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

Horrible Placement

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on April 29, 2019 2:21 pm

My girls had an Arts Festival and talent show at school one year. Lenay placed 1st & 2nd for her art in her age and grade category. Monet placed 2nd and 3rd for her art. The girls told me some kids had received, “horrible,” hand-written on their ribbons. I told them that that could not be true.

Apparently, one of the young girls who received the horrible placement ribbon, started to cry over her status. I saw the horrible placement ribbons on several art pieces, written in cursive; they actually read “honorable mentions”.

Sometimes you perceive a horrible placement for a challenge in your life. This perception keeps you from trying things that you would otherwise attempt. For example, you want to  model but you are not the height of a runway model. You want your degree in business administration but plan to settle for a management degree because you have poor math skills. Perhaps, you want to become a psychologist but there are no available psychology programs in your area. Do you just give up because you are in, what you believe to be, a horrible placement? Happiness comes from doing what you love and what motivates you (Anderson, 2004). To experience happiness, you deserve to have a career or hobby that inspires you, within the confines of morality, of course. Turn your horrible placement into an honorable mention. Decide to improve your situation by viewing and perceiving your situation differently.

Reference
Anderson, N. (2004). Work with passion: How to do what you love for a living. Novato, CA: New world Library.



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

Lead…Who Me?

Posted by: Gloria Pynn BA, BEd, MEd, CCC, RPsych on April 15, 2019 2:52 pm

Unfortunately, many of our workplaces, communities, political systems are presently in a precarious place with regards to leadership – many people experiencing doubt and fear for the future. My steadfast belief is that Leadership lives in every person, everywhere, every single day. Our voices and daily work as counsellors and psychotherapists has such impact on individuals creating a ripple effect on the systems we work within. The following is a revisit to a reflection on leadership I wrote circa 2013 during leadership succession sessions. After many years in counselling and the school systems, we need to acknowledge our individual leadership capabilities and strive to be effective leaders, starting with the basics. I call these the three Cs…. Care, Commitment and Connectedness.

Care about clients, children, parents, families, social justice and collective community. We all care but think about what care can really mean for you. Demonstrate true empathy not sympathy and reflect this in your actions daily. Take care always to see the importance and impact of decisions we make every day around and with our clients.

The following Brené Brown YouTube video demonstrates sympathy versus empathy brilliantly. In her approach to leadership, Brené Brown suggests to not be afraid to show vulnerability and Dare to Lead. I tend to agree, authentic voices in our relationships and work always demonstrate care and makes our relationships and leadership stronger.

Commitment to lead… by example, in our actions, thoughts and philosophies about children, clients, education, life and people in general. Think about who you are and what, at the end of the day, is socially just and fair for all. We often call it “due diligence” but basically, it’s doing the right thing.

We all realize there are many external constraints e.g. employer policies, ethical and legal standards or practice. Our workplaces e.g. hospitals and schools, are a microcosm of society and where we learn and teach skills around priorities, goal setting, decision making and compromise. Always have voice and input, and help lead toward the best solutions we can reach within fiscal realities and other limiting factors. Lobby and advocate to change our current realities. The goal of our work is to help make a positive difference and impact on our clients’ lives in real time. As I heard Eckhart Tolle speak at a presentation in St John’s NL in June 2018, we only ever have the present moment – The Power of Now.

Thirdly, strive to Be and Keep Connected …. We must seek to know our clients, students, families, and communities through constant communication. Learn to really listen and problem solve together not merely “fix issues” or “band aid problems” but long-term views. Subscribing to a true shared leadership model and seeing that we are powerful voices and leaders, can help us see the “big picture” and provide all reasonable and available supports to others. Also, keep connected to fellow colleagues, as this provides support and reinforcement of the value of our work. In turn, this strengthens our care and commitment to our clients and is key to having success and satisfaction in our counselling practice. Who me … Lead? Yes, you and I do lead every day. Our words and work must always matter.

Think, talk and take good care always.

Gloria

*Dedicated to Dana Brothers – a fierce woman with amazing ideas, a large voice, a real leader every day. Rest in Power

Sources/Readings:
Photo: Gloria Pynn NYC January 2019
Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.
Tolle, E., & OverDrive Inc. (2010). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. Novato, CA: New World Library.



