How to Build Your Canadian Private Practice Website

Posted by: Julia Smith on août 21, 2019 2:47
Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Creating a private practice website should be your priority when starting a Canadian private practice! It’s important because most people find their therapist through the internet nowadays. There are so many options when choosing how to build your private practice website. You could build it yourself from scratch, create one through a website builder like Wix or Square Space, or hire a company! The two most important things that you need to consider when building a Canadian website are:

  1.   SEO (search engine optimization) – SEO is fancy tech coding for your website that helps it rank high on internet searches so that people can easily find your website.
  2.   Flexibility – You want to make sure that you have lots of options when developing your website so that when your private practice grows… your website can grow with it!

Because of these two considerations, I highly recommend choosing WordPress to build your Canadian Private Practice website. WordPress websites have AMAZING SEO and unlimited options for creating your website! With website builders you are confined to a template and the SEO is restricted.

Plus, if you choose a website builder, all of your content is stored on their servers, so if you ever decide to switch to another company or take full control of your website… you will have to start from scratch and will lose all your content and SEO that you’ve built! It’s best just to start with WordPress where you can easily switch from templates to having full control of your website.

Recommended Options for Building Your Own Canadian Private Practice Website:

Below are my suggestions on what companies to work with when building your Canadian private practice website. Most of the companies I am suggesting include a domain web address (ie. www.fearlesspractice.com). BUT, for myself, I like to purchase my domains outside of the companies that I work with so that I own them separately. I purchase my domains from I Want My Name as I find it easy to purchase from them and to revenue each year.

WordPress Website Options:

Level 1: WordPress.org ($5.35 CAD per month for hosting)

This option is great for Canadian counsellors who are tech-savvy and have a very tight budget! WordPress.org is hosted on your own server that you purchase through a hosting company. This means that you own your website completely. I recommend Bluehost. Once you have your host you can choose from free themes to help build your website! The downside is that you will solely be in charge of updates, security, plugins, and design which can take up A LOT of your time.

Click here to purchase Bluehost. Click here to learn more about WordPress.org.

Level 2: WordPress.com ($10 CAD per month for their premium plan)

This option is great for Canadian therapists who are NOT tech-savvy and have a very tight budget. WordPress.com will host your WordPress website and provide you with security for your website. You can choose from VERY cheap monthly plans and the best part is, as your Canadian private practice grows and you want more flexibility with your site… you can switch to WordPress.org! The downside is that if you use WordPress.com you will not have full control of your website and you will be limited to what you can create on your website. Plus you still will have to design your website solely by yourself which again can take up A LOT of time.

Click here to build a wordpress.com website! Also, here is a great article that reviews the differences of wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

Level 3: Brighter Vision ($100 (USD)/ $130 (CAD) start-up fee and then$59 (USD)/ $77(CAD) per month)

Brighter Vision is what I use for my private practice. With Brighter Vision you can choose from WordPress templates that have been specifically designed for counsellors! Plus you get free counselling content, amazing SEO, and it’s mobile responsive! Instead of putting hours and hours into designing your website… they do it for you! You also get unlimited support so if you want any changes made… they will do it! Brighter Vision freed up my time so that I could focus on building my private practice rather than building a website.

Click here to get one month free!

Level 4: Beam Local ($1995 CAD to build the website then $79 CAD per month)

I used Beam Local when I created my consulting website because they offer custom designed WordPress websites! I wanted the freedom to design my website instead of just using a WordPress template. Templates can get frustrating when you want to add personal touches to your private practice website. With Beam Local, you can start with one of their stylish templates and then the team will create animated features and design to meet your website needs! They also offer unlimited support, mobile responsive design, and SEO!

Click here to get 2 months free!

Happy building!

Julia

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.

Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!




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

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

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

“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 février 11, 2019 10:43

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

Mixing nature in general therapy: Nature Inclusion Therapy

Posted by: Doc Warren on janvier 21, 2019 11:26

At one time just about everyone was regularly exposed to nature and all its wonders. Though we had large cities with nary a tree to be seen, prior to the advent of air conditioning it was very common for those with even a bit more than modest means to leave the city behind during the hottest months and surround themselves with water, woods and other cooler environs. For those not in the biggest cities, their daily life often included tree-lined streets, large fields and areas of woodlands that seemed to go on forever. Those in warmer climates may have lacked forests but had vast prairies or desert lands in which to roam.

