empowerment

Action Over Insight: Why You Should Be Asking “What?”

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There’s the old saying that, “deeds are more powerful than words.” It means that action is just as important, if not more so than simply talking. Although finding insight and discussing your intentions are valuable, the more critical step is actually taking action. It’s also the hardest as it means committing to a path, course, or direction.

Also, it means taking a risk, with the haunting possibility of failure. Yet, an action also has the greatest chance of success. After all, if you choose to do nothing then there will certainly be no benefit. Therefore, consider the importance of action and why you should be asking “what?”

Understand Action and Empowerment

When you commit to action and focus on the “what” you are empowering yourself. You are the person who is choosing to do something. This is much more strength-based as opposed to letting others do things for you. Or, to allow events to direct you instead of you being the one to take direction. If this is new for you then taking action may be intimidating or even scary. However, it is also thrilling and exciting to be the one committing to action. It’s led to some of the defining moments of our history. For example, it was the simple act of refusing to move from a bus seat that sparked the modern civil rights movement.

Focus on the “What” Versus “What Ifs”

When considering action, it’s easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” rather than the “what.” For example, you may spin your wheels considering all of the possible outcomes of a situation. Although both the positive and negatives outcomes exist, it’s not uncommon to solely focus on the negative ones. In turn, this can quickly lead to inaction. Instead, direct your attention to the “what” and doing the action. Yes, considering the outcome of your decision is important. Yet, if you get too stuck on the “what ifs” then you will never actually do anything.

Know That There Is No Perfect Choice

Another problem that you might have is focusing on the “perfect” decision. If you don’t make the perfect decision, what could happen? The possibilities are endless, no doubt. The reality is that there is no perfect choice. There is simply the choice (or choices) in front of you. Therefore, decide what you can do right now. In short, choose your “what.” Otherwise, you will again be stuck in the zone of crippling indecisiveness.

Find Purpose with Your “What”

You may feel that you don’t have any purpose in life. Thus, you are listless, drifting about in the world. This doesn’t have to relate only to your professional life or job. It could have to do with anything in your life. Are you just waiting for something to happen? Maybe you’re waiting for life to come to find you, fulfilling your goals and dreams. Waiting won’t fill the void that you are looking to fill.

Instead, the fastest way to discover your purpose is to choose your “what.” The reason is that your “what may take you down a path you weren’t expecting, leading to new possibilities that you never even considered. Or, perhaps you discover that you have chosen a dead-end. So what do you do now? Make a new choice and take a different course of action. Both paths are ways to finding your purpose.

Be Willing to Commit

When you choose your “what,” you are committing to something. Despite commitment being a word you may frequently hear, do you truly understand its meaning? Committing to something means a willingness to stick with it, even with the ups and downs. It means being in it for the long haul and being dedicated to the action. It’s easy to be scared away from your “what” because of the commitment. Yet, committing is necessary in order to find success. When you are asking “what,” you are directing yourself toward action. Even if you decide later on down the road that it was the wrong decision, you’re still on a successful journey to your purpose. You can always make another choice. For now, being willing to commit to the “what” and to the direction you take.


Guest post written by Brenda Bomgardner, LPC, BCC, ACS

Guest post written by Brenda Bomgardner, LPC, BCC, ACS

After completing a successful 17-year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 Company Brenda returned to school to earn her master’s degree in community counseling and a certificate as a board certified coach. She then launched a private practice, Creating Your Beyond, LLC.  Working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and providing entrepreneurial guidance along with career coaching brings her fulfillment and joy. She is described by her peers as an expert on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Her new book, Sweet Spot: Finding Your Private Practice Groove with Principles for ACT, will be released in the summer of 2019. Chocolate is her favorite food group and adventure is her passion pursuit. She loves visitors and invites you pop on over to her website at Creating Your Beyond and take a look around. https://brendabomgardner.com  

Age Discrimination in the Workplace: Tips and Tricks to Help Protect Your Clients

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Age discrimination in the workplace involves treating an applicant or an employee less favorably because of his or her age. Fortunately, according to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), human resources, and employment attorneys, clients that feel they have been discriminated against have protection. However, age discrimination happens all too often and in many cases, is difficult to prove there is guilt on the side of the employer. As a result, it is important to assist our clients in protecting themselves against discrimination so they have equal opportunity in having access to gainful employment.