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

From Red Mind to Blue Mind

Posted by: Grant M. Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III on April 4, 2019 10:14 am

A new book has recently been published called Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows how Being Near, In, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. The author, Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, has written this book to bring awareness to the healing power of water. The difference between Red Mind and Blue Mind is that a Red Mind is one that has been impacted by the velocity of today’s society; as compared with a Blue Mind that has been calmed by the soothing effects of water.

Water has been a healing element for indigenous peoples since time immemorial; turning to water to take away illness and unhealthy emotions. To this day, First Nations in Canada still go to the water to cleanse or bathe throughout the year. It is common after each round during the sweat lodge ceremony for participants to turn to water to wash off. Today, many indigenous people have been impacted by mainstream culture and therefore many of the people have Red Mind because they are caught up in the pace of modern society. Water needs to be brought back to the people to decolonize their minds.

In his book, Dr. Nichols also writes about the impacts industrialization has had on water and why it is imperative for all of us to invest time and resources to clean up our water systems and to stop polluting. This is going to take a tremendous amount of willpower in order to consistently send this message to government and corporations. Restoration of ecosystems cannot occur, however, if pollution continues and global warming is not mitigated.

All of us will benefit immensely by embracing the healing powers of water and shifting our minds from Red to Blue; we will all be healthier and more connected to Mother Earth. It is about recognizing that by slowing down and experiencing the awe of an ocean vista, mountain, lake or steam, we will re-remember where we come from and know that by having a renewed connection with water, we will cleanse ourselves and feel better as a human species.

Grant Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III




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

My Father’s Hands: Things We Can Learn from Generations that Came Before Us

Posted by: Doc Warren on March 19, 2019 9:17 am

My father was not much of a talker. Now that I think of it, he wasn’t  into nurturing either, but he did teach me a great deal just the same. Though I could probably count the number of hugs on a single finger he gave me from the time I turned ten until he passed away, he still managed to help shape many aspects of my life. I miss him.

Folks can teach us in many ways. They can teach us with their words, be they written or recorded. They can teach us much like the folk stories of old, verbal histories shared from generation to generation, each one with a point, focus on a moment in history or a moral tale. Sometimes these are the best types of stories. The farm that I work on is named from a local folk tale. It was shared from person to person and never written down until the farm was named after the woodland creature in the tale. In fact, much debate was spent on how to spell this creature’s name. At least three renditions were explored before “Pillwillop” was decided upon…

Not being a writer, a talker or a hugger, my father was a bit more limited in his approach.  He shared few words, even fewer the number of words that he liked to use that I could actually share in a professional writing. That’s not to say that he had little to teach as his actions taught me much about what I view how a man should behave. He set many an example, some good, some not, but every one helped me become who I am today.

One of my main memories of my father was when I was a toddler. My father was home from work, a real treat for me as I rarely saw him. He was in bed, tired but in a better mood than usual. I looked at his hands. They were cracked from solvents but also stained with machine oil, which gave a spider web type look to his giant (to me) fingers.  His palms and several fingers were wrapped with bandages caused by a work mishap. Sometimes the old machines needed to take what they felt were theirs, especially if you were rebuilding them. I remember asking my dad why he was home and he said something about sometimes needing to take a break. He didn’t talk about the pain or injuries and instead just talked about taking a break, he’d be back to work the next day.

I sat their staring at his hands and looking down at mine. Mine were so delicate, his looked like stone. His were cracked and wrapped, mine never had been. Finally I asked him about his hands and why they were wrapped. Only then did he say that sometimes the machines win but he was fine. He’d get the machine back together tomorrow…

All those scars on his hands told the tale of a man whose hardscrabble upbringing helped mold him into what he became. They inspired his son and others though he had so little to say about them. Always inquisitive (many would say nosey), I asked everything I could while I had access to him. There is so much to be learned from those that came before us. So much that has been lived. So much to teach us but so many of our elders keep the stories to themselves. Too little is written down.

As I type these words I look now at my own hands. They are middle aged and at times cannot grip a hammer any longer. They are prematurely worn out due to the same hardscrabble upbringing of their own. We learned to be creative though. When I could not grip a hammer I taped it to my closed hand. When my wrists were full of pain I used that same tape. My father’s hands taught me this. There is much to be learned. So much to be offered if we simply take the time to ask.

