Psynamo Celebrates Counselling Awareness Month: April 2017

PsynamoBirdsCounselling Awareness: 8 Top Tips to get the most out of Counselling

Counselling is a relationship between two people as well as a healing and learning process. Both the counsellor and the client need to be ready to work together and hopefully will be able to like each other. Here are 8 Top Tips for getting the most out of Counselling so you do not waste your time or money and ensure a healthy result.

1. Practitioner Counsellors should be at least Master’s levels qualified. Check out the Counsellors qualification(s) and affiliations in the country of origin of their degree. Some practitioners may refer to themselves as a ‘Child Specialist’, but do not actually have counselling or psychotherapy qualifications or additional specific training to work with children and teens. If they are working with your children make sure they have a ‘Criminal Records Check’, ‘Sexual Convictions Records Check’ or equivalent in place in their country of practice.It is important to understand what you or your child will be receiving so be sure to ask. Most counsellors will be trained to work with anxiety, stress, managing transitions, work-life balance and similar queries but many do go on to get specialist training for older or younger groups, for couples and similar, be sure to watch out for these specialities if you feel that they may be more suited to your needs.

2. Ask your counsellor what type of therapy they practice.Some refer to it as a ‘modality’ and many practitioners work with more than one. The most often quoted therapeutic stance is ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ or CBT, but there are more. There is also ACT or Acceptance and Committment Therapy, there is Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, Emotion-Focussed Therapy, Addictions Counselling specialists, Marriage Therapy, Family Therapy, and much more. Do a little research for yourself and make sure this seems right for you.

3. Counsellors should ideally be insured with Professional Indemnity insurance. Some are under their company policy, some may be under a group policy, others may go whole hog and get their own policy. This protects them from a number of potentially tricky aspects of profesisonal practice that do not usually come up in routine daily work, but more than anything else, tells you that they are practicing with a higher level of ethics in mind as most learned societies will require listed practitioners to have this before they are granted any form of membership.

4. Agree a fair market price. Counsellors are (should be) trained professionals and offer a range of services for a range of fees. Many may have set up on their own and have huge rents to cover and so may have few years of practice but high fees. Call around to a few providers and assess what scale suits your budget, or your insurers. You will need to feel that you are receiving a fair service for a fair price but keep in mind that when there is no financial investment in the process you may feel equally less emotional and/or cognitive investment and come out with little more than a bit of insight into the process. A good practitioner will earning their keep; if it is free, ask why.

5. Find out what their holiday and sick policies are so that you are preapred if the worst happens, both for you and for the counsellor. Many practices will make a charge for session missed and sessions that have been cancelled without more than 24 hours notice. This may not seem fair if you are genuinely unwell, but proof that you were sick and not avoiding the session often can clear the need for payment. Some counsellors may take extended holiday periods seasonally If this is not the sort of schedule you keep then find out what their plans are for locum coverage, most have a plan for this and will have a qualified and trsuted colleague to work with you in their absence when necessity calles for it.

6. Scope out the location of their premises and make sure you are comfortable with the area, the set-up internally and you feel safe and comfortable. You will be in the room alone with your counsellor for 50 minutes at a time and for up to 24 sessions should the need arise – be sure you are alright with the surroundings and you can get there easily enough to be on time for y our appointments. It hopefully goes without saying, you are well advised to try to avoid sessions that might be offere in a coffee shop.

7. You will get out of it what you put into it, don’t be shy. You will need to be honest or this relationship is not going to work. Counselling should be a confidential, protected and non-judgmental space, just for you, but you will only get out of it what you put into it. Counselling is not an advisory service or a place where anyone should be telling you how you should live your life. So long as you come to the table with all relevant details, a professional counsellor will be your reflective guide. They should never divulge the details of your sessions to anyone else, unless legally requested to do so, or in the course of regular supervision, which would be anonymised – and they should never even share whether or not you are a client – confidential means confidential, enjoy the freedom.

