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  • 15 Jan 2022 12:40 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Whether in our families, intimate relationships, or at work, sooner or later we all come to a point where we notice we need to change something in our thinking and our behavior.

    More often than not, this happens when we feel like we’ve hit a wall and we’re actually forced to step out of our dysfunctional patterns.

    Complex unhealthy patterns may stem from ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and may require professional help.

    Although many people may still feel that there is a stigma attached to seeking mental health services, we all need help from time to time. Seeking therapy and healing from ACEs is a sign of new-found strength, not shame.

    “Therapy” is often used interchangeably with the terms “counseling” and “psychotherapy.” It is essentially a helping relationship between a licensed mental health professional and a client. In this article, we’ll discuss how to choose the right therapist for you.

    What areas do counseling and therapy address?

    Counseling and psychotherapy are used with virtually all types of mental illness including:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Trauma or abuse history or PTSD
    • Eating disorders
    • Personality disorders
    • Specific phobias
    • Behavioral disorders in children and adolescents
    • Substance abuse disorders
    • Problems with family or relationships

    Counseling and psychotherapy are often assisted with medication such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers, which must be prescribed by either a psychiatrist or, more frequently, your general practitioner.

    Different types of therapy are often suited towards different things, but studies have shown that any form of therapy is often better than no therapy.

    For many people, the simple act of talking about their problems with someone who listens intently, is empathetic, and develops a rapport with the client is in and of itself beneficial.

    Although therapy and counseling go hand-in-hand with diagnosable mental illnesses, it is often incredibly helpful for less severe problems. For people undergoing stressful life events, such as divorce, death of a loved one, stress in a marriage, stress at work, or simply to learn better coping skills, therapy can offer an extra source of support that may be necessary in stressful times.

    Working with a skilled mental health professional can be extremely helpful and rewarding. It can foster insight and create even seemingly small changes that can drastically improve your mental health and overall well-being.

    Tips for choosing a therapist

    The most important element in choosing a therapist or counselor is the rapport that develops between your therapist and you as the client.

    If you aren’t comfortable with your therapist, or you don’t feel a connection with them, all of the schooling and technique will be nowhere near as effective as it will be if a professional bond and a sense of rapport are established.

    This makes choosing a therapist or counselor a very individualized endeavor. Sometimes this means experimenting with different therapists.

    Finding a good therapist that you can develop a rapport with and who has a style of counseling that works for you can be likened to trying on clothes: sometimes you have to try on a few different ones before you find the right fit.

    Community Therapy or Group Practice

    If you choose to utilize services from a community mental health clinic or a group practice, you may automatically get assigned to someone, but often there is flexibility to see a different therapist if the first one isn’t a good match.

    Individual Therapy or Private Practice

    If you choose to see an individual in private practice, you can often find out more about the individual’s areas of expertise, years of experience, and the types of interventions that they offer from their biographies listed online.

    Some therapists even offer free, brief assessments before determining if you want to make an appointment with them.

    When determining how to choose a therapist, remember that YOU are the client, and the counselor or therapist is a professional and understands that there are many different individual characteristics of both the client and the therapist that don’t always equate to an ideal match.

    However, the main goal of the therapist is to ensure that you, the client, receives the best treatment possible and they are guided by a strict code of ethics to ensure that they are providing it.

    What if my therapist and I are not a good fit?

    If the therapist feels that they are not the best fit, they are required to provide other options. Likewise, as the patient, if you feel the therapist isn’t going to meet your needs, for whatever reason, you should never feel as if you are committed to stay with that therapist.

    Therapists are trained to not take the request for a different counselor or therapist personally, so you should never feel as if the desire to see someone different will be met with negativity or hurt feelings.

    Where do I look to find a therapist?

    Initially, a simple internet search for “mental health professionals” or “counselors” or “psychologists” and your zip code should bring up plenty of results.

    For therapists working in private practice, there is often a brief write-up posted of the individual’s years of experience, their training, what types of counseling or therapy they provide, and what particular problems they specialize in working with.

    When going through insurance, it is possible to call your insurance company and ask for names of mental health professionals in your area that will take your insurance. However, these may not be exhaustive lists and often you can find a wider variety through an internet search.


    Choosing the right therapist or counselor may seem like a daunting task. We hope that the tips we’ve listed will make this process easier for you.

    Although the initial session is typically seen as the introductory phase, sometimes it takes more than an initial session to determine whether or not you feel this person will be best able to help you.

    If you need further help tailored to your specific needs, you can also check Online Therapy.

    Remember: when choosing a therapist or counselor, you are the expert as to whether or not you feel this person is going to meet your individual needs.

  • 14 Jan 2022 12:47 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    No more social workers will be tested under national assessment and accreditation system, which will be replaced by scheme providing ‘better experience for social workers’

    by Rob Preston on January 14, 2022 in Children, Social work leaders, Workforce

    Department for Education

    The Department for Education has scrapped its national assessment and accreditation system (NAAS) for children’s social workers.

