Enhancing Wellbeing in the Workplace
Welcome to Issue 351 of Institute Inbrief
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Issue 351 // Institute Inbrief
Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to Edition 351 of Institute Inbrief. Workplace wellbeing is the springboard from which employees can jump towards professional and personal fulfilment. 
In this edition's featured article, we explore how organisations can modify their working environment to foster wellbeing amongst workers. 

Also in this edition:
  1. Free Self-care Program for Helpers
  2. The Making of a Flourishing Family
  3. Exercise: A Moving Part of Wellness
  4. Identifying and Managing Therapist Burnout
  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>>?

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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.


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Fit Your Own Mask First
A free 5-week Self-care Program for Helpers.


In this free 5-week program by the Mental Health Academy, the intertwined questions of professional and personal self-care are investigated in a holistic manner. The program works from a paradigm of growth mindset aligned with a positive psychology stance, to offer insights and strategies for all levels of self-care.

The program comprises five (5) sections:
  1. Part 1 explains the philosophical framework of the course.
     
  2. Part 2 examines questions of exercise, diet, and sleep: the chief physical means of tending to self-care.
     
  3. Part 3 asks about the scope, intensity, and direction, or purpose, of your services as a therapist. Ways of maximising supervision are covered, along with a look into life-work balance, remuneration (for your therapeutic services), and why as a therapist you need therapy.
     
  4. Part 4 treats the twin questions of: (1) connection, as seen in the central questions of social support and exercises for improving your relationships with self, Other, and the Self; and (2) individuation - issues such as boundary-setting, assertiveness, and locus-of-control. A section on self-compassion completes the chapter.
     
  5. Part 5 discusses the importance of developing stillness and mindfulness practices, and suggests the completion of an action plan to consolidate program gains.

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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 to you? 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.

Factors of a functioning workplace

Before outlining strategies for enhancing workplace wellbeing, we must identify and understand the constituents of an individual employee’s experience. A literature review by the Black Dog Institute has identified five main dynamics which interplay to determine the wellbeing of an individual within an organisation:

The design of the job. The control the worker has over their work is vital to feeling autonomous and significant – they must be provided with the resources they require, be aware of the specific characteristics of their tasks, and be aware of any potential to be exposed to traumatic experiences.

Team/group factors. The quality of the relationships amongst peers dictates workplace wellbeing, and leaders must ensure that adequate support and communication avenues are present.

Organisational factors. How the organisation enacts changes from the top down can affect the self-esteem of its workers. Depending on how this is managed, workers can be made to feel significant and safe, or unimportant and vulnerable. How the organisation handles accolades and justice is also relevant here.

Home/work conflict. The degree to which significant life events interfere with work conduct or performance must be understood by the leaders of the workplace, and appropriate measures must be taken to attend to this.

Individual biopsychosocial factors. Each persons’ unique genetics and cognitive/behavioural patterns also interplay with the aforementioned dynamics.

With these five factors in mind, we can begin to build a picture of how we might attend to levels of workplace wellbeing. Each employee interacts with an active network of these dynamics constantly throughout their working hours; the culture of the workplace, therefore, must provide space for these dynamics to appear and interact in safe and stable ways.Currently, this is not the case, with 21% of the Australian public sector workplace requiring leave from their employment in 2019 due to mental health concerns. Based on that number, one might assume that it is simply too difficult to balance all five of the aforementioned dynamics – but the authorities on the subject claim that it just takes time and focus to gauge the climate of a workforce and to adjust it accordingly (Beyond Blue, 2019). The subtle saliency of adjusting the psychological factors of a workplace might explain the lack of focus in this area; this is ill–considered, however, and neglects to acknowledge the broader benefits of a healthy workplace.

What can we do?

Based on an analysis of more than 16,000 Australian employees, six domains have been proposed by the Australian Public Sector (APS) Commission as a Mental Health Capability Framework.  These domains can provide workplaces with a narrower focus for where to direct resources and energy when it comes to the psychological wellbeing of their workers.

Domain 1: Prevent Harm

It goes without saying that a workplace should be designed in such a way that the potential for harm – both physical and psychological – is mitigated. Feelings of safety are prerequisite to actualising oneself.

Domain 2: Promote Mental Health

Staff should be provided with ample opportunity to engage in evidence–informed mental wellbeing initiatives with the intention to enhance psychosocial protection.

Domain 3: Support Recovery Pathways

Frameworks should be developed to assist staff in returning to work and staying at work once a mental health related absence has occurred.

