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Institute Inbrief - 02/07/2015


Welcome to Edition 227 of Institute Inbrief! How can you, as a therapist, ethically navigate through the alien landscape of counselling’s Digital Age? In this edition’s featured article, we identify both possibilities and risks for the therapeutic relationship made possible by recent online technologies.
Also in this edition:
  • Latest news and updates
  • Articles and CPD information
  • Wellness tips
  • Therapist Q&A
  • Social media review
Enjoy your reading!
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Imagine Being Passionate About Your Work
And Assisting People Every Day Lead Better Lives
It’s rare these days to hear people talk about their work with true passion. You hear so many stories of people working to pay the bills; putting up with imperfect situations; and compromising on their true desires.
That’s why it’s always so refreshing to hear regular stories from graduates living their dream to be a Counsellor. They’re always so full of energy, enthusiasm and passion. There’s no doubt that counselling is one of the most personally rewarding and enriching professions.
Just imagine someone comes to you for assistance. They’re emotionally paralysed by events in their life. They can’t even see a future for themselves. They can only focus on their pain and grief. The despair is so acute it pervades their entire life. Their relationship is breaking down and heading towards a divorce. They can’t focus on work and are getting in trouble with their boss. They feel they should be able to handle their problems alone, but know they can’t. It makes them feel helpless, worthless. Their self-esteem has never been lower. They’re caught in a cycle of destruction and pain.
Now imagine you have the knowledge and skills to help this person overcome their challenges. You assist to relieve their intense emotional pain. You give them hope for the future. You assist to rebuild their self-esteem and lead a satisfying, empowered life.
As a Counsellor you can experience these personal victories every day. And it’s truly enriching. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping another person overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
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Counselling and Social Media: Opportunities and Risks
When Marshall McLuhan stated that “the medium is the message” (1964), he probably didn’t realise how prophetic his words would become a half-century later. Yet the exponential growth in online technology shapes ever more firmly how individuals learn, interact, and entertain themselves. Mental health professionals have offered treatment via communication technologies since the 1990s (Smith & Reynolds, 2002), and cyber technology has permeated with increasing depth the ways in which both adults and youth seek support for an ever-wider range of services (Mishna, Bogo, Root, Sawyer, & Khoury-Kassabri, 2012).
How can you, as a therapist, ethically navigate through the alien landscape of counselling’s Digital Age? In this article, we identify both possibilities and risks for the therapeutic relationship made possible by recent online technologies.
Opportunities emerging via social media
The social media scene – so familiar to the “digital natives” (young people who have never known a world without the internet or the above potentials for connecting) – also beckons alluringly to many “digital immigrants” (Zur & Zur, 2010): internet users old enough to compare the contemporary world of digital technologies with the ancient world “B.C.” (before connectivity). To the extent that they understand and know how to participate in social media, even the “immigrants” can grasp how advancements in communication technologies, and especially social media, afford mental health practitioners the opportunity to do research and provide services in more unique and far-reaching ways than before. The lifting of heretofore restrictive conditions – by virtue of geographic location, time zone, mobility constraints, and the social stigma of simply showing up at the counsellor’s office – are overcome by new and improved possibilities for anonymity, easy access, and greater flexibility. Let us examine some of those enhanced opportunities.
Psychological research is simpler; healthcare surveys are facilitated
The use of confidentiality protocols and anonymity features associated with online studies mean that the stigma often linked to completing healthcare surveys and mental health questionnaires is reduced or eliminated (Griffiths, Lindenmeyer, Powell, Lowe, & Thorogood, 2006). 
There is improved capacity to screen for depressive symptomatology
Some clinicians believe that social networking sites hold promise for enhanced capacity to screen for depression because it is on these sites that people disclose depressed feelings and let suicidal ideation or actual suicide attempts be known (Moreno et al, 2011).
The internet is a source of health information
Websites containing health information and resources have proliferated, as has the tendency to take up services after searching for them online. This possibility is linked to a related potential: that of health professionals setting up a professional profile page as an extension of their practice (Vance, Howe, & Dellavalle, 2009).
Health professionals can introduce and market themselves online
An online page – which can be strictly professional – can let actual and potential clients know of services offered; products sold (such as books or other items); and seminars, courses, and webinars offered. Certainly, professionals can clearly display their philosophy and the orientation of their training, in order to attract more suitable clients. In the comfort of their own home or other chosen location, clients and those enquiring can search and contact a professional for help in resolving relational and other life issues. They can do this without the barriers imposed by geography, time constraints, guilt, shame, or stigma (Giota & Kleftaras, 2014).
