AIPC Institute InBrief
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bullet Hello!
bullet Intothediploma
bullet Intonews
bullet Intocounselling
bullet Intobookstore
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bullet Intodevelopment
bullet Intoconnection
bullet Intotwitter
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Editor: Sandra Poletto

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Copyright: 2012 Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors

Welcome to Edition 151 of Institute Inbrief. December is just around the corner and you may already be getting into the festive spirit. This usually means an increased sense of community – especially in relation to your loved ones: family, friends and extended social networks.
If you can relate to this feeling, then this edition’s article could be one of the most insightful this year. We will be talking about Mental Health Social Support: what it is and how it positively impacts communities. We hope this article is an eye-opener for many readers (more information about MHSS will follow in upcoming weeks).
Also in this edition:
-      Closing – Bachelor of Psychological Science & Counselling
-      Previously Published Articles
-      Professional Development news
-      Blog and Twitter updates
-      Upcoming seminar dates
If you would like to access daily articles & resources, and interact with over 4250 peers, make sure you join our Facebook community today: It is a great way to stay in touch and share your interest and knowledge in counselling.
Enjoy your reading,
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The Diploma of Counselling is supported by a number of optional Advanced Study Majors (ASMs). Advanced Study Majors allow you to study and gain advanced knowledge and skill in the specialised counselling area of your choice.
The Advanced Study Major Program involves the completion of one or more optional Advanced Study Majors in addition to the Diploma of Counselling. The Majors provide you with the opportunity to specialise in any of the following highly relevant fields of counselling:
-      Abuse Counselling
-      Relationship Counselling and Conflict Resolution
-      Career Counselling
-      Grief and Loss Counselling
-      Child Development and Effective Parenting
-      Workplace Counselling
-      Counselling Clients with Addictions
-      Family Therapy
The Majors are specifically designed to provide you with a higher level of practical and theoretical knowledge in a specialised field of counselling. You are able to enrol into an Advanced Study Major at the time of your enrolment into the Diploma of Counselling, or at any subsequent time. The advantage of early enrolment in an Advanced Study Major is that studies can be completed concurrently with your Diploma. There is also no limit on the number of Advanced Study Majors you can undertake.
The Advanced Study Majors can be completed by either a home-study or face-to-face mode of study. Studying your ASM via the traditional home-study option follows a similar process as to completing your studies for the Diploma. Students are sent a workbook and readings for the ASM and submit their assessment for marking.
Alternatively, students are also able to complete their ASM by attending a workshop. Many students enjoy the interactive, practical workshops because they are a refreshing change from the traditional external study method and provide the opportunity to meet other students. Students also have the flexibility to change into this mode of study even after selecting the home-study option.
Click here for more information about each ASM.
For further information about the Diploma, please contact your closest Student Support Centre or visit
Closing – Bachelor of Psychological Science & Counselling
Just a few weeks ago we opened up enrolments into the Bachelor of Psychological Science and already the majority of places have been filled. But there are still some places remaining.
If you want a secure future doing something you love, then Psychology could be ideal for you.
Psychology is one of the most in-demand occupations. It has grown by 77% over the last 5 years, outgrowing all other occupations by almost 600%.
Psychology is also one of the most flexible qualifications, offering you rewarding careers in a diverse range of fields such as private practice, HR, human services, public health, market research, organisational development, education, defence services and more.
Our unique learning model means you can earn-while-you-learn, so you don’t have to give up work to fit in your studies.
-      Study externally from anywhere in Australia, even overseas.
-      Fund your tuition with Fee-Help.
-      SAVE up to $40,000 on your qualification.
-      Can start with just 1 subject.
-      Online learning portal with access to all study materials, readings and video lectures.
-      Attend residential schools to integrate your learning.
-      Accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).
-      No minimum HSC or OP results required to gain entry.
-      Learn in a friendly, small group environment.
