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Institute Inbrief - 29/11/2017


Welcome to Edition 281 of Institute Inbrief! In this edition’s featured article we review underpinning notions of positive psychology, including abundance, a focus on virtues and strengths, embracing positive deviance, and flourishing (rather than languishing).


Also in this edition:

  • Mindfulness Meditation vs Stress
  • Narrative Therapy: Key Concepts
  • Making Your Goals More Powerful
  • Social Media Updates & Much More!

Enjoy your reading!





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Diploma of Counselling


It’s time to start loving what you do!


We’ve been training qualified Counsellors for over 25 years. Overwhelmingly, the number one reason people cite as why they became a Counsellor – to start loving what they do. They were stuck in a rut doing something they had no passion for, and it was dragging them down.


If you want a deeper understanding of yourself, and to use that knowledge to assist others overcome their challenges and start enjoying life again – then counselling is likely for you.


Too often we get drawn into a career that offers little personal satisfaction. Counsellors are passionate about the important work they do. They’re often someone that friends and family naturally come to for assistance. And they get immense personal reward helping others.


If that sounds like you, then it’s time to start pursuing your passion:

  • Learn about yourself and help others lead better lives
  • Be employed in one of the fastest industry growth sectors in the nation
  • Self-paced training, so you can fit learning around your life
  • Flexible and supported training with quality learning materials

You can learn more here:



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


AIPC courses:


Diploma of Counselling


Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)


Diploma of Youth Work


Bachelor of Counselling


Graduate Diploma of Counselling


Master of Counselling



Masterclass on Working with Trauma


On Saturday 2 December 2017 Mental Health Academy are hosting a very special, immersive Masterclass Day on “Working with Trauma.” The event – presented by five international trauma experts – will be delivered online, with recordings accessible after.


Registrations are strictly limited due to capacity caps.


As a participant, you will enjoy:

  • A full-day, immersive learning experience with five international trauma experts.
  • Learn the latest theories and applications for working with a range of client populations affected by trauma – helping them heal and move forward with their lives.
  • Five 1-hour sessions in real-time (02/12/17) and on-demand (03-10/12/17).
  • A downloadable Certificate of Attendance for the event.

Tickets for this Masterclass Day are $149.


Get it free: Mental Health Academy Premium members get free access to all Masterclass Days as a member benefit (on top of all the perks of MHA membership, including over 300 hours of online learning).


As places are strictly limited, please register now, which you can do here:


Note: If you can’t attend the live event on Saturday, session recordings will be available on-demand (24/7) during 3-10 December 2017.



Positive Psychology: The Underpinning Notions


Positive psychology, which has recently enjoyed a burgeoning base of research support, is “the scientific study of optimal functioning, performance, and wellbeing” (Langley & Francis, 2016). It asks not what is broken and needing to be fixed, but what is working, what is good in people and life. It wants to know what the positive experiences, characteristics, and practices are that enable individuals, institutions, and communities to live happy, productive, fulfilling lives. It is about flourishing and thriving, not merely surviving.


Accordingly, it gives pride of place to the characteristics of abundance, a focus on virtues and strengths, embracing positive deviance, and flourishing rather than languishing (Langley & Francis, 2016). We look at these in more detail below.




Viewing people as competent, creative, and resourceful, positive psychology looks through an abundance lens to help people, organisations, and communities thrive and excel. Positive outcomes and performance can be facilitated, it says, as people access their inner resources and create the outcomes to which they aspire, rather than seeing themselves as victims (Langley & Francis, 2016).


Focus on strengths and virtues


This assumption says that everyone has strengths and deserves to be respected for them. At the heart of positive psychology is the idea that effort is better directed to strengthen what is working well than to try to “fix” what is “broken”. Concentrating on talents, positive characteristics, and special abilities allows people to deal with growing edges, or weaknesses. The corollary idea is that positive psychology itself is an ethical approach in suggesting that human beings and their systems possess a latent desire and capacity to improve themselves, and that this should be activated (Langley & Francis, 2016).


Embracing positive deviance


When positive psychologists talk about adopting a stance of positive deviance, they are acknowledging an evolutionary bias toward the negative: negative emotions, interpretations, and thoughts are often stronger and more numerous than positive ones. Human beings tend to respond more intensely – and automatically – to negative events. While that has been appropriately self-protective, especially at some earlier stages of human evolution, it now means that we are kept from devoting time, energy, and other resources to those projects and concerns which would move us toward greater wellbeing and success. Positive psychology proposes that we amplify our positive emotions, thus re-setting the bias from negative to positive. When we act from positive deviance, we go against the grain, thinking “outside the box” and suddenly gaining access to solutions that aren’t apparent with a deficit focus (Langley & Francis, 2016).


Flourishing and languishing


Hot and cold, night and day, and dark and light are all polar opposites, but – in the paradigm of positive psychology – mental illness and mental health are not. Langley cites the work of Corey Keyes, whose work studying the relationship between mental health and mental illness has shown that, rather than being at opposite ends of the same spectrum, they lie on different continua. Thus, the absence of mental illness does not mean the presence of mental health, and treating the former does not ensure the latter (Keyes, 2005, in Langley & Francis, 2016). A person can be lacking any identifiable mental illness, yet be languishing if she has poor social networks, is chronically distressed, and/or is leading a very unfulfilling life.  


Authentic happiness: What do we mean and why do we care?