There is greater flexibility and accessibility
Those desiring services but who have mobility problems or live in remote areas have as much possibility of getting counselling as those living two doors from the professional’s office. When support is needed between sessions for crisis intervention, it can be there for clients (Kolmes, 2010a).
Social media sites can be harnessed to create intervention initiatives
Clients who utilise social media sites in their daily lives can benefit from tools available on a platform with which they are already familiar. That this strategy is successful is attested to by the sharp rise in both texting help lines (communicating through text messages from mobile phones) and via online chatting on the sites. This is as opposed to calling the traditional 800 hotline numbers. Clearly, digital technologies are improving the therapeutic experience as well as the access to therapeutic interventions (Giota & Kleftaras, 2014).
Follow-ups, protocols, and reminders can flow
For many clients, successful treatment is a consequence of the medication taken, the regular journal entry made, or the commitment to daily exercise kept. Online technologies greatly facilitate the sending-out of daily, weekly, or monthly reminders to carry on with agreed programs and initiatives. Text messages and audio and video clips can explain the protocols to be followed, remind the client of what is to be done, and re-inspire those struggling to keep a commitment for which energy and motivation may be flagging (Postel, de Haan, & De Jong, 2008).
Online programs can be created to support clients in alleviating many conditions between sessions
Whether the support is delivered via mobile phone or online, whether it is mostly to supplant face-to-face therapy or as an adjunct to other modalities, help for conditions from anxiety and depression to avoidant personality disorder and borderline personality disorder can be delivered via social media sites and other online technologies (Giota & Kleftaras, 2014).
Social networking sites can provide valuable insights to mental health professionals to help clients understand themselves
Before online technologies were available, counsellors obtained information from clients face-to-face. Contemporary social networking sites such as Facebook tend to foster high levels of self-disclosure, giving professionals viewing them important information to facilitate understanding of what the client is experiencing. During sessions, candid discussions of the client’s Facebook behaviour (or other online interactions) can provide further insights into the client’s thoughts and feelings, and also offer feedback as to how the therapy is proceeding (Krasnova, Spiekermann, Koroleva, & Hildebrand, 2010).
Navigating the risks: Ethical principles relevant to use of social media
Considering the new possibilities for enhancing counselling with social media is analogous to viewing a terrain with rose-coloured glasses on; things look lovely! Yet if we are serious about the primary injunction to “do no harm” in our interactions with clients, we also have the complementary task of removing the glasses and scrutinising the territory – the digital landscape – with unflinching honesty regarding the risks. These arise in the context of the ethical principles which it is harder, or even impossible, to uphold in the same way as before online technologies invaded our counselling spaces. Although many of the risks manifest in unique ways, they stem from the same old issues that professional helpers have faced from time immemorial: the questions of boundaries – with the corollary issues of confidentiality and dual or multiple relationships – and the related issue of disclosure: how much client and practitioner should know about each other – and how they get the information.
The increasing challenge to maintain strict boundaries between client and therapist becomes obvious when we reflect that, not so long ago having an unlisted personal telephone number was considered an effective means of safeguarding solid boundaries between one’s personal and professional lives. In the contemporary online world, it takes only moderate computer savvy and a few clicks of the mouse for clients to obtain professionals’ personal information online, make “Friend” requests, and gain mobile phone numbers in order to text or telephone the practitioner, which an online survey revealed that eight out of ten respondents had attempted to do in their search for health information and/or a particular health care professional (Fox, 2011). Let us remind ourselves of why this potential is consequential.
The primacy of boundaries in the helping relationship
No competent mental health professional would disagree that the interests of the client must be protected above those of the service provider. Solid boundaries, membranes of safety, encircle the client-counsellor relationship, with confidentiality, single-role relationships, and informed consent lying inside the circle and the possibility of client harm lurking outside. A boundary is a line which, by definition, includes some things and excludes others; in this case, it includes counselling and excludes what counselling should not be. Keeping such lines clean and clear is essential for counselling professionals for two reasons.
First, we are mandated legally, morally, and ethically, to do no harm to our clients; clear boundaries make it more likely that we can fulfil this responsibility. If as counselling professionals we fail in this duty, not only do we damage the therapeutic relationship; we also do psychological or even physical harm to our clients. Second, violated boundaries can also hurt the reputation of counselling and psychology as disciplines. Society expects us to act toward clients in ways that help, not harm; when this does not happen and client rights are not adequately protected, the public can lose faith in counselling as a profession.
