Recognising the Signs: When to Refer to a Professional Counsellor

In the role of an accidental counsellor – found within workplaces, social circles, or even family – it’s crucial to recognise when a situation extends beyond your support capabilities. Knowing when to refer someone to a professional counsellor is a key responsibility. This guide will help you identify the signs and make informed decisions about referral.

The Importance of Timely Referral

Accidental counsellors play a vital role in providing initial support. However, there are circumstances where professional intervention is needed. Timely referral can ensure that individuals receive the appropriate care and support they need.

1. Understanding Your Limits

The first step is acknowledging the boundaries of your expertise and the limits of the support you can offer. Professional counsellors have specialised training to handle complex emotional and psychological issues.

2. Signs of Severe Emotional Distress

Be vigilant for signs of severe emotional distress, such as extreme anxiety, depression, or thoughts of self-harm. These indicators often require intervention from a mental health professional.

3. Chronic or Escalating Issues

If an individual’s issues are chronic or escalating despite your support, this could be a sign that professional help is needed. Long-standing issues often require more in-depth therapy or counselling.

4. Impact on Daily Functioning

Notice if the person’s issues are significantly impacting their daily life, including work, relationships, or general well-being. Disruption to everyday functioning can be a clear indicator for professional intervention.

5. Substance Abuse or Addiction

Substance abuse or signs of addiction are complex issues that require specialised treatment. Referring to a professional in these cases is often necessary.

6. When Legal or Medical Issues Are Involved

Situations involving legal or medical concerns are typically beyond the scope of an accidental counsellor. In such cases, referral to a professional is crucial.

7. Feeling Overwhelmed or Out of Depth

If you feel overwhelmed or out of your depth, trust your instincts. Recognising your own limitations is an important part of ensuring effective support.

8. The Individual’s Request for Professional Help

Sometimes, the person you’re supporting may explicitly ask for professional help. Honouring this request is important for their journey to healing.

How to Make a Referral

Making a referral should be handled sensitively. Discuss your concerns openly with the individual and suggest professional counselling as a beneficial step. Provide them with information and resources, and, if possible, guide them through the process of finding a counsellor.


Recognising when to refer someone to a professional counsellor is a key skill for accidental counsellors. It ensures that individuals receive the right level of care and support. By staying informed and aware of these signs, you can make a significant difference in someone’s path to well-being.



Visit previous article here: Supporting Others Without Burning Out: Self-Care for Accidental Counsellors


For more information about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to

Interested in attending face to face? Check our venues here.

We also have online sessions available: 3 Hour Training | Full Day Online Training  | Suicide Awareness Training for Teachers


Author Bio

Rocky Biasi, a seasoned educator and counsellor, holds a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, and certifications in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Provocative Therapy. His career spans roles as a teacher, school counsellor, and private practitioner. Rocky is the creator of the Accidental Counsellor training program, which has empowered over 20,000 individuals in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia since 2010. His approachable style and dedication to fostering empathetic communication have made a significant impact in the field.

Supporting Others Without Burning Out: Self-Care for Accidental Counsellors

In the challenging yet fulfilling role of an accidental counsellor – whether in the workplace, among friends, or within family dynamics – self-care is crucial. Balancing support for others with your own well-being is essential to prevent burnout. This comprehensive guide provides practical self-care strategies for those who find themselves in informal counselling roles.

Understanding the Need for Self-Care

Accidental counsellors often immerse themselves deeply in the problems and emotional distress of others. While this empathy is admirable, it can lead to emotional exhaustion if not managed properly. Recognising the importance of self-care is the first step in maintaining your well-being while supporting others.

1. Set Clear Boundaries

Establishing boundaries is fundamental. Determine what you are comfortable handling and communicate these limits to others. Consistency in maintaining these boundaries is key to preventing over-commitment and emotional drain.

2. Practice Regular Self-Reflection

Self-reflection helps in understanding your emotional responses and recognising signs of stress or burnout. Regularly take time to assess your feelings and the impact of your counselling role on your mental health.

3. Develop a Support Network

Having a support network, whether professional peers, friends, or family, provides a space to share your experiences and feelings. This network can offer guidance, understanding, and perspective.

4. Prioritise Physical Health

Physical health significantly impacts mental well-being. Ensure you are getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. These habits support overall resilience and energy levels.

5. Engage in Mindfulness and Relaxation

Practices like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can be incredibly beneficial. They help in managing stress, improving focus, and maintaining emotional balance.

6. Schedule Time for Yourself

Allocating time for activities you enjoy is vital. Whether it’s reading, gardening, or any other hobby, these activities provide a break from the demands of counselling and refresh your mind.

7. Learn to Say No

One of the toughest yet most important skills is learning to say no. It’s crucial to recognise when taking on more would be detrimental to your well-being.

8. Seek Professional Help When Needed

If you find the stress overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy or counselling for yourself can provide strategies to manage stress and prevent burnout.

9. Acknowledge Your Efforts

Recognise and acknowledge the positive impact you are making. Understanding the value of your support can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

10. Stay Informed and Educated

Continuously learning about emotional support and self-care strategies can enhance your skills and provide new methods for managing your role effectively.


Balancing the act of supporting others while taking care of your own needs is crucial for accidental counsellors. Implementing these self-care strategies can help you maintain your well-being, ensuring that you can continue to be a supportive presence without risking burnout. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity in the vital role of supporting others.


Complimentary infographic available for download:


Visit previous article here:  The Role of Empathy in Everyday Counselling Scenarios



For more information about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to

Interested in attending face to face? Check our venues here.

