Author Archives: Peter Persad

How Counselling Improves Your Day Job or The Unintended Benefits of Counselling Part II

Posted by: Peter Persad on mars 21, 2017 11:29

Last year I wrote a piece I called “The Unintended Benefits of Counselling” (April, 2015) in which I explored the “collateral” positive aspects of developing a counselling skill set and the impact it can have on our personal  lives as counselors.  The basic premise of that blog was that counselling can have a personal benefit for the counsellor as well as the client. (And it would follow of course, that when the counsellor improves, the results are inevitably beneficial for the client. Counselling truly is “the gift that keeps on giving.”) ­­The focus of this blog is an exploration of how counselling can have a positive impact on our capacities as professionals in other realms, and especially in professions where a counselling skill set may not be considered as a necessary tool in the performance of our duties.  A recent example in my daily work was the genesis for this idea. Although I am a CCPA Certified Counsellor, my day job is that of a high school administrator. To be honest, I have always maintained that the counselling skill set can be incredibly effective in the daily work of a school administrator.  In my capacity as a school leader, I employ effective listening skills, utilize re-framing techniques, conduct solution-focused therapeutic interventions and facilitate mediation in areas of conflict. All before 10:00 A.M.  As a Certified Counsellor, I believe that EVERYONE can benefit from counselling; the parents, students and staff that come into my office are no exception. And in fact, many of the people who come into my office are normally in some type of crisis that requires resolution or at the very least an intervention. (In fact, there is a movement afoot in British Columbia to empower teachers to act as mental health advocates and “front-line workers” since teachers enjoy a unique and increasingly significant position as professionals who see kids every day and are thereby able to establish baseline data for behavior.)  A case in point: I recently had a young woman referred to me for poor attendance. She was 13 years old and in the critical transition year of Grade 8 as students move from elementary to secondary school. She had missed about 25 of the first 35 days of school and as you might expect, her marks reflected her sporadic attendance. Now, under normal circumstances, most vice principals are going to suspend students (as counter-intuitive as that may seem) in order to reinforce the importance of daily attendance as it relates to school success.  The meta-message being, “Jane Smith, you need to attend our school on a regular basis if you wish to remain a student in my bureaucratic institution.” But, as I’m also fond of saying, “Don’t just DO something, sit there..” It takes a lot more effort and care to look beyond the behavior to find its etiological root. In other words, moving from the “what?” to the “why?” Obviously, this student isn’t attending regularly. That’s the “what” but “So what?” The real question is “Why is this student not attending?” And the answer is not, “Because she doesn’t like school.” In fact, as with many of the behavioral issues I deal with as a vice principal, the problems in school aren’t because of school, they have just manifested themselves at school. Extra-curricular issues tend to manifest themselves at school because school for the most part is a “safe space” where children can” act out” and the professionals in school notice these behaviors because “they care.”  So, back to the young lady in question: she was missing school because she was depressed about her parents’ recent divorce.  She was “creating a crisis” in the hopes that Mom or Dad would act, would “make her go to school” and thereby” demonstrate” their love for her.  How many times have we as therapists helped our clients make the connection between their unmet needs and their behavior? What I have found as a school administrator is that a little CBT can go a long way to helping students not come back to your office. With respect to this student who was missing school, my therapeutic intervention did not include discipline for truancy. It did include efforts to build a relationship with this student by demonstrating care for her, it included asset identification, self-esteem building exercises and homework, it included normalizing this student’s experience, it included identification of triggers, it utilized extra-therapeutic factors as a means of self-help, it included personal network reification. It was the antithesis of what a person would expect if they were referred to the vice-principal’s office for violation of the code of conduct. It was brief, solution-focused modality with an emphasis on psychoeducation.  And it worked! In the 30 school days since this intervention, this student has missed 2 days. As therapists, we can’t wave a magic wand and make everything all better, but we do possess a very powerful set of skills and clinical acumen that enables us to help. And that’s why we got into this “business” right? We are called to this vocation to use our time, skills and energy to help others, to improve their lives, to enable them to live a more meaningful, satisfying existence. And fortunately, this is a transferable skill set.