As time marched on areas became more and more urban, work became more centred in factories and offices and less focused in fields, woodlands and waterways. Our connections to nature became fractured and with this fracture, the many benefits of nature were harder to enjoy. Much was lost.

Time is money or so we are lead to believe. Time in nature became seen by many as to have little to no value as, after all, you cannot profit financially by resting beneath a mighty oak. Farm lands in many parts of North America started to disappear; strip malls, housing subdivisions and other developments replaced them. Ball fields in many areas had their natural grass replaced by man-made turf. Folks could actually get a form of rug burn when tackled on this synthetic material. As we plugged into the latest technology we unplugged from the very thing that enabled life. Many of us are all the worse because of it.

Years ago it was not uncommon to prescribe time in nature, be it a forest, prairie, plain or desert. Many reports were made as to the renewed constitution or the cessation of negative symptoms once time in nature had occurred.  In the states, prescriptions to visit mineral baths and hot springs became all the rage.  Sometimes we knew exactly why these visits were helpful, other times the doctors “just knew” that it helped. Sadly, over time these prescriptions seem to be increasingly replaced with medication or other treatments. The developments continued until in some areas children and adults alike went months or even years without feeling sand, grass or dirt between their toes.

For years now I, and many others have worked hard to promote nature as part of self-care and everyday living. Some professional organizations have been lukewarm to this idea while others have provided such feedback as “so, you want to talk to clinical professionals about playing in the dirt for a while?” before being denied space to speak at conferences.

Thankfully, like nature, we professionals that believe in the power of nature have not given up. We now know after the result of much study that there are actually enzymes and other naturally occurring components in soil that when they come into contact with bare skin can actually help change moods. Think of it as a low dose all-natural mood stabilizer. Best of all, it’s free! Now, this exposure to nature may not allow all folks to reduce or eliminate medication but it may very well help them in ways that no pill can.

More and more we are hearing about the benefits of animal-assisted treatments. Few would argue that animals can do much to help ease loneliness, isolation while simultaneously increasing joy to those around. Even the terminally ill have reported an increase in quality of life when regularly exposed to animals and other items from nature.

Years ago before I founded Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm and before I threw away my cell phone for good, I received a phone call from the office telling me that I had a client that was in need of an unscheduled session. As I was doing chores at the farm that the charity was leasing, I could not easily get to the office. I offered the client a session in the field if they wanted. As it was only a few miles from my office they were there in minutes. We had privacy as there were acres of land and very few people. They set about describing the issue, paying little attention to the surrounding land. We ran the session much like a traditional one with the exception that we walked the field a bit, sat in the grass and had a far better view than we had in the office. They were very upset, speaking and breathing fast when suddenly they looked over and noticed wild strawberries. Mid-sentence they seemed to forget about their issues for a moment and asked: “are those strawberries?” I let them know that those small wild berries were all over the field and though only about the size of a Maine blueberry, they were safe to eat and tasty. A smile spread across their face, they ate a few, slowed their breathing and speech and found a new focus. In a short time things became calm again and by the end of the session, they were ready to tackle life on its terms.  They asked if they could stay in the field a while longer and later returned with their family. Nature became a regular part of their routine after that.

Soon thereafter we began the process of purchasing that farm property and eventually renovating the approx. 7600 square foot main building into clinical space. In time we added different animals ranging from dogs and cats to ducks, chickens, turkeys and rabbits. In fact, we have a habitat that is a large fenced in area with overhead netting where the chickens, ducks and rabbits all live free-range (the fences and nets are to keep predators out. The animals go in and out of their coops as they like and interact freely).  We eventually added outdoor sitting areas, meditation gardens, community gardens and high tunnels as well as additional art-based programming while opening up the acreage to the community as a whole. Soon a thriving community grew out of what was once a neglected and underused space.

As counsellors, we may not have access to large tracts of land and we may be in a large city but we can still do what we can to introduce nature into treatment.