For therapists working with clients who are going through career-transition, the world of work can cause obvious emotional stressors as a result of not receiving a paycheck, not having health insurance, and lacking other retirement benefits. In fact, these stressors can be compounded if that individual does not have adequate financial resources in which to fall back on if they are out of work for a long period of time. In addition, to add insult to injury, if those clients have previously have been employed for a decade or more, they may be unaware of the current job-market and what it takes to get employed again.

The good news is that there are simple ways to assist your clients in protecting themselves from age discrimination and making sound career choices for the future.


1) Revamp Your Resume

Make sure that your clients are adhering to the latest trends in how resumes are constructed. Advise them to only go back 10 years in their work history and eliminate all dates of graduation from Universities they attended. Now this is true for every job applicant regardless of age; however, it’s paramount to individuals who fear age discrimination in their search.


2) Use Updated Email Addresses

Now this may seem silly, but using an email address from Hotmail, AOL, or even Comcast is a dead giveaway. Have your client switch to Gmail. If they still want to keep that old email, just have them forward their Gmail address to their old account.


3) Get on LinkedIn

Yes, they must go digital! Almost every future-employer is going to Google them. Age discrimination happens for a variety of reasons, but one of the main factors is the belief that “old” people are not tech savvy. Well, obviously that is not true and just being on LinkedIn won’t solve all of those concerns; however, it will show employers clients are willing to engage with technology. Also, a profile picture could be a giveaway of age - just make sure it is updated and professional.


4) Network, Network, and Network Some More

Encourage your clients to re-engage with past colleagues, go to career fairs (even your alma mater!), do informational interviews, join professional associations, and job-search groups. Most good jobs (85% of them) are found through colleagues or colleagues of colleagues. All too often, it is who you know and participating in an active job search is a better utilization of their time versus solely applying online. Advise them to seek people out one-on-one, especially if they have a preference for introversion.

According to AARP research, age discrimination is first being reported or “felt” around age 50. Yes, that’s right - 50! And, not that this is a big shocker, but given societal stigma, women tend to feel or report it more frequently over men. Sadly, although it’s hard to gather metrics around these happenings, this scenario is most likely true. Not that we can control external variables about how employers choose potential candidates, we can control how our clients view themselves and we can assist them in making competent future career decisions. Here are a few practical ways to engage with clients that often lead clients to a better sense of clarity around their strengths, desires, and congruence with a future employer.
 

1) Strengths

First off, have them take a strength-based assessment like the StrengthsFinder. There are many out there, but this one is low-cost, quick, and will provide clients with their top 5 strengths. We do know that working from a place of strength will warrant far better results versus trying to fix our deficits. Have the client tell you stories about how they agree or disagree with each of the top 5. This will allow them to connect with their intrinsic motivators and help them market themselves with strengths + instances of past success when they get that interview.
 

2) Values

Talk with your clients about their values. You can use something like the Values Cardsort from Knowdell. When was the last time they did an inventory on their values? Chances are that it has been long time or….never! Taking an inventory of these will help them engage with what they want and need in career and life. We are different people at every age and stage of our life so connecting with these systems allows the client to see if there is a congruence between the company, the corporate culture, and if they would be a suitable fit.


3) Fit

Talk to your client about company fit. In many cases, you can tell a lot about a company in how they onboard their employees. How was the application process? How was the introductory email, the call from the hiring manager - the recruiter, how was the phone screen, and how did the in-person interview(s) feel? If the company is unorganized on the front end or if they are rude, it is most likely not any better after they get hired. I know it can be tempting to get a job quick especially if your client needs money; however, if they are looking for optimal fit and happiness, turning down a potentially toxic work environment is the right call. Taking a job and quitting quickly never reads well on a resume.

Age discrimination is likely to almost always occur as long as future employers harbor false beliefs about the abilities of this segment of the workforce. As a result, helping your clients protect themselves, giving them resources about their rights, and helping them to connect to their strengths and values will ensure that they are interviewing the future-potential company just as much as they are being evaluated. According to another AARP study, contrary to many stereotypes, workers aged 50 and above are the most engaged members of the workforce. They also have lower instances of turnover and greater levels of experience. For therapists, guiding clients around issues pertaining to negative self-beliefs and establishing clarity around value systems is in many ways, more important than the nuts and bolts of job search.


