Welcome to Issue 357 of Institute Inbrief
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Issue 357 // Institute Inbrief
Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to Edition 357 of Institute Inbrief. If you are a counsellor, you will always be faced with the challenge of counselling someone who comes from a different culture. So, what do you do if you feel you are unequipped to take these clients on? This edition's featured article explores the context and clinical considerations for counsellors working with immigrants in Australia. 

Also in this edition:
  1. Announcing... AIPC's UpSkill Micro-Credential courses
  2. Enhancing Wellbeing in the Workplace
  3. Building Shame Resilience in Clients
  4. Strategies for Creating (or Destroying) Habits
  5. Quotations, Seminar Timetables & More!

Enjoy your reading!

Sandra Poletto
CEO, Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors.

Diploma of Counselling
Join one of the most personally enriching careers.

There is no more rewarding way to help others than by providing emotional support that assists people get their lives back on track.

AIPC is the largest provider of counselling courses in the country. We have specialised in counsellor training for over 30 years. We have proudly helped over 55,000 people from 27 countries pursue their personal and career interests in counselling.

Our Diploma of Counselling is a journey of self-discovery, providing deep insight into why you think and behave as you do. And when you graduate, you will be extremely well prepared to pursue a career in counselling – employed or self-employed – enjoying our strong industry reputation and linkage.

As a Counsellor you will:
  1. Be truly passionate about what you do.
  2. Help people every day overcome challenges and lead better lives.
  3. Enjoy job security in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.
  4. Have the freedom of owning your own business.

Ready to start your Counselling journey, <<First Name>>?

Community Services Courses
Helping You Help Your Community
By gaining a qualification within the Community Services sector, 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!
Diploma of Financial Counsellinglearn more
Do you want to help others who are facing financial hardship?

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)learn more
Join one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the country!
Diploma of Youth Worklearn more
Do you want to positively influence the next generation?

Bachelor of Human Services - learn more
A flexible and affordable alternative to traditional tertiary education.


Introducing... AIPC Upskill Micro-credential Courses
Our new Upskill courses cover a range of interesting topics to enhance your personal and professional development.

Our digitally badged range of micro-credential courses will provide you with new skills, a deeper understanding or a new sense of purpose, keep your career moving towards a brighter, more secure future.

Each micro-credential course is between 30 and 40 hours of learning, providing a deep, rich, learning experience. Some of the currently available courses include:

Creative and Critical Thinking - explore now
In this micro-credential you’ll learn the IDEALS model for creative thinking, including an examination of the roles of problem identification, ideation and critical evaluation.

Working with Mental Health - explore now
In this micro-credential you’ll learn about mental health issues that occur across the lifespan.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy - explore now
In this micro-credential you’ll learn about the hugely popular modern behavioural therapy, Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership - explore now
In this micro-credential you’ll learn the highly desired workplace skill of Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace - explore now
In this micro-credential you’ll learn how to support employee wellbeing, through understanding factors and strategies that can negatively (and positively) impact the psychological health of workers.


Counselling Immigrants in Australia
If you are a counsellor, you will always be faced with the challenge of counselling someone who comes from a different culture. So, what do you do if you feel you are unequipped to take these clients on? Will it be too difficult to work with someone who speaks a different language, or who comes from a vastly different culture? How can you be sure that you are giving them the assistance they require? Should we avoid these clients, or refer them elsewhere? There may be several factors that can hinder a counsellor’s willingness to engage with certain people, but we have a responsibility to be of service (where appropriate) to everybody who seeks our help. This resource is for those counsellors who want to learn how to better work with immigrants of varying cultural backgrounds – especially those who have experienced significant hardship. It will offer context regarding who you can expect to be counselling, and address some common concerns among counsellors.

Australia as a Multi-cultural hub

Alongside New Zealand and Canada, Australia has been dubbed one of the world’s major ‘immigration nations’ – an estimated 29.8% of our population are born overseas (ABS, 2020). In the last two decades, immigration has been the highest in Australia’s history, and rates are expected to continually increase by 1.8% per annum to reach 5.6 million born-overseas residents by 2047 (ABS, 2019). Furthermore, this means there will be more migrants in Australia than in any other OECD country (OECD, 2017). Considering this, it is inevitable that mental health professionals will have to develop their therapeutic practices in order to assist our increasingly diverse population.