We also have online sessions available: 3 Hour Training | Full Day Online Training  | Suicide Awareness Training for Teachers



Author Bio

Rocky Biasi, a seasoned educator and counsellor, holds a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, and certifications in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Provocative Therapy. His career spans roles as a teacher, school counsellor, and private practitioner. Rocky is the creator of the Accidental Counsellor training program, which has empowered over 20,000 individuals in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia since 2010. His approachable style and dedication to fostering empathetic communication have made a significant impact in the field.

The Role of Empathy in Everyday Counselling Scenarios

Empathy is a fundamental element in effective counselling, crucial even in non-professional settings where one might assume an accidental counselling role. This article delves into the role of empathy in everyday counselling scenarios, underscoring its importance and how to nurture this vital skill.

Understanding Empathy in Counselling

Empathy transcends sympathy. While sympathy is feeling for someone, empathy involves feeling with them – stepping into their shoes, understanding their perspective, and sharing their emotions. In counselling scenarios, empathy enables the accidental counsellor to connect deeply, creating a supportive and understanding atmosphere.

Building Trust and Rapport

Trust and rapport are the foundations of any counselling relationship, including informal ones. Empathy fosters this bond, demonstrating genuine concern and interest in the individual’s well-being.

Facilitating Open Communication

Empathic listening is critical for open communication. It involves acknowledging and validating feelings, creating a safe space for free expression – essential for understanding underlying concerns and making individuals feel truly heard.

Enhancing Self-Understanding and Growth

Empathy can offer individuals insights into their emotions and behaviours, promoting self-reflection and personal growth.

Reducing Conflict and Misunderstanding

Misunderstandings and conflicts often stem from emotional disconnects. Empathy offers a nuanced perspective, leading to less conflict and more effective problem-solving.

Supporting Emotional Healing

Empathy is key in emotional healing, offering comfort and reassurance, and making people feel understood and less alone.

How to Cultivate Empathy

  • Active Listening: Fully engage with the speaker, avoid interruptions, and focus on understanding their viewpoint.
  • Open-Ended Questions: Encourage deeper exploration of emotions, thoughts, and actions.
  • Non-Verbal Cues: Pay attention to body language and facial expressions.
  • Reflective Responses: Paraphrase or summarise to demonstrate understanding.
  • Avoid Judgement: Maintain an open mind, refraining from conclusions or unsolicited advice.


Empathy in counselling, whether accidental or professional, is about more than understanding feelings; it’s about human connection. By fostering empathy, accidental counsellors offer invaluable support, trust, open communication, and emotional healing. The essence of empathy in counselling isn’t to fix problems but to accompany someone on their journey, offering understanding and compassion.



Complimentary infographic available for download:  The Role of Empathy in Everyday Counselling Scenarios


Visit previous article here: How to Be an Effective Listener: Techniques for Accidental Counsellors



For more information about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to

Interested in attending face to face? Check our venues here.

We also have online sessions available: 3 Hour Training | Full Day Online Training  | Suicide Awareness Training for Teachers



Author Bio

Rocky Biasi, a seasoned educator and counsellor, holds a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, and certifications in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Provocative Therapy. His career spans roles as a teacher, school counsellor, and private practitioner. Rocky is the creator of the Accidental Counsellor training program, which has empowered over 20,000 individuals in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia since 2010. His approachable style and dedication to fostering empathetic communication have made a significant impact in the field.

How to Be an Effective Listener: Techniques for Accidental Counsellors

Effective listening is crucial for accidental counsellors – those unexpectedly in a counselling role, whether at work, with friends, or in family situations. Good listening involves understanding, empathy, and support, not just hearing words. This article offers practical techniques to enhance your listening skills.

1. Understand the Importance of Listening

Effective listening is more than a passive act; it’s an active engagement that helps people feel heard and validated. It can facilitate healing, problem-solving, and emotional connection.

2. Create a Comfortable Environment

Ensure privacy and reduce distractions to encourage open conversations. Mindful body language, like maintaining eye contact and an open posture, conveys attentiveness.

3. Practice Active Listening

Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said. Key aspects include:

  • Reflecting: Paraphrase or summarise the speaker’s words to demonstrate understanding.
  • Clarifying: Ask questions to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings.
  • Responding: Acknowledge the speaker’s message and emotions, showing empathy and understanding.

4. Show Empathy and Understanding

Genuinely try to understand the speaker’s perspective and feelings without judgement. Use empathetic statements to convey your comprehension and concern.

5. Avoid Interrupting or Jumping to Conclusions

Allow the speaker to express themselves without interruptions or premature conclusions.

6. Keep Personal Judgements to Yourself

Maintain a non-judgemental attitude. Your role is to listen and support, not to evaluate or judge.

7. Encourage Exploration

Use open-ended questions like, “How did that make you feel?” to encourage further sharing of thoughts and feelings.

8. Recognise Non-Verbal Cues

Non-verbal communication like body language, tone, and facial expressions can offer additional insights into the speaker’s emotions.

9. Be Mindful of Your Own Reactions

Your emotions can impact your listening effectiveness. Stay aware and manage your reactions appropriately.

10. Know When to Refer

Understand the limits of your role. If professional expertise is needed, know how to suggest additional help.


For accidental counsellors, mastering effective listening is invaluable. It builds trust, promotes understanding, and supports individuals in finding their own solutions. By applying these techniques, you can become an effective listener, offering meaningful support where needed.