Domain 4: Build Literacy and Develop Capability

A culture of understanding and familiarity around mental health should be built; this will assist staff in understanding the psychological wellbeing of themselves and their peers.

Domain 5: Leadership and Governance

The leadership team of the workplace should be visible and accessible to employees. A personal approach to workplace governance will further instil staff with feelings of significance and importance.

Domain 6: Evaluate and Improve

A workplace should continually engage in evidence-based practices to improve their practices.

Although these six domains cover a lot of ground, there is a common factor that is present amongst them: communication. Without open and compassionate passages of communication, each of these domains cannot be fully satisfied. Studies within the field of occupational psychology have found that a workplace culture with an emotionally receptive leadership team can directly influence workers’ sense of purpose, meaning, and connection, whilst mitigating potential for trauma, fatigue, and isolation (Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces, 2019). A lapse in communication can affect all of the six proposed domains; this can create a feedback loop in which, for example, an incident at home could affect performance at work, and a lack of understanding from the leadership team could further exacerbate the effect of the initial incident.

Collegial care and psychological acceptance

While the leadership team is the driving force behind mental–wellbeing initiatives, the individual worker must also take ownership over maintaining their own wellbeing. Psychological acceptance is a personal quality that relates to a willingness to experience thoughts and feeling without avoidance or submission (Bond & Donaldo-Feilder, 2004), and this is developed through propagating a focus on one’s internal fluctuations of sensations. When workers can remain present with their work and their colleagues in the midst of tumultuous situations, they are better positioned to stay level–headed and provide support for one another when needed. Being surrounded by a team who hold this skill amplifies feelings of safety and acceptance, whilst dissolving feelings of isolation, alienation, and the stigmatising of one’s experience.

Stigma is a tricky, however powerful, phenomenon. It is powerful because it relates to rejection, discrimination, and negative perception, and it is tricky because it is often transmitted from person to person subconsciously. Stigma is rarely something that is built and spread intentionally – rather, is seems to arise through people’s automatic reactions, and is spread through others’ sensitivity to these reactions and their tendencies to mirror the attitudes of those around them. Stigma that is propagated intentionally by an individual is more aptly seen as bullying, which is an equally harmful yet different phenomenon – bullying occurs through the actions of individuals, whereas stigma arises within the culture of the workplace itself.

For example, a 2010 report by Medibank Health Solutions suggests that a large percentage of workers who disclosed their mental health issues have experiences workplace discrimination, with only 22% of workers receiving treatment or support.  It can be assumed that these people weren’t bullied by their leadership team directly – they were affected by the overall manner in which their organisation views mental health as a concept. The values of the organisation will influence the values of its workers, so it is necessary to develop top–down frameworks for opening compassionate dialogues surrounding mental health. Without this, workers will feel the need to downplay their struggles, over–commit to their work as a distraction, or view themselves as weak and inept.

Most techniques to change the conversation surrounding mental health in a workplace are based on exposure and familiarisation. The leadership team might place informational posters in bathrooms or self–care books on coffee tables, or staff meetings might involve the workers discussing their recent experiences, moods, and wellness methods.

Workplace hazards: burnout, compassion fatigue & trauma

Though interpersonal relations are a vital aspect of mental wellbeing in the workplace, some professions are innately more prone to exposure to difficult circumstances. For example, those who work in criminal rehabilitation programs would experience more high-octane situations than a filing clerk. While collegial care is just as important in both workplaces, the more high-octane position brings with it additional factors that must be acknowledged. These are burnout, compassion fatigue, and trauma.

Burnout is not uncommon, and it can result in emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and reduced personal accomplishment (Maslach et al., 1996). When in this state, workers can feel unable to contribute their best self, they can develop negative or cynical attitudes towards one’s work and have poor self–evaluation regarding the quality of one’s work.

Compassion fatigue is caused by repeatedly seeing bad things happen to good people, and can lead to ambivalence towards their clients, patients, or customers. Survivor-blaming can result from this, and this type of pessimism can be a barrier to building rapport and building meaningful connections.

Trauma can arise both directly and vicariously. Some lines of work involve a direct encounter with danger, such as firefighting or paramedic work – alternatively, a worker could find themselves face-to-face with somebody else’s trauma, such as in a clinical psychology office. Regardless, trauma triggers key areas of a person’s psychological make-up, such as safety, trust, esteem, intimacy, and control.