Who are we counselling?

Those who achieve permanent residency generally do so by one of two avenues: the Migration Program for skilled migrants and families, or the Humanitarian Program for refugees and those seeking asylum (APH, 2017). Both programs have eligibility criteria that must be met before a person can be considered for settlement, and these can be taken into account in order to understand the contextual features of our clients’ lives. The Migration Program includes the skilled migrant, employer-sponsored skilled worker, business skills, business talent and regional sponsored migration programs. The Humanitarian Program includes refugee visas, Special Humanitarian Program visas for long-standing Australian residents who do not hold citizenship but have been assessed to need protection, and safe haven visas (APH, 2017). Knowing the avenue through which residency was acquired can give us clues as to how best to attend to a client.

What are the common mental health concerns?

The majority of refugees identified by the UNHCR are escaping war and violence; these include Syrians, who make up 30% of all refugees, and Afghans, who make up 27% of all refugees (UNHCR, 2021). Studies have shown that about 50% of refugees develop a mental illness as a result of traumatic circumstances (Shawyer, 2017); this ranges from PTSD, major depression, anxiety, and a prevalence of self-harm that is many times higher than the general population (Hedrick, et al., 2020).

Once settled in Australia, there are many more perceived challenges. These can include: processing recent traumatic events, cultural adjustment and discrimination, economic hardship, racism and xenophobia, criminalisation of migrant communities, language barriers, loss of family networks and support systems (kinship), and housing insecurity – among many others (Kirmayer, 2011).

More specifically, migrant women face uniquely challenging circumstances as they may be vulnerable to an intersection of gender-based violence from their own country and also from Australia (Kirmayer, 2011). They are also at a greater risk of experiencing domestic and family violence within the LGBTQI+ community (Ghafournia, 2011). These phenomena can occur because, in addition to common prejudice and bigotry, they can find themselves caught between societal expectations; people integrate certain expectations from their native culture, and then have trouble identifying and assimilating to those of a new culture. This can result in violence in response to perceived cultural transgressions.

What to expect as a counsellor

The first thing for us as counsellors to understand when thinking about our multicultural clients is that every individual comes from a unique context. We need to be aware that each individual has their own cultural identities, values, norms and beliefs. When we think about culture, we do not look only at race or ethnicity; we also consider class, age, gender and sexual orientation. These aspects help us to get a clearer understanding of who the client is so that they feel more comfortable culturally and we can communicate with them appropriately (Dillon, et al., 2008).

There are numerous common concerns that counsellors may have regarding cross-cultural practice. We explore some of the below.

“I have no experience working with clients from other cultures.”

Cultural training will equip you with the skills to work effectively with your client. For many of us this will involve becoming more aware of our own attitudes and prejudices, as well as learning some basic communication techniques (Dangar, 2011). Barriers or gaps in understanding will likely be resolved quite quickly as your client adapts to local customs, while you simultaneously become more familiar with their cultural background. You and your client will grow in sensitivity to each other, and you will come to mutual understandings as your relationship develops (Sue, et al., 2009).

One thing we must account for is that some counsellors can have trouble empathising with certain groups because they do not fit into their own cultural identity (Dillon, et al., 2008). Janet E. Helms put forth a racial identity model that is useful for understanding how the counselling process can be informed and influenced by the differences between the client and the counsellor (1995). She focuses on how people who identify as white can often be unaware of the nature of their racial biases, and can see themselves as somewhat of a default race; dismantling this bias opens us up to being more receptive and empathetic to others.

“I’m not sure how my client’s culture affects their mental health.”

One’s cultural background can affect their mental health in a variety of ways; each area of the world has a unique history that has developed into a unique assortment of conditioned beliefs and customs. (Pajares, García-Moreno, & Moya-Alvero, 2014). Research that inspects the relationship between culture and mental health has helped to inform counselling practices all over the world. For example, Mental Health First Aid USA found that people carry certain stigmas that are prescribed by their culture’s religions, societal expectations, and more (2019). Often, opening up a discussion about a client’s upbringing and culture-specific experiences is all it takes for counsellors to construct meaningful therapeutic experiences (Dangar, 2011)

While a counsellor may understand the mental hardships of certain demographics – for example LGBTIQ+ people – that understanding may only be applicable to their own culture (Dillon, 2008). For example, a transgendered person who was raised in Australia may have had a very different experience than someone who was raised in Malaysia or Philippines. Familiarising yourself with the various cultural factors that can affect your clients’ mental health will encourage a more understanding and helpful therapeutic relationship.