Check out this complimentary infographic available for download:  How to Be an Effective Listener: Techniques for Accidental Counsellors


Visit previous article here:  10 Essential Skills Every Accidental Counsellor Needs



For more information about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to

Interested in attending face to face? Check our venues here.

We also have online sessions available: 3 Hour Training | Full Day Online Training  | Suicide Awareness Training for Teachers






Author Bio

Rocky Biasi, a seasoned educator and counsellor, holds a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, and certifications in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Provocative Therapy. His career spans roles as a teacher, school counsellor, and private practitioner. Rocky is the creator of the Accidental Counsellor training program, which has empowered over 20,000 individuals in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia since 2010. His approachable style and dedication to fostering empathetic communication have made a significant impact in the field.

10 Essential Skills Every Accidental Counsellor Needs


Accidental counsellors, often teachers, managers, or those interacting closely with others, play a vital role without formal training in counselling. If you find yourself in this position, honing specific skills can significantly enhance your effectiveness. This article outlines ten essential skills every accidental counsellor should strive to acquire.

1. Active Listening

Active listening is the cornerstone of effective counselling. It’s not just about hearing words, but understanding the emotions and meanings behind them. This skill involves giving your full attention, showing interest, and providing feedback that indicates comprehension.

2. Empathy

Empathy, the ability to understand and share others’ feelings, is crucial for building trust and a safe environment. It’s about empathising with someone’s situation without judgement.

3. Communication Skills

Effective communication encompasses more than verbal interactions; it includes non-verbal cues, like body language and facial expressions, and the ability to articulate thoughts clearly and sensitively.

4. Boundary Setting

Recognising and maintaining professional boundaries is essential. This means understanding the limits of your role and knowing when to refer someone to a qualified professional.

5. Stress Management

Managing your own stress is key to effective counselling. Maintaining emotional well-being helps avoid burnout and ensures you are fully present for those you assist.

6. Problem-Solving Skills

While solving every problem isn’t your role, aiding people in exploring solutions is beneficial. This involves critical thinking and helping individuals consider various perspectives and possibilities.

7. Cultural Awareness

Sensitivity to cultural differences is vital. This skill involves understanding diverse backgrounds and respecting different viewpoints and traditions.

8. Confidentiality

Maintaining confidentiality is critical. Respecting privacy and ensuring information shared in confidence remains private is paramount, within legal boundaries.

9. Self-Awareness

Recognising your own emotions, biases, and limitations helps in providing unbiased support and prevents imposing your values on others.

10. Patience and Tolerance

Patience and tolerance are essential, especially when progress is slow or responses are unexpected. Consistent, non-frustrated support is key.


Being an effective accidental counsellor goes beyond a willingness to help; it requires developing skills that empower and support those in need. Focusing on these ten skills can make you a more effective communicator and a reliable support for those unexpectedly relying on you.


Check out this complimentary infographic available for download:  10 Essential Skills Every Accidental Counsellor Needs



For more information about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to

Interested in attending face to face? Check our venues here.

We also have online sessions available: 3 Hour Training | Full Day Online Training  | Suicide Awareness Training for Teachers



Author Bio:

Rocky Biasi, a seasoned educator and counsellor, holds a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, and certifications in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Provocative Therapy. His career spans roles as a teacher, school counsellor, and private practitioner. Rocky is the creator of the Accidental Counsellor training program, which has empowered over 20,000 individuals in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia since 2010. His approachable style and dedication to fostering empathetic communication have made a significant impact in the field.



Listening Deeply


This description of Listening Deeply by Jeff Foster resonated deeply with me and how I describe listening in our sessions I wanted to share with you also.


Listening Deeply

The most beautiful quality of all in a human being, in my humble opinion?
The ability to listen deeply.
To listen from Presence. From stillness.
To listen without trying to fix someone, or change them, or ‘save’ them.
The ability to allow another to be exactly as they are.
Not giving unsolicited advice.
Not lecturing them about the latest psychological research or the ‘most true’ spiritual teaching.
Not trying to mould them, manipulate them into matching a concept of who they ‘should’ be.
Not projecting your own trauma – or traumatic answers – all over them.

Just listening.

Listening with an open mind and an open heart and a receptive nervous system.

Allowing them to
to express,
to weep,
to question,
to be completely unique,
to expand into the space,
to discover their own truth.

I have met world experts in intimacy, relationships and honest communication who are unable to do this.
I have met spiritual gurus, so-called “enlightened masters”, expert psychologists and life coaches who are utterly unable to do this.

I have met popular teachers and authors on ‘
“listening from the heart’, ‘
“holding space’, ‘
“pure awareness’
and ‘embodied spirituality’
who are unable to do this.

It is a rare gift – the ability to allow others to be exactly as they are.

Awake or asleep.

To listen to them with every fibre of your being.
To receive them through the senses, to listen like the wild animals of the forest.
To swaddle them in undistracted, fascinated attention.
To envelop them in a silent, warm Presence.
To make them feel –
in those precious moments that you are together – like they are the most beloved One in the whole Universe.
When you sense this kind of sacred listening from someone, it’s unmistakable.
It cannot be manufactured.
It cannot be faked.
It is utterly rare and holy.

It is nothing less than
unconditional love.

Your nervous system senses it and rejoices.

–Jeff Foster


That’s all for now. I hope this resonates with you as well.  You can download a PDF of this here.

Beating Burnout and Finding Balance: An Interview with Melo Calarco

In today’s fast-paced world, where the demands of work and personal life can often feel overwhelming, burnout has become an all-too-common phenomenon. The relentless pursuit of success and the constant pressure to excel can take a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Recognising the need for a comprehensive guide to combat burnout and achieve a harmonious life, author and expert, Melo Calarco, has recently released his groundbreaking book, titled “Beating Burnout Finding Balance.”

