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Copyright: 2012 Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors

Institute Inbrief - 07/03/2017


Welcome to Edition 265 of Institute Inbrief! Nearly four decades of research has shown that intelligence is not fixed as scientists used to think; rather, people can develop their brains like a muscle if they put in the effort. People who do that – persisting despite obstacles – can be said to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and they enjoy significantly more success than their fixed-minded peers. In this edition’s featured article we’ll define and compare these two kinds of mindsets, and outline the benefits of developing a growth mindset.


Also in this edition:

  • AIPC’s Community Services Courses
  • Hard-wired to Connect: Mirror Neurons and Empathy
  • Postnatal Depression: Onset, Prevalence and Consequences
  • Post-disaster Resilience: Who Survives Better?
  • Social Media Updates & Much More!

Enjoy your reading!





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Bachelor and Master of Counselling


Semester 1, 2017 intake – closing soon


Have you started thinking about study in 2017?


Our Semester 1, 2017 intake is now open for the Bachelor of Counselling and Master of Counselling.


Places are strictly limited, so please express your interest early.


The programs are all government Fee-Help approved, so you can Learn Now and Pay Later.


Some unique features of the programs include:

  • [Master] Receive up to 6-months credit for prior Counselling studies
  • [Bachelor] Affordable, high quality tertiary education
  • Study externally from anywhere in Australia, even overseas
  • Residential Schools in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth*
  • Start with just 1 subject
  • Online learning portal with all study materials, readings and video lectures
  • Live in Sydney? Attend regular classes at our Parramatta campus*

*New students in Bachelor of Counselling only


You can learn more about the programs here:


Bachelor of Counselling:


Master of Counselling:


Applications will exceed available places, so we urge you to submit your obligation free expression of interest now.



Diploma of Counselling


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.


You can learn more here:


Other courses:


Diploma of Counselling

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)

Diploma of Youth Work

Bachelor of Counselling

Graduate Diploma of Counselling

Master of Counselling



AIPC’s Community Services Courses – helping you help your community!


We’ve helped people from all sorts of backgrounds become counsellors, and now we can assist you in fulfilling your goal of working within the Community Services sector! From 2017, AIPC is delivering the following two new courses:


Diploma of Community Services (Case Management) – learn more


Diploma of Youth Work – learn more


There has never been a better time for you to become involved and invested in the Community Services industries. It is predicted, between the years of 2015 to 2019, that employment within the Health Care and Social Assistance industries will increase by 18.7% (, 2015).


By gaining a qualification in Community Services (Case Management) or Youth Work, you will be contributing to an industry that serves a very important purpose: to assist those with personal or relationship challenges. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping others overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. And there’s no better time to do that than now!


To learn more about these programs, visit



Developing a Productive Mindset


“A few modern philosophers assert than an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism. ... With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.”


(Alfred Binet in the early 1900s, translated by Heisler, 1984)


Nearly four decades of research has shown that intelligence is not fixed as scientists used to think; rather, people can develop their brains like a muscle if they put in the effort. People who do that – persisting despite obstacles – can be said to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and they enjoy significantly more success than their fixed-minded peers. In this article, we define and compare these two kinds of mindsets, and outline the benefits of developing a growth mindset.




So what is a mindset? We define it as a mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations (WordNet Search 3.1, n.d.)


Mindsets are held together by beliefs: beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities, beliefs about the world, and beliefs about what is possible to change and what is not. For example, when you think about your intelligence, your personality, or your moral character, do you believe that these aspects of yourself are fixed – “givens” carved in stone that you are “stuck” with for all your life? Or do you suspect that, with the right experiences and effort, some of these qualities could change?


Through her many decades of systematic research, author Carol Dweck has been figuring out why some people achieve their potential and others don’t. The key, she discovered, is not ability; rather, it’s whether the person views ability as something innate (which must be demonstrated) or something flexible, which can be developed (Dweck, 2010b). Let’s look at the two contrasting types of mindsets generated from those beliefs.


The fixed mindset


“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”


(Albert Einstein/Austin, 2015)


In this way of viewing one’s intelligence, potential, and other attributes, intelligence is static. People who hold a fixed mindset think, “Well, that’s the way I am, and that’s that”: seemingly “smart” or “dumb”, they believe that that is their lot in life; there is no “wriggle room” for change, growth or development. A belief that you have a fixed level of intelligence leads you to certain ways of playing the game of life:


You have a performance orientation. If you think you cannot ever be smarter than what you are right now, but you still want to look smart (which just about all of us do), then obviously the name of the game is showing how smart you are: again and again, at every opportunity. Certain ways of behaving go along with this.