Yet despite counselling professionals’ presumed awareness of how important boundaries are, a meta-analysis of studies from nine countries found that boundary problems were a common occurrence. In six out of the nine countries studied (i.e., in the U.S.A., Canada, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, and South Africa) the most common problem was confidentiality, with blurred, dual, or even conflicting relationships being the second most common (Pettifor & Sawchuk, 2006).
Social media and confidentiality issues
In the same way that the imperative for clear boundaries is “programmed” into a helping professional’s mindset from the outset of his or her career, so, too, is the absolute importance of preserving client confidentiality. Because counsellors and other helping professionals hear a vast amount of intimate information from their clients, there are complex legal and ethical obligations to keep that information private. It is a fundamental ethical responsibility to take every reasonable precaution to respect and safeguard a client’s disclosed details. Moreover, counsellors, social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists, and others have an obligation to protect this information from inappropriate revelation to any person outside the therapeutic relationship (CCPA, 2008), regardless of which medium the information is stored in. 
With only face-to-face contact and paper-based record-keeping, this vital mission was obviously much simpler. Online conduct has recently put confidentiality into the spotlight, as the perceived sense of anonymity when using social networks tends to blur the boundaries between acceptable and risky personal and professional behaviour. Social networking sites, in fact, rarely are able to fulfil criteria for confidentiality in counselling associations’ codes of ethics, such as that information can be disclosed only if the client gives full consent, if the counsellor is served a warrant or subpoena demanding information, if there is concern for public health and safety, or if a client’s file contains information necessary for contacting an injured, ill, or deceased client’s next of kin, (Turner, Uhlemann, & Stolz, 2007). The Zur Institute (2014) details the facts about counsellor communication via “SNS” (social networking sites) and the practical mechanisms whereby social media-engendered communications cause confidentiality breaches.
Passive versus interactive
First, let us note – as the Zur Institute does – that not all social networking sites or situations are entirely problematic. Issues of confidentiality are not likely to be relevant when helping professionals use a passive website, or what is sometimes referred to as a “business card” type website. These describe a practitioner’s practice and expertise. They don’t include a blog with comments enabled or any other sort of reader participation, functioning more like a bulletin board: a one-way communication. Because they do not allow for viewers’ feedback, comments, or responses, they do not pose concerns with confidentiality.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are interactive; their very purpose is social networking. Active, interactive sites like this present a much greater concern for confidentiality and privacy of client-practitioner communication. The most obvious potential for violation lies in the acceptance (or solicitation) of a “Friend” request on Facebook, where the issue of possible exposure of the client’s identity to others must be addressed. Moreover, exactly what information will be exchanged should be addressed, as others may be privy to a client’s confidential information (Zur Institute, 2014).
Increasing numbers of businesses, including some therapists, clinics, and mental health departments, choose to establish a Facebook Page, rather than a profile. People setting up a Page and a profile typically put only professional information on the Page and employ privacy settings for the profile, which is more private. So far, so good. Generally these are used by/for businesses, celebrities, and public figures. Because they are mostly one-way communication, allowing only the possibility that someone may “Like” the page, they seem safe enough as concerns confidentiality. 
They still present dilemmas, however. As Kolmes (2010b) points out, when people have a Page, they still have to decide how they feel about who “Likes” their Page/practice. If you are the professional with the Page, do you want family members who (in an effort to be supportive) have “Liked” you – and their Likes are available for all to see? How do you feel about current or former clients endorsing your Page? Obviously allowing clients to be connected to one’s Page brings up confidentiality issues again. Even on a professionally-oriented Page, supportive clients can Like the Page, thereby joining it and being able to post on the Wall. With this potential, current or former clients can post therapy or other notes, which might not only be awkward for the therapist and others Liking the Page, but it also might be troublesome for confidentiality (especially in the United States, where such actions might mean problems for compliance with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) (Zur, 2014).
One, not immediately obvious, reason for the confidentiality problems is that not only are counsellors’ communications with clients on social networking sites regarding scheduling, clinical, or other matters confidential, but also they are considered part of clients’ clinical records. As such, they need to be documented in some form in the clients’ files. Some experts do not agree that therapist-client communications through sites such as Twitter and Facebook are able to be confidential. Younggren (2010) argues that these sorts of communications are “completely discoverable” and in no way protected by privilege.