To shed light on the profound insights shared in his book, we had the privilege of interviewing Melo Calarco in an exclusive video discussion. This engaging conversation is divided into nine captivating chapters, each focusing on a crucial aspect of overcoming burnout and restoring balance in our lives.

Click on the Chapter titles to delve more about the topics. 

Chapter 1: Self Awareness

The interview commences with a deep exploration of self-awareness, the foundation upon which personal growth and well-being are built. Melo emphasises the importance of understanding ourselves, our values, and our limits to recognise the early signs of burnout.

Chapter 2: Burnout and Self-Care

As burnout becomes increasingly prevalent, self-care emerges as a critical practice to prevent and overcome it. Melo shares invaluable insights into the significance of self-care routines, establishing healthy boundaries, and nurturing our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Chapter 3: Stress and Resilience

In this chapter, our conversation delves into the nature of stress and resilience. Melo offers practical strategies for building resilience and developing coping mechanisms to effectively manage stressors and bounce back from challenging situations.

Chapter 4: Self Regulation

Recognising the impact of emotional regulation on our overall well-being, Melo discusses the importance of self-regulation. He provides valuable guidance on cultivating emotional intelligence, managing difficult emotions, and fostering a sense of control over our reactions.

Chapter 5: Overwhelm and Anxiety

Overwhelming feelings and anxiety often accompany burnout, hindering our ability to find balance. Melo offers tools and techniques to navigate these challenges, empowering viewers to overcome anxiety, regain control, and restore equilibrium in their lives.

Chapter 6: Fear and Trust

Fear can be a significant barrier on the path to well-being. Melo explores the relationship between fear and trust, and how cultivating trust in ourselves and others can help us overcome fear and move forward with confidence.

Chapter 7: Purpose and Perseverance

Finding purpose amidst the chaos is a vital element of achieving balance. In this chapter, Melo explores the power of purpose and perseverance, guiding viewers to identify their core values and align their actions with their aspirations.

Chapter 8: Gratitude and Compassion

Cultivating gratitude and compassion can have a transformative effect on our well-being. Melo discusses the role of gratitude and compassion in combating burnout, fostering positive relationships, and nurturing a sense of fulfillment.

Chapter 9: Balance

The final chapter brings together all the key insights from the interview, highlighting the importance of finding balance in our lives. Melo provides practical strategies and actionable steps to help viewers create a harmonious equilibrium between work, relationships, and self-care.

In this enlightening video interview, Melo Calarco’s expertise shines through as he unravels the complexities of burnout and provides practical guidance on finding balance in our lives. By exploring the nine vital topics of self-awareness, self-care, stress, resilience, self-regulation, overwhelm, fear, purpose, gratitude, and balance, viewers gain valuable insights and actionable steps s towards beating burnout and achieving a more fulfilling and harmonious life. Melo Calarco’s book, “Beating Burnout Finding Balance,” serves as a comprehensive guide for those seeking to overcome burnout and reclaim their well-being.


Note: To access Melo’s book, including a free chapter, visit their website or platforms like Amazon and Audible where the book is available in both print and audio formats.

Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.


Chapter 9: Balance

In this blog post, we’ll be summarising the key insights from a captivating book on balance and renewal. The author, Melo Calarco, takes readers on a transformative journey by exploring the importance of finding balance in life. The book offers valuable lessons and practical strategies to help individuals rejuvenate their energy and truly value the concept of balance. Let’s dive into the last chapter and discover the profound wisdom it holds.

The Power of Permission

The final chapter of the book is a personal reflection by the author, Melo. It highlights the impact the book had on their own life and the value they place on maintaining balance. Melo emphasises the significance of giving ourselves permission to slow down and find rest after periods of stress or busyness. This act of self-permission can be challenging for many, as guilt often surrounds the idea of slowing down. However, Melo suggests that true balance and renewal can only be achieved by granting ourselves the freedom to take a step back.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Slowing down and finding rest: Melo reminds readers that taking breaks and finding rest is essential for maintaining balance. They share personal experiences, including upcoming travel plans and the importance of programming time for relaxation and reward after busy periods. By having something to look forward to, one can avoid being constantly caught up in the grind of everyday life.
  2. Giving yourself permission: Melo discusses the difficulty many high achievers face in stopping and embracing rest. They highlight that busyness does not equate to productivity and that constant engagement without breaks can lead to burnout. Giving yourself permission to pause, even for short periods like a 90-second breath break or a brief walk, can enhance productivity and recharge the mind.
  3. Punctuating the day: Melo introduces the concept of punctuating the day with short breaks to balance the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) response with the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. By taking regular breaks, individuals can renew their energy throughout the day, preventing exhaustion and maintaining a steady level of productivity.
  4. Preventing burnout: Melo underscores the importance of preventing burnout rather than trying to recover from it. They assert that catching the early signs of burnout and taking action to renew one’s energy can be much easier than recovering from an extended period of burnout. By being aware of one’s energy levels and actively renewing energy through various means, individuals can sustain their well-being and prevent burnout.

Finding balance and renewing energy are crucial for leading a fulfilling and productive life. Melo’s book provides valuable insights into the power of permission, the significance of rest, and the importance of maintaining a balanced approach to work and life. By embracing the concepts shared in the book, readers can embark on a transformative journey toward renewed energy, improved productivity, and enhanced well-being.

