When a Client Dies

Posted by: Doc Warren on October 15, 2019 11:39 am

I’ll never forget the first time that I received notice that a client had died. I’ll never forget any of them actually. No training truly prepared me and I’ve had far more training than the average thanks to an intense drive on my part and having had some of the best mentors in the field. I can only imagine how folks with minimal training and a lack of good supervision fare.

The longer we are in the field, the more likely we are to have experienced the death of a client. The death may have been through accident or natural causes or by their own or someone else’s hands.  Few, if any, clinical training programs spend any great deal of time exploring this issue unless you are specializing in hospice settings. When a death happens, there are many things that tend to be the focus of supervision and consultation sessions. Below are some of the more common issues that I find in my supervision and consulting work when a client has passed.

Processing the loss yourself
Once receiving notice of the death, many clinical professionals attempt to “work through the pain” by continuing their day as they normally would. Though this may work for some, many, if not most, will require time to process the loss either immediately or in the very near future. Be sure to allow yourself to be human, acknowledge the loss, explore the emotions associated with it and whenever possible, do this with the help of a colleague. You do not have to keep everything bottled in. Remember what you would do for and with friends, loved ones and clients who have suffered a loss and allow yourself to be present with your emotions so that you may heal. While there are times when you may need to continue to work to help aid others who are affected, processing it yourself as soon as possible can be a key factor in moving forward healthily.

Could I be liable?
One of the first fears shared by clinicians when a client has died of anything other than natural causes is that they may be sued or otherwise investigated. In most cases, there has been nothing to indicate that this could happen assuming that  the clinical professional has given nothing but the best level of care to the client that has passed. This fear is sometimes grounded in the grief process itself: the clinician is blaming themselves for not having been able to prevent the death. Other times it can be a simple fear of being sued by a next of kin that is “just looking for someone to blame” regardless of any real malpractice having occurred. A small fraction of the time (I have personally never encountered anyone in this situation) the clinician has indeed made mistakes that could be considered malpractice. In this case, the fear may indeed be founded. Whether or not you feel you did anything wrong, when in doubt, contact your malpractice/liability insurance provider and discuss the matter with them. It shouldn’t cost you anything more than your time and just may help ease your worries.

Protecting the client’s right to privacy
Today more than ever we find ourselves with the ability to emote freely via venues that were unthinkable just a few short years ago. Many find themselves posting to social media for just about everything. Public grieving is considered the norm to many folks but as clinical professionals we need to remember that the client’s right to privacy does not end with their death, therefore we as clinical professionals should refrain from public expressions of grief that either name or share any information that could potentially identify a client that has passed. I’ve seen very good clinicians make this mistake. Comments such as “I lost a client recently to a drunk driver” or “Cancer took a client today” may seem harmless enough but can lead to ethical issues especially if more information is also shared.

I’ve also seen clinical professionals that have made generic statements on personal or professional pages that would appear to be fine. Comments such as “thinking of those lost to cancer” or drunk drivers, suicide etc. may help the clinician process without potentially identifying a recently deceased client.

Should you get a request from a next of kin to provide copies of the deceased treatment records, be sure to consult with an attorney to learn exactly what the next of kin is allowed to access and what they will need to provide your office in order to allow you to release copies. Here again, your liability insurance provider can be a key resource as well as your supervisor.

To go or not to go to services
Going to the services of a client that has passed can be a controversial decision. One side of the coin says that by your very presence you are saying that the deceased was a client unless they were a known friend, coworker or relative of ours. The other side of the coin says that if the service is open to the public then you are free to go with no need to explain. Many a heated conversation has come from posing this question in a group supervision encounter. One quick way to handle this would be to contact your liability insurance provider for guidance. Please note however that the answer may differ from provider to provider.

For me, I have only attended services if a surviving relative has requested me to attend. Even with such a request I will neither confirm nor deny that I ever had a professional relationship and will instead simply say that we live in a small town and that we all seem to know one another.

Erasing” the client from your practice
Many a consult has been spent processing feelings of guilt from clinicians who were feeling conflicted about how “easy” it was to “simply remove a person from my schedule.” The actual act of erasing a client from a schedule may indeed only take a moment. For me, in my office I have opted not to use the electronic scheduler that others use and instead use a pencil and paper system. I have literally erased people after a death and can remember the lump in my throat the first time I did so. I also remember hesitating to “give their time” away to a new client. It required some processing and grief work before I was able to truly move forward. Now, I remember that it was not the time slot nor the written name that made a difference, it instead, was the relationship that we had and that cannot be removed with a number two pencil.