Ideas for nature inclusion therapy include:

  • Bringing clients to natural settings whenever possible: be it fields, wooded lands, waterways etc. You only need to be able to find a safe environment that you can ensure privacy.
  • Educate clients on the benefits of time in nature.
  • If possible add garden areas to your practice.
  • When possible add animals to your practice.
  • Promote outdoor activities for your clients and their families.
  • Add plants to your office space.
  • Hold wellness day events that incorporate nature-based activities.
  • If you lack open space partner with area parks, farms or other landed programming.
  • Encourage clients to unplug from electronics more often and embrace more natural pursuits.
  • Promote the preservation of open space.
  • Assign hikes, meditation in nature and related activities to clients as homework.

There is much to be found to help our clients if we simply pay attention. Who knows, you helping them to reconnect just may help you and yours at the same time.

Be safe, do good.




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

Leadership takes many forms

Posted by: Doc Warren on novembre 13, 2018 11:57

An all staff meeting at a transitional living center is being held, the director conducts the meeting surrounded by the folks with a bunch of letters after their names. The way the room is set up there is a clear “us versus them” division. The less-educated, less powerful people huddle in their less comfortable chairs, and the more educated folks not only get to sit closer to the director but have much more comfortable chairs. Printed agendas are plentiful in the “have” section leaving perhaps one printed one for the “have nots.” It has always been this way. No one questions it.

A problem is presented by the director and she asks for feedback on possible solutions. The big chairs come up with a few ideas that miss the mark by a lot. Frustration starts to grow as a quiet voice from the “have not” section proffers an idea that he feels could more than adequately address the issue, would cost nothing and could easily be implemented. In seconds the director dismisses the idea out of hand and moves on after tabling the issue on the agenda.

One of the youngest in the haves section, who has previously worked many jobs in the “have not” section takes pause, considers the idea proffered and then raises his hand to speak, asking to revisit the previous agenda item. He re-presents the previous idea but adds a few “fifty cent terms” and other industry buzz words and the idea is loved, voted in and scheduled to be implemented. The haves hail him a genius and ask him if he has anything to say. He looks directly into the eyes of the “have not” that authored the idea and thanks him personally for coming up with the idea that had evaded the rest. His director speaks over him and reminds him that they voted the have not’s idea down and are implementing his instead. She apparently thought he had become confused. He says something akin to “I’m sorry Tom. I’m sorry that your idea was dismissed without much consideration and I want to thank you for having the insight that everyone else missed. Please understand that there are those that put more weight behind letters after one’s name than they do with good solid ideas. They may not acknowledge you, but I will. I simply took your idea and added some fifty cent words to it and presented it again for you. I believe that good ideas are good no matter the degrees held or job title of the person that came up with it…”

After the meeting the man approaches the have and thanks him. He stated that in all his career that was the first time that anyone had ever stood up for him or gave him the credit when he came up with a good idea. The have simply responds “I’m so sorry it has taken this long but so long as I have a job here I will do all I can to make sure that everyone has a voice. No one is more important than another.” They shake hands and do a one armed embrace. Soon all the have nots are knocking on his door and the atmosphere of the agency improves…

Visitors to a charity see an older man raking stones out of the grass near the drive as part of spring cleaning. They engage in a brief conversation about the weather, the program and what it has to offer. The man discusses how much the program depends on volunteers and how much they are able to get done because of it. The conversation is pleasant and not pushy at all. Eventually the visitors say goodbye and mention that they would like to talk to the director about the program. The man, still raking simply says “you have been for some time now. What can I do you ya?”  He then puts the rake down a bit to discuss the business they had in mind…

A person in a business suit walks around a therapeutic farm appearing a bit confused and more than a little out of their element. A man comes out of a field, hands well-worn and with more than a bit of farm dust on him. Has asks the person if they need anything, are looking for a tour or is there is anything he can assist with. The person dismisses him, ignoring the overture and continues to walk around lost. The “farm hand” returns to his task until finally the “suit” approached him and begins asking questions. He does what he can to answer them. Finally the suit asks for the doctor in charge and is shocked to learn that he has been talking to him for some time now. He explains that as a volunteer based program he feels it is important to lead by example. He feels that he should be seen doing the hard labor as well as his normal job so folks know that every job is important and that no one is truly above another. He gives a small list of chores that he will only do as he would never want a volunteer to be subjected to some of the conditions that he subjects himself to regularly. The suit shakes his head in confusion at first but in time comes to understand. In time, the suit is seen in the field from time to time as well…

