The Plight of the Homeless

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on January 23, 2023 3:44 pm

There are many assumptions around homelessness. These assumptions are often cast with a specific ideological perspective and an array of biases. Many assume that if you are homeless, then you must have made a grave error in your life. It’s not uncommon for those assumptions to include the traditional thoughts of addiction, drugs, gang life, prostitution, and being the typical outcast. Let’s not forget, that there are those who believe that the homeless are directly and indirectly responsible for their plight. The most common assumption is, that homeless individuals are lazy, insufferable, unaccountable, and incapable of maintaining any semblance of normalcy.

There is one absolute truth, no one wakes up with a yearning desire to become homeless. Homeless individuals are born with the same innate desires, temperaments, and beliefs that we are all inherently born with. There are a countless number of homeless individuals who have achieved the highest and loftiest of life’s accomplishments. It’s not uncommon to meet a homeless individual who’s obtained a formal education; been a former owner or manager of a business; and who’s owned a home. Homeless individuals are no different than you and I. There are homeless individuals who continue to take pride in their personal appearance and hygiene. It’s not uncommon to meet a homeless individual who continues to strive for success and life beyond impoverishment.

The media has perpetuated the myth that homelessness is a choice. It associates homelessness with a lack of personal drive, ambition, and motivation. It often exploits those who are homeless by perpetuating false narratives and claims of what it means to be destitute. Moreover, the myth influences the general impression that homelessness is a choice. As such, the impression fuels a community filled with apathy and indifference.

Homelessness is driven by a number of factors including: housing scarcity, poverty, domestic violence, divorce, sudden or unexpected death of a spouse, financial hardships and restraints, economic downturn, and of course, the physical and mental health of the individual. While there are a number of factors that may lead to homelessness, the greatest obstacle of those who are homeless, is society itself.

Chronic homelessness has a profound effect upon the life of the individual. It’s not uncommon for those who are homeless to have a severe mental health condition, but a majority of researchers acknowledge that it is difficult to determine whether the mental health condition perpetuated the issue of homelessness or the opposite. It is without a doubt that homelessness can exacerbate and accelerate a preexisting mental health condition. Yet, what about those who had no previously known underlying mental health conditions? Are they more apt to develop a mental health condition being chronically homeless? Chronic homelessness can challenge the healthiest of individuals. Research has indicated that chronic homelessness can have a profound effect upon an individual’s physical mind and body.  It’s thought to be a combination of factors that begins to gnaw at the individual. Over time, the daily struggle to survive and the stressors of living on the streets begins to have a dire effect on their perceptions and worldviews. Gradually, the health and wellbeing of an individual begins to decay, through the influences of living day-to-day on the streets. The daily grind and struggle to survive begins to erode at the consciousness and intellectual integrity of the homeless person. It’s not only the individual’s personal relationship to their environment, but being caught up in a similar environment of others. It’s witnessing a variety of atrocities and human depravity taking place on a daily basis. It’s the feelings and emotions of being rejected and subjected to a standard of life not suitable for any life form. The substandard living conditions are forced upon them day-after-day and week-after-week. The hardships begin to take a toll on the strongest of minds and bodies. It’s this sort of environment that can play havoc with the healthiest of minds and bodies.

The plight of homeless individuals are further eroded by the very system that should be there to protect them. In a majority of the free world, homelessness remains a crime and an illegal act. Terry Skolnik, Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, has indicated that the judicial system of Canada continues to perpetuate the stigmatization of those who are homeless. In Professor Skolnik’s article with the Journal of Law Equality, it is obvious that the judicial system continues to offer a blind eye to the welfare of those who are homeless. In Canada, “courts have rejected homelessness as a ground of discrimination in Canadian constitutional law. Judges have concluded that homeless people are not a protected class…” The Canadian system does not guarantee that an individual will receive adequate housing, financial support, or advocacy. In the United States, laws and public policies have been devised as an intentional and blatant form of discrimination. A glimpse into the American judicial mindset is offered through an article by Nazish Dholakia, Senior Writer, Vera Institute of Justice for Forbes. In Dholakia’s article, he explains that there are “Laws that bar people experiencing homelessness from sitting, sleeping, or resting in public spaces… Some laws prohibit people from living in vehicles. Other laws turn loitering, asking for money, and even sharing food with people into offenses punishable by fines or arrest. In many cities, public restrooms are not available overnight—or at all— yet cities prohibit public urination and defecation.”

