Friday, April 14, 2017

Professional Development: Various Subjects and Locations in B.C.

Skills for Mindful Living Series - Celebrating Gender Diversity: Respecting Trans & Gender NonConforming Identities - Vancouver, April 18, 2017
Full Day Workshop - Region 2 - Speaking to the Hearts of Men: Applying AEDP with Gender in Mind - Victoria, April 22, 2017
Counsellor Cafe - Region 3 - Working with Clients Suffering Addiction - Kelowna, April 28, 2017
Healing Early Developmental Trauma Video Series Training
Dates: March 21 - May 12, 2017 |
Myrna has produced a 13 Module Video Series (78 hours, plus course notes, references, articles and group monthly support calls) on Healing Early Developmental Trauma.
This early time forms the template you are working with, no matter what age your client is. Understand it in richness and depth, and add new tools.
Myrna is offering Summer Intensives in Nelson, BC.
These Intensives are a wonderful opportunity to learn how to work in a somatic and attachment based approach to healing early developmental trauma in children, families and adults.
There is space to do your own personal work and practice the skills you are learning.
Financial assistance is available through BC Jobs if you have had a BC Business Licence for over one year.
Please inquire further and read all the information on the website below. This approach will add new life and effectiveness to your therapy practice and your personal life.
Myrna is an internationally known practitioner, facilitator, and teacher of attachment based therapies.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Clinical and Research: What social workers need to know about ADHD, trauma and neglect

What social workers need to know about ADHD, trauma and neglect

Social workers need more understanding of how trauma impacts behaviour to help prevent maltreated children being misdiagnosed with ADHD, says Laura Hanbury

By Laura Hanbury, researcher and former local authority ADHD lead

Children in the child protection system are three times more likely to have a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than the general population. Why is this the case? It’s possible that children with ADHD are more vulnerable to parental abuse and neglect because of their challenging behaviour and the socioeconomic backgrounds most commonly associated with ADHD.
However it’s been recognised for a number of years that the behaviours we associate with ADHD, such as inattention and difficulty regulating emotions, are very similar to those typically exhibited by young people who have experienced chronic stress and maltreatment.
Trauma can affect the parts of a child’s brain that are responsible for things like memory retention, social and emotional processing and decision making so it’s clear how differentiating between the causes of such behaviours can be difficult and researchers have cautioned that misdiagnosis or over diagnosis of ADHD is very possible.
So I was struck to see that, although there are plenty of studies and statistics that tell us diagnosis of ADHD is on the rise, I could find little research specifically related to the potential overlap of symptoms of ADHD and childhood adversity when I recently carried out a rigorous literature review of both topics.
A high number of the referrals I recieved as a local authority lead on ADHD also left me feeling that something is not quite right – my work with many children with ADHD and their families showed that some form of relational trauma and/or ‘bonding break’ had occurred in their life.

Widened criteria

Social workers won’t be surprised to hear that research confirms large and growing numbers of children are being diagnosed with ADHD. But not all may be aware that the latest version of the tool their colleagues in CAMHs use to make diagnoses – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in 2013 – widened the criteria. Mild and moderate presentations can now be diagnosed as ADHD, when the behaviours could be the result of something else entirely.
This creates the risk that because a clinical diagnosis is in place, social workers may – perhaps unconsciously – assume that ADHD is the reason for a child’s difficult temperament or parent’s angry outbursts and feel reassured that they don’t have to look more closely at what’s going on in the family. Indicators of neglect and abuse might then be missed.
To me, this seems the wrong way around and potentially dangerous.Social workers who observe children and their families at home and build relationships with them could be best placed to advise clinicians on what they think is the cause of a child’s difficult behaviours.
I know from my role that when I paid more attention to the observation of family dynamics and relationship building when supporting the family, the trust created seemed to make them more comfortable to share their past stories with me.
It concerns me that a diagnosis of ADHD can be made by clinicians without input from other professionals who may be working the family and without needing to investigate a parent’s own childhood experience and mental health history.

Confident to question

So if a child appears hyperactive and inattentive, social workers should feel confident enough to question whether these behaviours could be associated with hypervigilance or dissociation – signs of trauma – instead of ADHD, especially if our services are involved.
For example, a ‘hyperactive’, defiant, disruptive or unpredictable child might actually be in a constant state of ‘alert’ (hypervigilance) as they are always looking to protect themselves from potential dangers or threatening behaviours from others. Perhaps they have witnessed domestic violence from a young age, live with a parent with significant mental health problems, or a parent appears to them as emotionally inconsistent for other reasons. They live in environment that is sporadically scary and unpredictable.
Such a child is likely to unconsciously interpret the body language, facial expressions and movements of teachers and fellow pupils, for example, as potentially threatening – especially if they are caught off guard.
It’s easy to see how the ‘disruptive’ behaviour that follows could lead to an ADHD diagnosis and medication rather than the appropriate social work support and intervention for the family.
Similarly, hypervigilance affects our ability to process, retain and recall information. If your brain has had to wire itself to be alert at all times, it’s difficult to give your full and undivided attention to the task at hand.
We can all relate to this when we experience short bouts of stress and anxiety, but imagine having learnt very early to continually scan your environment for dangers and threats before you could fully relax and concentrate on anything. Or not being able to relate to others in a way which allows you to trust and read social signals. Or being unable to fall asleep at night as your mind struggles to make you feel safe.
These behaviours – lacking focus, being fidgety, trouble sleeping and so on – can also too quickly be assumed to be ADHD.