A voice over the loudspeaker announces that there is extra food in the executive meeting room and that folks can help themselves. An executive calls down to the administrative assistant’s area and asks them what they like. They reply that they are not allowed to leave their area to which he simply replies that he is aware of that but that he is allowed to leave. He then brings down a large plate of wraps, cookies and bags of chips. They are excited and confused stating that it has never happened to them before. Some of his coworkers chastise him reminding him of his station and theirs. He simply replies “they do so much for me every day, why can’t I return the favor once in a while? Would it kill you to do something nice for someone without it being in your job description? If they don’t do their job well, we can’t do ours. This benefits everyone…”

A lady goes to a local shopping center that requires a quarter for the use of a cart in an effort to increase the carts being returned to the corral (they then get their quarter back) and loads quarters into a dozen or more carts, leaving them for the next batch of customers coming in. It costs little but spreads so much cheer. When asked why she replies “there is so much negativity in this world. If I can make someone smile for as little as a quarter, why wouldn’t I do it?” Seeing the looks on the faces of those that find the carts you can see her point has been well made…

An executive of a local program can’t help but notice a small but determined group of people outside the office protesting. The executive reads the sign but cannot understand the anger or the issue; the signs are unclear. The executive has Tim Horton’s brought out to the protestors with the message that they hope the group is staying warm and well fed. The group is then asked if two or three of the protestors would be willing to leave their signs outside and come into the executive’s office to discuss their concerns. The meeting goes well, the group feels heard and the executive gains perspective that had been heretofore unthought-of.  Though disagreement is still present, a new level of mutual respect is formed. Protestors and workers alike are changed from this interaction; they see that things that may have become heated and involve authorities can also be addressed peacefully and with respect…

There are books and books on leadership, many of which talk of how to reach the top or are directed towards those that already are in positions of power. Some talk of heavy hands in dealing with issues. Some discuss the need to show dominance. To show your power. Others learn that true power needs to rarely show their might but instead show their ability to relate to others, to be real, to simply listen. Whether or not you are a “have” or a “have not” you have it within yourself to make a real and lasting impact on society through your everyday actions. A kind “boss” typically has a kind staff and a happier work environment than an unhappy one but a happy employee can do much to help change the environment of even the most negative workplace (though if they go unheard they typically will leave eventually as we all deserve to be treated well).

What have you done today to lead by example? Have you helped someone that cannot possibly repay you? Have you smiled even when the other person has been rude to you? Have you responded to negative words from others with assertive but kind ones of your own? True leaders need no titles; people will follow them regardless. Be the change.

-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 do we do with the art work?

Posted by: Priya Senroy on août 31, 2018 9:08

September is here and it’s time to purge files, sort through paperwork and get ready for new clients. As a creative arts therapist in private practice, I often find myself to be the caretaker of paperwork, art work, and entrusted client journals. While I am obligated to keep files due to the record retention policy of my own practice, I always wonder, if there are any other ways of saving them aside from the traditional paper format. Every 6 months I find my filing cabinet bulging with therapeutic expressions, forcing me to contact clients and ask them about their decisions regarding their documents and creations. Maintaining storage space and keeping them for 7 years seems like a daunting task without a clear solution, aside from renting external space. However, I am not comfortable keeping clients’ personal art work at an exterior location as I am unwilling to deal with any potential privacy loss.

I came across various opinions and creative ways that therapists are handling this situationWhat I decided to do is take digital photographs of clients’ art creations, drawings, scanned journals, written work and (following consultation with my clients) email them for safekeeping.

As we are focusing more on cybersecurity, cyber privacy, cyber storage and cybercouselling, it is imperative to align online document storage with the best practises of document retention.

As the year continues, I plan to look at corporate cyber document retention options and storage models to see if I can make this process more efficient, keeping in mind clients’ ever-growing concerns for privacy and access to information.