We know that homelessness is rooted in extreme poverty and inability to find proper accommodations. According to the United Nations (2023) it’s not only about obtaining housing, but it is the ability to find “stable, safe, and adequate housing.” It is not uncommon for governments to mask the issues of homelessness with a salve, offering temporary and unsafe housing.

So, what is the responsibility of those serving in the field of mental health? Is it our responsibility to advocate on behalf of those who have fallen victim to the clutches of the world? What is the responsibility of a mental health practitioner?

The field of mental health can do better by the side of those suffering. We can do better by offering pro bono services; volunteering as a therapist in homeless organizations and veterans organizations; and advocating on behalf of our fellow human.

We can do better! We can do better by the side of our fellow human! We can advocate were there is a need for advocacy. We can demand change through our legislative bodies and through our professional organizations.

At the moment, being homeless remains a criminal offense. It’s this sort of mindset that will further perpetuate the stigmatization and stereotypes of those who are homeless.While the judicial bodies frame laws and ordinances on preventing and punishing those who are homeless, it’s within their approach that the homeless are being underrepresented and underserved. Perhaps as a society, we should seek to reintegrate rather than to segregate.




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

Finding the Right Therapist this Holiday Season

Posted by: Paula Gonzalez on November 28, 2022 12:51 pm

If you have walked to a store, listened to the radio, have browsed through social media, or done just about anything at this point, you would know that the holiday season is already upon us. It’s everywhere we look, and it is stirring up a lot of strong emotions.

For some people, the holiday season is exciting and joyful, but for many others this can be a very difficult and triggering time of year. Regardless of which side you’re on, this holiday season is particularly challenging due to ongoing pandemic stress, inflation, current world events, and lots of uncertainty. These are very real stressors, and it can be a lot for anyone to manage by themselves. This is exactly why it is a great time to consider investing in yourself by going to therapy. That way, you can get support to hopefully alleviate some of the load you’re carrying, and dare I say maybe even enjoy (or at least not dread as much) what’s left of the year? Hey, it could be worth a try!

If you are intrigued by the idea of finding a therapist this holiday season, here are 3 questions you can ask yourself to prepare:

  1. What kind of support are you looking for exactly? There is no doubt that the answer to this question is something along the lines of “uh, to feel better obviously!”. However, understanding what you need is crucial. When you think about finding the right therapist for you, think about what a therapist could do so that you may feel better, what does that look like? Would it be by them creating a safe space for you to express yourself honestly and process how you’re feeling this holiday season? Or something more specific like helping you set and maintain boundaries with family members? Is it to manage stress or explore self-care strategies? Or perhaps to process feelings of grief? See if you can try to narrow down what it is that you are wanting support with. Better yet, you and your therapist can work together to create a gameplan for therapy. Though it is entirely up to you what you’d like to get out of therapy, your therapist can be instrumental in helping you understand what this may look like.
  • What’s your budget? Therapy is referred to as an investment that you make because of the courage, time, and energy that you provide but a significant portion of this comes from how you fund this investment, as well. An unfortunate reality of the mental health system in Canada is that, unlike many other regulated health professionals, mental health practitioners are still required to charge GST/HST to their services, an added cost to already hefty fees. Asking yourself what your budget for therapy looks like is important as it could determine where to access therapy (e.g., private practice? Sliding scale? Low-cost or free services at an agency?), how many sessions you could afford, and the cadence of your sessions. Fortunately, most extended health benefits do cover at least part of your sessions, and these benefits do usually restart every calendar year. Additionally, most therapists offer a free consultation to help you determine if they would be a good fit for you. This could be a great time to ask them about their fees and/or help you explore options based on your budget.
  • Are you ready for therapy? Most of the time, people wait a while before deciding to seek therapy. It requires quite a lot of soul-searching and courage to reach out. After all, some of the risks of therapy is that it may cause you to experience vulnerable, uncomfortable, and even painful feelings. As per my previous blog post, one of the critical components of therapy is honesty. This means being honest with your therapist about how you’re doing and what your needs are, but mostly being honest with yourself. If you push yourself to go to therapy even though you aren’t ready, you may not yield the results that you’re looking for and run the risk of feeling disappointed or discouraged. It’s okay if you’re not ready to seek therapy just yet. Even though it takes a lot of courage to decide to seek it, it takes just as much courage to be honest with yourself and decide that you’re not ready.