Note: To access Melo’s book, including a free chapter, visit their website or platforms like Amazon and Audible where the book is available in both print and audio formats.

Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.


Chapter 8: Gratitude and Compassion

In our journey of personal growth and self-discovery, we often encounter chapters that teach us valuable life lessons. One such chapter revolves around the profound concepts of gratitude and compassion. These principles have the remarkable ability to elevate our well-being, foster balance, and transform our outlook on life. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of gratitude and its connection to the RAS (Reticular Activating System), along with the release of neurochemicals that contribute to our overall happiness.

The Inspiring Influence of Gratitude:

During my travels through various developing countries, I had the privilege of living among indigenous communities. Despite their limited material possessions, these individuals radiated joy, laughter, and contentment. Their genuine smiles and expressions of gratitude deeply impacted me. Witnessing the happiness they found in simple things like a child playing with a broken wheel ignited my realisation of the immense power of gratitude.

Embodying Gratitude:

Many of us in the Western world practice gratitude by listing a few things we are thankful for. While this is beneficial, it is important to go beyond mere words and truly embody gratitude in our daily lives. Personally, I have incorporated two gratitude practices into my routine. I begin each day with a reverse gratitude practice, envisioning and looking forward to the day ahead with enthusiasm and gratitude. This shift in perspective sets a positive tone for the day right from the start.

At the end of the day, I take a few moments to reflect and write down three things I am grateful for. This practice encourages me to explore beyond the obvious and seek out even the smallest moments of kindness, compassion, and gratitude. By consciously training our minds to recognize these acts of goodness, we rewire our reticular activating system (RAS) to filter for positivity and fulfillment.

Understanding the RAS:

The RAS is a network of neurons in our brain that helps us recognize familiar patterns and stimuli. To comprehend its influence, imagine owning a brand-new red mini car. As you drive around, you start noticing other red minis everywhere. This phenomenon occurs because your RAS has been programmed to seek out and identify these familiar objects. Similarly, when we focus on negativity and stress, our RAS highlights more of the same in our lives.

Harnessing the Power of Neurochemicals:

Practicing gratitude and compassion triggers the release of neurochemicals that contribute to our well-being and happiness.

  • Dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when we complete tasks and experience a sense of fulfillment.
  • Serotonin, the mood stabiliser, can be boosted by exposing ourselves to sunlight in the morning or engaging in activities that bring us joy.
  • Oxytocin, often called the love hormone, is released when we show compassion, receive compliments, or share laughter with others.
  • Finally, endorphins, the natural painkillers, are produced through movement and exercise.

Cultivating gratitude and compassion is a transformative practice that has the power to enhance our lives in numerous ways. By incorporating gratitude into our daily routine, embracing compassion towards ourselves and others, and understanding the influence of the RAS and neurochemicals, we unlock a profound sense of well-being and happiness. Let us embark on this journey of gratitude and compassion, appreciating the simple joys of life and spreading kindness wherever we go. Remember, gratitude is not just a practice but a way of life that opens doors to a more fulfilling and harmonious existence.


Disclaimer: I encourage you to explore the profound impact of self-awareness by delving into Melo Calarco’s book. You can obtain a copy of the book by following this link.


Chapter 7: Purpose and Perseverance

In life, we often encounter chapters that teach us valuable lessons about purpose and perseverance. These lessons resonate deeply with our core values and can have a profound impact on our journey towards achieving our goals. In this blog post, I would like to share a personal story and discuss the importance of aligning with our purpose and vision, which can fuel our motivation and energise us to overcome challenges, no matter how daunting they may seem.

Discovering True Purpose:

Several years ago, at the age of 30, I found myself in a deep state of dissatisfaction. Despite a successful career in banking and retail, I felt an overwhelming emptiness. It was during this period that I recalled a childhood aspiration: teaching. Inspired by this long-forgotten dream, I made a life-changing decision to transition into the field of education. Though it seemed unconventional at the time, this leap of faith aligned me with my true purpose.

Embracing Challenges:

Entering the teaching profession as a 30-year-old presented its own set of challenges. I lacked formal education and had to start from scratch, learning how to write essays and navigate unfamiliar territory. However, my newfound purpose propelled me forward with unwavering motivation and energy. I began to notice a series of coincidences, synchronicities, and serendipitous opportunities that opened doors for me. Life seemed to flow more effortlessly when I aligned with my purpose and vision.

The Power of Purpose:

Aligning with our purpose infuses our actions with meaning and significance. It grants us the determination to face any obstacle head-on, as it did for me in my teaching journey. Purpose gives us the fuel we need to persist, even in the face of adversity. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose purpose like saving the world; rather, it can be a personal and meaningful reason that drives us forward.

Discovering Your Deeper Why:

Often, we find ourselves going through the motions without truly understanding our deeper motivations. It is essential to pause and reflect on why we do what we do. When coaching individuals, I ask them to contemplate their reasons for pursuing specific goals. If their answers fail to align with their deeper purpose, we delve further to uncover their true motivations.

Values and Purpose Alignment:

Values play a crucial role in determining our purpose. Identifying our top three values provides insight into what truly matters to us. It may be family, love, connection, or compassion, among others. When our deeper why aligns with our values, we discover a sense of fulfilment and drive that propels us forward.

The Magic of Purpose:

Purpose has the remarkable ability to transform even the most daunting tasks into attainable goals. Consider the example of running a marathon. Initially, the idea may seem impossible, but when purpose is added to the equation—a purpose that resonates with our deepest desires and involves someone we care about—our motivation becomes unwavering. Purpose becomes the magic ingredient that empowers us to push through obstacles and achieve what we once thought was beyond our reach.