Telling a staff member that their client has passed.
If you are a supervisor you likely will be one of the first people to learn of a death of any client. In my practice I have instructed the reception folks to notify me should there be any calls notifying us of a loss of life. They also will keep up to date on local obituaries as well as in some cases there is no next of kin that knows that the deceased was receiving services.  While there is no one correct way, I would avoid the use of texting, email, private messenger or other electronic means to advise your staff member of the loss. To me, a phone call is a last resort for notification and instead will call and ask the clinician to come see me the first thing when they come in. Once in, I try not to have it be too formal as in having a large desk between the two of us. Although I would never stage the encounter, I have shared the information while walking on one of the dirt roads on our therapeutic farm, sitting by the brook, walking some of our trails or spending time with our therapeutic animals. How I did it had more to do with the clinician and their normal preferences than it did with mine. Ensuring the privacy of the clinician is paramount as well. Should they need to cry, talk it out, yell a bit or whatever, the ability to do so without an audience is key. Many times, we process not just the passing but the process that the therapy took on, the good work that they provided and what they themselves will cherish from the encounter.

Moving forward
After the basic processing has taken place, it is good to remember that there may indeed be a need for further reflection and moments of pause in the future. Allow yourself to not only be a clinical professional but also a human being. We are not machines. Process as needed.

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

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

“I’m friends with a Counsellor, I’ll ask them and get back to you.” aka Being That Friend

Posted by: Robyn Steinke, MC, CCC on May 13, 2019 10:07 am

Without hearing the title sentence spoken verbatim, I think we as counsellors have all been in a situation where we have been asked very specific questions with very specific details for the sake of a friend of a friend and their mental well-being. It is a difficult spot to be in. So difficult that, what we as counsellors do about it, goes back to Watergate, you know, the thing that made Richard Nixon (“Tricky Dicky” if you will) resign his presidency. More specifically, the “Goldwater Rule” is the informal name given to the American Psychological Association’s guideline that it is unethical for a psychologist to offer a diagnosis in the media of a living public figure they have not examined (American Psychological Association, 2003). How Nixon gets involved is during his presidential candidacy and also during the era of Watergate numerous psychologists and psychiatrists publicly diagnosed Nixon without ever setting clinical eyes on him.

So, what does this have to do with getting asked a counselling-type question for a friend of a friend? Simply, I think the Goldwater Rule should be extended to any living person a counselling therapist has not clinically assessed. Setting boundaries is crucial to not finding ourselves behaving unethically. My friends are getting pretty used to hearing me say, “Well I can’t actually evaluate this person, and if I had, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, but maybe there’s some general information about _____ I can give you?” I can tell by their facial expressions that I am probably not giving them everything they want from me, but I am bound by our code. As a Canadian Certified Counsellor (C.C.C.), I mentally sneak the Goldwater Rule into the sections pertaining to confidentiality, evaluation, and assessment.

There is a plethora of different situations where the maintenance of this boundary is crucial for family, friendships, relationships, parenting, and it goes on. Truth be told, sometimes the hard part of this boundary is not enforcing it with others, but with ourselves when a clinical insight springs to mind mid-dinner, conversation, observation, minding a friend’s child, and the list goes on. Times like this lead me to question the boundary between being my personal and professional self. Often what comes is the type of self-care that gives me release and the ability to “shake off” the sense of murkiness that inevitably comes. While we all likely have a great prepared statement to help us immediately get out of these situations, we will continue to be challenged by the questions, concerns, and care of others close to us. I wish us all grace through these challenges.

American Psychological Association. (2003). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/



*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

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

Making Contact Inside the Computer

Posted by: Sherry Law on June 29, 2016 11:49 am

Over the last 2 years as I have delved deeper into virtual reality (VR) I have learned things I never expected to experience. The fact that VR is programmable means that the experience is solely dependent on ones imagination (and perhaps a little aptitude for software development). VR transports you immediately into a new reality and this holds many implications. The truth is that the physical body, or meat space, does not go anywhere. It is the mind or the psyche that is convincingly transported and the focus of my exploration. This is the true potential for the impact of VR.