Finding the right therapist is not always an easy task. Asking yourself these questions could be step forward in helping you with this process during an already stressful time of year. However you choose to spend the rest of 2022, may the next few months treat you gently.

Stay tuned for more tips on finding the right therapist for you.

Paula Gonzalez, MCP, CCC, RP, is the founder of Infinite Horizons Psychotherapy (www.infinitehorizonspsychotherapy.com). She specializes in empowering young adults experiencing anxiety through psycho-education and trauma-informed CBT.




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

5 Things You Should Know About Therapy to Find the Right Therapist

Posted by: Paula Gonzalez on October 12, 2022 3:55 pm

By: Paula Gonzalez, MCP, CCC, RP

Finding the right therapist is one of the most important factors correlated with “success” in therapy. After all, finding a therapist that makes you feel safe enough to be honest with them and yourself about how you’re doing is exactly what would need to happen if you’d like to make the most of your time and money spent in therapy.

With that said, finding the right therapist can sometimes feel as if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, which is something that can become incredibly frustrating and defeating. The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. After years of hearing discouraging stories from some of my clients’ previous counselling experiences, it became clear that there is a need for information about therapy so that folks can manage their expectations and learn about their own therapeutic preferences so that they may know what kind of therapist would be the right fit for them.

So, here are 5 things you should know about therapy to find the right therapist:

  1. Therapy is a collaborative process.
    In therapy, it’s important to be clear about your role and your therapist’s role. For instance, your therapist’s job is not to tell you what to do (if they do, this could be a red flag). Instead, their job is to use their education, training, and experience, to help you get there. They may do this by asking questions that may elicit clarity and insight, creating a safe and non-judgmental space for you to express yourself authentically, or by providing you with coping strategies. Your job, on the other hand, is to show up to and to show up in your sessions. This means that you are accountable for not only showing up to your sessions, but to also work up the courage and allow yourself to be honest about how you’re doing, including how you’re feeling about therapy. Your therapist would want to know these things to ensure that you’re actually benefiting from therapy. More on this below.
  2. Honesty is the best policy.
    As mentioned above, ongoing communication in therapy is crucial. A good therapist would want to know how you’re feeling in general, but also about how you’re feeling about therapy itself. They would want to know how the pacing of therapy is feeling for you, and if there is anything about their approach that is or isn’t working for you. Is therapy feeling too overwhelming at the moment? Are we needing to slow it down? Or is therapy feeling too slow-paced? Is the homework feeling too difficult? Are you still feeling motivated to pursue therapy? A therapist will want to know all of the things! They’re not trying to be nosy, but rather want to make sure that you’re actually benefiting from therapy and are getting the most out of it.
  3. You don’t need to be in crisis to seek therapy.
    One of the bigger misconceptions about therapy is that you need to be in crisis to seek help. While that could certainly be a reason to go to therapy, there isn’t a set of eligibility criteria to seek therapy. Many people choose to seek therapy to simply have a space where they can talk to someone who doesn’t know them, so that they can express themselves honestly and without fear of judgment. Others may choose to go to therapy when they’ve encountered a challenging situation and would like additional support, others may go to therapy as a proactive measure to avoid going into crisis, others go to therapy because they’re feeling stable enough to process painful events from the past, and others go simply as a form of mental health maintenance. Everyone can benefit from therapy, and it will always be here for anyone whenever they would like to access it.
  4. Trust the process.
    “Trusting in the process” in therapy means to trust that every single time that you attend a session and do the work, progress is being made. It also means that progress may not be something that one can see or feel in the moment, but that with consistency, patience, and trust in yourself and your therapist, it will become clearer. If you’re someone who is results-driven, it could be beneficial to think about what progress would look like for you and to communicate this with your therapist.
  5. In-person or online therapy.
    This is very important to think about. Since the pandemic, many therapists have moved to online therapy either exclusively or in addition to providing in-person sessions. A reason for this is the accessibility that online therapy can provide, considering that you have access to a device, stable internet connection, and privacy, that is. If you are someone who has access to these, perhaps something else to think about would be whether you would have the time and means to commute to your therapist’s office. Either way, you’ve got options. You can choose whatever would feel best for you.