In conclusion, purpose and perseverance are vital elements in our journey toward success and personal fulfilment. By aligning with our purpose and vision, we tap into an endless reservoir of motivation and energy. It is crucial to explore our deeper why, uncover our values, and ensure they harmonise with our purpose. Let us take the time to reflect and discover our true purpose, for when we do, we unlock the key to a life filled with meaning and purposeful action.


Disclaimer: I highly recommend reading the Melo’s book to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness. Purchase the book here.


Chapter 6: Fear and Trust

Fear can be a powerful and primal emotion that often holds us back from realising our full potential. However, beyond fear lies trust—the belief that we possess the inner resources to navigate any situation, no matter how challenging. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of turning towards our fears, recognizing them for what they are, and building trust in ourselves. By doing so, we can overcome limiting beliefs and embrace new possibilities in life.

Understanding Fear and Recognizing Its Influence:

Fear is one of the rawest and most intense emotions we experience. Often, we find ourselves overwhelmed by fear without fully understanding what we are feeling. The first step towards conquering fear is acknowledging and identifying it. By pinpointing fear as the source of our emotions, we gain a solid starting point for addressing it effectively.

Turning Towards Fear and Embracing Trust:

Once we recognize fear, the next step is to understand what is causing it. Fear can stem from various sources such as the fear of rejection, being judged, or facing change. By identifying the specific fear, we can develop a relationship with it. Instead of avoiding or denying fear, we must turn towards it. By confronting our fears head-on, we begin to dismantle their power over us.

On the other side of fear lies trust. Trusting ourselves and our abilities is essential in overcoming fear. It allows us to navigate any situation with confidence, knowing that we have what it takes to overcome challenges. Trusting ourselves means believing that we possess the necessary resources to face our fears and come out stronger on the other side.

Flipping Fear into Trust:

To build trust, we can employ various techniques, such as positive affirmations. However, it’s crucial to not only say the words but truly believe in them. Merely reciting affirmations without genuine belief will not yield the desired results. Trusting ourselves requires embodying that trust and feeling it in our core.

An exercise that can help flip fear into trust involves challenging our limiting beliefs. When faced with a limiting belief, such as “I’m not smart enough,” we can ask ourselves for evidence that supports this belief. By questioning the validity of our limiting beliefs, we can begin to turn towards them and understand how they hold us back. Then, we can counter these beliefs with empowering thoughts. For example, we can shift from “I’m not smart enough” to “I trust that I have the resources within me to succeed.”

Belief and Experience:

Belief plays a significant role in building trust. It’s important to not only affirm positive thoughts but also embody them and truly believe in ourselves. The more we trust ourselves, the more evidence we gather through our experiences that reinforces this trust. Every time we face fear head-on and come out the other side, we gain further proof of our ability to handle difficult situations.

Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs:

Sometimes, we hold on to limiting beliefs because we doubt our own trustworthiness or the availability of resources. However, reflecting on our past experiences can help us realize the abundance of resources we already possess. Considering the challenges we have overcome in life, we can recognize that we have always had the necessary resources within us when we needed them. This realization allows us to let go of limiting beliefs and embrace the trust we have in ourselves.

Confronting fear and building trust within ourselves is a transformative process that enables personal growth and empowers us to overcome limiting beliefs. By acknowledging fear, turning towards it, and trusting in our abilities, we can navigate any situation with confidence and resilience. Let us embrace the power of trust and open ourselves to new possibilities, knowing that we have the resources within us to thrive.


Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.


Chapter 5: Overwhelm and Anxiety


In our journey through life, we often find ourselves entangled in the web of overwhelming anxiety. It’s a topic so vast and profound that it could easily fill an entire podcast episode. Today, we will explore a life lesson shared by Melo, shedding light on how overwhelm and anxiety are often products of our minds. By understanding that we are not our thoughts and redirecting our attention to the present moment, we can liberate ourselves from the grip of anxiety and discover the power within us to cope with any situation.

Breaking Free from Identifying with Thoughts:

In the midst of our struggles, we may find ourselves saying, “I am anxious,” “I am depressed,” or “I am scared.” These statements imply that we have become identified with our thoughts, and our thoughts have become our identity. Melo, in his book, emphasises the importance of realising that thoughts are just thoughts; they do not define us. We have a tendency to attach ourselves to our thoughts, constructing intricate and believable stories that make them feel real. However, the truth is that thoughts are separate from who we are.

Challenging the Validity of Thoughts:

Our minds have an uncanny ability to create fearful and uncertain thoughts that may not align with reality. These thoughts can trigger anxiety and distress within us. Melo introduces a simple and effective system to confront these thoughts. When confronted with an anxious or fearful thought, we should pause and create space. Then, we can ask ourselves two vital questions: Is this thought true? Is it a fact? More often than not, we discover that these thoughts are products of our imagination rather than actual realities. This realisation empowers us to detach from these thoughts and regain control over our emotions.

Choosing the Helpful Path:

In addition to questioning the truth of our thoughts, we must also evaluate their usefulness. Is it helpful for us to dwell on these thoughts? Do they contribute positively to our well-being and growth? By shifting our focus from the “what if” scenarios of the future to the present moment, we can redirect our energy towards what is happening now. We must acknowledge that the future is merely imagination, while the past has already occurred. The only place where reality exists is in the present moment. By embracing the present and accepting what is happening, we unlock our inner strength to cope with any difficulties we encounter.

