you!

Links to the original article and one of the interviews:

Other clips may be available at www.docwarren.org by the time this is published.

Be sage, 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 https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/A-Happy-Place-Wolcott-Therapeutic-Farm-Redefining-Mental-Health-Care-563389381.html



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

How to Store Client Records in a Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on November 28, 2019 9:31 am

Keeping client’s notes and personal information secure is a very important task that all Canadian counsellors must do. There are two main ways that Canadian counsellors store their client records:

  1. File Cabinet
    Many Canadian therapists, like myself, started their careers with writing paper-based notes and then storing the notes in a locked file cabinet. In private practice, this can be an affordable way to keep client records. However, as your caseload grows you will need more and more space to store the records! Plus, if you do not have your own office space yet or commute between offices… it can become a very big hassle to store paper-based records.
  1. Electronically
    Since starting my Canadian private practice, I have been using Electronic Medical Record systems, otherwise known as an EMR. Yes, it does cost money… but it is soooooo worth it! By using an EMR you can easily store client records securely on an Internet server. By storing client records online, you can easily access your notes at any location! Plus most EMR’s include other services in their packages that help to grow your Canadian private practice!

Privacy Laws in Canada for Storing Electronic Records

As Canadian counsellors, we have to follow the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) (a federal law) as well as any provincial Personal Information Acts. The main point in PIPEDA for Canadian Therapists is to make sure that you are storing electronic records correctly. Electronic records are stored on Internet servers that can be located anywhere in the world (depending on what EMR you are using).

Since some provinces have some type of provincial Personal Information Act, regulations can be different per province. This means that currently every province (except British Columbia and Nova Scotia) can store their records on US or Canadian servers. This is a good thing as it gives Canadian private practice owners more options when choosing an EMR (you can choose a US or Canadian EMR). Unfortunately, British Columbia and Nova Scotia MUST store their records on Canadian Internet servers (you can only choose Canadian EMRs).

For more information you can read: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/

EMR Options

There are many EMRs that you can choose from. I recommend that you choose an EMR that includes:

  • Online booking: allows clients to easily book their sessions online without having to call to schedule a session. This feature has helped me build my caseload, as many people would prefer to book online rather than call. Plus, if you do not have online booking and a potential client calls to book an appointment and gets a voicemail… they may continue to search for a counsellor that they can get an appointment with right away.
  • Credit card technology (such as Stripe): being able to charge clients for sessions through your EMR and have their credit card information securely stored through the system, saves you money! It has been very useful for me to have client’s credit card information saved (through Stripe). Especially when a client does not show up for their appointment and I have to charge them. It is also useful if someone else is paying for the counselling sessions but is not attending them (such as a parent paying for their teen’s counselling).
  • Secure online video counselling technology: it can be useful to have the option to provide online counselling. I have found it helpful with client’s that have moved away but still want to have sessions with me.

Simple Practice (US)

$49 USD plus $10 USD For Online Video Counselling/ $77 CAD per month

I LOVED and used Simple Practice for years until I had to switch to a Canadian server (my private practice is in Nova Scotia). Its platform is easy to use plus it provides you with online video counselling, Stripe, and online client booking if you choose their professional EMR! Click here to get a FREE thirty-day trial

OWL Practice (Canadian)

$80 CAD per month (plus provincial tax)

OWL Practice is an awesome Canadian EMR that includes Stripe and online client booking if you choose their Premium EMR! (They are also currently setting up online video counselling)! Click here to save 50% off your first moth with PROMO Code: FEARLESS

Remember to:
* make sure you have some type of cyber insurance (usually offered as an addition when purchasing private practice insurance)
*check with your organization/regulator to make sure that you are following their requirements for storing client records

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

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

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

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

Artificial General Intelligence and its Impact on Jobs

Posted by: Jeff Landine and John Stewart on July 19, 2019 10:57 am

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is typically divided into Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). In our last blog, we dealt with ANI and its implications in the workplace. In this blog we will deal with AGI.

AGI focuses on developing and using deep artificial neural networks (a set of computer algorithms) to process massive amounts of data in a relatively short time. “Deep” refers to the number of layers of computer algorithms, which permit the computer to form connections between these layers. Because of these connections, computers are essentially able to program themselves after multiple trials of processing different sets of similar data. Once the accuracy and efficiency of the model is determined by humans, it becomes available to those who want competent analyses of information pertinent to operating their business and/or performing their occupation.