Taking Facebook as an example, we can see several means by which confidentiality can be compromised. For start, privacy settings are confusing – sometimes to digital natives and certainly to digital immigrants, as many mental health professionals are – and they change regularly, so keeping up with the latest rules for the settings is not easy. People may not understand who can see what information on their profiles. Moreover, users must contend with the malign intentions of hackers and others who illegally move past privacy settings to access information without authorisation. If all that were not daunting enough to the professional social network user, there is a whole new potential confidentiality problem to deal with: the burgeoning number of court cases in which magistrates have decided that, under some circumstances, Facebook information must be disclosed (Zur, 2014).
We can question whether the sites themselves have some responsibility to help preserve privacy. The short answer is “yes, of course they do”. A browse reveals that sites such as Facebook claim that “We work hard to protect your account using teams of engineers, automated systems, and advanced technology such as encryption and machine learning.” Further on, Facebook asserts, “We have top rate measures in place to help protect you and your data when you use Facebook”. This is followed by discussion of Facebook’s “secure browsing”, meaning that activity is encrypted and there are tools to help detect and remove viruses if one has clicked on a “spammy post”.
Further exploration, however, reveals that the main responsibility for maintaining top-notch security while on Facebook rests with users, who must be savvy enough to operate Facebook’s “easy-to-use security tools that add an extra layer of security to your account” (Facebook, 2015). A private blog showing users how to manage Facebook accounts agrees:
“Social networks like Facebook are open to phishing, malware and other unwanted problems. While there is no perfect solution, you can change your Facebook security settings to help increase your privacy and safety.” (Howe, 2015)
CCPA (Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association). (2008). Standards of practice for counsellors. Ottawa, Ontario. Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.
Fox, S. (2011). Health topics. Pew internet and American life project – California Health Care Foundation. Retrieved from: hyperlink.
Giota, K.G. & Kleftaras, G. (2014). Social media and counseling: Opportunities, risks and ethical considerations. International Journal of Social, Management, Economics and Business Engineering, Vol 8, No 8, 2014, pp 2248-2250.
Griffiths, F.E., Lindenmeyer, A., Powell, J., Lowe, P., & Thorogood, M. (2006). Why are health care interventions delivered over the Internet? A review of the published literature. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 8, no. 2, 2006. Available from: hyperlink.
Kolmes, K. (2010a). Ethical framework for the use of social media by mental health professionals. Retrieved from hyperlink.            
Krasnova, H., Spiekermann, S., Koroleva, K., & Hildebrand, T. (2010). Online social networks: why we disclose. Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 25, 2010, pp. 109-125.
Mishna, F., Bogo, M., Root, J., Sawyer, J.L., & Khoury-Kassabri, M. (2012). “It just crept in”: The digital age and implications for social work practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, Vol 40: pp 277-286.
Moreno, A.M. et al. (2011). Feeling bad on Facebook: Depression disclosures by college students on a social networking site. Depression and Anxiety, Vol. 28, 2011, pp. 447-455.
Pettifor, J.L., & Sawchuk, T.R. (2006). Psychologists’ perceptions of ethically troubling incidents across international borders. International Journal of Psychology, Vol 41, No 3, 216-225. Doi: 10.1080/00207590500343505.
Postel, M.G., de Haan, H. A., & De Jong, C. A. J. (2008). E-therapy for mental health problems: a systematic review. Journal of Telemedicine and E-Health, Vol. 14, no. 7, 2008, pp. 707-14. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2007.0111
Smith, S.D., & Reynolds, C. (2002). Cyber-psychotherapy. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 5, 20-22.
Turner, D., Uhlemann, M.R., & Stolz, J. (2007). Freedom of information and protection of privacy. In D. Turner & M.R. Uhlemann (Eds.), A legal handbook for the helping professional (pp 413-438). Victoria, B.C.: Sedgewick Society for Consumer and Public Education.
Vance, K., Howe, W., & Dellavalle, R.P. (2009). Social internet sites as a source of public health information. Clinics in Dermatology Journal, Vol. 27, no. 2, 2009, pp. 133-6. doi: 0.1016/j.det.2008.11.010.
Younggren, J.N. (2010). To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question. The Clinical Psychologist, Vol 63, no 2, pp 18-19.
Zur, O. & Zur, A. (2010). On Digital Immigrants & Digital Natives: How the digital divide creates conflict between parents and children, teachers and students, and the older and younger generations. Zur Institute. Online publication, retrieved from hyperlink.
Zur Institute. (2014). To accept or not to accept? How to respond when clients send “Friend Request” to their psychotherapists or counselors on social networking sites. Retrieved from: hyperlink.