The Story of Resilience:

Melo shares an inspiring story of a client and friend who battled aggressive throat cancer. The doctors painted a grim picture of his prognosis, preparing him for the worst. However, Melo took a different approach, urging him to focus on each day as it came. Instead of being consumed by the future and what might happen, they met every day in the present moment. Together, they navigated the challenges of each day, using techniques such as meditation, prayer, and affirmations. Despite the physical and emotional hardships, the individual emerged as an embodiment of resilience, surprising even the oncologist. By embracing the present moment and meeting the day as it unfolded, he discovered the inner resources to cope with his circumstances.

Overwhelming anxiety can often paralyse us, trapping us in a web of fear and uncertainty. However, by understanding that we are not our thoughts and choosing to focus on the present moment, we can liberate ourselves from this burden. Melo’s life lesson reminds us that we always possess the inner strength to cope with what is happening in the present moment. While we may face difficulties, by redirecting our attention and energy to the present, we empower ourselves to respond effectively to any situation that arises. Embrace the present moment, challenge your thoughts, and discover the resilience within you to overcome overwhelming anxiety.


Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.


Chapter 4: Self Regulation

The next chapter of our blog takes us into the realm of self-regulation. As we discussed earlier, self-regulation is a fundamental aspect of mindfulness practice. It empowers us to navigate through life’s challenges with greater ease and composure. One key takeaway from this chapter is the profound impact that self-regulation techniques, particularly utilising the breath, can have on creating space within ourselves.

When we engage in self-regulation through conscious breathing and other techniques, we open up a space within us that allows for a pause, a moment of reflection before reacting. This pause is immensely powerful, as it disrupts the usual pattern of instant reactions that we often find ourselves caught up in.

Let me share with you a story that beautifully illustrates the significance of creating space through self-regulation. Imagine yourself in a situation where you feel immense pressure, like being in a heated meeting or facing a highly stressful circumstance. The tension mounts, and you start to experience a rush of stress and overwhelm. In such moments, there is typically a stimulus that triggers our response, almost like machine guns pressing against our ribs.

However, when we practice mindfulness and self-regulation, we introduce a gap between the stimulus and our response. This gap is where the magic happens. By incorporating breath techniques, body awareness, and mindfulness practices, we create a space that allows us to step back, observe, and consciously choose our response.

Let’s consider this scenario from a personal perspective. I’ve been dedicated to meditation for over 30 years, never missing a day. People often ask me what I gain from this practice, what it does for me. Upon reflection, I realise that meditation helps me cultivate that space between stimulus and response. It enables me to make mindful decisions, exercise my power of choice, and see the bigger picture. With regular practice, the space within me expands, offering even more room for conscious decisions and intentional responses.

In a recent client session, I had the privilege of working with an individual who belonged to a gang. He carried an air of bravado and power, yet underneath, he was struggling. As I introduced the concept of creating space through self-regulation, he began to grasp the true power it held. The ability to choose his response rather than simply reacting to stimuli became a revelation for him.

I asked him, “Can you put a price tag on this newfound power? Is it comparable to the external trappings of wealth and influence?” We both agreed that its value far surpassed any material possession. The ability to pause, to take a single breath, and allow that moment of space held immense significance. It was a testament to his flexibility and strength, enabling him to navigate life’s challenges with grace and wisdom.

So, whether it’s a momentary pause or a series of conscious breaths, the act of creating space within ourselves is an invaluable tool. It grants us the ability to respond rather than react, to bring mindful awareness to our thoughts, emotions, and actions. By heightening our awareness of the body and our surroundings, we open doors to a richer, more present experience of life.

In conclusion, self-regulation and the creation of space through techniques like conscious breathing and body awareness are pivotal aspects of mindfulness practice. They empower us to navigate life’s ups and downs with greater ease and intentionality. By embracing these practices, we tap into a wellspring of power and wisdom that resides within us, ultimately leading us to a more fulfilling and mindful existence.


Disclaimer: Parts of this blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.


Purchase the book here.

Chapter 3: Stress and Resilience

The next chapter delves into the topic of stress and resilience, and I’m thrilled to share it with you. Feel free to incorporate your captivating client stories and travel adventures as we explore the chapter. I must mention that every chapter in the book is accompanied by a tale from Melo’s own travels. So, in this particular chapter on stress and resilience, he begins with an account of his visit to the Varungan National Park in Rwanda.

During his travels in Rwanda and Uganda, he had an ardent desire to witness the gorillas in the high mountains of the region. Despite the political unrest in the area at the time, his determination led him there. Venturing into the mountains, guided by a team armed with machine guns and machetes, the journey was perilous. As they trekked through the dense vegetation, he  couldn’t help but feel the stress building up within him.

Eventually, they stumbled upon a family of gorillas halfway up the mountain. The adrenaline surged through his body as a massive silverback gorilla mock-charged towards him. Adhering to the guide’s instructions, he looked down, feeling the fight-or-flight response overwhelming him. However, as the gorilla passed by, he stole a glance at its captivating eyes, and an unexpected sense of peace enveloped him. The encounter with the gorilla family turned into an extraordinary experience that lasted for hours.

Unfortunately, heavy rain interrupted our interaction, and the gorilla mother led her family into the bushes. Curiously, the guide encouraged them to follow. They timidly trailed the gorillas into the bamboo thicket, surrounded by these magnificent creatures just a few metres away. It was a surreal and slightly nerve-wracking experience. At one point, another silverback gorilla, even larger than the previous one, approached them, instigating another surge of adrenaline. Yet, once again, he found himself captivated by the gorilla’s presence, and a sense of calmness washed over him.