Bonus tip: You’ve got this!
Exploring and processing uncomfortable feelings doesn’t mean that these feelings will never leave. I often encourage my clients to think of therapy as “growing pains”, in that while it may feel uncomfortable and scary to allow yourself to feel your feelings while in session, this is what will ultimately help you understand them (and therefore yourself and your needs) better. This is where healing and growth begins. Growth can be painful, but it is growth, nonetheless.

Stay tuned for more tips on finding the right therapist for you.

Paula Gonzalez, MCP, CCC, RP, is the founder of Infinite Horizons Psychotherapy (www.infinitehorizonspsychotherapy.com). She specializes in empowering young adults experiencing high levels of anxiety through psycho-education and trauma-informed CBT.

*The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA.




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

Optimizing Psychology Today in Canada

Posted by: Julia Smith on October 5, 2020 4:46 pm

Click here to get your FREE Online Private Practice Checklist

Deciding how to market your Canadian private practice can be a challenge. With so many options that cost time and money, it’s important to be wise. Having tried many different ways to market my private practice, I’ve found that the directory, Psychology Today Canada, has consistently been one of the main ways I get clients. Plus, it only costs $34.95 CAD (tax included) per month! In this article I will show you what to focus on when creating your Psychology Today Canada profile so that you can optimize the service to grow your Canadian private practice.

What to Focus On in Your Psychology Today Canada Profile

Once purchasing your subscription to Psychology Today Canada, you’ll notice that there are sections where you can fill out information about yourself and your private practice.

Personal Statement

  • Speak to your ideal client’s reasons for seeking counselling and the outcomes they want from counselling. People searching for counselling are trying to find a therapist that can help them with what they are struggling with. Talk about those struggles and how you can help people feel better.
  • Don’t focus your statement solely on your qualifications. People want a counsellor that understands what they’re going through as well as someone that can help them. Yes, they want to know that you’re qualified but your personal statement should mainly speak to what your ideal client is experiencing and how you can help them.

Be clear with your prices

Profile Photo

  • Smile. Smiling portrays that you are kind, welcoming, and happy.
  • Have good lighting. Make sure that your photo is bright and that potential clients can see your happy face.
  • Quality. Use a professional photographer to make sure your photo is high resolution and has excellent quality. 
  • Focus on your face. Make sure that the photo focuses on your face. Potential clients want to see the person they will be speaking to so minimize the background in your photo.  

Other Photos

  • Add photos of you counselling someone. People will be curious about what it would be like to have a counselling session with you. So, take some photos with a fake client (a friend or family member) and add them as extra photos on your profile.