You avoid challenges. Obviously, the point of a challenge is that it’s something difficult. Success is not necessarily assured, so fixed-mindset players don’t generally take on the risk of failing and therefore negatively impacting their carefully-crafted self-image. If you are in this camp, you will stick with what you know for sure that you can do well.


You give up easily in the face of obstacles. Again, there is logic in this behaviour. If you think that, no matter what you do you will still be stuck with your, say, “average” brain, then you may very well conclude that the obstacle confronting you is not something your mind could undertake to solve. If you don’t have enough “smarts” to solve it at first glance, why waste time searching for a solution to a problem that you are ultimately going to be incapable of solving? Rather, you will look for excuses to explain why the external forces that got in your way were simply too powerful.


You do not put in effort. If the issue is around practicing something until you gain mastery, you are likely to think, “Well, if I were a ‘natural’ with ‘the right stuff’, I would be able to do this right away.” It seems there is no point in putting in effort, because even if you practice, you will still only be “ok” and not “great” if you have determined that you have a “fixed” level of skill. The night owls among us can be grateful that Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, didn’t take that approach; he tried around 2000 times before making the first successful bulb! Any bets on how good Lionel Messi or Stephen Curry, two of the world’s most skilled athletes (in football/soccer and basketball, respectively), were at controlling the ball when they started, compared to where they are now?


You avoid criticism. With a fixed mind-set you would tend to confuse negative feedback about a particular performance or capability with criticism of you as a person. Being criticised at our core is scary, so most people who cling to this way of doing life tend to ignore negative feedback, or else feel insulted by it. The problem is that feedback is the breakfast of champions, so once we have discouraged people from giving it to us, we become starved of the information – isolated from external influences – that could generate some positive change.


You feel threatened by others’ success. Subscribing to a fixed mindset means that others’ triumphs are cause for concern; their demonstrated capacity to prevail seems to make you look bad by comparison. What is the logical response? Such a player will usually try to convince him/herself that the other person’s success was due to “luck” or to actions which were somehow “bad”: lacking integrity, unfair, or an illusion. Some fixed-mindset proponents are known to tarnish the reputations of their rivals.


The combined result of this ego-protecting way of doing life is that fixed-mindset players often plateau early, achieving less than their full potential. They then use that result to confirm their deterministic view of the world, as in: “See? I knew I didn’t really have that great of a brain/tennis skill/musical ability/business nous, etc.” (Richard, 2007)


There is, we now know, another choice. You can subscribe to the growth mindset instead.


Growth mindset


“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”


(Ralph Waldo Emerson/Austin, 2015)


Membership in this mindset means that you believe intelligence can be developed, that the brain is like a muscle that can be trained. The consequence of that belief is that you will have a desire to improve. You will typically do this in several ways.


You grab onto challenges. Where your fixed-mindset peers are terrified of challenges (which might show them in an unfavourable light), you embrace them, knowing that – when you come out on the other side of them – you are stronger, an improved version of yourself.


You keep on in the face of setbacks. You aren’t discouraged by external obstacles because your sense of yourself and your self-esteem is not tied to how successful you look in others’ eyes. Because you see “failure” as an opportunity to learn, you win no matter the outcome is: whether the setbacks are overcome or not.


You see effort as necessary to master skills. Rather than avoiding effort as pointless, you realise that it is necessary in order to grow towards mastery of the skills you wish to have.


You take on criticism and negative feedback. You have a sense of who you are, so you know: criticism and negative feedback is “just information.” When comments are useful, you integrate them, know that through them you can change and improve. You don’t generally regard criticism as a reflection of the essence of you. Rather, it is a statement about your current capabilities – which can change.


You find inspiration and information in others’ success. Rather than feeling threatened or diminished by the success of peers and others, you celebrate it, seeing what you can learn from it. Others’ gains are not your losses (Richard, 2007).


The benefits of a growth mindset


When you believe that your abilities are malleable and can be developed, you experience these important advantages:


You can forget about how smart you are. You become oriented toward actual learning rather than trying to look like you have learned stuff.  Think about it: if you know you can be getting smarter by putting in effort on some challenging problems, why would you waste time merely trying to look good? When you have a growth mindset, you realise that putting in the hard yards on actual tasks – not on contriving to look smart – will get you smarter.


You are encouraged to try things, and to keep on trying. In taking on a growth mindset, you allow yourself to be challenged by some meaty problems. You come to enjoy the effort of applying your resources to a problem and feel smart when you are involved in something. Putting in effort is a natural and enjoyable thing to do.


You embrace mistakes and setbacks. You come to understand that errors and setbacks are an inevitable part of learning, so instead of fearing them, you welcome them, capitalise on them, and grow from them. You know that they do not reflect poorly on your intelligence or ability (Dweck, 2012).

With a growth mindset, you get better at doing things, which generates positive feedback to you. Getting that, you are encouraged to learn and improve still more. With the growth mindset, you can make dynamic strides in performance.