“My client seems to distrust me and/or my counselling approach.”

Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy counsellor-client relationship (Mackey, et al., 2010), but we might encounter clients whose past experiences have compromised their ability to form trusting relationships (attachment theory has a great framework to explore this further). People of certain ethnic backgrounds may have experienced a number of different forms of oppression and exploitation, resulting in avoidance behaviours when it comes to being vulnerable (Weise, 2013); this can be frustrating for counsellors as they try to build open channels of dialogue. A way of bridging this is to not only make your client feel welcome and comfortable in your practice, but also to involve yourself in the life and culture of the client (Weise, 2013). For example, this could involve building rapport with relevant community/family groups. This results in a deeper understanding of the client’s circumstantial nuances, allowing you to tailor the counselling process to suit their personal preferences.

Additionally, cultural differences can contribute to miscommunication surrounding certain issues or processes; this could happen on an interpersonal level, or it could occur at an institutional level. For example, a client from a country with a culture of respecting their elders may have trouble confiding in someone who is younger than them – this conflict could result in creating a tenuous relationship in which anxieties are formed about believing their counsellor has authority over them (Helms, 1995). To build trust during these misalignments in values, it is effective to acknowledge and respect the differences between your client and yourself, while also emphasising the similarities.  

In summary

It would be folly to not include cross-cultural counselling skills in your practice. These skills will help you to become more aware of the different ways that people experience life, and will enable you to communicate with them more effectively. With practice, you will also start to understand and appreciate your clients’ cultural differences and the specific mental health issues associated with it, allowing for open dialogue and mutual understanding.

It takes a degree of self-awareness and open-mindedness to effectively counsel people from other cultures, but with some perseverance anybody can incorporate these skills into their counselling, and open themselves up to new ways of thinking!

Professional Development Tip

The Mental Health Academy offers a vast range of short professional development courses on working with diversity (see a list here). You can access all courses, plus more, as an MHA member. If you are not a member, learn more & join here.

  1. Dangar, N. (2011). Culture and mental health care: Australia’s response to resettling refugees. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45(2), 115-119. doi:10.3109/00048674.2010.535528
  2. Dillon, F., Worthington, R., Soth-McNett, A., & Schwartz, S. (2008). Gender and sexual identity-based predictors of lesbian, gay, and bisexual affirmative counseling self-efficacy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(3), 353–360.
  3. Ghafournia, N. (2011). Battered at home, played down in policy: Migrant women and domestic violence in Australia, Aggression and Violent Behavior, Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 207-213,
  4. Hedrick, K., Armstrong, G., Coffey, G. et al. Self-harm among asylum seekers in Australian onshore immigration detention: how incidence rates vary by held detention type. BMC Public Health 20, 592 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08717-2
  5. Helms, J.E. (1995). An update on Helms’ White and people of color racial identity models. In: J.G. Ponterotto, J.M. Casas, L.A. Suzuki, & G.M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of Multicultural Counseling (pp. 181–198). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  6. Kirmayer LJ, Narasiah L, Munoz M, et al. (2011) Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: general approach in primary care. CMAJ. 2011;183(12):E959-E967. doi:10.1503/cmaj.090292
  7. Mackey, B., Nairn, K., & Douglas, C. (2010). Culture and mental health: An introduction and case study in Australia: Culture & mental health : an introduction and case study in Australia . Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia (Australia) Pty Ltd.
  8. Pajares, F., García-Moreno, C., & Moya-Alvero, R. (2014). Cultural Diversity and Counseling: An International Perspective (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
  9. Shawyer, F., Enticott, J.C., Block, A.A. et al. The mental health status of refugees and asylum seekers attending a refugee health clinic including comparisons with a matched sample of Australian-born residents. BMC Psychiatry 17, 76 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-017-1239-9
  10. Sue, S., Zane, N., Nagayama Hall, G. C., & Berger, L. K. (2009). The case for cultural competency in psychotherapeutic interventions. Annual review of psychology, 60, 525–548. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163651
  11. Wiese, Elizabeth. (2013). Psychology of trauma: Vulnerability and resilience. Psychology of Trauma. 197-210.
Enhancing Wellbeing in the Workplace