I recently received a consumer version VR device. This device not only allows you to glimpse into another world, but also provides you the ability to manipulate the world around you with your hands. In addition, the technology provides the freedom of movement throughout a play area where you can walk around, sit, dance, pivot, the full range of bodily motions as long as it is within the bounds of a play area. This transforms ones understanding of the lived experiences almost 100% from the meat space into a digital realm. When you can train your aim inside an archery simulation and the fidelity nearly reflects reality, it is a strange experience indeed. I have never done archery myself, but being able to have some measure of behavioural mimicry to archery was not only a fun experience, but immersive and tiring! Having to duck and dodge enemy fire, destroying enemies with accurate aim, and spinning around at a second’s notice to ensure no one was attacking you from behind was thrilling. To imagine that this is the new world of the gamer, no longer bound to a computer chair, but sweating instead in a dimly lit room, practicing proper aim that can maybe be carrieblogphotosherryd into the real world. On the score board, your abilities are compared against the best in the world and usernames compete in a never ending battle to the top rank.

I also experienced an amazing level of intimacy in VR. Coming headset to headset with other people around the world, playing games and chatting with them through mics was absolutely astounding. I could see their heads move about as they thought about the ideas I shared with them. People witnessed my hands held on my hips as I wait for them to take the next shot at pool. We giggled together as we threw chairs all around a digital bar and made a mess with beer bottles and books. I high fived someone from Germany, we chatted about what a strange experience VR was, we looked at each other’s computer screens to check time zone differences between me and someone from Illinois, and goofed around with the interface as we learned and tinkered with our new toys. I was approached by a Frenchman from Austria that even wanted to show me around the digital space while I practiced my French. We spent time with phantom others in our minds, while our bodies remained alone and without company, yet I felt connected online for the very first time. I have made several friends already from around the world.

Does the mind care that you are not physically next to a person? No. I can say for myself that my mind was thoroughly convinced that I was properly socializing with others beside me, sharing and laughing together in a room. Meeting with strangers was no more jarring than in person, and in earnest, less so because all my fears of judgment vanished with the replacement of my body as an avatar. However, my expression, who “I” was did not vanish, and was perhaps enhanced by the removal of my distracting physical self.




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

The elusive work/life (self-care) balance phenomenon for the self-employed professional

Posted by: Jamie Dovedoff on March 7, 2016 12:31 pm

stacked-stones-664928_1920For the vast majority of us, work is life so I prefer to think of this concept not as work/life balance but rather work/self-care balance. The elusive phenomenon where you reach and maintain that vacation-induced “Zen” Monday to Friday.

It seems we are often plagued with the seemingly impossible notion of establishing a consistent work flow that always seems to be in constant flux between too busy or too slow (with not nearly the same amount of time spent at that “just right” pace) and managing our self-care needs. How much is too much to take on? It’s easy to say “yes” to more work, it seems we are pre-programmed for it. We justify this by telling ourselves that we don’t necessarily know when the next referral is coming through our door. What is always saying “yes” costing you? Your clients? Your loved ones?

A simple google search provides you with the definition of balance “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady”. So, if you are awake an average of 16 hours/day and 8 hours/day is spent at work, by the very definition of balance, you should spend the other 8 hours of your day engaged in activities which replenishes and prepares you for a new day. How realistic is that?

Establishing equality amongst your many commitments is not an easy task (ever tried walking on a tightrope?). The figurative scales are constantly going to be encouraged one way or the other. Realistically, at times, you are going to have to allow for this to happen. HOWEVER, remaining too long in a state of imbalance can lead to fatigue, decreased mood, stress, burnout, etc.

Ten steps to re-balance the scales:

  • Set realistic goals – set financial goals for your work but also establish goals around how much time you would like to devote to yourself
  • Identify and prioritize your priorities – what tasks are “must do” and which ones are “would be nice too”
  • Set equal work and self-care priorities – if you are going to take on extra work then how much extra time can you afford to give to your self-care to replenish your energy
  • Get organized – make a schedule, be conservative with your time estimates to complete each task, be realistic about what you can and cannot manage, plan in advance (as much as you can), and keep a regular schedule (prescribe regular work hours for yourself)
  • Be flexible
  • Declutter – clean up your physical working space and/or move your working space to free you of unnecessary distractions
  • Set boundaries for yourself – respect your boundaries or no one else will
  • Practice saying “no”
  • Schedule breaks self-care does not need to be quarantined to the end of your work day or over the weekend. Try to incorporate regular self-care practices for short periods throughout your day

LIVE IN CONSCIOUS AWARENESS AND PERFORM REGULAR AND TRUTHFUL CHECK INS




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