The impact of growth mindsets


Carol Dweck and her colleagues have done much research examining the differences between people who adopt a growth mindset and those who have a fixed mindset. Here is some of what they have found.


With a growth mindset, you are predicted to be more motivated and have greater achievement


For two years, Dweck and her colleague Lisa Blackwell and others followed some students beginning Year 7. They found that, although all the students had experienced similar past achievement in maths, those who had been determined to have growth mindsets were more motivated to learn and exert effort, and outperformed those with a fixed mindset in maths. This gap continued to increase over the two years of the study period (Dweck, 2012)


A growth mindset boosts your motivation and achievement


Blackwell and colleagues also conducted a study with adolescents in which they divided the students into two groups for a workshop on brain and study. Half of the students were taught about the stages of memory. The other half received training in the growth mindset: that is, how they could grow their brains with learning to make them smarter, and how they could apply this idea to their schoolwork. Three times as many students in the growth mindset showed an increase in effort and engagement as those in the memory group. After the training, the memory group’s grades continued to go down, whereas those in the growth mindset group showed a rebound in their grades (Dweck, 2012).


Growth mindset training helps girls narrow the gap in maths achievement with boys


A third study of teenagers – again divided into a group who received growth mindset training and a group who received other training – showed that the growth mindset training group had significant increases in their math and verbal achievement test scores. Even more interesting, girls don’t normally perform as well on maths tests as boys, but the growth mindset training girls narrowed the gap in maths, coming closer to the boys’ achievement (Dweck, 2012).




Austin, A. (2015). Practical savvy: Solutions to everyday problems. Retrieved on 23 December, 2015, from: hyperlink.


Dweck, C. (2012). Motivate students to grow their minds. Mindset Works, Inc.. Retrieved on 23 December, 2015, from: hyperlink.


Richard, M.G. (2007). Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset: Which one are you? Retrieved on 23 December, 2015, from: hyperlink.


Course information:


Diploma of Counselling

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)

Diploma of Youth Work

Bachelor of Counselling

Graduate Diploma of Counselling

Master of Counselling


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Hard-wired to connect: Mirror neurons and empathy


Many people have suspected for a long time that we human beings are designed to be able to experience things happening for another person: in good times or in bad. So we see a stranger clumsily bump their head on a low-hanging branch at the park, and we flinch, too. We hear that a friend has gotten some good news about a medical diagnosis, and we are genuinely happier. Yet although we have suspected this – and even have words, such as empathy and clairsentience, to describe it – it was not until 1992 that science could demonstrate how it happens, and even then it was a serendipitous discovery.


Click here to continue reading this article.



Postnatal Depression: Onset, Prevalence and Consequences


There were 22 filicide cases recorded in Australia between July 2008 and June 2010, or 11 per year on average. Seven involved the death of a child less than one year of age (Chan & Payne, 2013). Postnatal depression, or PND, figures largely in these sad statistics; it has been estimated that at least one in five mothers of full-term infants suffers from it (Priest et al, 2005, in Statewide Obstetrics Support Unit, 2007), with one to four women per thousand giving birth suffering from post-partum psychosis, resulting in an inability to distinguish right from wrong (Schwartz & Isser, 2007). Filicide is the extreme tragic result of PND disorder. In this article, we provide you with a brief overview of postnatal depression; including its outset, prevalence, consequences and risk factors.


Click here to continue reading this article.


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Mental Health Academy – First to Knowledge in Mental Health


Get unrestricted access to over 300 hours of professional development education in mental health, including specialist courses and on-demand videos.


Mental Health Academy is Australia’s leading provider of professional development for mental health practitioners. MHA’s all-inclusive memberships give you instant access to over 300 hours of learning – including videos presented by internationally-renowned experts in counselling, psychology and mental health.


Topics explored include: Evidence-based therapies, mindfulness, CBT, focused psychological strategies, children & adolescents, relationship counselling, motivational interviewing, depression & anxiety, addictions, trauma, e-therapy, supervision, ethics, plus much more.


Benefits of becoming a premium member:

  • Over 110 specialist courses to choose from
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  • Videos presented by international experts
  • New programs released every month
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Have you visited Counselling Connection yet? There are hundreds of 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).


Post-disaster Resilience: Who Survives Better?


In recent years, many disaster response experts and mental health researchers have switched their focus from looking exclusively at at-risk populations in the aftermath of an emergency to asking, “What are the protective factors?” “What situations, experiences, or personal traits help people to come through a traumatic incident with greater resilience?” First, let’s clear what we mean when we use the word “resilience” in this context.


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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
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Course information:


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Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)

Diploma of Youth Work

Bachelor of Counselling

Graduate Diploma of Counselling

Master of Counselling


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