Up until now, my ideas about what goes on in a counselling session were limited to secondhand accounts and things I had seen in movies. Abstractly, I believed that counselling had merit; I had often listened to and even participated in third-party discussions where people determined that “they should probably talk to someone about this,” or, “maybe counselling would help them.” From this lack of personal experience, when I recently suffered the loss of a sister and was contemplating attending a counselling session myself, I had two notions of what it might be like: 1. I would “come to” at the end of the session, as if under hypnosis, only to realize that I had divulged all my deepest secrets and possibly unwittingly made chicken noises; 2. I would undergo an awkward circular conversation with lots of open-ended questions like “How does that make you feel?”, and “What does that mean to you ?”. Well, after visiting Momentum Walk-in Counselling, I am happy to report that neither stereotype proved to be true. In fact, I can sum up my counselling experience in a single word: empowering. I never once felt that I was being asked to do or say anything that I didn’t want to, and I felt comfortable every step of the way. I visited the walk-in clinic located on Whyte Avenue on a Thursday afternoon and was greeted with two kind, smiling faces at the reception area plus a service dog that I’m pretty sure smiled at me too. The clean, warm decor made me feel at home, while the person at the reception desk invited me to have a seat and explained the counselling process. I was given two intake forms to fill out detailing my basic identification information and my reason for the visit. While those forms were collected for review by a counsellor, the receptionist gave me three more pages to look over and sign detailing the length of the session and fee structure, and requesting a brief explanation of my desired outcome from the visit. While I was waiting to be seen by a counsellor, the administrator took me on a little tour of the clinic. There was a larger room where weekly, group sessions were held, and several individual counselling rooms that were decorated more like a stylish aunt’s home than a counselling facility. No leather couch for me to lay on while someone hovered over me with a clipboard—another stereotype dashed. I was then escorted to my own treatment room by two new friendly faces, my counsellors. They introduced themselves warmly and explained the way the session would work. My counsellors were two practicum students, who would be consulting with a supervisor and counselling team. They explained that payment for sessions is based on my household income and made sure that I was comfortable with that. With these housekeeping items out of the way, we got to the heart of the matter: how I was coping with my younger sister’s suicide. The counsellors led the session with kindness, openness and encouragement. They asked me about my family, how others were coping, what coping approaches I was using, and how I was feeling currently. They guided the discussion, but I did the bulk of the talking while being led by their questions and prompts. Whenever I felt my throat closing up and some tears leaking out, the counsellors stayed present, helpful, and supportive. I felt no need to apologize or to mask my feelings, and it was a relief not to worry that my outward expressions of grief might make others feel awkward. These counsellors had seen it before, I felt certain, and I knew that this was a safe and appropriate place to let my guard down. During our discussion, we honed in on what I was looking to take away from this experience, in my case that meant what resources and groups I might find in Edmonton for suicide bereavement, and we looked at my expectations for the grieving process and my personal approaches to coping. After about 40 minutes, we had a 10-minute break where the counsellors went to discuss recommendations with their observing supervisor. I was invited to stay in the room, use the washroom, or take a short walk around in the interim. It had been explained to me that sessions at a walk-in counselling clinic are different than routine, scheduled visits with an assigned therapist. This single session approach is intended to help you find your footing, and set you on a forward path of action. With this in mind, after our break, the counsellors returned with ideas for me. As I had expressed an interest in what the “normal” grieving process might look like, they gave me two information sheets that explained the different feelings and reactions that one could expect, and reassured me that there is no set path for grief: some days we can make great strides towards acceptance, and other days we may feel the sense of loss anew. The counsellors concluded by reiterating my strengths, focusing on what I was already doing to help with healing and the resources that I had to draw from, and they gave me a written list of a suggestions for nexts steps, which included taking up journaling as an outlet, and recommendations for a book, website, and local bereavement organization that I could draw upon for additional resources. I found it very helpful, and indeed empowering, to hear from someone else about everything that I had at my disposal. I felt reassured in hearing about my own strengths and this helped me take ownership of them. Beyond this, I felt cared for: that what I am feeling matters, and that there are people out there with a desire to help and who have hope for my wellbeing. Did I say I could sum up my experience in one word? Okay, let’s actually make it two: my counselling experience was both empowering and comforting. Reaching out for help can be daunting, but when you do reach out and discover that there is a hand waiting there to pull you up, that’s a pretty reassuring feeling. Everyone has a story; we are all fighting our unique battles, but we can do so with the support and encouragement of others. If you have ever thought about seeing a counsellor but have some apprehensions, I would urge you to put those concerns to rest and go. Like me, you just might discover that you are not alone, people do care and want to help you, and with positive support and action things can get better. -Shannon
Vision is a lot more than seeing 20/20, says Jacinta Yeung Up to one in four children have a vision problem unrelated to simple sight: expert CBC News Posted: Apr 21, 2015 2:56 PM MT
The Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends children get an eye exam every year.