Joint working

The relationship between childhood adversity and ADHD is complex; they could co-exist and social workers need in-depth knowledge of both, and how to best work with children exhibiting these behaviours and their families. And there is still a long way to go in researchers’ understanding of ADHD as a condition.
But what’s clear is that a clinician simply giving a diagnosis of ADHD without considering the views and thoughts of social workers may end up doing nothing more than relieving professionals, parents and carers of having to deal with the root causes of a child’s complex behaviour patterns.
We hear much about improving joint working and information sharing between CAMHS and social care; I would argue that the potential for overlap between ADHD and trauma is a significant reason to develop our working relationships and training and knowledge of these areas.

If you are interested in this research and want to read a copy of the author’s dissertation ‘Could the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) be considered as an indicator of childhood trauma for child protection professionals?’, please contact

Professional Development: From Addiction to Connection - Surrey, BC

The Sacred Journey: From Addiction to Connection

With Teresa McLellan, MA

No Pre-requisite Required

With so much stigma and shame around substance abuse, this workshop offers a positive holistic approach to working with clients that provides the acceptance, safety, connection and trust needed for healing to happen. It will help addictions professionals become more grounded, more connected and more confident with clients so they can better facilitate transformational change. The therapist's use of self inspires clients who live with the shame of addiction to become more accepting of themselves and have more hope for their future.

April 21, 22, 2017 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Phoenix Center 13686-94A Avenue, Surrey, BC
Only $300

14 Continuing Education Hours Available

For more information call 604-634-0572 or go to

Sponsored by Satir Institute of the Pacific

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Professional Development: Three-Day DBT Skills Workshop - Vancouver

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to offer another Three-Day DBT Skills Workshop

Dates: From July 12th - 14th, 2017 at UBC Robson Square, downtown Vancouver.

The skills taught in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) contain an array of strategies designed to help people struggling in life lead happier and more productive lives. The most widely researched treatment for problems characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder (including recurrent suicidal and self-harming behaviours), DBT teaches a variety of concrete skills for helping people be more mindful, better tolerate distress, improve interpersonal relationships, and effectively manage emotions.

These skills are increasingly being used to assist people also struggling with a variety of other mental health problems, including recurrent suicidal and self-harming behaviours, substance abuse, eating disorders, and treatment resistant depression.

This special 3 day training will cover the majority of the skills taught in DBT skills groups and can be used with clients both individually and in group settings. Using a variety of teaching strategies, including didactics, video and audio clips, role-plays, and experiential exercises, this workshop will provide mental health professionals with an assortment of skills they can use in better assisting their clients.

For more information, visit:

To register:

Fill in attached form (107kb) and email to
or fax to 604-569-1230.

Early bird prices in effect until June 7th, 2017.

If you have any questions about our professional development opportunities or are interested in other topics, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

DBT Centre of Vancouver, Inc.
1040 – 1200 Burrard St
Vancouver BC V6Z 2C7
P: 604-569-1156
F: 604-569-1230

Professional Development: What Compassion and Hypnosis Teach us about Treating Violence and Trauma

The Connection Imperative: What Compassion and Hypnosis Teach us about Treating Violence and Trauma

Presented by: Dr. Harry Stefanakis, Ph.D., R. Psych.

Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM 

Location: Unitarian Church of Vancouver, Main Hall, Hewitt Centre, 949 West 49th Avenue (at Oak Street), Vancouver, BC

Prerequisite for attendance: Master of Social Work or currently working toward a MSW

In this one day workshop, Dr. Stefanakis will explore how compassion and hypnosis activate the antidote to violence and trauma and provide us with a foundation for intervention supported by theory, research and practice. 

Dr. Stefanakis is a clinical and consulting psychologist with over 20 years of clinical experience. He is past president of the Ending Relationship Abuse Society of BC and is on the board of the Canadian Society of Clinical Hypnosis (BC Division). He has been a visiting expert for the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute.

More information and to register

Or telephone: 604-688-1714

Early bird pricing until April 8th, 2017.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Celebrating Social Workers: Social Work Week in B

Social Work Week honours those who serve B.C.’s most vulnerable

B.C. Government (March 12, 2017). 

Honouring those who serve BC's most vulnerable. 

March 12-18 is Social Work Week in BC - a time to honour their hard work & courage. More than 2,500 social workers in BC strive to do their best and think outside the box to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and families.

Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux has issued the following statement in recognition of Social Work Week in British Columbia, March 12-18, 2017:
“This is Social Work Week in B.C. and National Social Work Month, a time to recognize and honour the courage shown each day by MCFD social workers, clinicians and other front-line staff who have some of the toughest jobs in the province – supporting and protecting vulnerable families and children.
“ ‘One person can make a difference and everyone should try.’ That quote from former United States president John F. Kennedy is a fitting one to describe what social workers do each and every day. During difficult circumstances they strive to do their best and think outside the box to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and families. 
“The work of social workers can make headlines when things do not go well. Unfortunately, they often do not get recognition for all of the amazing things they help their clients achieve on a daily basis.
“During social worker week, it’s my pleasure to shine a light on some of their efforts and triumphs. Stories like Karen Zilke’s, a Vancouver social worker who recently won an award from the charity Children of the Street, for her work helping sexually exploited youth in a unique partnership with the Vancouver Police in the Downtown East Side. Read Karen’s story here:
“She is just one of the more than 2,500 social workers in B.C. who make a difference by giving families a sense of hope. Social workers by their very nature are adaptable and creative thinkers. They have to be. There is no one size fits solutions in their line of work. What they often need most is more time.
“So to help social workers and other front-line staff do their jobs, we’re putting extra supports in place. This includes hiring more administrative staff so social workers can spend less time doing paperwork and answering phones and more time working directly with families.  
We’re also providing pay incentives to attract front-line staff to hard-to-recruit communities. Ministry social workers in designated rural or remote regions will receive an additional $3,000 to $6,000 per year.
“My sincerest appreciation goes out to social workers this week and throughout the year. On behalf of the Province and all British Columbians, thank you for doing the work you do every day and for making a difference.”    
To read the 2017 Social Work Week Proclamation, please visit:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Social Work Registration in Manitoba: Complaints and Loopholes

Social worker regulatory college heard 9 complaints in 1st year

Concerns persist over some workers not being required to register with the college

In its first year of operations, the Manitoba College of Social Workers fielded nine complaints of unprofessional conduct against social workers.
Of the nine complaints outlined in the college's annual report for 2015-16, two resulted in action taken by the complaints committee involving the social worker.
College registrar Barb Temmerman told CBC News that one case dealt with concerns about a social worker's terms of service and fee schedule, as well as the social worker's level of supervision.
The complaints committee entered into an agreement establishing a formal service contract and fee schedule for the social worker, the report said. It also said that agreement was on hold pending the complainants' appeal to the board of directors.
A second case was about concerns regarding the level of skill and knowledge a social worker applied in planning an intervention with a client. The report said the committee was satisfied the social worker had addressed the concerns through actions such as additional training and supervision.
The remainder of the nine complaints included two that were not yet concluded, two that were dismissed and one in which the complainant's information was incomplete, the report said.
In two other cases, the complaints committee did not have jurisdiction to investigate because the practitioners were not registered social workers at the time of the alleged unprofessional conduct.
The issue of who is required to register with the college has been controversial. The Social Work Profession Act came into force April 1, 2015 requiring anyone who uses the job title "social worker" to register with the college.
There are now more than 2,100 social workers registered with the college — up from about 1,100 members under the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers, the voluntary regulatory body that preceded the college.
But Temmerman said there are still an unknown number of practitioners who do social work for the provincial government but who are not being required to register with the college. She said that's because the former NDP government made a decision to exempt those workers.
"We know that right now the public is confused about who is a social worker and who is required to be registered," Temmerman said. She said the college wants the current government to amend the Social Work Profession Act to make it clear anyone who practices in the field will have to register, whether or not their job title is social worker.
"It's about public accountability and the public interest," said Temmerman.
It was also a key recommendation in 2014 by retired judge Ted Hughes from the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry that looked into the death of the five-year-old girl. Phoenix Sinclair was killed by her mother and her mother's boyfriend despite the child's involvement with the Child and Family Services system.
Hughes found that 27 social workers and supervisors played a role in relation to Phoenix's family during her life.
He recommended that anyone who practices social work, whatever their job title, be registered by the college.  
"I still feel very much the same way," Hughes said from his home in British Columbia. "If they're doing social work — and that would include providing the care and oversight and attention to children that are the government's responsibility... they should be registered with the college and subject to the college's process for complaint and discipline."
"It's a serious matter because there are people taking charge of those kids that are in government care who aren't subject to the regulations of the college," he said.
"It's wrong, it's inept," he said.
The minister responsible for the Social Work Profession Act, Scott Fielding, said his government hasn't made a decision yet on amending the law.
"It's something we would always be open to considering," he said. "We'll have to have discussions with them and other stakeholders before we make any decisions on that."
"We do want to listen to what they say and how the current legislation is handled," said Fielding.
Temmerman said under the circumstances, there is still a need for members of the public to ask whether the person they may be receiving social work services from is indeed registered.
"They have every right to ask that person, 'Are you registered with the college'?  'Who am I receiving services from?' I'm not sure that the public knows to ask that question right now."
For the complaints that have been received so far by the college, the complaints committee report provides almost no detail about what happened in each case.
The cases have not been grievous enough to warrant censure of the social worker or be sent for a formal hearing to the college's inquiry committee, Temmerman said. 
Temmerman said the legislation provides guidance on what information can be made public, but the college's board will consider whether it needs a specific policy on publishing the findings related to complaints and discipline.
Temmerman said she's pleased with what the college has been able to accomplish since its beginning in April 2015.
"We're making steps forward and every step is worth taking," Temmerman said.