Priya Senroy , MA CCC

www.senroycounselling.com




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

Psychs du Soleil: » making clinician self-care important

Posted by: Doc Warren on août 31, 2018 9:05

I started in the human services 29 years ago. 29 summers. 29 winters. A lot have changed in me, and in that time, and a lot has changed in the world. When I started my career, there was no talk of self-care and we instead spoke of the possibility of being productive 16 hours a day, 6 maybe 7 days per week. Holidays were for the retired. Our mission was to make real and lasting change for as long as we could. The world needed us. We helped save lives.

Burnout was present but seldom talked about.  You would hear folks talk of others as no longer being able to hack it anymore or that they sold out and left the field. Perhaps they never really cared? Perhaps they just weren’t strong enough or they never “really” had “it” to begin with. I’ve worked through the pain many a time as my boss considered anyone taking time off as being a sign that they were soft or did not care. I remember one boss calling me when I was sick in bed with a triple infection that was resistant to antibiotics and telling me how she thought I was a team player but was not so sure anymore and that when I was done taking my “mental health day” that there was a hospital full of patients that needed my care. I dutifully returned to work as soon as I was no longer contagious but far before I was actually healthy. Later, major surgery that called for multiple weeks of recovery found me back to work on the third business day after surgery much to the chagrin of the surgeon. Like a 1980’s badass movie guy our mantra was “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

In my career I have looked down the barrel of a loaded gun; pointed at me by an unstable individual whom I was able to talk down and continued work like nothing had happened. It never even occurred to me that I could take some personal time to unwind, clear my head and re-focus. We just were not taught that this was important. So when being released from a dark elevator that had been stuck for an hour or two, I did no reflection, took no time to collect myself and instead got back on a working elevator (so I would not develop a fear) and got off on my floor and ran several more groups that day. Not even trauma, the death of a colleague stopped the day. If we collapsed? Well we would delay long enough (maybe) to see an MD but don’t expect to see me out afterwards. I’ll be back after the appointment.

Vacation days piled up unused and were simply lost when we changed jobs. We didn’t even get the cash for them. It was how it worked. It was how we were taught. It was how it was…

IT WAS WRONG.

So here I am looking at 30 years in the field and instead of teaching folks how I was taught I emphasize the need for self-care, reasonable hours and setting limits, boundaries and taking time to recharge. Slowly, I even started following these guidelines myself. You see, a burnt out helper is not much help. Leaving the profession may help you find something that pays better financially but leaving what you once loved can often leave an emptiness. Balance is key.

You’ve all read about self-care. Hopefully your graduate program even had some training in this area. You know that the following can increase your career longevity:

  • Not working excessive hours
  • Stepping away from your desk during breaks to clear your head
  • Working on art during breaks and rest times
  • Building in rest times within your work day
  • Setting limits to hours and days of work
  • Mindfulness and meditation exercises regularly
  • Vacation regularly
  • Maintaining balance
  • Exploring outside interests
  • Learning to say “no”
  • Pacing yourself
  • Finding inner peace and acceptance
  • Being realistic.

Can an old dog learn to practice self-care after almost 3 decades of working 6-7 days, 60-100 hours per week? The answer is yes but with some difficulty.  In my case I took a professional inventory and cut out things that I felt were no longer a priority, no longer a must. Though I loved them I stopped attending national and international conferences (I have been a presenter at many and enjoyed it) and diverted the money that I had spent on them to things that I could do with my family. I also dropped many unused memberships. I looked at the writing that I had done and reduced it to the minimum and also started taking weekends off. You see, there will always be a great deal of work to do and that will never change. You will not get it all done if you work 100 hours a week or 40 but the closer to 40 you can do the fresher you just may be.