To those that are reading this, consider taking a day off from work very soon so that you can spend it with those from older generations. Look not just at their hands, take the time to ask them about life when they were your age. Ask them about when they were younger than you are. Ask them how times and things have changed. Hang onto those words as best you can. Record them if possible so that they can continue to teach us long after we have passed.

There is so much knowledge just waiting to be uncovered. So much that may be on the verge of being lost. Now is the time.

Be safe, do good

-Doc Warren

”Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org). He is internationally certified as a Counsellor and Counsellor Supervisor in the USA and Canada (C.C.C., C.C.C.-S, NCC, ACS). He can be contacted at [email protected]




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

Life’s a Masquerade

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on March 15, 2019 8:16 am

My sister had a masquerade party for her 30th birthday. The guests were dressed like 17th century patrons in fancy ball clothes, and even her cake had a vertical floating gold masquerade ball mask. Children, adults, and grandparents attended her authentically themed party, hosted in a large party hall. Can you imagine waltzing across a ballroom floor in your fancy clothes, while you escape in the music and getting to enjoy the company of other guests through great conversation, warmth, and laughter? The hors d’oeuvres are simply smashing. Generally, people report friendships or close relationships as the most valuable and meaningful part of life (Klinger, 1997; Bibby, 2001). What better way to spend time than in a masquerade party with good friends and family.

I never considered having a special party for my 30th birthday, or any other birthday for that matter. I am lucky to care to attend my own graduations, as I skipped my high school and my first master degree graduation. My approach to skipping out on celebrations is far from healthy. Skipping out leads to not only isolating yourself, but also isolating other people in your life. When my children view old videos of my family, they always ask my mother or sisters, “Where was my mom?” I was usually engaged in my own individual activities somewhere else in the house. My absence from family activities in my adolescence has apparently robbed my children, a generation later, of any meaningful insight about my life growing up. Avoid isolating yourself, as isolation can lead to loneliness among other negative emotional consequences. Remember to celebrate life, yourself, and your accomplishments – even the small ones.

Now, I take time out to smell the roses, so to speak, and you should do the same. Life is a masquerade but don’t hide behind your masks – have a ball. If you do, your happiness will keep you healthier.

References
Bibby, R.W. (2001). Canada’s Teens, Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow. Toronto: Starddart.
Klinger, D.A. (1997). Negotiating order in patrol work: an ecological theory of police response to Deviance. Criminology 35(2):277–306.



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

Aloneness

Posted by: Grant M. Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III on February 25, 2019 10:21 am

Dave feels alone in the world. He no longer connects with his family and has few friends. He spends too many hours contemplating the darkness of his days, with no motivation to change his mindset. Day after day, he ruminates about how terrible his life has been; his voicemail tends to be full because Dave does not return the frequent calls from collection agencies.

It seems to me that there are many individuals in Dave’s situation across Canada. The levels of depression and anxiety are at epidemic levels, and the only entities  gaining from this increase are the pharmaceutical companies that are, in my opinion, putting a band-aid on the issue. What people like Dave require is a connection with others. On the one hand, he needs to be validated and provided with insights as to how he can lift himself up and feel more positive on the other.

Many years ago, one of my supervisors said to me, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” When I think about this concept in relation to Dave, I wonder how many people are drifting aimlessly in our communities because they do not have a plan. How many people are alone because they lack structure and discipline in their lives? I can hear some respondents saying, “People who are depressed lack the motivation to get up and go.” I agree with this statement, and I also believe that it is through inertia that people change; that people need to go to work, or be in school, volunteer, or go on dates to be connected.

Dave needs purpose in his life to get out of bed; he needs a mission to move him forward. In my opinion, this is what individuals who find themselves alone sitting in the dark need to lift themselves up. Dave also needs to stay present rather than churning up his past that is gone or worrying about the future that has yet to happen. By being present, Dave can focus on his current tasks step by step in a way that he can manage.




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

The Cost of Creating Self-Care: Can You Really Afford Not To?