8. Last but not least, make sure you like the person. If you are not comfortable with the counselling or anything in the mix make it known to them so they have a chance to answer your queries. If you can’t put your finger on it but just don’t feel comfortable, you are not obliged to continue where you are seeking private counselling services as a privately paying citizen. You of course would need to follow the cancellation policy for any upcoming booked session, but you should have the right to cancel at any time. Equally, you should not be coerced into purchasing any ‘packages’ that you cannot have the right to cancel at a later date should you really find that counselling, the person or any other part of the mix is just not for you.

We hope that is a helpful starting place for thinking about counselling. Here are a few Counselling Association websites so you can get ahead of the curve – happy counselling…

American Counselling Association

www.counseling.org

Australian Counselling Association

www.theaca.net.au

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapies

www.bacp.co.uk

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Psynamo Celebrates International Women’s Day 8 March 2017

The Team at Psynamo are celebrating all women worldwide today. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women everywhere. The theme this year is “Be Bold For Change”.

Each and everyone of us can do a little something, attend an event to celebrate, begin a change in themselves or in their community and takes steps towards gender parity.

Learn more about how you could participate today and in the future by visiting the dedicated website.

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

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Psynamo Celebrates Awareness of Bullying: November 14th to 20th, 2016

 

DisappointmentTo Bully, be Bullied, Bystand or Be the solution.

Bullying is a phenomenon that exists in nature and has been observed in animal and human models. It is a phenomenon that happens worldwide and causes untold angst and stress and yet there is very little that is done until someone is unable to cope and takes desperate measures to remedy their feelings.

Bullying can take many forms and can sometimes be indistinguishable from teasing, hazing and other practices that are considered ‘normal’ and something to just be taken on the chin. It can happen at school, in the home, in the workplace, socially, in the community, in cyberspace and pretty much anywhere that one human perceives an opportunity to exert themselves in some way over another human and seeks to carry out that act, often repeatedly with increasing intensity and frequency.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, bullying can take any of these forms and can exist anywhere there is a power differential to be had; Physical/Verbal/Cultural taunts and teasing, Stealing money or belongings, glaring/staring/not sharing, breaking in line, poking/touching inappropriately, damaging other’s belongings, ignoring, selective inclusion/exclusion, coercive demands, withholding something until receipt or something else, sexual reprisals/demands, demanding performance of some act without rational reason that is humiliating or degrading to another, requiring acts of an individual who is incapable of carrying them out for the purposes of segregation and acts that amount to exploitation.

This can come from friends, colleagues, peers, parents, siblings, community leaders and similar such figures. Bullies are not necessarily those who are physically stronger than others, they also come in the guises of more socially adept or connected, with more money, more powerful position, smarter or more skilful in some way or just plain better looking than anyone else.

This list may be longer than what you had in mind and include a wider variety of actions than you thought would come under the heading of bullying but this is only a small representation of what actually goes on in many people’s lives on a daily basis, in some routine or another that they feel unable to break free of, feel unsupported for and feel powerless to change.

According to recent research in the US, over 20% of Elementary/Primary aged school students experience some form of bullying. While this number drops of as Middle/High/Secondary school years approach, there is still a considerable amount of bullying behaviour reported and at an escalated level. If unstopped and unsupported, these bullies may well go in into adulthood carrying on with these maladaptive behaviours unchecked, in a mistaken effort to control situations where they themselves lack confidence, and meet out even more punitive and/or more damaging forms of these behaviours such as office bullies, stalkers, sexual predators, social exclusionaries, cyber-terrorists and worse.

There are multiple parts to any bullying situation and we may have all played one of these roles at some point in our lives; bully, victim, bystander/watcher, whistle-blower or dare-er. At any point in the development of these relationships, many people have had the opportunity to intervene but often most do not, preferring instead to hope it will stop, go away, disappear, redirect interest or just plain not have happened. The truth is that once a bully and victim realises that no one is going to help the victim, it is too late.

Bullies are often bullied themselves and actually are in need of support for their own inabilities to cope but this is rarely recognised in time. Most recognition goes to victims, who may have physical signs of being hurt, may have sullen and frightened behaviours, may have inexplicable loss of money and/or property or damage to belongings as well as low mood, anxiety, depression and loss of interest in activities, school work, peers or interests that once gave them enjoyment.

Bullies themselves may have some of these signs early on but may also often cover up pain and hurt by carrying out behaviours that deflect, such as being nice to a teacher, giving gifts to people or other more socially acceptable or laudable behaviours in order to distract them from action going on elsewhere that may be less than sparkling behaviour. Some of the most effective measures for supporting both parties is to give everyone the chance to describe what feels like being bullied, as one person’s line is drawn in a different place from another.

For example, when one comes from a home where parents insist on particular behaviours around cleanliness or orderliness, when the child has the opportunity to make choices for themselves, they may decide to either have no rules for cleaning or to go to the opposite extreme and persecute themselves and others with their own rigid interpretation of the rules. Thus, when asked to be responsible for such a situation in a social arena, they may not be able to have the same boundaries as others who may have come from homes that were more relaxed about cleanliness and thus display intolerant and/or demanding behaviours towards others, assuming a ‘leader’ role or similar in an effort to exert order in an otherwise seemingly unruly group.

This can be most readily witnessed in adult social bullies who ‘collect’ weaker adherents who ‘follow’ their lead. Often these individuals will offer gifts and rewards to those who will spend time with them and choose a select few who will form part of their core co-bullies, unwittingly or otherwise joining in. Then, these individuals will utilise the core group to entice others to join in on events that help the initial bully to appear more powerful and confirms this sense in them so that by choosing who will be included and/or excluded they exert the control over others that they refuse to have levelled upon themselves, such as judgment or having to deal with one’s own painful emotions as one is surrounded by other’s who confirm the power and thus the bully is perpetuated, constantly replacing lost individuals, with new core loyals, who may well feel rewarded for finally being allowed in and therefore become all the more loyal, reconfirming the bully’s power, goals and self. Where this line can be drawn can be difficult to tell however.

For example, if we are teased by a good friend for a habit, such as always splitting the lunch bill exactly in the number of people or according to what each had precisely, it is up to the individual to decide what level of comfort they have with teasing and also to say with which level they are uncomfortable. As an adult, one usually develops self-respect to the measure to be able to say such things in defense of one’s self. Children however, are still developing such sense and may not yet be resilient enough to recover from a blow that was too strong, to recognise that it was too much, to have the wherewithal to enunciate it to someone who can do something about it or to anyone at all and to tell the difference when everyone else seems alright with but it really doesn’t feel good and so to say something immediately so that it does not build up.

Once this is set in motion and no one questions the balance, it can be very difficult for young persons to develop the discrepancy to defend themselves and to be able to seek out help when they are unable to or no longer able to cope with what is happening to them. Often, because of this and due to pride or other such concepts, many students do not seek help, because it is not cool or they would lose face, and let it go until the bullying situation escalates beyond what is reasonable and sometimes ends up in damage to property, other people’s welfare and even the loss of human life.

With the advent of social media, it has become even easier for faceless perfectionism to taunt anyone who wishes to seek it out and for those who are still learning to flex their social-emotional learning boundaries to go too far without having to have to respond to the consequences that would have once been instituted on the school ground or in the home or community.

Many schools and organisations have instituted policies and essential agreements around expected behaviours from verbal, physical, mental and cyber with clear consequences for transgressions. Homes have become less clear territory as more children have free access to electronics and less chaperoned time on them.