Using the diverted money, the money that once went to conferences allowed me to invest more in myself, my hobbies and my family. Soon I found myself working on classic cars again, buying a truck to help with work around the farm and taking vacations with my family, renting houses on the water in both the USA and Canada. My wife and I also started taking weekend trips to places within an hour or two of home. We loved to explore and experience life between sessions. On one such trip we found an older country cottage near a waterfall that we fell in love with and eventually purchased. The sound of the falls helps relax you to sleep and soothes you when you are awake. It was new to the market after having been held up in probate for a few years. It was overgrown and unattractive but it had great bones and even greater potential. As we cut the overgrowth and removed the carpeting and other remnants of the old owner we helped the cottage find a new life and a new focus much the same as the cottage was doing for us. At about an hour from home it was far enough for us to be able to reinvent ourselves as a happy couple that wanted to relax and enjoy art, yet it was close enough that we could go almost anytime we wanted to. We started remodeling the day we closed on the property. Paint, new flooring, fixtures and furniture made all the difference. Adding art materials and leaving work-relatred items (including computers) behind helped make our cottage a true oasis. Though we did much of the work ourselves, we took breaks to enjoy a swim, a conversation with neighbors from down the road or simply listen to a song. Playing checkers was a real treat, far from the city on a road where we could not see our closest neighbor and not even a street light to distract us from what nature had to offer…

In time, we found that time need not dictate your every action. The world does not revolve on the 50 minute hour, though we still love our jobs; maybe more so since we started taking breaks.

No matter how you were taught, there is an ability to adjust, to change, to retool. Find the balance between too much work and too much play and embrace it. Challenge yourself as you expand your horizon. Perhaps one day you too will find that cottage or cabin in the woods that fills your heart. May you find a name for it that suits you. As for me and mine, well we went with « Psychs du Soleil » (shrinks in the sun). May you find balance. May you find peace.

-Doc Warren




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

The life of a therapeutic farm director

Posted by: Doc Warren on juin 6, 2018 3:33

From writing in the United States and in Canada I get email after email on such topics as founding a charity to counselling supervision and related topics. My favorites though are those that focus on therapeutic farm programs.  Now I am far from the first to have a therapeutic farm and hopefully far from the last. It was once a very common type of program but with the increase in land prices, decreases in crop prices and the insane amount of developments that were being build decades ago more and more farms, including therapeutic farms, disappeared from the map, replaced by subdivisions. Therapeutic programs have trended smaller and the connection with nature was often lost.

A handful of years ago the charity I founded was offered a great price on a nearby farm that had long ago seen its prime fade into decay. It had no running water and spotty utilities at best but we saw so much potential that we went into debt to buy the first of three sections and have spent a fortune in cash and sweat equity transforming it into a real therapeutic program with hiking trails, fields, Christmas Trees, gardens, green houses (the USA government makes us call them Seasonal High Tunnels if we want a chance at a grant), running water, a bathroom, art based programming and of course formal therapeutic programs etc. We have gone from about 850 square feet of office space to just under 4000 with more currently under construction. Eventually the main building will be about 7800 square feet including the metal\ automotive and wood shops.

As a director of such a program there really is no such thing as a “typical” day unless you simply say that a typical day is anything but typical. While I carry a full caseload of clients that I see for hour long sessions, my days also include many, many non-clinical and non-administrative duties. If you are planning on taking on such a project there are things you will want to consider unless of course you are simply stepping into a program that is fully staffed and fully operational.

In the past few weeks alone I have worked on the following projects beyond clinical and admin.

  • Replaced brakes, rotors and at least one caliper on an agency used vehicle as well as a water pump and rear wheel hub assemblies.
  • Repaired a water valve that helped supply water to the buildings and grounds.
  • Repaired the snow plow, changed a tire in the snow and also replaced a starter where the plow had died. Think slush, snow, cold and so, so dirty.
  • Repaired chicken coops after snow damage.
  • Buried some farm animals after a predator attack.
  • Ran electrical wires for new offices.
  • Repaired a 50 year old tractor that was having transmission issues.
  • Helped with grant writing.
  • Continued to conduct individual and group supervision.
  • Prepared countless planning beds and fields for planting and planted many of them. Some were plated with plants that I raised from seeds, a few were done with store bought plants and some with seeds.
  • Repaired the composting toilet system.

You get the idea. When you are not in clinical sessions there is always something to do and you do it 6 to 7 days per week. This is meant as a rough sketch of what a clinical director in this type of setting may expect. Your experiences will vary by setting, infrastructure and personal ability. I would not advocate a person with no background in electrical, mechanical or construction attempt much of what I do and I would not had I too lacked any background in this area but for those that have it, it will get put to use in this type of setting.

