Optimizing Psychology Today in Canada

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

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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

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.

Canadian EMR Options:

Jane (hyperlink to www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane)

$74 CAD per month (plus provincial tax)

I LOVE and use Jane for my own private practice! Its platform is easy to use plus it provides you with online video counselling, Stripe, and online client booking! Jane also has an amazing support team 🙂 Let Jane know that Fearless Practice sent you.

Click here to try Jane  (hyperlink to www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane)

OWL Practice 

$100 CAD per month (plus provincial tax)

OWL Practice is an awesome Canadian EMR that includes Stripe, online client booking, and video counselling if you choose their Premium Video EMR.

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