You can submit your obligation free expression of interest (or enrol) in the Bachelor of Psychological Science here:
Enrolments and expressions of interest into our Bachelor of Counselling are also open. You can learn more here:
We expect to hit capacity enrolments for Semester 1 2012 very soon. So if you’re thinking about a career in psychology or counselling, please submit your interest now to avoid missing out.
More information on the programs:
Bachelor of Psychological Science:
Bachelor of Counselling:
What is Mental Health Social Support (MHSS)?
As well as the everyday stresses in life, there are natural and accidental disasters with which we are all familiar. The 2011 Queensland floods, for example, directly affected many thousands, and more than 62,000 people registered to assist with the clean-up in Brisbane’s worst-affected suburbs. These volunteers and many others throughout Queensland, other states of Australia, and elsewhere offered support, compassion, encouragement, and guidance where it was needed. Support for those affected psychologically came from mental health workers co-ordinated by local and state government leaders.
Whether major or minor, disasters inevitably cause direct trauma to victims, but also affect those near them. Much like an iceberg, the impacts of tragedy are clearly evident at one level, but may be less evident -- yet just as traumatic -- at another, “below the surface”, level. Thus, just as there is support at the visible, public level, there is also support needed at the less public, less visible level.
Often this is where the supportive work of ordinary citizens takes place. The support person may be a neighbour, a relative or friend, the local hairdresser, a caring taxi-driver, or the local librarian. All of these and others, whether knowingly or just instinctively, may have provided Mental Health Social Support to people who require it.
Perhaps you have found yourself in a situation among distressed people where you are asked to provide help, or you may see that help is needed, but you are not quite sure how to offer it. Yet you know that to do nothing is not an option, so you pitch in and do your best to provide comfort until professional help arrives. Perhaps you know of a situation where someone -- let’s say your colleague Patricia -- is providing either short- or long-term care to a relative. You can see that Patricia is affected herself by the support that she is providing, and you wonder how you could assist her, but you are not sure how to approach her in a way that would lead to her accepting your support.
Although the term “Mental Health Social Support” is recent, the broader concept of social support has been evolving over a number of decades. Most definitions include both practical components, such as financial assistance and physical aid, and less obvious aspects, such as encouragement and guidance. In this article, we will include in Mental Health Social Support those types of helping which, over time, serve to:
Assist with a helpee’s mental, emotional, and social needs, such as those for self-esteem, comfort, encouragement, and belonging (our main focus) and; Maintain or improve the helpee’s physical wellbeing (Caplan, 1974).
Social support research has identified five important functions, or types of Mental Health Social Support:
Emotional: This can be defined as: “the availability of one or more persons who can listen sympathetically when an individual is having problems and can provide indications of caring and acceptance” (Wills and Shinar, 2000). It is about how to offer comfort, encouragement, and guidance to someone in distress.
Instrumental: This happens when we provide help which is material -- a means to an end - such as food or shelter, to keep people going until they can be self-reliant again.
Informational: Giving someone vital information may provide crucial support, such as details of where to go for a specific type of help.
Companionship: This type of aid occurs, for example, when volunteers visit elderly community members who are lonely, or people who have few social outlets, such as those confined to hospitals.
Validation support: This function of support is seen when mental health social supporters encourage helpees’ self-care efforts, such as engaging in weight-loss or stop-drinking programs (Wills and Shinar, 2000).
Who are the mental health social supporters providing social support?
There are at least four different support types or circumstances through which mental health social supporters can offer social support. They are listed below. Keep in mind this is not a complete list of all the forms Mental Health Social Support can take. It does, however, offer a clear idea of the sorts of places aid can come from.
Social intimates: This type of mental health social supporter is often unpaid and offers emotional support to family members, friends, neighbours or colleagues or acquaintances. They are uniquely suited to help with not only home or neighbourhood emergencies and problems, but also the ongoing care that may be needed as a result of mental or physical illness.