The morning alarm jolts you awake, and you roll over to swat the snooze button – just like that, Monday has come again, along with another working week. You mourn the freedoms of the weekend and drag yourself out of bed whilst wondering why your alarm’s tone is so irritating. “I need coffee”, you think. “And I need another holiday soon.” Is this scenario familiar? For many people, the daily act of getting ready to go to work (or its Pandemic sister, login to work) can be daunting, especially for those whose workplaces lack measures to enhance (and maintain) staff wellbeing. But does it have to be this way? In this article, we explore how organisations can modify their working environment to foster wellbeing amongst workers. We start by taking a look at the factors that create a functioning workplace. 

Building Shame Resilience in Clients

Jungian analysts have called it the “swampland of the soul”. Other psychotherapy writers have observed how it originally served to keep us safe; the tendency to shame has been a universal one in which our desire to hide our flaws from others has saved us from being kicked out of the group (the society), which evolutionarily would have meant death (Sholl, 2013). So which is it? Is shame totally pathological, or is it ever helpful to us? And how shall we deal with it in the therapy session, especially when we are faced with a highly self-critical or otherwise shame-prone client? 


More articles: www.aipc.net.au/articles
Certificate in Mindfulness Practice
Teaching helping professionals how to implement a Mindfulness practice with clients.

The Certificate in Mindfulness Practice is a comprehensive program designed to assist helping professionals integrate mindfulness practice into their client work.

The course helps learners develop their understanding of how mindfulness became the phenomenon it is in the West today, and the key processes and concepts that underlie it. They then explore how a personal mindfulness practice can be developed, consider the research into the effects of mindfulness in various contexts and among different groups, and how different helping professionals have integrated mindfulness into their practice approaches.

When you complete the Certificate in Mindfulness Practice, you’ll be issued with a Certificate in Mindfulness Practice Digital Badge and a Certificate of Attainment.


MHA Credential Courses
Take a deep-dive with some of the world’s leading mental health & wellbeing experts. Learn new skills. Connect with peers. Earn a Digital Credential.

MHA Credential Courses are self-paced, deep-dive, content-rich (20+ hours of learning) programs led by internationally-renowned experts.

Each course is meticulously crafted and contains a range of learning resources including video lectures, peer-reviewed articles, case studies, workbooks, assessments, practical activities, and more. Credentials are 100% self-paced and accessible on-demand, so learners can start at any time and progress at their own pace.

Upon completion of an MHA Credential Course, you are issued with an MHA Digital Badge (an internationally-verifiable digital credential) and a professional development (CPD) Certificate of Attainment.
Currently offered MHA Credential Courses include:
  1. Disaster Mental Health Counselling
  2. Applied Positive Psychology: Finding Mastery & Flourishing
  3. Science and Practice of Wellbeing

More courses will be released soon, covering a range of topics including parenting, trauma, suicide prevention, and more. 

Have you visited Counselling Connection yet? Our official blog has over 500 posts counselling, psychology, self-growth, and more! Make sure you too get connected. Below is a link to one of our popular blog posts.

Strategies for Creating (or Destroying) Habits

In a previous article we defined habits, looked at how they are formed (through the lens of Duhigg’s and Clear’s models), and then outlined the science behind them. According to James Clear’s Four Laws of Behaviour Change (2018), there are four steps to establishing a habit: cue, craving, routine, reward (Clear, 2018). This article is about how we turn the above steps into practical actions/advice that can help clients not only alter the way they do things, but also make the changes stick.


More posts: www.counsellingconnection.com
"We have a word for that in Japanese. It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally. (claps hands) The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building…can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension all the time you just get numb… What really matters is the underlying emotions…that you never let go of those."

~ Hayao Miyazaki
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:
  1. The Counselling Process
  2. Communication Skills I
  3. Communication Skills II
  4. Counselling Therapies I
  5. Counselling Therapies II
  6. Legal & Ethical Frameworks
  7. Brief Interventions and Loss & Grief Support
  8. Individualised Support and Working with Mental Health
  9. Advanced Counselling Techniques

Click here to access all seminar timetables online.
To register for a seminar, please contact your Student Support Centre.
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