A large established program may not require half the skills or interaction from a director but for those that will be starting from scratch or nearly scratch, there is no shortage of challenges. Taking on a program like this is not all challenges however. There are within these programs things that cannot be found in most settings. There is the therapeutic value of being able to be in a large area with free roaming animals and being able to feed them by hand or pick them up and pet/ cuddle with them. There is the feeling of connectedness that one can feel while conducting a session while walking in a field, along a brook or on woodland trails.  The ability to watch a community grow where once overgrown land was present is a feeling that is hard to put into words. Watching crops grow and knowing that they will feed the needy while also providing therapeutic opportunities to the community is something that I had never experienced in “corporate” counseling programs. The feeling of accomplishment when you see a new wall go up or lights light up for the first time can be hard to beat as is the feeling of accomplishment when a long dormant machine fires to life.

For those of you that have not lost the love of our profession but that may be growing tired of the corporate or urban environment, consider a change of pace and a change of space. Community therapeutic farming may just be what is missing for you. It just may be what is missing in your community as well.

 

”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

Mindful Moaning: Can a Client Complain Mindfully?

Posted by: Alexandra Trottier on février 28, 2018 10:02

Can a client complain mindfully? Well, kind of.

In our culture, Mindfulness is often synonymous with “Good Vibes Only”. As we know however the true definition of Mindfulness is really just about “paying attention, to the present moment, on purpose, and without judgement”. It is simply good fortune that an ongoing Mindfulness practice will eventually lead to “Good Vibes…Mostly”.

Here are my tips for using Mindfulness to help clients transform their moaning minds.

  1. Become aware of complaints.

Have your client start by tracking their negative thoughts, including the words they use and the situations they find themselves griping about the most. By tracking these criticisms they’ll begin to see a pattern of which negative thoughts continually resurface. Remind them that complaints are a way for the brain to express potential threats. By becoming aware of their common complaints your client will begin to take note of the areas in their life they want to improve.

  1. Tune into the feelings behind the complaints.

Instruct your client to also take note of the emotions behind their complaints. Are they hurt? Frustrated? Anxious? Sad? Also, instruct them to be mindful of where they feel the emotion in their body. You can use this information to help them recognize their triggers. Noting their current emotions will also help you guide clients toward defining their desired emotions in the areas of their life they want to improve.

  1.  Resist the urge to complain about complaining.

Invite your client to speak to themselves with kindness rather than judging themselves for complaining. Remind them that complaining is a natural part of being human and instruct them to instead use neutral statements such as, “This is a moment of complaining” or simply using the labels “Complaint” or “Stop”. This way they are not judging or criticizing themselves but simply bringing mindful awareness to the fact that they are perceiving a potential threat that needs to be attended to.

  1.  Shift your language.

Perhaps using the word “Stop” is enough for your client to break the cycle of complaining. However, you may also want to include this fourth step to help your client begin shifting their negative language. Invite your client to try seeing unpleasant situations in different ways using neutral statements. For example, instead of complaining, “I hate how cold the winter is” they may instead use the neutral statement, “Today it is -15 outside”.

The point is that once your client starts to become mindfully aware of their complaints they have the power to decide whether they want to give into the thought, leave it, attend to it, or shift it. Mindfulness offers the potential for your clients to take back control over their moaning minds.




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

Cherishing the life you have

Posted by: Doc Warren on février 16, 2018 9:31

So many of us spend so many sleepless nights focusing on what we’ve lost at the cost of cherishing what we have left. It’s not just our clients, as a consultant and supervisor I have found many many cases of clinicians that have burnt out of life, even if they were functioning in their work. They lose the ability to see that life in not guaranteed, that it is precious and that it can be taken from us in an instant. Recently, I had two things happen that reminded me to check my focus and try to live every day to the fullest.

Helen was our therapeutic animal partner where I work and had been since she was rescued. Though she had been used as a bait dog, violently beaten and left for dead, she had an unending amount of love to give, and give it she did to so many folks in the 6 or so years that we had her. Even when recovering from two surgeries, one to fix damage to her face and remove fibrous debris that was lodged in her skull from past abuse; the other to remove cancer from her body, she reported to work the very next day, refusing to stay home and refusing to use a bed we laid out for her at the office. Barely walking, cone around her neck, large areas shaved and covered in a t shirt, she limped to my office and asked for help getting on the couch. She remained for her shift, giving love and support to those in need. Sadly, she passed in my arms December 22nd after completing a long day of service. Giving till her final breath. Countless cried at the news of her passing. She had not been ill and at 8 years old she was expected to have many years left.