Whilst physical, verbal and direct emotional bullying have perhaps reduced in numbers as the migration to cyberspace ensues, this form of bullying will probably go on for some time, numbers will most likely pale in comparison to what can be exacted through social media however. It is an important time to be aware of our children, our colleagues and our own behaviours. It takes only a moment to stop and educate if we can recognise the opportunity and/or encourage others to do so on their own behalf, but the consequences are now more dire and more and more isolation leads to potentially greater numbers of reported fatalities, whether there is an actual increase in numbers or not.

Take a moment to check with your children, friends and family – does anyone feel under duress or stress for something they are unable to control or feel they have no ability to change? Then it may just be time to encourage them to talk and for you to listen and to find out where their boundaries are. Help someone else recognise this today, Don’t be a bystander, be a supporter of learning, whether on behalf of the bully, the victim or the bystander – everyone has a role to play in development and in diffusing. Which role could you take today?

A Special Week: Monday 14th November: Bullying Awaress Week, 2016

Learn how to recognise, respond to, prepare for and report on bullying situations and more from both Canadian and US sites.

Canada: http://www.bullyingawarenessweek.org/

USA: https://www.stopbullying.gov/

Our fave phrase…

“Remember that all things are only opinions and that it is in your power to think as you please”

– Marcus Aurelius (112-180 C.E.) Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher

 

Psynamo, 1201 Car Po Commercial Building, 18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong

T. +852 2789 9908 E. flourish@psynamo.com W. http://www.psynamo.com

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Psynamo Celebrates: World Mental Health Day – Monday 10th October 2016

PsynamoBirdsPsynamo Celebrates World Mental Health Day: Monday 10th October, 2016

The Team at Psynamo have always held mental health in highest esteem and we have taken this as our Mission:

Psynamo is dedicated to the betterment of mental health and improved awareness of mental health issues for all, whenever possible.”

World Mental Health Day has been established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is celebrated Monday 10th October this year.

Learn more here http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/2016/en/

The Team at Psynamo spend all of our working hours looking after others and we love our jobs. Not everyone has this passion so close to their heart and we realise that. Being aware of your own good mental health and that of others is a great place to start however.

Be sure to remember to think about your own mental health, are you feeling a little stressed, a little low mood, a little angry or something else? We all do sometimes and checking in with someone is good mental hygiene, just the same as checking in with the dentist is good dental hygiene.

Our Project Mental Health is an effort to provide affordable professional support to those who may not otherwise have access to such services or may not even be aware that mental health could be of support to them.

Let us know of any special people who need support or if you yourself could use an ear to let something off your chest. We are here for you whenever you are ready.

We believe that remaining steadfast in our beliefs about supporting others who are in need is the only way to be.

“My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure”

– Alfred Lord Tennyson, co-founding Director Scarlett Mattoli’s something odd great grandfather.

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A few thoughts on Acculturation

PsynamoBirdsAcculturation is effectively the process by which we learn about another culture and how we fit into it without necessarily losing our own cultural identity or adopting that of the new culture completely.

We can see this happening on a multitude of playing fields in life from moving countries, companies, schools or just neighbourhoods. Those who are unable to go through this process for themselves may more frequently than not, develop issues of lowered mood, lowered positive outlook, impoverished social or industrial relations and even on down the line to poor self-esteem.

This can be difficult to deal with if we are truly unable to fully identify where we stand in our own lives in contrast to a new culture we may find ourselves in, for whatever reason, and where members of the new culture stand in relation to our beliefs, expectations and upbringing. For example, it is not a far-fetched scenario to observe what are termed ‘trailing spouses’ either adapt to a new life in Hong Kong and thrive with their family or to become depressed and develop a desire to return to home or even just a previous location where they may have been more comfortable.

When we examine those who transition from one company to another, we find that the culture within one organisation can contrast sharply with that of another, even when they are a part of the same industry. For example, some banks have a very open-door policy on maternity and paternity leave, imported from their home culture, in contrast to others who may go for the minimum that the law requires and even have it endemic in their culture that work from home is the norm even during this period of time.