Self-help groups: This most visible and organised type of informal helping arrangement is comprised of people who share a common need or problem. Self-help groups assist a person to make sense of an experience, and they give the person a sense of belonging to a community. Membership in this sort of a group gives a person a new social setting in which the shared goals and norms may help to strengthen new, desired ways of living (Gottlieb and Schroter, 1978). An example of a self-help group is Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also Gamblers Anonymous, smoking cessation, cancer survivor, and rape/incest groups.
Community caregivers: People in the community such as clergy, family doctors, and school personnel can and do offer much Mental Health Social Support. Because such people are already in relationship with the person who comes to need aid, the helpee feels comfortable to speak more frankly, thus being more likely to be directed to appropriate help (Graziano and Fink, 1973).
Some community caregivers’ normal work is in a helping profession (for example, teachers, health workers, and ministers). Perhaps you are also familiar with a less formal sort of caregiving, such as that provided by hairdressers, manicurists, or even sympathetic bartenders. When they are supportive, they are in effect being community caregivers.
Volunteers: Volunteers are mental health social supporters who provide help during and after catastrophes and natural disasters, even when they are personally affected by what is happening. Different volunteer skills may be required at different phases of a disaster (Halpern, 1974; Caplan, 1974). This has been demonstrated well in recent years in countries such as Indonesia, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia, where teams of volunteers have arrived on the disaster scene immediately.
Their timely employment of specialist rescue skills has enabled numerous victims to have life-saving medical attention, and emotional support. Similarly, not only during times of disaster, but also during normal daily existence, many agencies such as Lifeline (which offers telephone counselling) receive donations of time from people who would like to offer support.
Who are the Mental Health Social Support recipients: the helpees?
All of us could find ourselves in need of help, of being a helpee. It would be rare to find a person who did not need Mental Health Social Support at some stage of their lives. So who are some of the groups who have received aid? There is no shortage of international examples:
Befrienders International is an organisation of volunteers helping to prevent suicide in places as diverse as Japan, Sri Lanka, Estonia, and Denmark (Scott, 1996); Older husbands care for wives with dementia and other chronic diseases (Sanders and Power, 2009); St John’s Ambulance in New Zealand has a “friend on the phone” program, in which volunteers become a “friend” to a lonely older person, ringing that person at least once a week for chats, and to offer companionship (albeit by telephone); A public hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico has for years had a program in which volunteers go coddle newborn babies who are in incubators, and therefore not able to receive much-needed comfort in their first weeks of life.
Many communities have a “big brother” or “big sister” program in which the mental health social supporter is a young person who informally “adopts” and mentors a pre-teen child who might otherwise be at risk. The mental health social supporter also provides caring and role modelling for wise life choices. Australia has Community Watch groups in many cities, towns and rural areas, and the State Emergency Service of volunteers who assist in all forms of emergency.
Some studies have discovered what sort of aid the supporters need:
Australia’s STEPS program has mental health professionals who run educational and counselling programs to support those who are caring for community members. The programs do much to prevent burnout in the carers.
Support providers to those with spinal cord injury sometimes need extra support for themselves. They can feel ill-prepared for their new roles as physical and mental health social supporters, especially when the patients are first discharged from the rehabilitation centre or hospital (Boschen, Tonack, and Gargaro, 2005).
Chaplains working within hospice situations in the U.K. need social support due to high levels of stress from multiple factors (Williams, Wright, Cobb, and Shiels, 2004).
Finally, on an informal level but no less significant than the formal programs, there are the “everyday” helpers. These are the neighbours, friends, family members, colleagues, and others in “everyday life” – perhaps people much like yourself -- who simply realise that someone they know is stressed or in distress. They respond with caring concern, compassion, and support, whether the distress is as a result of an incident or trauma, or because the distressed person is weighed down by supporting a third party. When such “ordinary” people stop to support another, the person they are listening to becomes a helpee, and another helper/helpee relationship is born.
In short, if there is a problem or stressful situation, mental or physical illness, natural disaster or major life change, there will be people needing Mental Health Social Support. From the poor, to the violence-exposed, to at-risk youth and disaster victims, Mental Health Social Support helpees are everywhere, and their helpers increasingly so. You may be wondering why supporting in this way is so important, and how it is relevant to the wellbeing of the recipients.