It takes regimented self-care and adequate supervision to move through the previous three hazards. Eleanor Brown states “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take the time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel”. The ways in which self-care can be promoted through the workplace include discussion surrounding the concept, helpful activities during working hours, and encouragement to engage with good exercise/diet habits, but it is ultimately up to each individual to find what makes them feel balanced and fulfilled within themselves. Workers can discover this quality by asking such questions as ‘what makes me feel connected to myself and others?’; ‘how do I promote my physical wellness?’; or ‘what are my values and how do I maintain them daily?’. Having a firm grounding within oneself can equip workers with the clarity and stability needed to handle the hazards that can arise in their workplace, and the emotional fallout thereof.

In summary…

Workplace wellbeing is the springboard from which employees can jump towards professional and personal fulfilment. While there are broad movements towards greater focus in this area, there are still gaps in awareness that must be closed. Spreading a culture of mental health familiarity and receptiveness is vital for forming healthy workplaces, heathy people, and a healthy culture.


References:
  1. Australian Department of Energy, Science and Industry Resources (2020). APS mental health capability project: initial report.
  2. Black Dog Institute. (2014). Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces; A review of the research. Retrieved from: Website.
  3. Bond, F. W., & Donaldso–Feilder, E. J. (2004). The relative importance of psychological acceptance and emotional intelligence to workplace well–being. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 32(2), 187–203. Retrieved from: Website.
  4. Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., & Leiter, M. P. (1996). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
  5. Medibank Health Solutions. (2010). Workplace wellness in Australia. Aligning action with aims: Optimising the benefits of workplace wellness. PricewaterhouseCoopers. Retrieved from: Website.
The Making of a Flourishing Family

Have you ever wondered what makes some families capable of moving through very tough times without cracking under the strain? Are they just lucky somehow, or are they doing some things to get through in a happier, healthier way than typical families? 

READ MORE 
Exercise: A Moving Part of Wellness

As with questions of diet, exercise is perhaps uppermost in the minds of those looking to enhance their wellness. The quest for fitness, however – as with diet – is so pervasive in developed cultures that some controversies are inevitable. As with our previous article on diet, we believe the best approach is for you to offer your client basic guidelines to help them (re-)shape their fitness regimens, but let them be the ultimate arbiters of what is right for their bodies, lifestyles, and preferences. 


READ MORE 

More articles: www.aipc.net.au/articles
Science and Practice of Wellbeing Credential
Cutting-edge practical tools to improve your - and your clients' - wellbeing.

Mental Health Academy have recently launched their latest Credential Course, Science and Practice of Wellbeing.
 
This digitally badged program is led by internationally-renowned speaker and master trainer, Sue Langley.
 
It is a comprehensive 24-hour course that will teach you the foundational theories, professional tools and evidence-based interventions that contribute to enhanced wellbeing. 
 
As a course participant, you’ll enjoy on-demand access to a wealth of knowledge and exclusive practical resources, including:
  1. 17 video lectures (8 hours of one-on-one, on-demand content) presented by globally renowned educator and master trainer, Sue Langley.
     
  2. A carefully selected collection of articles exploring cutting-edge topics and research including theories of wellbeing; mindfulness; the neuroscience of habits; emotions and broaden & build theory; mental, physical and environment wellbeing strategies; the power of social connection, kindness and altruism; identifying and using strengths; relationship strategies; and much more.
     
  3. 16 workbooks with activities to help put your learning into practice, including assessment tools and exercises for your therapy/coaching clients. 
     
  4. Self-paced online assessments, easily accessible via the MHA Learning Portal.

Click the link below to learn more about and enrol in this program (with a limited time discount - you'll save $650.00). If you have any questions, please email the Mental Health Academy team on help@mentalhealthacademy.com.au. 

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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.

Identifying and Managing Therapist Burnout

It’s a new year, we’ve all renewed ourselves with a fabulous holiday break, and we’re raring to go again, having said goodbye to the factors stressing us in 2020, right? Or maybe not. Much of the developed world has, at this writing, only recently come out of lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic, and many countries are still in the middle of it as they battle a second or even third wave. The constraints made necessary by the virus have changed the world of both personal relationships and work, some say permanently. 

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More posts: www.counsellingconnection.com
"Goals are harmful unless they guide you to make specific behaviors easier to do. Don’t focus your motivation on doing Behavior X. Instead, focus on making Behavior X easier to do."

~ B. J. Fogg
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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