An under-diagnosed eye problem could be the cause of your child’s temper tantrums and difficulty concentrating in class, says an Edmonton optometrist.
The problem starts when the eyes aren’t working together as a team, says optometrist Jacinta Yeung.
“If the eyes aren’t working together, they can be bringing in different pieces of information and then the brain has to sort through two different pieces of information.”
Kim Knull, a registered psychologist and mother of a 6-year-old girl with the condition, says her daughter’s problem first became evident when she entered Kindergarten.
Kim Knull Psychologist and mother-of-two, Kim Knull says a vision problem left her normally happy and easy-going daughter exhausted and prone to temper tantrums. (Kim Knull/Facebook)
“She’d come home really tired, even though it was a half a day … then in Grade One, she started to have some problems with her piano lessons — she wasn’t keeping up with other kids — and the same with reading. She didn’t seem to be progressing as well as the other children.”
At first, it looked like a behaviour problem, said Knull, a former teacher.
“But the other thing that we noticed was — especially the first two months of Grade One — she was coming home and having temper tantrums.”
For Knull, seeing her usually-happy and compliant daughter exhausted and frustrated was a red flag.
“That was not her style of communicating,” said Knull. “She’s not a temper tantrum kid.”
Around the same time, Knull began to notice her daughter was not able to complete her eye exams at the doctor’s office — always failing when it came to the final line. At first, Knull thought it was a matter of learning the letters, but as her daughter moved into Grade Two, she realized that wasn’t the case.
“By this year, she’s reading, so when she wasn’t able to do the line of letters, the optometrist … said ‘why don’t you get her vision assessed?'”
Knull balked at first, since her daughter had 20/20 vision — but as she later learned, there is a lot more to vision than seeing things clearly.
Eyes working independently lead to confusion
“Being able to see 20/20 is a very important part of vision but that’s not the only skill,” says Yeung.
“If you think about driving, you have to assess where all the cars are around you, you have to assess the speed you’re going, how fast the other cars are going, depth perception — all that stuff is all related.”
Most children learn basic vision — which Yeung differentiates from sight — as babies, crawling and reaching for objects.
However, some children have a vision problem that causes a disconnect between what’s on the page and how it’s interpreted by the brain, she said. As a result, words may appear to double, disappear or dance in front of their eyes.
The brain then ends up spending more time trying to sort out the conflicting data at the expense of comprehending what’s actually going on in front of them.
This can be a major problem in the classroom where up to 80 per cent of learning is visual, said Yeung, and lead to eye fatigue which can send a child looking for distraction. As a result, the condition is sometimes mistaken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Up to one in four children have a vision problem unrelated to simple sight, she said.
“The biggest thing is that the kids don’t know that this isn’t a normal way of seeing, because they’ve only seen this way,” Yeung said.
‘I couldn’t believe the transformation’
To find out how their children see the world, Yeung says parents should ask specific questions: ‘Are you seeing double? Are the letters and words moving on the page? Are things blurry around the edges?’