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

How Counselling Improves Your Day Job or The Unintended Benefits of Counselling Part II

Posted by: Peter Persad on mars 17, 2017 3:25

Last year I wrote a piece I called “The Unintended Benefits of Counselling” (April, 2015) in which I explored the “collateral” positive aspects of developing a counselling skill set and the impact it can have on our personal  lives as counselors.  The basic premise of that blog was that counselling can have a personal benefit for the counsellor as well as the client. (And it would follow of course, that when the counsellor improves, the results are inevitably beneficial for the client. Counselling truly is “the gift that keeps on giving.”) ­­The focus of this blog is an exploration of how counselling can have a positive impact on our capacities as professionals in other realms, and especially in professions where a counselling skill set may not be considered as a necessary tool in the performance of our duties.  A recent example in my daily work was the genesis for this idea. Although I am a CCPA Certified Counsellor, my day job is that of a high school administrator. To be honest, I have always maintained that the counselling skill set can be incredibly effective in the daily work of a school administrator.  In my capacity as a school leader, I employ effective listening skills, utilize re-framing techniques, conduct solution-focused therapeutic interventions and facilitate mediation in areas of conflict. All before 10:00 A.M.  As a Certified Counsellor, I believe that EVERYONE can benefit from counselling; the parents, students and staff that come into my office are no exception. And in fact, many of the people who come into my office are normally in some type of crisis that requires resolution or at the very least an intervention. (In fact, there is a movement afoot in British Columbia to empower teachers to act as mental health advocates and “front-line workers” since teachers enjoy a unique and increasingly significant position as professionals who see kids every day and are thereby able to establish baseline data for behavior.)  A case in point: I recently had a young woman referred to me for poor attendance. She was 13 years old and in the critical transition year of Grade 8 as students move from elementary to secondary school. She had missed about 25 of the first 35 days of school and as you might expect, her marks reflected her sporadic attendance. Now, under normal circumstances, most vice principals are going to suspend students (as counter-intuitive as that may seem) in order to reinforce the importance of daily attendance as it relates to school success.  The meta-message being, “Jane Smith, you need to attend our school on a regular basis if you wish to remain a student in my bureaucratic institution.” But, as I’m also fond of saying, “Don’t just DO something, sit there..” It takes a lot more effort and care to look beyond the behavior to find its etiological root. In other words, moving from the “what?” to the “why?” Obviously, this student isn’t attending regularly. That’s the “what” but “So what?” The real question is “Why is this student not attending?” And the answer is not, “Because she doesn’t like school.” In fact, as with many of the behavioral issues I deal with as a vice principal, the problems in school aren’t because of school, they have just manifested themselves at school. Extra-curricular issues tend to manifest themselves at school because school for the most part is a “safe space” where children can” act out” and the professionals in school notice these behaviors because “they care.”  So, back to the young lady in question: she was missing school because she was depressed about her parents’ recent divorce.  She was “creating a crisis” in the hopes that Mom or Dad would act, would “make her go to school” and thereby” demonstrate” their love for her.  How many times have we as therapists helped our clients make the connection between their unmet needs and their behavior? What I have found as a school administrator is that a little CBT can go a long way to helping students not come back to your office. With respect to this student who was missing school, my therapeutic intervention did not include discipline for truancy. It did include efforts to build a relationship with this student by demonstrating care for her, it included asset identification, self-esteem building exercises and homework, it included normalizing this student’s experience, it included identification of triggers, it utilized extra-therapeutic factors as a means of self-help, it included personal network reification. It was the antithesis of what a person would expect if they were referred to the vice-principal’s office for violation of the code of conduct. It was brief, solution-focused modality with an emphasis on psychoeducation.  And it worked! In the 30 school days since this intervention, this student has missed 2 days. As therapists, we can’t wave a magic wand and make everything all better, but we do possess a very powerful set of skills and clinical acumen that enables us to help. And that’s why we got into this “business” right? We are called to this vocation to use our time, skills and energy to help others, to improve their lives, to enable them to live a more meaningful, satisfying existence. And fortunately, this is a transferable skill set.

