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Copyright: 2012 Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors

Institute Inbrief - 03/04/2018


Welcome to Edition 287 of Institute Inbrief! This edition’s featured article presents (and debunks) ten myths about intimate partner violence.


Also in this edition:

  • Working with the Highly Sensitive Client
  • Counselling and Social Media: Opportunities and Risks
  • Learn from Global Mental Health Experts
  • Volunteering for Seniors
  • 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! 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 Financial Counselling


Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)


Diploma of Youth Work


Bachelor of Counselling


Master of Counselling



Enrol Now: Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling


Specialise in the field of relationship counselling and family therapy.


As a Relationship Counsellor, you will have the ability to assist those who require specialist skills in areas such as relationships, couples and family therapy.


AIPC’s Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling focuses on counselling interventions of a complex and specialist nature, by providing students with both theoretical and practical applications of the required skill-sets.


Click here to learn more.



Myths of Intimate Partner Violence


Any activities, attitudes, or beliefs which perpetuate myths about domestic violence are dangerous. They encourage social acceptance of the problem, which engenders apathy, but even more insidiously, they lead women and the minority of men being abused to justify, minimise, or deny the violence which is occurring to them. When they do that, they are prevented from acknowledging that they are in a dangerous and violent situation, which is a necessary prerequisite for seeking help.


Thus, as mental health practitioners, our job is to help debunk the myths, not only in the wider community, but also in the individuals who come to us. This article presents 10 intimate partner violence myths. After identifying each myth, we explain why it is just that: a myth.




While there are many ways that domestic violence can occur – including toward children, the elderly, and the disabled; from women to men; and even from strangers to both sexes – by far the greatest majority of it happens to women from male partners or ex-partners. Thus, examples in this article will predominantly refer to intimate partner violence perpetrated by male partners or ex-partners.


The Myths


Myth: People who stay in abusive relationships do so because they want to. It can’t be that bad, because they could leave if they wanted to.


Reality: The moment someone decides to leave a violent relationship is the moment they enter the most dangerous phase of all. Victim/survivors will only leave when they feel it is safe to do so. Beyond that, there are many reasons women, in particular, stay with their abusers. For example, lack of community services. Many communities in the Western, developed world have refugee shelters for women and their children: some where they can stay indefinitely. But many smaller or more rural communities – and even major towns in the developing world – have no such services. A woman who has been financially abused, in terms of deprivation of means to independently manage monies in the household – may literally have no funds at her disposal and nowhere to go.


Myth: It’s just a domestic row. All couples have them.


Reality: A “tiff” between partners of a couple which involves violence is based on an imbalance of power and control, and is more than a disagreement. Healthy relationships have disagreements in which the partners are still able to convey a sense of mutual respect, trust, support, and love for the other person. Intimate partner violence involves at least cyclical or possibly constant physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and/or financial abuse. This is harmful and dangerous, and there is no room for it in a healthy relationship. When we review the statistics for how many women are killed every single week by their partners, we understand that we cannot minimise or dismiss this one.


Myth: Battering and abuse do not occur in upper-middle class families, only in working-class ones.


Reality: Nope. Intimate partner violence occurs across the spectrum of socioeconomic demographics, although with more resources, abusers are more easily able to hide their abuse. Also, we must note here two other points related to the exacerbating effects of poverty: (1) a woman’s options for other financial and practical support are more limited (or non-existent) for less affluent women and (2) financial problems in any demographic can place strain on the relationship, ultimately resulting in violence. Domestic abuse occurs to both working and stay-at-home individuals. While all these details differ, the effects of the abuse are the same.


Myth: Domestic violence is caused by alcohol or drug abuse/addiction and going through a rehabilitation program will fix the problem. It’s the drug that causes the violence.


Reality: Alcohol or drug misuse is often perceived as the cause of violence. While abusers may say that they lost control or didn’t know what they were doing because they were drunk/high, they were nevertheless responsible for their actions. Drugs may reduce a person’s inhibitions, but the actions are their own, not the drug’s. Moreover, addiction is a separate issue to domestic abuse; putting an end to addiction does not necessarily eliminate violence. The two issues are related, though, in that: (1) abusers may use alcohol or drugs to justify their actions and avoid taking responsibility for behaviour, and (2) abusive behaviour may even increase for a period as the perpetrator gets sober.


Myth: Mental illness is to blame for domestic violence. The abuser is “not in his right mind” under extreme stress or mentally ill.


Reality: This is sometimes true, but those who look at typical patterns of abuse see a much more frequently-occurring commonality: abusers believe they have the right to dominate and control their partners.


Myth: The victim brought it on herself by provoking the assault, or at least she “deserved” it.


Reality: Whoa! This one is “first cousin” to “She enjoyed it”. Look what happens when we allow this myth; the responsibility for the abuse shifts unfairly from the abuser to the abused. As we noted above, women abused (especially over a long period of time) begin to rationalise the abuse, often feeling that they are to blame for it. This is particularly true if the abuser constantly tells her that she provoked it and/or if the wider community accepts this excuse, in which case he takes no responsibility for his actions. Thus the victim may try harder and harder to be perfect in the relationship; such women often make extraordinary efforts to pacify abusive partners. It is only when the violence escalates anyway that she gradually comes to realise that the abuser is the one with the problem.