Mental Health Social Support: important, relevant support
What does the research show in regard to providing Mental Health Social Support? What does support offer someone in need? How does it affect their lives, the lives of their family members, and the general wellbeing of the community (including that of the mental health social supporter)?
An internet search yields thousands of articles on “social support”. Countless studies have examined nearly every angle of this topic, and one thing stands out: receiving Mental Health Social Support helps us.
There is a very strong relationship between support and wellbeing because:
MHSS offers the supported person positive emotions, a sense of self-worth, and predictability; Social support buffers people from stress; Perceiving that one is receiving aid can strengthen one’s self-esteem and capacity for effectiveness; Problem-solving becomes easier when a person is supported (Chu et al, 2010).
Satisfying support gives the helpee hope, which is related to quality of life (Yadav, 2010); Support from one’s partner is shown to increase by around 50% the willingness to obtain needed medical care (the partner/supporter functions as a referral system); Support from one’s partner is shown to decrease utilisation of mental health services by around 60% (the partner has a function of emotional support) (Maulik, Eaton, and Bradshaw, 2011) and; MHSS helps young people to cope with the effects of violence by:
– Empathising with their experience of harm;
– Reducing feelings of vulnerability;
– Enhancing feelings of being “OK” and the ability to act effectively (Kaynak, et al, 2011).
How Mental Health Social Support affects lives: the “MOMobile” Case Study
Increased personal effectiveness upon receiving Mental Health Social Support was a key finding in a study by Becker et al (2004). While many mental health social supporters work informally, as opposed to in a program such as below, it is nevertheless instructive to see how the extended relationship and emotional support offered to the helpees in this formal program greatly changed their lives.
Observing the high infant mortality rate in Philadelphia, a MOMobile program was set up in 1988 as an outreach and family support service. Mental health social supporters, called “Advocates” (trained community health workers), began to go door-to-door and in “MOMobile” vans to underserved neighbourhoods to locate pregnant women and provide prenatal and after-birth support through home visits, telephone follow-ups, health education, and referral to needed services.
Results showed that the women became more empowered, that is:
– More able to alter their lifestyle
– More able to alter their environment
– More stable
– More integrated into their communities.
The capacity to change their conditions and influence their own actions came about as a result of believing that they could do so: that is perceived personal effectiveness. This quality was shown to grow in the pregnant women because of their ongoing relationship with the mental health social supporters. Doing the Mental Health Social Support work also helped the Advocates – some of whom had once been low-income pregnant women -- make more positive choices in their own lives.
While the “MOMmobile” case study is based on a formal program, it provides useful examples of how Mental Health Social Support benefits helpees. Regardless of the population studied or the type of support rendered, Mental Health Social Support is able to improve the lives of those involved with it.
In the next edition of Institute Inbrief we will outline how the support of mental health social supporters can be effectively delivered in communities through existing support systems.
Becker, J., Kovach, A., and Gronseth, D., Individual empowerment: How community health workers operationalize self-determination, self-sufficiency, and decision-making abilities of low-income mothers. (2004). Journal of Community Psychology, 32 (3), 327–342. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Retrieved from: Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/ jcop.20000.
Boschen, K.A., Tonack, M. and Gargaro, J. The impact of being a support provider to a person living in the community with a spinal cord injury. (2005). Rehabilitation Psychology, 50 (4), 397–407. Retrieved from: DOI: 10.1037/0090-5550.50.4.397.
Caplan, G. (1974). Support systems and community mental health. New York: Behavioral Publications, in Halpern, E., Volunteering in times of community crisis: An integration within Caplan’s theory of support systems, The Canadian Psychologist, 15 (3).
Chu, P.S., Saucier, D.I., and Hafner, E. (2010). Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29 (6), pp. 624-645.
Gottlieb, B., and Schroter, C. (1978). Professional Psychology, American Psychological Association, Inc., 614. Sourced from: 0033-0175/78/0904-0614S00.75.