Peter Persad




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

Mental Health in the Workplace

Posted by: Peter Persad on mai 28, 2015 12:09

Following the horrific crash of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 on March 25, 2015, the subject of mental health in the workplace has, once again, become a hot topic. Unfortunately, discussions around mental health seem to happen reactively and as a function of tragedy which, in my opinion, bespeaks the current social mood regarding mental health and discussions about mental health. Namely, we still ‘don’t want to talk about it.’ The stigma associated with mental health issues prevails despite public education campaigns and attempts to renorm social mores regarding living with mental health and talking about mental health. Interestingly enough, as demonstrated by the Germanwings disaster, it is the workplace that is increasingly becoming the crucible for this discussion. Our workplaces have increasingly become the intersection where the rights and responsibilities of society (here represented by the employer) and the individuals that make up that society (the employees) are meeting and ultimately framing our personal and public values regarding mental health.

Continue reading




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

The Increasing Importance of Mental Health Professionals in the School Setting

Posted by: Peter Persad on avril 28, 2015 12:00

school-417612_640
The disturbing and tragic news a few days ago in Barcelona, Spain unfortunately serves as a reminder of the necessity of mental health practitioners in our schools. (“Crossbow attack kills teacher, wounds four others at Barcelona school” The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2015) Indeed, as I learned at the Mental Health Symposium sponsored by the British Columbia Principals and Vice-Principals Association in October of 2014, “Mental Health is the #1 issue facing children today as stress, anxiety and depression have become increasingly prevalent in the lives of children today.” As an educator for the last 20 years with 5 years as a school counsellor and 7 as an administrator, I can attest to this alarming trend first-hand. More and more children, it seems, are having difficulty functioning in schools and ultimately in a broader social context. Studies have shown that fully 50% of mental health issues begin by age 15 and that, if treated appropriately and early enough, 70% of these issues may be mitigated to the point where they will not have a lasting impact during adulthood. For me, this engenders a very clear responsibility on both federal and provincial governments to create structures in our schools that deal specifically with adolescent mental health. Indeed, I believe that schools are the best places to deal with this issue as professionals within the schools enjoy a unique advantage in their ability to see children on a daily basis and develop the essential baseline behavioural data. Furthermore, as respected professionals who deal with children on a regular basis, we have the opportunity to be effective and to help children and families get the care they need so as to offset the detrimental impact of mental illness and possibly avoid the all-too-frequent tragedies that seem to plague our schools. Having both a counselling background and the skillset of a certified counsellor as a school-based administrator has been extremely beneficial to me in helping students and their families who are struggling with mental illness. We will need more professionals with this background and skillset working with in our schools if we are to adequately address the needs of our students.




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

The Unintended Benefits of a Counselling Degree – Part 1

Posted by: Peter Persad on avril 21, 2015 10:30

As a prospective counsellor, you may be asking yourself “Why should I do a degree in Counselling?” For those of us that have a formal background in the field, the answers are self-evident and myriad. For me personally, my Masters in Counselling out of Gonzaga University was one of the most powerful learning experiences of my life. And it wasn’t about the “counselling” theories, practice, etc. It was about “me”

That is, the two years that I spent learning and studying and practicing and writing didn’t so much help me to become a counsellor or develop my skills as a practitioner as it was about me simply becoming a better person, developing my interpersonal skills and expanding my introspective analysis and intrapersonal acumen.

knowledge tree
I had no idea that this would be a by-product of my time, effort and money. (Isn’t serendipity wonderful?) I fully expected that I would gain a background in psychology and  psychotherapy and develop skills that would help me to help others. What I didn’t expect was how intimate I would become with those aspects of my personality that were, how shall I put it, “less than satisfactory”. I thought I had people skills! I actually didn’t! It was a very humbling realization. I thought I was a good listener. I was in fact a pretty good talker. I thought I was doing a Masters in Counselling to get job skills. What I found was that I needed to work on my people skills. This was incredibly important, life-changing information for me to have as a 30-year-old “professional.” (At that point, I was 5 years into a career as a professional educator.)

So, “Why should you do a degree in Counselling?” Do it for yourself! You will become a better person. You will develop better interpersonal skills. You will develop a better understanding of who you are, what makes you “tick” and the ability to step back, analyze your feelings and behaviours and, ultimately, make better choices. These choices are fundamental to living a fulfilled, satisfying life. You will like yourself more and the people around you will like you more. You will establish and maintain better, more fulfilling relationships because you will have a better understanding of yourself. And really, how can any of us expect to have better relationships with others if we haven’t developed that most important of relationships? With ourselves?

In Part Two of this Blog I will explore the unintended benefits of having a counselling degree in my day-to-day work life.




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