Myth: Women do not object to being mistreated.


Reality: Women have often had a terrible dilemma: be abused or be homeless (violence is one of the largest contributing factors to women’s homelessness). Friends and/or family may take her in for a while, but if she has no monetary resources and needs to look after young children, then what? The law may even forbid running away (to a safer community/state/country) with children. Many women have been hunted down and forced back (or, sadly, charmed back!). No matter how much they may dread abuse, women may figure that to endure it is better for them (and for their children) than to have no home.


Myth: Abuse is temporary, occurring only during an abuser’s lapse of control.


Reality: Once it begins in a relationship, abuse continues and tends to escalate. There is no “lapse of control”, as abusers are often very deliberate, having an uncanny ability to choose the time and place of their attack and inflicting wounds on their victims in ways that others won’t see or notice. They count on the shame and fear of the victim/survivor to collude in the conspiracy of silence. One abused woman told of being hit and bruised many times, but on one occasion being hit so hard around the ears that her eardrum was punctured, causing deafness and extreme pain. Upon going to her G.P., she felt she had to concoct a plausible reason for her problem, so she claimed that she fell off the family boat. To her chagrin, the G.P. merrily wrote that into his notes, advising her to get her balance checked, and never questioning her further, despite her subdued, sad presentation and bruises about her upper arms and shoulders (Carbonatto, 2009).


Myth: Abusers come from violent backgrounds, and they are violent with everyone.


Reality: There is a pattern going here, but it is not a perfect correlation, in that some people who grow up with violence do not perpetrate it or become its victims, and some who perpetrate it have not had violent childhoods; the family is not the only influence on a person, although it is a strong one. Moreover, even those who are violent with partners are not “that way” with everyone. Their “Jekyll and Hyde” personality enables them to be friendly to co-workers, neighbours, and friends, but come home and be abusive, using battering as a way to dominate their wives/partners. This myth does, however, underscore the need to debunk myths with reality, given that when people see the “Dr Jekyll” side of the abuser’s personality (the friendly, engaging side), they may be disbelieving or at least dismissive of the seriousness of the violence.


Myth: What happens behind closed doors is private; society shouldn’t interfere with family dynamics.


Reality: This myth makes it harder for victim/survivors to realise that they are not responsible for what is happening. But a man punching a partner at home and a man punching another man at a bar are both assault (Epstein, 2003; Bray, 2014).


Those who would work competently with victim/survivors of violence must fight against acceptance of these myths, but as mental health practitioners we need to do more than pay lip service to the notion that they are myths. We must actually address the dangers and concerns of the victim/survivors in session. Otherwise, we are as guilty as the myth proponents of minimising, denying, or dismissing the victim/survivor’s experience. The next section discusses the chief areas of concern identified by victim/survivors who experienced dissatisfaction with their counselling experience in the wake of abusive treatment.




Carbonatto, M. (2009). Back from the edge: Extraordinary tales of survival and how people did it. Auckland, New Zealand: Cape Catley Ltd.



AIPC courses:


Diploma of Counselling


Diploma of Financial Counselling


Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)


Diploma of Youth Work


Bachelor of Counselling


Master of Counselling


Join our community:









Working with the Highly Sensitive Client


Your client fidgets as she tries to explain what’s bothering her, and why she has come to see you. “It’s not that I don’t like my job,” she says hesitantly. “Facilitating groups is fun, but I’m doing it so many days a week, I just feel overwhelmed!” And it’s not just her work. “In my relationship,” she continues, “I’m distressed, because during the upcoming holiday season, we are supposed to go to three different parties on a single day, totalling 13 hours!” She admits that her fiancé is more extraverted than she is. “But that’s not it,” she insists. “I like people. It’s just that the thought of a whole day of noise and small talk – help! But when I suggest that I take my own car so I can go home early, I get accused of being a fussy party pooper! What do I do?”


Click here to continue reading this article.



Counselling and Social Media: Opportunities and Risks


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.


Click here to continue reading this article.


More articles:



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.


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 learning (100+ hours)
  • Access to self-paced, text courses (120+ courses)
  • Invitations to select events and Masterclasses
  • Earn professional development points/hours
  • Online, 24/7 access to courses - from anywhere
  • Personalised online classroom to facilitate learning
  • New programs released every month

By learning with MHA, you’ll also make a real, measurable contribution to some of the world’s poorest communities (through MHA’s local and global social impact initiatives).


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).


Volunteering for Seniors


As the population ages in nations such as Australia and the United States, increasing numbers of offspring wonder how to help their retired, now lonely, and often depressed parent. Some of these may ask you for advice on how to help their beloved mum or dad. Of course, health problems must be tended to, but when the senior is relatively healthy yet unhappy, you might suggest that the adult child encourage their parent to begin volunteering.


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“Judge people not by what they are, but by what they strive to become.”


~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky



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

Click here to access all seminar timetables online.


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



AIPC courses:


Diploma of Counselling


Diploma of Financial Counselling


Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)


Diploma of Youth Work


Bachelor of Counselling


Master of Counselling


Join our community:







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