    It plans to introduce a replacement accreditation programme later this year, designed to be “more sustainable” and deliver “a better overall experience for social workers” that was “more meaningful” for them and employers. This is likely to be based on remote testing, rather than the in-person model delivered through NAAS assessment centres.

    The decision to end the controversial scheme was welcomed by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and UNISON, with the latter saying that it had “needlessly piled extra pressure on social workers”.

    More than 1,700 accredited

    Since being introduced in 2018, more than 1,700 frontline practitioners and practice supervisors have been accredited across 69 local authorities and children’s trusts. This is equivalent to just over 5% of the children’s statutory workforce. As of 2020, the scheme had cost the public purse £24m.

    The DfE’s original plan was for all children’s social workers to be assessed by 2020, which it later revised to rolling out the scheme from that year following a series of trial phases.

    However, since its conception in 2014 as a means of assessing social workers against core knowledge and skills requirements, it has been beset by a lack of buy-in from sector bodies and lower-than-expected engagement from practitioners. It was also stalled in 2020 by the pandemic.

    No more assessments

    Announcing the closure in an email to local authority NAAS leads this week, the DfE said it would hold no further tests at its assessment centers. It had already cancelled assessment centers it had planned to operate this month in order to minimize non-essential journeys as part of ‘Plan B’ Covid measures. Social workers booked for January assessments will not be able to rebook.

    The NAAS online portal will close at the end of February, after which candidates enrolled in the scheme will not be able to access their results and certificates.

    DfE said it would write to candidates to encourage them to download their certificates and results before the February deadline and that the NAAS site’s knowledge hub would continue to be available until 31 March.

    Shift to online testing mooted

    The department said it remained committed to assessing and accrediting social workers against the post-qualifying standards (formerly the knowledge and skills statements) for child and family practitioners and practice supervisors, as under NAAS.

    It indicated to NAAS leads that its decision to scrap the scheme was partly motivated by the challenge and cost of delivering tests through in-person assessments.

    In a Q&A seen by Community Care, it said ending the scheme would “allow us the opportunity to develop a new approach and deliver assessment on a more sustainable basis, while offering more flexibility and a better overall experience for social workers”.

    “This decision has been informed by feedback from social workers and local authorities, as well as learning from other professions that have moved to remote assessment during the pandemic,” it added.

    In developing the replacement scheme, the department said it would “explore the possibility of moving towards assessments that can be taken outside of traditional centers, instead making greater use of digital technology”.

    “We will be ending the current model of NAAS to develop a revised approach that takes account of feedback from the sector and learnings from the pandemic, while retaining the same rigor, consistency and user-focus,” a DfE spokesperson said.

  • 13 Jan 2022 12:44 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Our society encourages people to push their limits, and there is no out for people with mental illness. Our society claims over and over that we must “push the envelope,” “take risks,” and “do what scares us.” There is no societal pressure to “respect your limits” or “live the way you feel comfortable.” And maybe that’s good for the general population, I can’t say, but what I can say is that it’s terrible advice for people with mental illness. With serious mental illness, pushing your limits is a mistake.

    Pushing Your Limits

    I don’t have anything against pushing your limits, in theory. I have done it many times. Jumping out of a plane, for example, pushes every limit I know. But while I had a mental illness at the time, I wasn’t nearly as sick as I am today. Today, I would be emotionally mauled by a skydive. Physically, sure, I could jump out of a plane, deploy the chute, and probably even land with ankles in-tact, but once I was done, it would affect my mental illness to no end. I suspect it would take a week to recover — and that’s assuming nothing really bad happened. If the skydive caused a mood episode, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it would take to recover from that.

    Now, maybe it’s the case no one would jump out of a plane without the message to “push your limits,” and maybe that’s okay — if you don’t have a serious mental illness.

    Pushing Your Limits with a Mental Illness

    If you have a mental illness, pushing your limits is a bad idea. Limits protect people with mental illness. Limits protect people with mental illness from their mental illness. They are extremely important. I know that my own limits relating to bipolar disorder include (but are not limited to):

    • Maintaining a strict sleep schedule every day
    • Eating regularly
    • Ensuring I reach out to others on a regular basis
    • Keeping all medical appointments
    • Always taking my medication as prescribed
    • Working limited hours
    • Avoiding stressful sitautions whenever possible
    • Staying away from drugs and alcohol

    And make no mistake about it, if I push these limits, my mental illness will get worse. Maintaining a strict sleep schedule is the one that affects me the most and the fastest. If I veer from my schedule, my mood will destabilize within, maybe, two days. Depending on the severity of the limit-pushing, I might be sick the very next day. I know this. I have lived this. I have learned this the hard way.

    I am not the only one, either. People with mental illness have told me over, and over that pushing their limits has done everything from harming them a little to putting them in the hospital. It’s a high-stakes game when you have a serious mental illness.