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What you need to consider before breaking it off
Your phone rings. You grab it to answer but as the caller’s number flashes on the screen, you hesitate. It is someone you’re not sure you want to continue being friends with. Maybe the person has broken promises to you, cancelling get-togethers at the last minute, or perhaps – as entertaining as they can be – this person only seems to care about themselves. Or maybe you met the person when you were in a bad place, needing someone to lean on? Now that your life is back on track, you notice the person continues to play therapist, critic, and advice-giver – even when you don’t want help. Then there are those friends that are always depressed. Of course, you are happy to cheer up a friend at times, but when you come away from each encounter feeling drained, dark, and hopeless, it could be time to re-evaluate. Before you take drastic un-friending action, however, there are a few things you may wish to consider.
Needs, growth and change
We all have needs, physical and emotional. We go into relationships to meet those needs. What are you each getting out of this friendship? The quality of the relating determines our experiences, which trigger more needs, which motivates more relating, and so on. If you experience a friendship as more frustrating than fulfilling, then ask yourself ‘what needs are not being met?’ Some of the main threats to friendship include blame, jealousy, judgment, neglect, and non-reciprocation.
These friend frustrations cannot be avoided entirely, even in the most “perfect” friendship. After all, you both are human, with needs. But we can deal with out-of-synch friendships much better if we accept that, because we have needs, we probably also have expectations, spoken or not. When we take a hard look at what our friend is doing “wrong”, it may well be that he or she is simply not meeting our current expectations (and thus, needs). In fact, you might not be meeting your friend’s needs right now, either!
What has worked for many years in a friendship may be less of a priority now if you have changed. Growth patterns that ambled along parallel paths for many years might now be diverging. Becoming aware of changed needs doesn’t mean you need to jettison the entire friendship though.
Questions to ask before you break things off
What do you actually want from the person? If it’s a question of non-reciprocation and you need more quality time with the person, you can let the person know you miss him or her. But perhaps you have just taken on a new job or other responsibility and can’t give as much time to your friend; and you might need space and understanding instead. Or someone to go stand-up-paddle boarding with (it’s significant if your friend never wants to go do what you do).
Have you already tried asking your friend for what you need? Especially in cases where you may have changed, your friend just might not know what your needs are now. If you are getting passive-aggressive behaviour because the person is jealous, why not ask if you have upset your friend, letting it be known that you’re quite open to talking about it?
Have you asked your friend what he or she needs to make the friendship more meaningful? Sometimes we may be upset about expectations we think another person is putting on us when in fact we may be over-giving because we have unconsciously placed those expectations on ourselves. Talking things out can reveal much.
How long have you been friends? History isn’t everything, but it counts for something. It can be valuable to have friends who have known you a long time.
Does the friendship energise or drain you? Do you go away from time with the person inspired or in need of a nap?
What will any breakup mean for your friend? If your friend hasn’t been acting “normal” because of ill health, recent bereavement, financial strain or relational woes, you may wish to consider whether you need to break things off just now. Perhaps “The Conversation” about how the friendship isn’t meeting your needs could wait till your friend is in a better place.
Have you outgrown each other? This has to be asked. Especially if you have been growing into a fuller version of yourself, you will be attracting people into your life who are resonating at that new wavelength. Friends from before you changed no longer “fit” you. That doesn’t mean you can’t be friends anymore, but you might not seek as deep or intense a friendship with them now as what seemed right before.
Is the friendship repairable? Can the issues be fixed? Time apart, new boundaries set, apologies offered, or forgiveness extended can rejuvenate a flagging friendship, but be warned that foundational issues (such as conflicting values or a sense of having been betrayed) may not leave much scope for re-negotiation.
Moving on when a friendship is no longer satisfying may be sensible or could even be the only option in unhealthy relationships. However, be sure to give yourself and your friend the gift of review first. A long-standing and close relationship may still be worth maintaining in some form if sources of frustration can be addressed.
Written by Dr Meg Carbonatto B.S., M.A., and Ph.D.
This article was originally published in Asteron Life’s Balance Blog. AIPC regularly contributes to Balance’s wellbeing blog category.
Traps for the Unwary: Ways Practitioners Build Resistance in Clients
Most practitioners would be shocked to hear it, but without realising it, many build resistance in clients – lowering their capacity to engage – through protocols and habits which communicate something very different to the client than what the practitioner is asking or intends to convey (Rosengren, 2009). In this article, we explore five ways in which practitioners may inadvertently build resistance in clients.
Click here to continue reading this article.