Posted by: Gloria Pynn BA, BEd, MEd, CCC, RPsych on February 19, 2019 1:10 pm

“Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off  a piece of that Kit Kat bar” – many of us have been there. The all-giving, dedicated counsellor is exhausted at the end of the day having given so much to our clients, colleagues and employers. We reach for that little reward – food, drink, bed, TV, and we collapse into the abyss of mindlessness or sleep to awaken to another day of emotional yet essential and passionate service to others.

Over time, the daily work and commitment of counselling can manifest itself in unhealthy responses to stress resulting in weight and health issues, withdrawal or retreat, anxiety, depression, or an overall lack of joy. That feeling of being a hamster on a wheel despite, and maybe because of, your passionate love of “your wheel”; your profession. In many different forms, compassion fatigue can rob you of your energy, deflate relationships and create a subtle but definite disconnect with your daily life.

The need to be mindful vs mindlessness is ever-growing in our profession.

Yes, we should all feel that it is okay, actually imperative, to focus on our self-care but often there is a guilt associated with looking after ourselves versus others. I’ve often called it a “counselling curse”. Empathy and service to others trumps self-compassion. Often early in our careers we pave the road to vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. I feel these are two major thieves of our daily joy, health and peace.

We all read and listen to messages at local conferences, on blogs, and webinars to “provide self-care” and we all fully agree with that message, on a rational level. But how can you make it a reality and a constant in the forefront of your practice and life? Can we concretely plan or create self-care? Generalize it to our daily life practices? In our hurried world of could-haves, should-haves, would-haves, the first step to manifesting any change starts in our heads and hearts.

First Step.

Do absolutely nothing.

You may very well need a rest. Allow true mindless in. Sit, nap, journal – follow your mind’s natural path – this can often show you many of your own thoughts, worries and needs. If you can do this by integrating walks, hikes, nature, all the better. If you have developed mental health issues associated with compassion fatigue, please seek professional support. NO shame! As a counselling professional of over 25 years – been there, done that and will continue to seek whenever needed. NO apologies! Then, read about others and their minds. You can read self-help books but also those stories of people you admire, or even “disaster stories” (where life went wrong) with many lessons to be learned of misplaced priorities and regrets.

Second step.

Get a grip – Take stock and gratitude daily.

Take a long look around and see where are you in your life. Are you healthy? Are you happy? What makes you happy? What do you dread every day? Journal if that helps you, walk or talk with yourself and be open to hearing honestly what is good, what’s missing and what would make you feel more at peace or “peace-full” every day.

Also, truly listen and see what things you regret and how those things and relationships could be changed even gently. The power of change is one of our fundamental beliefs as counsellors and psychotherapists. Change is possible for us as well.

Think on your relationships and what you owe your family, significant others and most important yourself. Start to consider how to commit to those people and then learn to include yourself in that commitment daily. For me, this was integral as this helped me learn stepwise, that giving to myself was the best step to giving to family, and also my clients. (Had to do it for others first but getting there).

Thirdly.

Manipulate your mindset.

Sometimes we overthink and rationalize to our own detriment. Perhaps we need to build a rationale that “allows” us to take a break. Maybe it’s okay because we are learning new skills and perhaps a new naturopathic approach to healing, mindfulness workshops or training etc., to complement our counselling work. Think always about what you would like to learn, what motivates you, your passions and then start to weave these things into your life and career plans. Self-care sneaks in and can become a natural consequence and an amazing byproduct.

After this self-assessment, and during it actually, look at any and all possibilities to create self-care daily, monthly and long term. A few ideas in no particular order follow that I have woken up to (after 25 years as a counsellor) and have started to use or integrate in my own counselling practice and life:

Creating your own self-care plan

Financing self-care – money is always an object or is it? Use the money, options and health plans you may already have in place but you don’t think on daily.