Parents should also be on the lookout for red eyes and frequent headaches, she added. Likewise, be aware of how often your child rubs his or her eyes after looking closely at something, covers an eye, or tilts a page from side to side while reading.
Once diagnosed, the problem can be treated using vision therapy — a weekly activity session designed to teach children how to use their vision more efficiently.
“We work on eye-teaming skills, tracking, even processing and perceptual things, so we play a lot of games and puzzles,” she said. Those games can include jumping on a trampoline, throwing balls, tracking moving objects with their eyes.
While anyone can benefit from practising their vision skills, the change can be dramatic among children who previously had problems relaying messages from their eyes to brain.
“Part of my feeling terrible as a parent is that I had no idea how much this was impacting her until it started to get better,” said Knull of watching her own daughter’s recovery.
“I couldn’t believe the transformation.”
Since beginning vision training, Knull says her daughter’s reading fluency and compliance have both improved, as has her mood.
“If I could have projected five or ten years out, I [used] to see her being one of those children who hated school, who would not want to go on to university because school was just so much work — but now, she’s got so much confidence … and she actually feels like she’s a smart kid.”
The Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends children get an eye exam every year — even if they don’t appear to have any vision problems.
Alberta Health covers the cost of annual eye exams for children and teens up to the age of 19.
Have you ever wondered how to stop repeating yourself and nagging your children? Get them to practice routines! When something is done every day it becomes automatic! This is what my marble game looks like, but you can tailor it for your family! Start with a family discussion, and make it fun! It is easy to forget to say “good job” or “thank you” to our children. This helps!
Routines: WAKE UP-1 marble -make bed -have breakfast -get dressed -brush teeth/hair
LUNCH-1 marble -try one bite of everything on your plate -say “may I be excused” and “thank you for lunch” -put plate on counter
AFTER SCHOOL-1 marble -put coat and shoes away -empty backpack -empty lunch kit -eat snack
DINNER-1 marble -try one bite of everything on your plate -say “may I be excused” and “thank you for dinner” -put plate on the counter
BED TIME-1 marble -snack -bath -pajamas -brush teeth -read
Extra marbles awarded for kind acts or practicing piano, dance, reading a book.
*try not to reward activities that they already enjoy doing
TAKE AWAY 1 marble: Saying bad words like: poop, fart, bum Doing things like: kicking, hitting, complaining about dinner, not saying excuse me when you burp, sticking out tongue
EARN WITH MARBLES: -ipad 10 minutes 2 marbles -playdate 5 marbles -birthday party 10 marbles
“It’s pretty fun playing the marble game! It is a good way for me to keep track of my bad talk!” -Emma, 5 yrs old
There are times when life is stressful. What can parents do to help their children cope? It is suggested that meditation can help people connect their mind and body, becoming more present in the moment. There are now meditations geared towards children that can help them self regulate and self sooth. These skills of being mindful and paying attention can help in school, sports and social interactions! Like any skill, it will come more naturally to some than others, but starting with a short duration can be helpful Parents can help children work their way up from a few seconds to a few minutes. www.smilingmind.au will help make the whole experience fun!
Listen to more on this from Kimberly Knull, Registered Psychologist
Do you hear the word “NO” all the time? Are you frustrated she your children will not follow your directions? Perhaps the problem is when and how you ask. Registered Psychologist Kimberly Knull gives tips on how to get the results you want when asking your kids to do something!
Do you struggle getting out of the house? Are mornings rushed and stressful?
Hurry up, we’re late! Is what many parents find themselves saying on a daily basis! For many families, the morning rush hour is the most stressful part of the day. Here to give us tips on how to arrive on time, and perhaps even a little early, is Kim Knull.
Worrying about what and how much your child eats is a normal part of parenting. But where should we draw the line? Tips from Sarah Robert, nutritionist, and Psychologist Kim Knull will help everyone be happier at the dinner table!