When we look at schools, we can have an equally broad array of expectations emanating from everything from homework policy, range of tolerance of aggressiveness levels of teachers to levels of expectations of involvement of parents in either the classroom of groups such as Parent Teacher Associations.

Until we take the time to be open-minded and observe the culture we are entering into and do our research about what to expect, we cannot prepare ourselves nor can we respond as freely as we should be able to if we are caught unawares and lack the resilience or even self-esteem initially to observe, absorb and involve ourselves meaningfully in whatever acculturation process we may find ourselves in.

Below are some seemingly simple but effective ideas to help you or someone you know enjoy their acculturation process no matter which new culture they may immerse or find themselves immersed in. Happy hunting! …

Five Tips for…Settling-In to a New Culture

1. Eat the local food: enjoy what they do and learn to appreciate the local produce, where it was grown, why it grows there, how the recipes developed according to food preparation rituals, codes or availability of materials.

2. Attend a local festival: nothing immerses you more into a culture than participating, as you are able or allowed to do so, in local festivals or community practices. This gives you the opportunity to appreciate how they dress, communicate with each other, what they hold dear to their heart and might just be fun.

3. Learn the public transport system: this might not be easy in some locations as if we are not able to read the language, our ability to move through bustling train stations may be misguided. Still, having the courage to persevere and understand how the systems function and even basic symbols, if the written language is not familiar to you, can ensure you do not stay at home, frozen with worry about getting lost or remain reliant upon expensive taxi services in the long run.

4. Volunteer: yes, even if you don’t speak the same language, finding a way to help others can help you put everything in perspective and give you good insight into the full range of sociodemographics in your community. As an expat, one may feel privileged and enjoy that feeling, but understanding where you can fit in can also be a rewarding experience.

5. Make friends: this may be easier written than done as not every culture makes friends in the same way or even values making new ones. Seeking out opportunities to share who you are and welcome learning about others is a key way that we can appreciate how we will assimilate into a new environment. If not working, this may be the key way we will be able to find our own worth, especially if only one member of the family is working and/or children are at school and are thus afforded that semi-automatic avenue to integration.

There are many more ways and everyone is different, see what works for you given your new surroundings and be brave, reach out into the unknown and enjoy.

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Psynamo Celebrates the International Day of Friendship Saturday 30th June 2016

The team at Psynamo believe that friendships are important and celebrate the United Nations International Day of Friendship today, 30th June 2016.

Friendship can be many things, whether established in person, online or even by old fashioned methods such as penpal letter writing. Whatever way you have made friends and communicate, take a moment to let your friends know you appreciate them and enjoy making new ones.

Read more for yourself here on the United Nations website.

http://www.un.org/en/events/friendshipday/

Hopefully you can spend some time celebrating your friends, learning how to make new ones or just aim to appreciate family who you consider a friend.

Best wishes to you and your friends from the team at Psynamo!

http://www.psynamo.com

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Psynamo Celebrates the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development May 21st 2016

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development … and Coaching

On May 21 the United Nations is celebrating cultural diversity on a special day with a cumbrous name. They are advertising 10 things to do to celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (http://www.un.org/en/events/culturaldiversityday/tenthings.shtml)

Included are small steps like listening to music, visiting exhibits of other cultures in a musem or watching a movie originating in a foreign culture. All easily done and we have a choice to participate, to take action, even to like what we hear and see or not.

When living with people from other cultures we sometimes feel we have little choice. We have to play by “their” rules. Sometimes not the cultural difference, but the need to adjust our behaviour makes us feel like losing control and identity. We do not like giving up choice and relate it to cultural diversity.

To me, this is a misconception, because even in adjusting my behaviour and adapting to something new, I actually increase the options that I have. I may not be enthusiastic about all new choices, but nevertheless, my range is widened. Most of us experience this very directly once we return to our home country, people and place. There we do not see expanded options and we sense less diversity.

Wishing you joy in experiencing the daily challenges of living cross-culturally, on the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Developmen and the remaining days of the year!

Jutta Depner

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