Guest post written by Brad Graham, M.Ed., LPC

Guest post written by Brad Graham, M.Ed., LPC

Brad Graham, M.Ed., LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works with individuals of all ages and stages in the midst of career-transition. In his Boulder, CO practice, Collaborative Careers™, he combines the use of counseling interventions with career-related assessments to help bring clarity, direction, and action within his clients. He takes a process-oriented, holistic approach and honors his clients for taking ownership over their lives and their relationship to the world of work. Brad can be found on the weekends running the trail systems, cycling the roads, or fly-fishing in Colorado's beautiful rivers. More can be found on his website collaborativecareers.com about his work.      

Safety Planning with At-Risk Families: Exploring the Benefits

Safety Planning

Warning signs, safety measures, plan of action, and supports. These are all vital components of crisis response and safety planning in the field of mental health. Safety planning can be considered a helpful resource to assess safety needs for each family member and develop awareness of individual needs by loved ones when participating in discussion. It can also serve as an empowerment tool to allow advocacy and engagement in positive coping skills when the family is experiencing conflict. Due to family systems becoming more diverse to meet the needs of support and connection, the term family can be defined in non-traditional ways. Not only does it capture the nuclear or biological family, it may also comprise of blended families, extended family, step-parents, foster siblings, or “chosen family.” Chosen family can include but is not limited to, close friends, mentors, and godparents.

Bringing individuals together in their roles in the family system, it has become increasingly important to include all members in safety planning when addressing mental health and safety in order to unify the family and achieve meaningful results. In serving at-risk youth and families in the Denver Metro Area, safety planning has proven to be invaluable in exploring awareness of triggers for disruption and conflict, safety needs; thus engaging the family in exploration to foster empowerment and change. Safety planning allows the whole family to explore their needs rather than isolating one individual as the “identified problem.”

 

The Benefits

The benefits of safety planning can be demonstrated for one family of seven suffering from neglect, domestic violence, and substance use that lead to Department of Human Services involvement due to ongoing safety concerns. The family system consisted of mom Jenna* (36), boyfriend David (27), daughters Fiona (16), Margot (14), Patricia (6), and sons Julian (9) and Bobbie (2). Jenna and her family were referred to in-home family therapy due to safety concerns with Jenna’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting in substance use, domestic violence with her boyfriend David, and neglectful parenting that was negatively impacting each child.

It was the hope of the Department of Human Services to support the family in reuniting and repairing their relationship now that Jenna was sober from substances and ready to actively parent in the household.

Observing and engaging the family in rapport building, it was quickly apparent which role each member played in the family system. Jenna was able to identify her challenges in parenting her children in that they were each struggling with her absence in different ways. Fiona identified her anger that lead to running away from home and engaging in fights at school. Margot reported being a strong student and keeping to herself in her room when not parenting her younger siblings in Jenna’s absence. Patricia was observed to be childlike with attention-seeking behaviors younger than her biological age, whereas her older brother Julian escaped into video games to remain unseen. The youngest, Bobbie, was observed to struggle with meeting developmental milestones and resorted to screaming and hitting himself and others when emotionally dysregulated.

Through engaging Jenna, David, and the kids in a safety planning therapeutic activity, they were able to begin to recognize each of their individual differences regarding warning signs, as well as the coping skills needed to support connection and emotion regulation.  Jenna began to learn more about her children and their needs through identifying warning signs such as isolation, anger, and behavioral changes signifying distress for each child at their developmental level.

Jenna also identified her own triggers and reactions to her children as they related to her trauma and urge to escape.

 

Connection

When Jenna couldn’t escape her PTSD symptoms through work or substances, she was able to recognize the increased risk of conflict and aggression leading to fights with her boyfriend David. The safety planning served as a tool of discovery for family members and empowered each of them to advocate for their needs through healthy communication. For Jenna and her family, the safety plan served as a means of taking action to support the family in times of conflict and crisis.

Through this process, the children felt heard, Jenna identified goals for ongoing individual therapy work to maintain sobriety, and David and Jenna were able to identify new ways of communicating as a couple in order to bring the entire family closer together. Safety planning can be introduced and implemented early in the therapeutic process to explore family patterns, coping skill needs, and foster trust and safety while empowering families to remain together, connected and aware. A safety plan template is available for professional use along with a suicide risk assessment called the Community Assessment and Coordination of Safety (CACS) at www.cacs-co.com.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality