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Copyright: 2012 Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors


Welcome to our 50th and Commemorative Edition! Our first edition was published toward the end of 2003. Over the past 4 years we’ve worked diligently to provide you with quality content so you get value from your reading experience.


Over this time, we’ve also made improvements to the publications’ layout and distribution so that Institute Inbrief is delivered efficiently and on a regular basis. We’ve seen a growing number of subscribers who are actively providing feedback – currently there are over 12,000 readers receiving Institute Inbrief each fortnight!


To celebrate the monument of 50 editions, we’ve compiled all of Inbrief’s top articles over the past 3.5 years into a commemorative eBook. The Institute InBrief eBook is a comprehensive publication with over 100 pages of articles, illustrations, links and information. You can collect your free copy of the Institute Inbrief Commemorative eBook at our Blog –


As you may have noted, we’ve re-designed our eZine email. Now, in addition to reading the online version of the newsletter (, you also receive this email, with a new sharp and functional design. You can now choose to read from a webpage or the email message.


Yes, as you may have guessed, we’ve been looking forward to our 50th edition!


In this edition we’ve included an article about brain plasticity and learning. This article appeared in the CounsellorJOBS eZine and details features of the human brain, and how they relate to learning and some contemporary therapeutic approaches.


In our communication section, there’s an article produced by the American Counseling Association where you’ll learn tips and skills to improve communication in relationships. Finally, we’ll review the latest discussions at Counselling Connection and this fortnight’s featured Bookstore publication.


Enjoy this special edition and your eBook. If you have any comments, don’t hesitate to email


Best wishes,




The Institute's Diploma of Professional Counselling is the country's most reasonably priced counselling qualification. As Australia's largest and longest established provider of counsellor training, we're able to amortise our costs across a large number of students. Thus, we deliver a high standard of counselling education and study support, for a lower investment.


AIPC has specialised in external education for over 16 years and has a highly qualified Education Team who will support you throughout your studies. Help is only ever a phone call or email away and you have access to:


  • An Education Team of over 65 degree qualified counselling professionals, all with extensive industry experience and teaching and assessing qualifications.

  • An  online Knowledge Base 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that contains over 4,000 specific questions and answers relating to your course.

  • Unlimited FREE phone support 9am to 5pm (EST) on the 1300 Study Assistance Line where you can discuss any study questions you may have with Education Team members.

  • Unlimited email support. Send a question any time and have your enquiry replied to within the next working day.

  • And you have the support of your local Student Support Centre who will link you into a local student support network (if you wish to stay in touch with other students); help you complete your practical assessments; and co-ordinate your In-Class or tutorial activities.

In a survey of several thousand students (Yes, we regularly ask students and graduates how we are performing so we can continually improve our level of service!), 86% of responders indicated that our level of student support was "Beyond their expectation."


AND, prospective students of the Institute can benefit from a variety of course investment methods, so your enrolment into the Diploma of Professional Counselling is not delayed due to financial considerations.


There are two payment options for students enrolling into the Diploma of Professional Counselling, each of them with specific advantages:


Upfront Payment Option

Students who decide to pay their course fee upfront will enjoy a substantial discount on the normal price of the Diploma. Students can concentrate on their future studies without having to worry about further payments.


Regular Payment Plan

Those students who do not want to pay their course fees upfront, can take advantage of making regular monthly payments over 21 or 24 months. Further savings apply if these monthly payments are made by credit card or direct debit.  The Institute endeavours to keep the monthly repayments as affordable as possible.


For further information about course investment options, please contact your closest Student Support Centre.


Neuroscience has changed considerably in the past 20 years. An example of change over this period is the concept of brain plasticity. Brain plasticity refers to the brain's ability to rewire itself, relocating information processing functions to different brain areas and/or neural networks.


Two decades ago, it was believed that brain networks were static after its initial formation period. Now that belief has changed. The study of brain plasticity has profound implications in human learning and behaviour, and as such, for mental health.

To better understand this concept; let's take a quick tour of the human brain, neural networks, and the plasticity potential therein.


Brains, Neurons and Networks


The brain is a multilayered parallel structure in which billions of neurons are interconnected and exchange information through neural networks. In the brain, each neuron is connected to thousands of other neurons through synapses (specialised neuronal junctions).


A connected neuron receives input from several other neurons, and when the input weight reaches a threshold value, the neuron propagates an electrical signal that stimulates output through the ignition of a neurotransmitter (input to another neuron).


This electrochemical exchange is the basis of brain cell communication. It is also the premise for the formation of neural networks. These networks are formed during early childhood and are responsible for particular brain tasks, such as learning, pattern recognition and problem-solving.


It was believed that once neural networks were formed, they would remain 'hard-wired' or inflexible. However, research in the past two decades has indicated that this is not the reality: our neural networks are in fact adaptive, flexible and responsive to change.


Rewiring is the Key


Plasticity has many implications to human behaviour and learning patterns. Primarily, it defies the old adage that "an old dog cannot learn new tricks". It is clear that with age, it becomes increasingly more difficult to learn new things. However, the brain's ability to adapt to change perpetuates throughout an individual's lifetime.


A prominent case of neuroplasticity happened with a patient who spent 19 years in a coma. Terry Wallis, a 19 year old man from Massachusetts (US), woke up after spending 19 years in a minimally conscious state. When scientists scanned his brain combining PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) technologies, they found evidence that Wallis's brain had "developed new pathways and completely novel anatomical structures to re-establish functional connections, compensating for the brain pathways lost in the accident" (New Scientist, 03/07/2006).


Other cases, including stroke victims, people who have lost sensorial abilities (e.g. visually impaired) and individuals who have suffered cortical injuries show similar conclusions after researchers have investigated how they have recovered, or how the brain rewired itself to compensate for the damaged areas and lost functions.


The process of rewiring occurs when new connections (synapses) between neurons are formed and, if they prove to be favourable, they are likely to become more permanent and stabilised. This process allows the brain circuitry to be malleable to changes, or in other words, to form 'uncommon' networks under particular conditions.


Learning and Plasticity


Brain plasticity is not restricted to unplanned circumstances, such as accidents, brain traumas and other critical instances that require rewiring to re-establish functional connections. Learning is also a major beneficiary of brain plasticity.


Studies with musicians and athletes have shown that particular areas of the brain responsible for 'fine' or 'specific' movements in certain parts of the body (e.g. the hands of a pianist or string musician) are in fact rewired for optimisation. Once training becomes a routine, and particular movements are repeated over and over again, the tendency is that neuronal connections will become more permanent.


But there is more to it. Physical contact is not a requirement when it comes to rewiring. Repeated thinking can also trigger a series of reactions which result in brain rewiring. Scientists have investigated the formation of synapses as a result of 'thinking about doing something' and found that, from a neuronal perspective, thinking can be as useful as doing.


This evidence led to an interesting fusion of interests between Buddhist meditation (through the Dalai Lama's interest on the influence of the mind over the brain) and the scientific research on brain plasticity and the formation of neural networks. It seems that brain plasticity is a flexible topic as well as a flexible concept.


Mind Your Thoughts


Learning and plasticity took centre stage when collaborative research was conducted with lamas (Buddhist equivalent for priests or spiritual leaders). It seems that, as a result of ongoing meditation through a technique called Mindfulness (which aims to improve the person's control and awareness of thoughts and emotions), the lamas were 'more able' to attain emotional balance and to concentrate.


Some of these studies include experiments performed by Dr. Kabat-Zinn (who taught mindfulness to workers in a high-pressure biotech business and concluded that stress levels were optimised over a short period of time) and Dr. Ekman's tests involving emotional expression detections. "The mindfulness training focuses on learning to monitor the continuing sensations and thoughts more closely, both in sitting meditation and in activities like yoga exercises"  (NY Times, 04/02/2003).


The benefits of meditation through brain rewiring, from a non-religious perspective, are becoming clearer and quite appealing. Currently, there are therapeutic techniques that mix mindfulness with other mainstream therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. These have proven particularly useful for cases of depression and anxiety, for example.


Stepping Into the Unknown


Brain plasticity has become a major topic of study. As modern scanning technologies enable scientists to observe the formation of synapses under particular stimuli, and experiment with living organisms, the applications of this knowledge are reaching a range of research fields.


Some scientists have promoted the idea of using stimulation to improve learning, however, at a neurochemical level. Others like the idea of meditation and 'wishful thinking' to empower the process of learning and to optimise the performance of certain tasks.


This collaborative approach from representatives of a non-dogmatic religion such as Buddhism, cognitive researchers and neuroscientists seems to be opening an attractive scope on the concept of brain plasticity. How far will this go? Hard to say, but nevertheless: very interesting to mind.


Further research and information: Wikipedia, New Scientist, Science Daily and CMRP.


Source: CJ Newsletter



Did you enjoy this article? Then share the feeling and forward it to a friend! Quick reminder: Please send this eZine to all your family and friends so they too can enjoy the benefits. Simply enter their email addresses in our automated reference system on the right-side column of this page. Thank you.


The Institute has a list of recommended textbooks which can add great value to your learning journey - and the good news is that you can get them in a very easy way. The AIPC bookstore will give YOU:


ü  Discounted prices.

ü  Easy ordering method.

ü  Quality guarantee!


So each fortnight we'll be bringing you a new recommended text - and this edition's selected book is...


Name: Case Approach to Counselling and Psychotherapy

Author: Corey, Gerald


ISBN: 0-534-55921-2

AIPC Price: $74.75


Organised to allow different theories to be compared easily, this book illustrates the skilful application of theory and allows you to learn by seeing a therapeutic approach in action.


To order this publication, simply contact your nearest Student Support Centre or AIPC Head Office (1800 657 667).


Good communications are essential to good relationships, but aren’t always easy to achieve. We live busy, often stressful lives, and taking the time to make sure we’re really communicating effectively with our partner is something that requires focus and effort.


Researchers have found that one communication difficulty is that men and women actually do communicate differently. Compared to women, men tend to talk less, are reluctant to discuss feelings, are quicker to seek solutions, interrupt more often, and are quicker to withdraw when confronted by their partner.


To help get past such issues, it’s important to practice good communication skills, hopefully long before a major life issue is the topic of discussion. Some techniques that can help include:


  • Making eye contact.
  • Using “I” statements, rather than “you” accusations.
  • Avoiding words like “always” and “never.”
  • Expressing yourself in small chunks, rather than talking fast and trying to get it all in at once.
  • Taking turns. Letting your partner express an opinion without interrupting or finishing his or her thoughts.
  • Avoiding criticism and sarcasm.
  • Avoiding name calling.
  • Being aware that body language and voice tone, not just words, make up communication. A mocking tone, rolling eyes, hands on hips or crossed arms are all negative communications that can cause your partner to withdraw and become defensive.
  • Being a good listener. We commonly assume we know what the other person is going to say, and often start forming our reply before they’re done, rather than taking the time to really listen to what was actually said.

Instead, practice good listening skills. Maintain eye contact and listen carefully. When a point has been made, repeat what’s been said to be sure it was correctly understood. Validate important points (“It sounds as if that really hurt you.”), so the other person knows you heard and understood, even though you might not agree.


Communicating well in a relationship takes practice and work, but it can pay off when a major discussion has to take place. Start practicing with simple issues to express yourself honestly, clearly and coolly, and to learn to listen to the other side as well. Poor communication within a relationship is one of the major reasons for couples consulting with a counseling professional.


Source: The Counseling Corner

© American Counseling Association

Have you visited Counselling Connection, the Institute’s Blog yet? We’ve published lots of interesting posts including case studies, team member profiles and real life stories.  And thank you to those readers who have already submitted their comments to the site!


To keep you up-to-date and help you get the most out of the Blog, we will regularly publish a summary of Counselling Connection’s publications and let you know what tools are available for you. It’s all about YOUR participation – so check out this fortnight’s best!


Tips and Tricks


RSS it up! Using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) you can receive new posts directly to your PC or laptop, instantly, and with original content. RSS is an internet communication protocol which allows programs to directly ‘pull’ information from a specific part of a website, blog or webpage, as soon as it is included.


By simply downloading a Feed Aggregator or RSS Reader (if you type any of these keywords on Google, you will find a variety of options for FREE download) you can keep up-to-speed with our Blog writers and Support Team. If you require more information about RSS, visit the Wikipedia Page.


Posts and Notes


We’ve begun a sequence of posts about domestic violence and abuse. Throughout the next few weeks, we’re going to be analysing and discussing this societal problem which affects many families in Australia and throughout the world. We’ve just started posting on this topic, but already received responses from readers expressing their views and knowledge on this important issue.


Inbrief eBook


Readers can download the Institute Inbrief eBook directly from the Blog. We’ve published a post with the appropriate links to download your copy. Also, you can retrieve it from the ‘downloads’ link category – on the right side column of the Blog. The eBook is a PDF File, which means you’ll need to have Adobe Reader to download it – a link to help you download this program is available at the same category.


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“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”


~ Albert Einstein

Many students of the Diploma of Professional Counselling like to attend seminars to complete the practical requirements of their course. Seminars provide an ideal opportunity to network with other students and liaise with qualified counselling professionals in conjunction with completing compulsory coursework.


These are the following seminars available between April and July 2007. To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre. To find out about further seminar dates, please click here.



Communication Skills I/SEMINAR A - 14/04/2007, 09/06/2007

Communication Skills II/SEMINAR B - 12/05/2007, 14/07/2007

The Counselling Process - 21/04/2007, 23/06/2007

Counselling Therapies I/SEMINAR C - 07 & 08/07/2007

Counselling Therapies II/SEMINAR D - 28 & 29/04/2007

Case Management/ SEMINAR E - 16 & 17/06/2007

Counselling Applications/Seminar F - 28/07/2007



Communication Skills I/SEMINAR A - 28/07/2007

Communication Skills II/SEMINAR B - 05/05/2007

The Counselling Process - 02/06/2007

Counselling Therapies II/SEMINAR D - 19 & 20/05/2007

Case Management/ SEMINAR E - 30/06/2007, 01/07/2007

Counselling Applications/SEMINAR F - 21/04/2007



Communication Skills I/SEMINAR A - 20/05/2007

Communication Skills II/SEMINAR B - 24/06/2007

The Counselling Process - 29/04/2007, 29/07/2007

Counselling Therapies I/SEMINAR C - 16 & 17/06/2007

Case Management/Seminar E - 14 & 15/07/2007



Communication Skills I/SEMINAR A - 11/05/2007, 30/05/2007, 16/06/2007

Communication Skills II/SEMINAR B - 31/05/2007, 23/06/2007, 12/07/2007

The Counselling Process - 13/06/2007, 14/07/2007

Counselling Therapies I/SEMINAR C - 29 & 30/06/2007

Counselling Therapies II/SEMINAR D - 25 & 26/05/2007, 02 & 03/07/2007

Case Management/ SEMINAR E - 06 & 07/06/2007

Counselling Applications/SEMINAR F - 28/05/2007



Communications Skills I/SEMINAR A - 12/05/2007, 09/06/2007, 07/07/2007

Communications Skills II/SEMINAR B - 13/05/2007, 10/06/2007, 08/07/2007

The Counselling Process - 06/05/2007, 21/07/2007

Counselling Therapies I/SEMINAR C - 19 & 20/05/2007, 30/06 & 01/07/2007

Counselling Therapies II/SEMINAR D - 21 & 22/04/2007, 02 & 03/06/2007

Case Management/ SEMINAR E - 28 & 29/04/2007, 16 & 17/06/2007

Counselling Applications/SEMINAR F - 05/05/2007, 22/07/2007



Communications Skills I/SEMINAR A - 02/06/2007

Communications Skills II/SEMINAR B - 03/06/2007

The Counselling Process - 12/05/2007, 28/07/2007

Counselling Therapies I/SEMINAR C - 05 & 06/05/2007

Counselling Therapies II/SEMINAR D - 23 & 24/06/2007

Case Management/ SEMINAR E - 28 & 29/04/2007, 16 & 17/06/2007

Counselling Applications/SEMINAR F - 26/05/2007



Communication Skills I/SEMINAR A - 12/05/2007, 07/06/2007

Communication Skills II/SEMINAR B - 13/05/2007, 08/07/2007

The Counselling Process - 26/05/2007

Counselling Therapies I/SEMINAR C - 21 & 22/04/2007, 21 & 22/07/2007

Counselling Therapies II/SEMINAR D - 23 & 24/06/2007

Case Management/ SEMINAR E - 09 & 10/06/2007




*Advertising of the seminar dates above does not guarantee availability of places in the seminar. Please check availability with the respective Student Support Centre.

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