Although philosophers such as Aristotle and Epicurus advocated leading the “good life”, they defined that as “pleasure-seeking”. Few people in the middle of a delicious meal, with a favourite beverage and good friends to share it all with, would say that they were not having a happy time. However, in his book, Authentic Happiness, Seligman (2004) explained that there is much more to a happy life than good times filled with pleasure.


He distinguished several levels of happiness.


1) The Pleasurable or Pleasant Life. This sort of happiness is also referred to as subjective wellbeing and consists of hedonic experience: sensual delights, high life satisfaction, low levels of negative emotion, and high levels of positive emotion (Langley & Francis, 2016). It is a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future (Pursuit of Happiness, 2016a). It is this level or type of happiness that figured in the work of Aristotle and Epicurus. The question for this level may be: “How do I feel? What emotions do I experience in the moment?” (Langley, 2017)


2) The Engaged or Good Life. As we satisfy the need for pleasure, we want more. We want to be engaged in a mindful way, as we come to realise the satisfaction possible through concentrating intensely on a task or activity which we are using our strengths to perform and which takes us out of our ordinary consciousness, perhaps into a state of flow, as that was explained by Csikszentmihalyi (1990). At this level, people use their signature strengths (Seligman and his colleague identified 24) to obtain abundant gratification, through enjoyed activities, in the main realms of their lives (Pursuit of Happiness, 2016a). “Doing” happiness at this level engages us in more of our wholeness than mere pleasure-seeking, but it is still not all that it is possible to attain.


3) The Meaningful Life. At the highest levels of happiness delineated by Seligman, we see a person imbued with meaning and purpose. Called eudaemonic or psychological wellbeing, the meaningful life involves personal growth, self-acceptance, autonomy, positive relationships, environmental mastery, and a strong sense of purpose in life. It happens when people use their signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than themselves (Pursuit of Happiness, 2016a). The relevant question for this level of happiness is: “How do I feel about my life? Am I satisfied with my life generally?” (Langley, 2017; Positive Psychology Institute, 2012).


“Side effects” of wellbeing


The answer to that question seems obvious: we want to be happy because it feels good! Yet there is more. Research shows that higher levels of wellbeing are correlated with:

  • Being healthier (including recovering more quickly when one does get sick)
  • Having a stronger immune system
  • Living longer, with a better quality of life
  • Being more tolerant of pain
  • Achieving greater success in all areas of life (including the workplace)
  • Having higher levels of caring and altruism
  • Being more resilient
  • Being more socially engaged
  • Having better quality relationships (that is, more satisfied in relationships and less likely to experience problems, but more likely to deal with any problems effectively)
  • Performing better academically
  • Considering oneself to be luckier (Langley, 2017; Sharp, 2014).

This article was adapted from Mental Health Academy’s upcoming professional development course, “Positive Psychology: The Basics”.




Langley, S., & Francis, S. (2016). White paper: The science and practice of positive psychology: Promoting human happiness, performance, and wellbeing. Australia: Langley Group. Retrieved on 28 October, 2017, from: hyperlink.


Langley, S. (2017). Lecture for Masterclass day on positive psychology topics for Mental Health Academy. Langley Group: Australia.


Positive Psychology Institute. (2012). Key terms. Positive Psychology Institute. Retrieved on 24 October, 2017, from: hyperlink.


Pursuit of Happiness. (2016b). William James. The pursuit of happiness.  Retrieved on 29 October, 2017, from: hyperlink.   


Sharp, T. (2014). Get happy: Using the powerful principles of positive psychology to live your best life!  Positive Times. Retrieved on 24 October, 2017, 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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Mindfulness Meditation vs Stress


Although only recently embraced by Western psychology, mindfulness practices and techniques have been part of many Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Tai Chi, Hinduism, and most martial arts, for thousands of years. The various definitions of it revolve around bringing non-judgmental consciousness to the present experience, so it can be considered the art of conscious living.


Click here to continue reading this article.



Narrative Therapy: Key Concepts


Narrative therapy, emerging since the 1980s, has been defined as “a postmodern-feminist-constructivist approach that entails the co-construction of real, imagined, or possible stories of the past, present, or future” (Mascher, 2002, p. 58). The shift from problematic stories to more adaptive ones leads to greater empowerment and enables clients to more successfully manage their lives (Seligman, 2006). In this article we explore some of narrative therapy’s key concepts.


Click here to continue reading this article.


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Learn from Global Mental Health Experts


Mental Health Academy puts quality learning by global experts at your fingertips, 24/7. Accessing cutting-edge evidence and practice-based knowledge has never been more convenient than MHA.


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


Join MHA now to enjoy:

  • Access to on-demand, video-based learning (100+ hours)
  • Access to self-paced, text-based learning (120+ courses)
  • Invitations to select events and Masterclasses
  • Online, 24/7 access to courses - from anywhere
  • Personalised online classroom to facilitate learning
  • Professional certificates of attainment
  • New programs released every month
  • Plus much more!

Learn more here:



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).


Making Your Goals More Powerful with SMART Goals


You are here on this planet for the duration. What will you do with the time that is allotted to you? Who will you become? What will you have in your life: which people, things, and experiences? What will your legacy be?


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~ Swami Sivananda



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 Frameworks
  • Brief Interventions and Loss & Grief Support
  • Individualised Support and Working with Mental Health
  • Advanced Counselling Techniques

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To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre.


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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