  • “Sick” or leave days – use them or lose them. I dislike the negative connotation of sick days and firmly believe in attending to your physical and mental health days. When you delay or defer these days, you are likely to develop further issues and illnesses.
  • Our health care and insurance plans (Counselling, Massage, Naturopath Services, Dietitian, etc.)
    • How often have you finished another work year and realized that you had coverage for services you never even used but could have benefited tremendously? Just a thought. You could be paying for these services every month or pay-cheque. Allow yourself to engage in what could help take care of you.
  • Mini Vacations
    • Professional learning is also all around us and can equally benefit us and our clients. On-demand webinars and workshops on stress, meditation, mindfulness exist, as does professional learning experiences in places you want to see or places you would like to go. Grants are often available to help you with cost and provide you important learning, as well as a change of scenery or rejuvenation. There is also much benefit from the connection with fellow counsellors and in being around those who know or understand our work.
  • Deferred salary leave plans
    • Deferred salary leave plans can be a wonderful way to create a long-term plan for self-care. Readers should investigate whether their employers and respective workplaces offer this option as a first step. It can be a viable option here in Newfoundland and Labrador for many public sector employees. Consult Human Resources personnel in your place of employment to discuss of particulars with regard to requirements and benefits of these types of options. Long story short, deferred salary plans may be a means for some colleagues to planning self-care longer term – to rejuvenate, pursue personal, family, and/or professional goals.
  •  “Lunchables”
    • Don’t have a full day or afternoon, then make the time for coffee or quick lunch. A quick break away or a coffee run, a drive can be a change of scenery and change can be as good as a rest. Connect with others but have boundaries on time and select places you enjoy.
  • Commit to you by including others (you like)
    • Plan it – Build connection into your day or week or month and make the commitment to other people – connect with those who help you to laugh, reflect, get outside, exercise – whatever it is you feel you need for peace and joy.
  • Continue to Tweak it
    • Try new things and add new elements – walk n’ talks, yoga, painting, meditation anything you love or would love to try. As counsellors who wants to continually improve our practice, look to your passions and the things you personally enjoy! You can learn about, practice, teach and model much of this for your clients. An authentic life and counselling practice is always amazing and powerful!! Do as I do not as I say. Who knows, imposter syndrome may start to slide away? But that’s a topic for another post.

Think, talk and always take care,

Gloria




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

Gymnastics

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on February 11, 2019 10:43 am

Early one year, my girls and I visited a University of Oklahoma’s women gymnastic meet. Upon watching the meet, my young girls were able to get posters and t-shirts signed by the team members. A day later, when her grandpa asked Lenay, one of the girls, about her experience at the meet, she told Grandpa, “We went to the Olympics.”

Some experiences are so wonderful, the experience leaves you feeling like some greater experience occurred. Sometimes accomplishing the one goal that you planned for the year or for many years back, once completed, makes you feels as if you climbed mountain Kilimanjaro. While you feel like you have climbed mountain Kilimanjaro, you may have only played that violin piece well, lost weight, or learned to dance the Tango. It does not matter how insignificant your goal is to others, if it is important to you, make your goals come true. Capture that feeling of accomplishment and use that feeling to motivate you to achieve your next goal. Goals may consist of growing a garden, increasing business and income, and improving an interpersonal relationship.

Since my girls had been in gymnastics for a couple of years, it was appropriate to have them understand why gymnastics is useful. I had the girls watch the pretrial videos of the Olympic 2008 tryouts. My thoughts are that this video will show them what they are aiming to accomplish with each gym activity. If the girls understood the results, they could work to become more efficient in gymnastics. One gym class, after having watched the pretrial videos a week earlier, Lenay said, “Mommy, I am tired of gymnastics,” as she walks off the gym floor. “I do not want to go to the Olympics.” She sat down in protest of finishing her gymnastic class.

You may also feel like not wanting to play in the Olympics or achieve your own set of goals after becoming tired or weary while working toward your goals. Having unrealistic goals contributes to your stress of becoming tired or weary (Weiten & Lloyd, 2006). My goal for Lenay is not necessarily for her to try out for the Olympics, because at four years old she has plenty of time to work toward Olympic, high school, and college tryouts for cheer leading or gymnastics, or none of the above. While I am careful not to impose too much on Lenay, I am aware that stress is largely self- imposed (Epstein & Katz, 1992). Keep your goals realistic and avoid imposing too much stress.

References
Epstein & Katz. (1992). In Weiten & Lloyd. (2006). Psychology applied to modern life: Adjustment in the 21st century. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Weiten, W. & Lloyd, M.A. (2006). Psychology applied to modern life: Adjustment in the 21st century (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson /Wadsworth.