Graziano, A. M., & Fink, R. S. (1973). Second-order effects in mental health treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 40, 356-364. In Gottlieb, B. and Schroter, C, November, 1978, Professional Psychology.
Halpern, E., (1974). Volunteering in times of community crisis: An integration within Caplan’s theory of support systems, The Canadian Psychologist, 15 (3).
Maulik, P., Eaton, W., and Catherine, B. (2011). The effect of social networks and social support on mental health services use, following a life event, among the Baltimore epidemiologic catchment area cohort. Journal of Behavioural Health Services and Research, 38 (1), pp 29 – 50.
Sanders, S. and Power, J. (2009). Roles, responsibilities, and relationships among older husbands caring for wives with progressive dementia and other chronic conditions. Health & Social Work, 34 (1).
Scott, V. (1996). Reaching the suicidal: The volunteer’s role in preventing suicide, Crisis 17 (3).
Williams, M.L., Wright, M., Cobb, M., and Mersey, C.S. (2004). A prospective study of the roles, responsibilities and stresses of chaplains working within a hospice, Palliative Medicine, 18, pp 638 - 645.
Wills, T. A., & Shinar, O. (2000). Measuring perceived and received social support. In Cohen, S., Underwood, L.G., & Gottlieb, B.H. (Eds.), (2009). Social support measurement and intervention: A guide for health and social scientists (pp. 86–135). Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00540.
Yadav, S. (2010). Perceived social support, hope, and quality of life of persons living with HIV/ AIDS: A case study from Nepal. Qual Life Res, 19, pp 157–166. Retrieved from: DOI 10.1007/s11136-009-9574-z.
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The Institute has a list of recommended textbooks and DVDs which can add great value to your learning journey - and the good news is that you can purchase them very easily. The AIPC bookstore will give YOU:
-      Discounted prices!
-      Easy ordering method!
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This fortnight's feature is...
Name: Current Psychotherapies, 8th Edition
Authors: Raymond J. Corsini, Danny Wedding
AIPC Price: $116.96 (RRP $129.95)
ISBN: 978-049-509-7143
Current Psychotherapies provides students of counselling psychology and social work with an authoritative treatment of the major systems of psychotherapy. One of the most widely used textbooks in its field for more than twenty years.
To order this book, simply contact your nearest Student Support Centre or the AIPC Head Office (1800 657 667).
Group Therapeutic Factors for Change
It is important to recognise that the success of individual group members is intimately linked to the group as a whole. Effective group therapy can help clients enhance self responsibility, increase readiness for change and establish authentic support for recovery and change. There are a number of therapeutic factors that influence the efficacy of group therapy. Yalom and Leszcz (2005) have categorised a number of factors. They are listed below:
Click here to continue reading this article...
Intervention in Case Planning
Counsellors are often directly involved in the intervention phase of case planning. A counsellor may in fact be a service provider that a case manager utilises as part of their case plan. This article, however, is not focused on direct, personal interventions (although that is generally the core work of the counsellor), it is focused instead on the intervention processes counsellors can utilise when positioned in the role of service coordinator or case manager.
In this role, counsellors must have knowledge in the following key areas:
Click here to continue reading this article...
Other articles:
Convenient Professional Development
Hundreds of counsellors, psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and allied health professionals already access over 100 Hours of Professional Development online, for less than $1 a day. Now it's your turn.
Mental Health Academy (MHA) is the leading provider of professional development education for the mental health industry. MHA provides the largest variety of courses and videos workshops, all conveniently delivered via the internet.
With MHA, you no longer have to worry about high costs, proximity and availability, or fitting a workshop around your lifestyle!
You can access the huge range of PD, including courses and video workshops, whenever and from wherever you want.
Whether you are looking for courses on anxiety and depression, or a video workshop discussing the intricacies of relationship counselling - Mental Health Academy is your gateway to over 100 hours of professional development content.
