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

Mothering Others…

Posted by: Gloria Pynn BA, BEd, MEd, CCC, RPsych on May 31, 2019 4:07 pm

Recently, I have been reflecting a lot on May as Mental Health Month and also on Mother’s Day. This is typically a day of celebration, but for some individuals Mother’s Day is a day of mourning, and triggers much grief, loss and trauma – most definitely a very complex and multifaceted day to say the least. There can be huge love associated with being or having a mother but also much trauma associated with having, being or trying to become a mother. An awareness of these unique experiences is necessary for therapists in helping clients cope with these “special occasions”. I wanted to highlight just a few interesting mental health initiatives or ideas related to maternal and caregiver mental health.

The Lloydminster Region Health Foundation  and My Why are partnered to highlight many mental health concerns but in particular, and more recently, maternal mental health and women facing postpartum depression. The effect of PPD on women and their families is far reaching and the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation  and My Why are jointly sharing these women’s stories to raise awareness, validate their lived experiences and reduce stigma. The following is a link to this project and wonderful work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHpuesp_A3w

Locally on the east coast, we see new mental health initiatives that are to be commended and aim to bring mothers out of the shadows and stigma, such as Newfoundland’s own Stella’s Circle. One of their innovative support programs has targeted incarcerated mothers and their separation from their children. The staff at Just Us Women’s Centre (at Stella’s Circle) works with mothers and the NL Correctional Facility for Women to record a storybook. The book is then delivered to the child, offering them something all children like – to have a story read to them by their mother: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxXQUsvhVaR/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Even in daily living, we can find important reflection about parenting and mothering insights. On my most recent trip to Costco, I found a wonderful new read and finished the book ironically on Mother’s Day: Jann Arden’s Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as a Daughter lives with her Mom’s Memory Loss.  It is an intimate look into the artist’s not perfect but very authentic relationship with her parents, and especially her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s. In my mind, it really captures one lived experience of becoming your “mother’s mother” that I’m sure hits home with many caregivers:

Arden, J. (2019). Feeding My Mother Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as a Daughter lives with her Mom’s Memory Loss. Toronto, Ontario: Vintage Canada Penguin Random House Canada.

So, wandering back to my own thoughts… I have always loved words (hence my dual BA degree Psychology and English). The older I get, the more I think of “mother” as a verb, not a noun. It’s the act of mothering that’s key and the connection this act creates is magical and humanly vital to teach empathy and love in our world.

Looking at “Mothers” in this way, allows us to appreciate every person that has ever mothered and truly loved children – biological, adoptive, stepmothers, teachers, aunts, neighbors, godmothers, angel mothers (I love this phrase a friend of mine uses), foster-moms, two Mom families, single dads who have double duty as Mom and Dad, and everyone who choose to not have, or could not have or lost children but have selflessly been mother to countless others with hugs and acts of love daily to those who need it. Happy Mother’s Day every day and love to all who have ever “mothered others”.

Think, talk and always take care,

Gloria
B.A. B.Ed. Dip. Behavior Therapy M. Ed C.C.C. R. Psych




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