Hours ago I was working on projects between sessions as I always do. It’s nothing to see me working on or working with a farm tractor or large piece of equipment when I have some time between clients. I may also be using a chainsaw or any one of a thousand tools while improving the grounds and buildings. I play plumber, electrician, carpenter, designer, welder etc. at any given moment and am no stranger to a nick or a cut nor the occasional trip to the medical clinic for stiches or other care. When you do as much as I do you will have a mishap, especially when you work 60-80 hours per week and have for years on end. Hours ago, things did not go as planned. It changed me, for how long I cannot say. But it has me reflecting in a way that I have not in some time.

While reworking a circuit panel in our building I had trouble installing a breaker and my hand slipped. For a brief moment I came into contact with the hot (energized with electricity) part of the panel. Every bit of power in that panel should by rights have entered into my body. That panel supplies power to an entire floor, 2600 or so square feet of space yet I was unhurt; not even a shock. I have no explanation for why I am ok, but I am physically fine. After the incident I continued, with my project and finished the panel and went back to clinical duties (I am the director and also have a full case load of clients), few if any knowing what had happened. Inside I felt different though.

That’s how life can often work; here and happy one moment and gone the next, or not… We really have no idea when we will leave this world or how but we all will leave it one day. Instead of focusing on all we have lost, how much more others have as compared to us or all the stuff that we dislike but cannot change, let us instead enjoy every moment that we have. Life is often wasted on those that only see negative, use that energy to make the world better than you found it. Find your reason to smile instead of looking for reasons to become angry.

Ten ways to increase happiness in your life:

  1. Take time every day to tell those around you how much they mean to you.
  2. Before posting something on social media ask yourself if it is true, if it is kind and if it is necessary?
  3. Remember that no tomorrow is guaranteed; work towards living today to the fullest: why waste it on things that do not make you feel fulfilled?
  4. Go through your china cabinet, hope chest and other keep sake storage and use those special items every day. Why save it forever? Items were made to be used. I personally only use vintage collectible cups, plates and utensils after seeing so many of those keepsakes at auctions, flea markets and rummage sales after the next of kin did not want them.
  5. Treat yourself today. Saving for a retirement that you may never see does make sense but not if you are unable to live well today. Find a balance and treat yourself well now. Take more trips. Have more experiences while you are young enough to enjoy them.
  6. Never go to bed angry if you can help it. While we do sometimes need to take space to process our feelings, it is often better to take that limited time and then find closure rather than to let things fester.
  7. Build a better today as well as a better tomorrow. Sacrifice is part of life for most of us, especially in the early years of adulthood but you need not sacrifice all the time. Find a balance while working for a better tomorrow and take time to enjoy the now. It may only be a few moments a day, an occasional day off or a day trip, but do live for today while working towards a more secure tomorrow.
  8. Tell people how you feel. So many people regret never telling someone that they feel about them when they had the chance. So many tears mix with words at an otherwise empty cemetery, telling them all they wish they had said. Why wait?
  9. Get unstuck. Feeling trapped in a dead end job, relationship or other situation? Take steps now to find the situation that you crave. It may be hard but is it any harder than forcing yourself to go through the motions when they do not bring any joy? Work will always have tough times, tough moments but overall it should bring a sense of self satisfaction.
  10. Be who you are. Why pretend to be something you are not? Why dress the part or walk the walk that means nothing to you? Find balance between societal necessities and individuality. Why do clothes need to match? Who says a professional has to wear a suit in order to be competent? Who says a mechanic can’t wear nice clothes to work? I’ve been known to wear pocket t shirts and shorts to work and never had a client walk out of a session. Depending on your boss’ rules, you should have plenty of room to balance what they are looking for with remaining true to yourself. Embrace it.

The bottom line is that life is to be cherished. Value every moment.




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