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

Let’s Talk… Mental Health

Posted by: Gloria Pynn BA, BEd, MEd, CCC, RPsych on February 4, 2019 1:33 pm

I am honored to share my humble voice, musings, and learnings as a certified counsellor and registered psychologist. I have been a counsellor for 25 years. I hope you identify with and find something in my words – a few takeaways to help you reflect on and use in your daily practice.

There are many community initiatives bringing mental health into our collective consciousness. Amazing community partners are attempting to #endthestigma, and are holding many essential conversations about the prevalence, needs and impact of mental health. Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk Day” is one national push towards mental health awareness and a major source of fundraising to support these goals. In the spirit of such events and the aims of our CCPA Connect Blog, I decided to write on mental health and my general counselling perspective.

Mental health is all about people and life. Each individual’s personal life experience is different and each road to wellness and peace a very personal and unique journey.

It all starts with a person’s story like the following on kidshelpphone.ca. One person’s story – less than two minutes to read but enlightening how young children can start to experience mental health difficulties and the positive impact of support. Click here to read Emma O’Hare’s story.

Every story is unique, requiring an individual exploration and journey to wellness. The story emerges and well intentioned, we all too often jump to “How can we fix?” With this mindset, how can anyone as family, friends even ourselves as counsellors and psychotherapists help Someone has felt safe enough to trust you to share their story and issues. The following link presents a few ways anyone can help if a person confides in you regarding their issues and mental health (via Kids Help Phone).

Most importantly, we should always encourage the person to connect, engage or re-engage a team of professionals or seek professional help.  Sometimes that is difficult, and people can refuse or encounter difficulties in accessing help. In spite of this and perhaps because of this, we always need to work together to encourage the fight to access professional help and support – employee assistance programs, medical, psychiatry, individual counselling – any supports or services tailored to an individual’s needs and issues. The CCPA constantly advocates for access to counselling services. We all walk among very compassionate family, friends and staff in general who are there to help and listen but we must also be mindful of the need for expert supports. Many situations require the support and help of professionals such as certified counsellors and psychotherapists. The journey to mental health is very individual and takes more than one day and one campaign. We have to continue helping people talk and sharing stories, in protective safe spaces and always with an eye to our own life stories as counsellors.

I always stress SAFETY with my fellow educators, students and caregivers, as there are times people need immediate and direct intervention. At any point, if you feel an individual or others around them are not SAFE, the best help you can offer sometimes is to honestly say, this is bigger than me and you right now, WE need immediate medical help or interventions. Engage police and or medical intervention ER, wellness checks as needed. The brutal reality is we can all lose people to suicide or homicide (myself included). Always then, look to your own self-care and mental health as a counsellor, partner, parent, and human being. Vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue are real things that we all must bear in mind to be well and at peace.

In my opinion, the most important element toward all mental health is finding and giving VOICE.  People have to think about and discover what they need and then give voice to their needs in whatever way they can. The counselling process and counsellor’s work then continues to explore and walk alongside an individual’s path leads toward wellness one step at a time. We can try to support, comfort as friends, colleagues, family member, and people but truly each one of us (client and counsellor) has to agree to embark on that unique journey to find our own voice. We need to build inherent strengths to learn to write, whisper, speak and at times fight for what each person needs to be well in their world. Our work as counsellors is to help each individual find these inner strengths, listen, guide, support and challenge thinking toward a more peaceful and well existence.

Personally, I believe different mediums in counselling (art, written, spoken word, song) “spark joy” (sorry Marie Kondo is everywhere) and resonate with each individual. Use each person’s strengths, gifts and joys to help them journey toward wellness and peace.

Here is a song about VOICE I have listened to with many counselling clients in various parts of that journey…. I hope you enjoy! The choice to embark on the journey to wellness is always brave. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

Let’s help others and ourselves to be brave, start to find our way, and share our voices and stories a little more each day. Your path is your own but know, you are never alone.

Think, talk and always take care,
Gloria

Brave Sara Bareilles

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
I just wanna see you
See you be brave

Songwriters: Jack Antonoff / Sara Bareilles

Brave lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC




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