thepathNY

half a tank is all you need…

ACA gets sexy…

I am thrilled to hear that the American Counseling Association has just created the Sexual Wellness Interest Group.  

As described by the facilitator of this group in a recent interview: “

The intention of this interest network is to focus on sexual wellness for all clients, rather than focusing on the needs of sexual minorities or the overall wellness of clients. While both of these areas are extremely important with regards to advocacy, it is important that a greater emphasis on healthy sexual development and expression takes place for all people. 

 

 

This interest network will provide an opportunity to explore diversity within sexual expression, provide resources for counseling professionals to use in various settings with a variety of clients and share experiences that will benefit each other as we work to incorporate sexuality into the counseling process as a part of clients’ overall human experience.”

As a counselor working within a private practice that has a vested interest in just this type of work, it’s exciting to know that now there will be many more points of connection around sexuality and our practice.  Kudos! 

 

Read it all here


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The Power of Social Media

I will be the first to say that I do not quite get social media. I typically un-tag myself in Facebook photos. I’ve been known to make mistakes when using the past tense of tweet that would make one blush. For a long time, I thought LinkedIn referred to a concept as opposed to an actual website and online community. Over time and with a lot of help from some amazing and patient people, I’ve been able to get a handle on how to use use social media to both delight and connect with others. But, nothing that I had engaged in thus far prepared me for what I was going to encounter at SMARMIE.

Funny acronym right? When I first heard of it, my imagination ran wild with all the things each letter could stand for. What I did not expect was that this conference of a peculiar name would be so singularly powerful and educational that it could very well change the way that I view social media and its powers forever. Now, I realize this this sounds very dramatic but it wasn’t until the presentation by the keynote speaker (blew my mind) that it really hit me.

Social media is crucial in the development of a global community of volunteers and it directly contributes to and enhances our ability to respond to those in crisis.

For counselors and counseling students, it is so important for us to be aware of the ways in which we can be involved in the creation and maintenance of this burgeoning movement. Humanitarianism is going digital and if you are a counselor YOU are engaged in humanitarian work.

Below are a few things I took away from the conference. I invite and urge you to check these sites out. Sign up for updates. Be involved. Get connected.

iRevolution – This blog features short thought pieces on how innovation and technology are revolutionizing the power of the individual through radical self-sufficiency, self-determination, independence, survival and resilience. While you’re at it, follow the incredible Patrick Meier.

Standby Task Force – Tired of feeling like you could be doing more when crisis hits? STF organizes digital volunteers into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to deploy in crises.

Crisis Mappers – The largest and most active international community of experts, practitioners, policymakers, technologists, researchers, journalists, scholars, hackers and skilled volunteers engaged at the intersection between humanitarian crises, technology, crowd-sourcing, and crisis mapping.

iDisaster – The amazing Kim Stephens heads up this blog that seeks to provide exemplary practices, news and information about applications of new media, with the longer-term objective of improving practice and outcomes in emergency management.

Geofeedia – Identify “hot spots” by quickly performing situational awareness on impacted communities, prioritize resource allocation and logistical efforts using real-time intelligence from Geofeedia, and communicate with impacted populations using social media.

I’d also highly recommend keeping your eye on what’s coming out of Dr. Mark Dredze’s team at JSU. Social media for public health: very much here and now.


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Back to Basics

I’ve been privileged enough to have had several interesting conversations in the past few days. Strangely, they all seemed to have common threads dealing with acceptance and happiness. I ended up with a couple of questions that feel very relevant.
1) Am I accepting of my place in the present moment? and 2) Am I happy or not?
The nuances in the answers to those questions CAN be vast…but for a second I put all of that aside and gave myself the old elementary-style quiz.

happy or not

Life is undeniably more complicated than this. I’m as guilty as anyone of getting wrapped up in the nuances, the expectations, and the anxieties. I know too well the feelings of confusion, frustration, and muddled sense of self that sneaks in even while sprinting down the “path to success”. The simplicity of those questions and boiling it down to the basics helped push aside all of the “should, could, musts” that come along with this existence and helped me tap into the most primary feelings and motivations. In asking myself these questions and allowing myself to sit with the answer without analysis or expectation, things became just a little bit clearer in the moment.