Take a quick look at what Mental Health Academy offers:
-      Over 70 professionally developed courses.
-      On-demand, webstreamed video workshops.
-      Over 100 hours of professional development.
-      Extremely relevant topics.
-      New courses released every month.
-      Video supported training.
-      Online, 24/7 access to resources.
-      Endorsement by multiple Associations, including AASW, ACA and APS.
Begin your journey today. Click on the link below to register for a monthly or annual unlimited membership. As an unlimited member, you can access all MHA courses for less than $1 per day, and receive discounts when purchasing any video workshops:
Have you visited the new Counselling Connection Blog yet? There are over 500 interesting posts including case studies, profiles, success stories, videos and much more. Make sure you too get connected (and thank you for those who have already submitted comments and suggestions).
Did you know…?
The following Global and Australian statistics on Mental Health outline the importance of counselling and appropriate mental health care/support in our communities:
(Yes, these statistics are frightening – but together we can change them!)
Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a “global” mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.
WHO has estimated that by year 2020, depression will be the second leading disability causing disease in the world.
In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide.
Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders) are a major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America.
45% of adult Australians will experience a mental illness. 1 in 5 will experience a mental disorder in any 12-month period.
In Australia, mental illness is the leading cause of ‘healthy life’ lost.
3 million Australians will experience a major depressive illness.
An astounding 26% of 16-24 year olds have experienced a mental disorder in the last 12-months.
Mental disorders are the leading contributor to the total burden of disease among young Australians – accounting for 49% of that total.
Click here to read the full post...
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"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured."
~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Many students of the Diploma of Counselling 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.
Below are the final seminars dates for 2011. To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre. To access the full list of 2012 seminars, visit:
Diploma of Counselling (CDA) Timetable
Northern Territory
The Counselling Process - 04/12
Communication Skills II - 03/12
South Australia
Communication Skills I - 03/12
Communication Skills II - 04/12
Counselling Therapies II - 10-11/12
The Counselling Process - 12/12
Communication Skills I - 14/12
Communication Skills II - 30/11
Counselling Therapies I - 01-02/12
Family Therapy - 13/12
Western Australia
The Counselling Process - 03/12
Communication Skills I - 10/12
Communication Skills II - 11/12
Counselling Therapies II - 17-18/12
Family Therapy - 04/12
Communication Skills I - 03/12
Family Therapy - 17/12
Communication Skills I - 18/12
Counselling Therapies II - 03-04/12
Legal & Ethical Frameworks - 11/12
The Counselling Process - 16/12
Communication Skills I - 03/12
Communication Skills II - 04/12
Counselling Therapies I - 10-11/12
Counselling Therapies II - 17-18/12
Gold Coast
The Counselling Process - 03/12
Communication Skills II - 17/12
Diploma of Professional Counselling (DPCD) Timetable
Northern Territory
Communication Skills II - 03/12
The Counselling Process - 04/12
Counselling Therapies II - 10-11/12
South Australia
Communication Skills I - 03/12
Communication Skills II - 04/12
Counselling Therapies II - 10-11/12
Case Management - 29-30/11
Communication Skills I - 14/12
Communication Skills II - 30/11
The Counselling Process - 12/12
Counselling Therapies I - 01-02/12
Advanced Counselling Techniques - 05/12
Counselling Applications - 09/12
Western Australia
Communication Skills I - 10/12
Communication Skills II - 11/12
The Counselling Process - 03/12
Counselling Therapies II - 17-18/12
Communication Skills I - 03/12
Counselling Therapies I - 10-11/12
Counselling Applications - 18/12
Communication Skills I - 18/12
Communication Skills I - 03/12
Communication Skills II - 04/12
The Counselling Process - 19/12, 16/12
Counselling Therapies I - 10-11/12
Counselling Therapies II - 17-18/12
Gold Coast
Communication Skills II - 17/12
The Counselling Process - 03/12
Important Note: Advertising of the dates above does not guarantee availability of places in the seminar. Please check availability with the respective Student Support Centre.
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