Video

  • Just like with the personal statement, speak to what the potential client is struggling with, how you help, and how they will feel once therapy is done.
  • Speak slowly and smile as you talk. This will portray a happy and calm demeanour.

Extra Tips

  • Link to the website button to your booking page. If a potential client has read your personal statement, they do not need to be directed to your home page of your website as they already know who you are and what you do. Instead link the website button to your online booking page so that they can easily book their first appointment.  
  • Target your listing. Make sure to not only target your listing to your area but also two other areas close by. With Psychology Today Canada, you can add two extra targets for free!

Until next time,

Julia

Get MORE Canadian private practice help at:  www.fearlesspractice.ca!

About Julia

Julia Smith, MEd, RCT, CCC, is the owner of Fearless Practice. She specializes in consulting with Canadian counsellors and therapists who want to start a private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps teenagers and adults who want to be confident and happy but are feeling weighed down by anxiety, stress, and depression.

Learn more about her consulting services HERE!

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not clinical or consulting advice. E-subscribers and website visitors are receiving general advertising and information about starting a private practice and should not act upon this information without seeking professional consultation.

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




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

The Role of Varying Motivations to Counsel

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

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

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

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

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




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

Working with Animals in Practice – Terminology

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

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

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

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

Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs)

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

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

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

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

 Key Features of AAT

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

Examples of Goals of AAT Programs:

The following are some examples of AAT goals:

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

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

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

 Key Features of AAE/L

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

Examples of AAE/L

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

Animal Assisted Activities (AAA)

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

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

Key Features of AAA

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

Examples of AAA:

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

Animal Assisted Crisis Response (AACR)

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

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

 Key Features of AACR

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

Example of AACR:

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

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

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

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



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

5 Steps to Starting an Online Canadian Private Practice

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

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

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

  1. Liability Insurance

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

  1. HST Rates

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

  1. Build a website

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

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

  1. EMR

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

  1. Psychology Today

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

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



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

Working with Animals in Practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Memes a Medium for Generation Z: Managing Collective Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



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

Sliding Scale Fee in a Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on January 29, 2020 12:31 pm

There are many reasons why Canadian counsellors opt for a sliding scale fee in private practice. Some counsellors may include a sliding scale because they:

  1. want to offer therapy to those who cannot afford their full fee
  2. want to have a full caseload of clients
  3. are not confident in their session fee price
  4. all or some of the above

Are Sliding Scale Fees Worth It?
Having a sliding scale can solve the above issues but may also create more! If anything, having a sliding scale opens the door for negotiation on your session fee price. That means more administration work of going back and forth trying to negotiate a session price for each client! You also risk not getting your ideal clientele (people who will pay your full fee). When you advertise that you have a sliding scale, people who are looking for a deal will be drawn to your practice. And those that pay the full fee may resent that they are not getting a deal. Sliding scale fees can cause so much hassle and potential harm to your business that I believe they are not worth !

Solution

Offering affordable counselling:
Instead of having a sliding scale … sign up for Open Path Collective. It is free for you to join and allows you to advertise a discounted price for counselling. You can decide how many sessions a month you want to have at the discounted rate and then once full, you can post on Open Path that you are full at your discounted rate. When a potential client inquires about a sliding scale you can just refer them to Open Path. No negation on your counselling fee price needed.

Wanting a Full Case Load:
First and foremost, don’t start a private practice until you have AT LEAST three months of savings and/or have another job to support yourself! It can be very easy to lower your rate and have a sliding scale out of worry that you will not be able to pay your bills. There are many ways to build your private practice caseload that does not include lowering your session fee. One tip is to offer a free 15 minute phone or in-person consultation where you can showcase your value to potential clients.

Not Confident in Your Price:
I get it. The ‘imposter syndrome’ is difficult to deal with. It makes us think we are not worthy. It makes us forget that we have graduate degrees in counselling, experience, and counselling skills that have helped people overcome issues. You are worthy of a fee that reflects that. Click here to learn more about how to set your fee!

Until next time,

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