Predictions are that many new jobs will be created as the field of AGI develops. To illustrate these predictions, presently six different individuals are typically deployed when using deep learning methods to develop new computer models. The decision-maker secures funding and resources to complete the project. The stakeholder quantifies the business value of a proposed solution. The domain expert gets familiar with the work area and problem to be solved. The data scientist translates business problems into computer tasks. The data engineer determines possible databases to use in simulation; and a systems architect designs the infrastructure, such as servers to handle big data. Within a relatively short time, the number of individuals and specializations needed to develop computer models will increase and result in jobs with new specialized tasks.

The impact of AI on the workplace is anticipated to be swift and impactful. A report from the World Economic Form in 2018 projected that these computer programs are expected to create 133 million new jobs by 2022; however, 75 million jobs are likely be displaced. This leaves a net new jobs creation of 58 million due to growth in AI.  An RBC report suggests that Canada will add 2.4 million new jobs to the workplace in the next four years. However, it also suggests that the current generation of young people are not being prepared for these sweeping changes. Workers will need digital skills, that is, the ability to understand digital items, digital technologies and the Internet fluently.  They will also need human skills such as critical thinking, active listening, social perceptiveness, and complex problem-solving skills for job success.

Career counsellors face three immediate challenges: disseminating labour market information, counselling workers who are displaced, and helping existing workers find retraining or upskilling programs. Part of this challenge is the speed at which these predictions are coming true.  Career counsellors and their professional organizations will need to produce materials to provide clients with significant labour market information related to displacement and innovations in the workplace.  Individuals who lose their jobs often experience low self-esteem, depression, and lack of self-confidence. As well, prolonged periods of unemployment can lead to suicide ideation (Milner, Page & LaMontagne, 2013). Counsellors will need to deal with these issues before they help their clients make workforce changes. Counsellors will need upskilling themselves to understand the tasks being performed in these new jobs, and to assess their clients’ current transferable skills for the new jobs. They need knowledge of available educational programs that offer uptraining. Further, career counsellors need to be familiar with government support programs that can help their clients make workplace transitions.

Despite these dire predictions, we suggest it will be more “yellow light” than red or green. Many Canadian employers are small to midsize businesses and may not have the capital to adopt these AI technologies presently. To deal with these rapidly developing workplace needs, we think there will be local, provincial and national responses, a part of which will provide agencies with the needed help to deliver services.

Suggested Reading

A beginner’s guide to automated machine learning & AI. Retrieved May 27 at https://skymind.ai/wiki/automl-automated-machine-learning-ai.

Chowdhry, Amit. (2018). Artificial intelligence to create 58 million new jobs by 2022, says report. Retrieved May 27 at https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2018/09/18/artificial-intelligence-to-create-58-million-new-jobs-by-2022-says-report/#14a40f204d4b.

Human intelligence and intuition critical for young people and jobs of the future. Retrieved May 27 at http://www.rbc.com/newsroom/news/2018/20180326-future-skills-rpt.html

Milner, A., Page, A., & LaMontagne, A. D. (2013). Long-term unemployment and suicide: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one8(1), e51333.

Jeff Landine and John Stewart
Faculty of Education, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.



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

What Happened to Rites of Passage?

Posted by: Grant M. Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III on July 4, 2019 1:54 pm

When was the last time you heard of a bunch of boys being taken out to the wilderness by the men of a village to experience a Rites of Passage? My guess is that not many of you have. Fortunately for this writer, I have been involved in this work for both boys and men over the past dozen years.

My first exposure to this work came through a men’s group that I joined in Indianapolis (of all places). It was a safe place for men to gather to share their truth without judgement. I later learned that the man who founded the group was initially involved with a larger organization that was then called: “The New Warriors”.  It would take me seven years until I met up with this organization again. By that time, it had changed its name to: “The Mankind Project” (MKP) – an organization based in the mid-western United States that has spread to many parts of the globe.

Once I connected with MKP, I was invited to attend a Rites of Passage weekend for men called: “The New Warrior Training Adventure”.  This was a very powerful rites of passage experience that invited me to take a deeper look at my life.  Since going through my weekend, I have invited many men to experience the weekend and it has changed many lives and rippled out into the world.

After being involved with MKP, I realized that I wish I had experienced this rites of passage when I was much younger, and was hopeful that my son could experience this for himself. Low and behold, I came across Boys to Men, a rites of passage experience for boys.  I wasted no time in bringing my son to a weekend and, following that, organized several men in my community in order to bring the weekend to us. We  ended up delivering the rites of passage several times in our own community!

This is powerful healing work for boys and men that I would invite therapists to investigate for clients with whom they believe would benefit from this empowering experience. There are a number of YouTube videos that are worth watching for further insights.