Isn’t that what most of us strive for anyway? A little slice of clarity and simplicity one moment at a time?

accept


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…it’s been a while

I’ve had a hiatus from this blog for a while but I’ve been busy (I swear!)   Here’s what I’ve been up to during my “silent” time:

  • Started a job with Project Hope
  • Guest blogged for Counseling Internships – this is an amazing resource for students.  
  • Working on communications for ACA NY
  • Ramping up counseling services at the Offices of Dr. DeMarco
  • Prepping a free workshop through Meet Up (stay tuned!)
  • Drafting new content for the second half of the Internship series

Lots more to come.  Stay tuned.  

It’s good to be back.


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“Who are you?”

As a neophyte counselor there are still a slew of issues and topics that I’m getting used to.  I was lucky enough to continue my work with ex-offenders during which I’ve grown more comfortable dealing with issues of probation, prison experiences, blush-worthy sex topics, and a gamut of experiences that pull on the full range of emotions.  Still,  it’s the personal questions directed towards me that make me freeze up.

“Do you want kids?”

“Why aren’t you married?”

“Do you believe in God?”

While I have answers and explanations for each of those questions that I would normally be happy to spout over a drink at the bar, in the counseling chair I feel just like…

deer in headlights

While there are a number of reasons they might be asking those questions, I realize that sometimes it’s just a humanizing method.  These questions are just leading to the bigger question clients might have: “Who are you?”

Who Are You – Alice in Wonderland

How much of who I am is important in session and I still struggle with determining when it might be appropriate to answer any questions the client might have; disclosure isn’t always cut and dry.

I try to determine whether disclosure would have any therapeutic usefulness.  Does it matter if I pray to one God, pray to several gods, don’t pray at all?   What value does the answer have and if it does have value, what is the best way to express it and where do we go from there?   Is it unreasonable that some would want to know more?  To feel less like they’re coming in for therapy and more like they’re meeting with someone they know?  It’s tricky ground this therapeutic relationship stuff and the rules around disclosure do not seem to be “one size fits all.”

I tend to err on the side of caution, not giving too much, volunteering virtually nothing, and when I do answer, it may be the bare minimum.  Would it be so bad to share a real answer to any of their questions?  The answer for me is, “yes, sometimes.”   The balance of private and professional feels precarious at times, disingenuous at others.  I’ve seen the damage that it can do to have a hard-fast rule that removes the person from the experience.  The “It’s Not About Me, It’s About You,” approach.  I’ve also seen what happens to counselors that cannot seem to hold their tongue – their usefulness quickly comes into question.  From personal experience, I’ve enjoyed the bond that can take place when a therapist discloses; I know that it is a decision they made to do so and that when made correctly it can add something invaluable to the therapeutic experience.  Maintaining boundaries is important to me and in the profession.  Disclosure is part of that, but learning how to navigate the nuances is still a work in progress.

How to others navigate self-disclosures?

“Damn, and just when I was starting to get it.”  ~Edgar Degas

Visit my project page at http://bloggers.maker.good.is/projects/thePathNY and click “Vote for this Idea” to vote forme! 


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Befuddlement #1 and a Chart: Offenders, Employment & Compliance

There’s something that continues to befuddle me in my still very small clinical world.  I work primarily with individuals that have been convicted of having committed a sexual offense and I have many questions about why things are the way they are.  The chart below shows a piece of my befuddlement related to offenders, employment, and compliance with mandated treatment.

Befuddlement #1
Roads to Non-Compliance

There are quite a few factors I’m leaving out, of course.  Generally speaking, I find it difficult to understand how we can demand compliance for treatment that they have to pay for, at the same time making it incredibly difficult for those with a felony – particularly those with a felony in for a sexual offense – to find gainful employment that would allow them to remain in compliance.  There are many more roads leading to non-compliance which seems counter-productive to…well…everything.  This crude chart doesn’t even begin to address the issues of counselor burn-out and lack of support for agencies that do this type of work.  What exactly is the end-goal I wonder?  Is it really to successfully reintegrate offenders back into communities and guide them towards being pro-social and productive members of society?  The more I see this patterns in the system that lead away from this end-goal and lean towards  failure, the deeper my befuddlement.

In my mind, a more useful chart might be something like this:

Employment & Empowerment

I’m interested in how other countries work with their offenders and treatment mandated populations on issues of reintegration. Next stop…Canada.

Visit my project page at http://bloggers.maker.good.is/projects/thePathNY and click “Vote for this Idea” to vote forme!