A Case for Solutions When Working with the Elderly
The minute she arrived and displayed her beautifully lined and full of expression face on my eyes there was a bond. Immediately I had to check myself. This person in front of me is not my mother. She is the same age as my mother was when she died five years previously, she has the same coloured hair, permed and styled exactly the same; she is the same height and even has the same smile. An overwhelming feeling of love for my own mother swept over me; I missed her so much.
Click here to continue reading this article.
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Q&A with Toula Gordillo (Clinical Psychologist)
Q. How can I help my children prepare for exams without succumbing to stress and worry?
A. Teens and pre-teens often feel stressed around exam time. This can be particularly true if your child or youth often feels anxious in other areas of their lives. The stress of an exam, particularly if it is important to a young person’s future career, often brings exam anxiety to the fore.
So what can we do with our highly anxious teens and pre-teens around exam time? We can talk with them about The Scales of Stress and how their scales may be out of balance, resulting in their feelings of stress or anxiety. Talk with your teens and pre-teens, using the image of a set of scales in which their demands (on the left) are outweighing their resources (on the right). If they have too many demands and not enough resources, their scales might be out of balance. The result can be feeling sick in the stomach, difficulty sleeping, feeling ‘flat’ and no emotion, or restless and finding they cannot sit still! Using an image such as The Scales of Stress can help your teen or pre-teen to see the connection between their demands, resources and their emotions.
Your teen’s demands could include exam preparation. They might be finding it difficult to know what to study i.e., what is likely to be on the exam, and this could be a source of stress for them. Not knowing what to study is a demand so it would be placed on the left side of the scales. You can do this verbally with your teenage client or write it down. Juggling a part-time job at the same time as needing to study could be another demand. If so, add it to the list of demands. Other demands may include difficulties understanding the topic, being organised, knowing how to prioritise i.e., leaving everything to the last minute, or difficulties seeing the relevance of what they are learning to their own lives. Once your teen or pre-teen has identified their demands, then help them to see what resources are available to them.
Resources can include anything that helps them to cope with their demands. Your teenage client may need to have a tutor if they don’t understand the work. The tutor is a resource, placed on the right side of the scales. If your teen or pre-teen doesn’t understand what is likely to be on the exam, they may need to access the teacher and/or look at previous exam papers. The teacher and previous exams are both resources. If your teen or pre-teen is having difficulty with prioritising, study skills etc. they may need to see the school guidance officer, counsellor or psychologist. Technology-based resources can also include social media (in moderation it can be used as a good source of social support), accessing subject information online, forming an online study group etc. Non-technology based resources can include playing sport, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, eating healthy food, taking multivitamins etc.
The ultimate goal is to help our teen and pre-teens to recognise, regularly use and increase their resources if necessary. They also need to recognise and decrease their demands wherever possible. The Balance of 80, learning to care 80% in most areas of their lives, can be a worthy goal. Help them to identify that they may need to care 100% during the exam or in preparation for it, but the rest of the time they aim for The Balance of 80. Increasing their resources and decreasing their demands can help them to find the balance.
Toula Gordillo is a Clinical Psychologist, AIPC private assessor/tutor and regular contributor for Institute Inbrief. Toula has an extensive work history as a Clinical Psychologist, Teacher, and Guidance Officer. For more information, visit  
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Do you believe in psychic phenomena?
Belief in the weird and wonderful is a consistent and significant component of the human condition. The tendency to believe in psychic powers and related phenomena that contradict known scientific laws and principles is not only a common feature found in all cultures across the world, but has been a factor in human existence throughout history. There is evidence that widespread beliefs in psychic powers, crop circles, water diving and assorted paranormal beliefs are as popular as ever, indeed, recent opinion polls tend to suggest that belief in Astrology, psychic healing, and haunting by disembodied spirits are in fact on the increase (e.g., Hemelryk, 2006; Karr, 2001). Despite the continued interest in such topics, scientific attempts to prove their existence have been unconvincing with many of the claims resting heavily on eyewitness testimony which is notoriously unreliable (French & Wilson, 2007).
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"We don’t seek the painful experiences that hue our identities; but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences. We cannot bear a pointless torment; but we can endure great pain if we believe that it’s purposeful."
~ Andrew Solomon
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.
Seminar topics include:
  • The Counselling Process
  • Communication Skills I
  • Communication Skills II
  • Counselling Therapies I
  • Counselling Therapies II
  • Legal & Ethical Framework
  • Family Therapy
  • Case Management
Not sure if you need to attend Seminars? Click here for information on Practical Assessments.
Click here to access all seminar timetables online.
To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre.
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