Oakland Counseling Association
2016-17 Vol. 3
The Oakland Counseling Association is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession.
The mission of the Oakland Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in
Oakland County by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the
counseling profession and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.
Anxiety and Panic Disorders and End of the Year Awards
Friday, April 21st, 8:30am-2pm
5055 Delemere Avenue
Royal Oak, MI
Please join us on Friday, April 21 as Joelle Kekhoua and Linda Latronica Bull, co-owners of the Mental Fitness Center in Rochester present on Anxiety, OCD, and Panic Disorders.
10:15-11:45 Panic Disorders
12:15-2:00 Lunch and Networking
OCA AWARDS - APRIL 21, 2017
Both the nominator and nominee must be active OCA members.
School Counseling Support in Oakland County
While recently completing the Oakland County School Counselor Needs Assessment, in addition to your survey responses, I heard directly from many of you who participated. This feedback included a wide range of grumblings, yearnings, optimisms, and disappointments from counselors throughout the county. After starting to look at the results from the needs assessment, I can already see patterns emerging. I see a collective desire for more professional development opportunities, enhanced support from your districts and the intermediate school district (ISD), and a need for better counselor communication.
Let’s start with communication. Kahuna. It seems that few counselors know about the “Kahuna”. It sounds important, exotic, and a little silly. Kahuna refers to what is supposed to be a collective email group and a way to communicate important information to all counselors within Oakland County. In practice however, we have come to find out that most of you are not a part of this email group which is managed by the ISD. The Oakland Counseling Association (OCA) has been working to create our own (as up-to-date as possible) email group to accommodate for this shortcoming. Although many of us joke about the Kahuna, it speaks to a larger issue: We need to be able to communicate and collaborate with each other throughout the county. Takeaway: Communication on the county level has not been happening for quite a long time.
On the professional development side, we continue to see very limited opportunities coming directly from the ISD focused on school counselors. The OCA has been very fortunate and appreciative to have partnered with Oakland Schools for the county-wide offering for school counselors on election day the past couple of years. Unfortunately, that is only a once-a-year activity. The OCA has made it a priority to supplement with our own professional development workshops 4 or 5 times throughout the year. That is still not nearly enough. To give you some sense of scale and history, back in 2009-2010 (the last year we had a school counselor consultant at Oakland Schools) we had 37 offerings through the ISD. In the years since, there have been 3 or 4 activities per year specific to school counselors offered through the ISD (8 or 9 per year if you count what OCA, a volunteer organization, provides). Takeaway: Adequate professional development on the county level has not been happening for quite a long time.
Finally, I have seen that support for school counseling/counselors varies dramatically from building to building and district to district. Our use of time, caseload sizes, and job duties look very different even between neighboring schools and districts. I was delighted to see that a large majority of those who responded to the needs assessment were satisfied with the support coming from building-level administrators. However, as the scale expanded to district-level and ISD-level, I saw lower and lower satisfaction with the support counselors receive. Takeaway: In order to receive more consistent support on a bigger stage, we need to improve our communication, collaboration, and advocacy for school counseling in Oakland County.
In the near future, the Oakland Counseling Association will be presenting the findings from the needs assessment to administrators at Oakland Schools and making a case for more support at the ISD-level for school counselors. We will also share the results with you. In the meantime, if you have feedback, suggestions, or concerns, please help to communicate, collaborate, and advocate by reaching out to an OCA board member.
Mental Health Awareness - High School Counselors Blog Post
School counselors are generally the first line of defense when identifying mental health disorders in teens. Being able to properly identify and refer families to proper treatment is imperative for student recovery. Although anxiety is treatable, 80 percent of youth are not getting treatment! In addition, anxiety disorders are generally accompanied by other disorders like depression, ADHD, or eating disorders.
Here are a few suggestions on how to help students who are dealing with anxiety:
*Escort the student to class.
*Create a plan for helping the student to catch up in his or her class.
*Remain calm and thoughtful with the student and family.
*Schools should be flexible and allow variations in student's schedule.
*Allow a staff person to be available to assist the student when he or she is having anxiety.
*Refer student to see an outside mental health professional.
In addition to those tips, it is also recommended that students take the following steps to cope with their anxiety:
1. Stay busy! Anxiety often appears when students are quiet and allow their minds to run with thoughts.
2. Help students focus on the area where they feel the worry and use deep breathing.
3. Suggest that students begin to exercise - anxiety thrives when we have a lot of pent up energy.
4. Suggest the student have an emergency contact list to reach out when he or she is anxious. Having at least five people is important so that if someone cannot answer, the student has a backup contact.
5. Consider seeing a psychiatrist if his or her anxiety is not improving.
Defeating anxiety is not an overnight process. However, using these steps might assist students with making strides with their struggle with anxiety.
Help your child worry less and live more
By Peter Montminy
Anxiety and stress have become rampant in youth today. More than half of today’s adolescents say they struggle with feeling stressed on a daily basis. And younger children, too, have become increasingly fearful about being teased, failing school, fitting in or being made fun of.
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood. It’s built into our nervous system to protect us from harm. It’s healthy to be wary of dangerous situations. But that primitive self-protection alarm system has run amok in modern times. As we race to keep up with 24/7 demands for immediate results and instant gratification, our children are constantly under siege with demands — be better, smarter, faster. Their emotional brains are working overtime.
For some, the worries grow disproportionately large. Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. These are pervasive patterns of anxiety and worry that can’t be easily reassured or relieved. Anxiety disorders involve distorted thinking — overestimating both the probability of something bad happening and the intensity or degree of negative impact.
Research shows that untreated, children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, engage in substance abuse and become clinically depressed.
Unfortunately, it is all too common for well meaning parents and teachers to inadvertently increase a child’s anxious feelings, avoidant behaviors and sense of inadequacy. To avoid these easy-to-fall-into traps, do not:
▪ Excessively reassure your child, telling them “everything will be all right.” This negates what the child is feeling, can make them feel that you don’t understand and may offer an unrealistic or false promise.
▪ Encourage avoidance — removing the child from the feared situation. This provides temporary relief (short-term gain), but ultimately increases the likelihood of more avoidance in the future (long-term pain).
▪ Be too directive — telling the child exactly what to do. This dis-empowers the child and can make them feel more dependent, helpless and inadequate.
▪ Be overly empathetic — sharing too much detail about how you understand because of your own fears and anxieties. This may worry the child more, and make them worry about you.
Instead, seek to strike a calm, compassionate and confident tone with your children. To help your child worry less and live more, do:
▪ Acknowledge and validate that they have some worrisome thoughts. Show kind and curious attention to these symptoms. Recognize that thoughts are just thoughts, and we don’t’ have to believe or be controlled by them. We can just say, “Oh yeah, there’s that worry bug thought again.” And let it be.
▪ Normalize how it’s OK to feel nervous, and model how you can still do things even when you feel that way. Brainstorm with your child, not for them. Encourage them to notice ways they’ve gotten through scary times before. Focus on realistic thinking and practical next steps.
▪ Let them know you believe in them, that they can and will find a way through their fears, and that you’ll be there to support them when times get tough. Celebrate little successes along the way.
Peter Montminy, Ph.D., is a clinical child psychologist and mindfulness teacher.