    Pressure to Push Your Limits with a Mental Illness

    The trouble is, as I said, society values pushing your limits. Society says we should “living on the edge, or we’re taking up too much space.” In spite of all the talk about self-care, society still eschews respecting personal limits. We are all supposed to be working 80-hour weeks, “playing hard,” and “having it all.”

    People with mental illness cannot do those things, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pressure to do them, just like everyone else.

    This pressure tends to cause misery because if we bow to it, we get sick, but if we don’t, we feel like lazy losers not living up to our potential and missing out in life.

    With Mental Illness, Pushing Your Limits Is a Mistake, No Matter What

    So, understanding that we’re expected to push our limits, even with mental illness, and understanding that this pressure is a negative force for most of us, we need to be stronger than this societal message. Surviving mental illness demands that we be strong in a myriad of ways, and this is just one more. We have to be able to stand up to this pressure, and for ourselves, and state that our health is more important than this adrenaline-fueled, immature notion. We must remember and be clear about the fact that just because other people in this society can live that way, it doesn’t mean people with illnesses can do it right alongside them. I suppose it’s indicative of the fact that society is simply not built for disabled people. This is obvious. Its full impact on us, though, often isn’t.

    It’s unfair that this is yet another way we must be strong, but it just is. It’s just what we must be in order to live our best lives. Because our goal needs to be living our best lives, not the best lives described by a society that doesn’t care about us.

    P.S. As a quick note, sometimes gently brushing up against your limits is okay. Sometimes gently testing them is okay. This is not the same as the societal message, however, which suggests obliterating them.

  • 10 Jan 2022 12:49 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    For many people a common goal of the new year is to increase the amount of exercise they are doing as part of a way to improve their physical and mental well-being. However, trying to incorporate exercise into your busy lifestyle and maintain being physically active as a healthy lifestyle habit can be difficult.

    Research suggests that a behaviour, like exercise, is likely to become a habit when an individual engages in this behaviour frequently and consistently.

    But how do I start?

    Well, by setting the goal to increase your level of exercise is one of the biggest steps you can take towards maintaining a physically active lifestyle – just make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T.

    1. Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
    2. Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal
    3. Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
    4. Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose
    5. Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date

    E.g., On February 1, I will cycle 3 times week around my neighbourhood for 30minutes. My aim is that by start of June I will be able to ride 30km in an hour.

    If you cannot think of specific goal or unsure how to get going, you may wish to start small and/or look for opportunities to incorporate exercise into your daily life. For example, taking the stairs to work rather than the elevator or packing your swimsuit in your work bag to stop by the pool on your way home.

    Another tip to help increase the chance of exercise becoming a habit is to combine it with social support or an area of interest (e.g., going to gym/a walk with a friend, playing a team sport). An added benefit of working out with another person is that it adds extra motivation as well as enjoying the social interaction.

    Address any barriers. For example, for myself a big barrier is getting out of bed in the morning. To help with me following through and going for a run is to charge my phone in the kitchen so I have to get out of bed to turn off my alarm in the morning and lay my workout gear out.

    Right, so you’ve set your goal, made plans, arranged a time and place, now it is time to take action! While believing that you can change things for yourself and having self-motivation is a powerful part of maintaining a behaviour/habit, it is important to remember that action often needs to come before motivation – so get moving!

    And if you get stuck, don’t forget that psychologists are great at helping people make positive changes in their lives. Give us a call if we can be of service.

  • 15 Apr 2020 8:57 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Carl Jung introduced us to the concept of shadow, a state that invigorates the self but also scares us to death.  How do we reconcile the self we wear each day, that pleasing, ever agreeable self to our shadow? What do we get for exploring those dark corners of our psyche? Maybe this essay will help us to soldier on.

  • 15 Apr 2020 8:55 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    What’s the difference between these two concepts? Most of us have been acquisitive in our development of knowledge within our field.  We know something, we understand something. But when does this cross over to wisdom?  Read on.

  • 15 Apr 2020 8:50 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Trauma is a gift given to us all in the course of our lives. Statisticians will say with a long life, you might have five or six significant traumas. How do we survive all of this? The cliché is that trauma makes us stronger. Not so, it’s what we do with the experience that actually makes us stronger. It’s the aftermath that counts.  Give it some thought.

  • 16 Dec 2019 2:40 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Criticism is the monster in the closet. We all overreact to negative feedback and dismiss the positive. Not good odds and not good math. If we give power to the one who objects and ignore the 20 who agree, we are overweighting the negation. Read on.

  • 16 Dec 2019 2:39 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Taking an educative role with our clients, we can increase their accuracy in recognizing when they are making errors in perception of the many situations that present themselves on a daily basis. Using this tool, helping them to discover their biases will truly change their minds.

  • 16 Dec 2019 2:37 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    How can we aid clients in dealing with their worst enemy? Especially when their worst enemy is themselves and the perspective they have of themselves. This creative approach to changing the image of the threatening perception to one manageable by not banished. We need those images to help us recognize real problems, but not stop us in our tracks.
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