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

Additional Insights into Preserving Client Confidentiality

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on June 12, 2019 8:38 am

Glenn Sheppard wrote the article, Notebook on Ethics, Standards of Practice, and Legal Issues for Counselors and Psychotherapists in Cognica’s Winter 2018 Edition. His article reviewed ethical considerations for mental health service providers to uphold privacy and confidentially. I believe that he provided good merit and I wanted to continue and augment the dialogue to address other ways to uphold privacy and confidentiality when confronted with antagonistic attempts to gain unprivileged information.

I wanted to share my personal professional experiences. While acting as a regional director of one of the largest non-profit organizations in the US, both officials and family members made several attempts to gain unprivileged information.

Family Members
The instance that I recall most vividly were the attempts made by a few people to gain information on a domestic violence victim. Initially, the first caller claimed to be a family member. As for anyone without a signed disclosure or a warrant, we were neither able to confirm nor deny providing services to a client. I reminded my staff that even when family members make inquires that we cannot provide information and breach a client’s confidentiality.

Investigators
I believe that we had three attempts to gain information on the same client within a 1-2 week period. On one of the final attempts, a man claimed to be an investigator. Despite the inquirer’s credentials, my or my staff’s responsibility to maintain confidentiality had not changed. Fortunately, I had sat down with my staff and requested that they be vigilant during this time, because it appeared that requests for confidential information had increased.

I too was a domestic violent survivor who had to flee an unsafe situation. I had personally experienced service providers who did not understand the scope in which to preserve my or my children’s confidentiality. Unfortunately, officials were oftentimes the worst at maintaining my family’s confidentiality. I learned how to put safety features in place for me and children and my clients later benefited, as I understand firsthand the scope of avoiding breaching confidentiality.

Attorneys
Whenever an attorney would call, my staff would forward the call to me. Some attorneys were seeking information on behalf of their client. Nonetheless, my client would still need to sign a release prior to my submitting any information to their attorney. Another attorney sent over a court order not signed by a judge. We were not required to respond to any request by attorneys that do not have a proper endorsement by a judge.

Oklahoma State Laws
Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health, Licensed Public Counselor Rules (2016). Title 86, State Board of Behavioral Health Licensure, Chapter 10, Licensed Professional Counselors; Subchapter 3. Rules of Professional Conduct.

Confidentiality

LPCs shall maintain the confidentiality of any information received from any person or source about a client, unless authorized in writing by the client or otherwise authorized or required by law or court order

American Counseling Association
Code of Ethics Section B, Confidentiality and Privacy
B.1.c. Respect for Confidentiality

Counselors protect the confidential information of prospective and current clients. Counselors disclose information only with appropriate consent or with sound legal or ethical justification. p.6

Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association
Standards of Practice, B. Counselling Relationships, Confidentiality

Counsellors have a fundamental ethical responsibility to take every reasonable precaution to respect and to safeguard their clients’ right to confidentiality, and to protect from inappropriate disclosure, any information generated within the counselling relationship. This responsibility begins during the initial informed consent process before commencing work with the client, continues after a client’s death, and extends to disclosing whether or not a particular individual is in fact a client. p.10

It is important that as mental health professionals we are aware of the guidelines of our prospective licensing, certification, and professional boards. National professional organizations, such as the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and the American Counseling Association also provide guidelines for us to follow. In addition, if there is ever any question as to what you should do when confronted with such a situation, consider 1) Consulting with a colleague and 2) Researching your laws and regulating bodies of your profession. You may also consider finding out the requirements of horizontal mental health professions. For example, I am a Licensed Public Counselor but I may want to keep in mind requirements of Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor, and Psychologist who may have a more stringent state requirement.

Lakawthra Cox, MA, MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC

References
Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health, Licensed Public Counselor Rules (2016). Title 86, State Board of Behavioral Health Licensure, Chapter 10, Licensed Professional Counselors; Subchapter 3. Rules of Professional Conduct. https://www.ok.gov/behavioralhealth/documents/Permanent%20Rules%20-%20LPC%20-%209-11-2016.pdf
American Counseling Association. (2014). Code of Ethics: Section B, Confidentiality and Privacy. B.1.c. Respect for Confidentiality. p.6. https://www.counseling.org/resources/aca-code-of-ethics.pdf.
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy: Association. Standards of Practice, 5th Ed. (2015). B. Counseling Relationships, Confidentiality, p.10. https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/StandardsOfPractice_en_June2015.pdf

 




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