This encounter highlighted the significance of the fight-or-flight response. While it is an essential survival mechanism, it is not designed to be activated continuously in our modern lives. The constant bombardment of stress triggers, be it emails, work pressures, or social media, can wear us down and potentially lead to burnout.

That’s where the breath comes into play. Self-awareness and the ability to self-regulate are crucial in preventing burnout. The breath acts as a powerful tool for self-regulation. By breathing slowly, especially on the exhale, we can trick our body into a relaxation response, calming the amygdala, which triggers the fight-or-flight response.

Interestingly, I recently read about the natural human tendency to sigh approximately every five minutes, which serves as the body’s way of releasing stress and cortisol. However, the constant stimulation from social media and emails can disrupt this natural mechanism. To counteract this, a breathing technique involving two quick inhales followed by a long exhale can induce a physiological sigh and aid in self-regulation.

Dr. Andrew Huberman and others have explored the benefits of this technique, and even just a few repetitions can have a profound impact. Incorporating these breathing exercises into our daily routine can help us navigate the stresses of modern life and cultivate resilience.

I appreciate the opportunity to share Melo’s story and discuss the breath’s remarkable ability to untangle the stress response. Your own experiences, along with the captivating tales in the book, truly bring these lessons to life. Breathing exercises offer a simple yet potent tool to turn down the stress response and foster well-being in our fast-paced world.


Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.


Chapter 2: Burnout and Self Care

In the previous blog post, the topic of gradual onset of burnout and the importance of recognising its signs came up. The discussion highlighted the need for self-awareness and the significance of implementing self-care practices to prevent burnout. This blog post continuation delves into the stages of burnout and provides essential self-care strategies to address it effectively.

The Stages of Burnout:

The conversation began with the acknowledgment that most people are unaware of their burnout until it reaches a critical stage. Research conducted for a book revealed that 90% of individuals interviewed, from various professions and walks of life, didn’t recognise their burnout until it was too late. A further 10% noticed the signs but didn’t know how to address them, while some kept pushing through without taking any action.

To facilitate early detection, understanding the stages and evolution of burnout becomes crucial. Burnout is characterised as the result of unmanaged stress, which often goes unnoticed until it manifests as a physiological response. The World Health Organization revised the definition of burnout in 2019, describing it as a consequence of unmanaged workplace stress. However, it’s important to note that burnout can also stem from stress in other areas of life, such as family or financial stress.

The diagnostic criteria for burnout include three main elements:

  1. Sheer exhaustion: This goes beyond normal fatigue and is characterised by a persistent lack of energy, motivation, and difficulty in performing daily tasks, even after sufficient rest.
  2. Disconnection and cynicism: Burnout can lead to feelings of detachment from oneself, work, colleagues, and an overall sense of negativity and cynicism.
  3. Lack of efficacy: Burnout often results in a decline in performance and efficiency, leading to difficulties in completing tasks, forgetfulness, and an overall sense of incompetence.

The Evolution of Burnout:

Burnout doesn’t occur suddenly but follows a progression that starts with everyday stress. Within the “green zone,” individuals can manage stress effectively through self-care practices, allowing them to function as high achievers. However, neglecting self-care and being overwhelmed by chronic stress can push individuals into the “yellow zone,” characterised by feelings of being overstimulated and overwhelmed.

If left unaddressed, chronic stress progresses to the tipping point, where individuals experience a sense of overwhelm. This overwhelm further deteriorates into allostatic stress, resulting in exhaustion and a decline in overall well-being. Eventually, individuals reach the “red zone” of full burnout or poor mental health, where they feel completely drained and unable to continue.

The Importance of Self-Care and Awareness:

The conversation emphasised the critical role of self-awareness in managing burnout. Many individuals, like the author, may not realise they are burning out until they experience physical, emotional, or behavioural symptoms. Recognizing signs of burnout early on is crucial for implementing preventive measures and practising self-care.

Self-care essentials such as adequate sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise, meditation, engaging in hobbies, and prioritising personal time contribute to staying in the green zone. The key is to consistently ask yourself what you have done for yourself each day and focus on activities that fill your cup and energise you.

Understanding the stages and evolution of burnout can help individuals detect it before reaching a critical stage. By fostering self-awareness and implementing self-care practices, individuals can effectively manage stress, prevent burnout, and maintain their overall well-being. Prioritising self-care and regularly assessing one’s state of well-being are essential steps towards leading a healthier and more balanced life.


Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.

Chapter 1: Self Awareness

Welcome to this blog post where we’ll be diving into the fascinating world of self-awareness and its profound impact on our lives. Today, we have the pleasure of introducing a remarkable book by Melo Calarco, a dear friend and renowned expert in staying energised, conquering burnout, and performing at your best. So, let’s jump right in!

In this book, Melo takes us on a captivating journey through nine chapters that cover essential aspects of personal growth. It all starts with self-awareness, the cornerstone of preventing burnout. Being aware of our physical, mental, and emotional state allows us to recognise signs of stress and take necessary action.

To cultivate self-awareness, Melo introduces us to the practice of mindfulness. He emphasises two approaches: the formal practice, which involves dedicated meditation sessions, and the non-formal practice, where we integrate mindfulness into our daily activities. By training our awareness, we can better navigate the distractions of our fast-paced world and tap into the power of the present moment.

One of the practical tools Melo shares is the 90-Second Breath Break. This simple yet powerful exercise can be done anywhere, anytime. By taking a pause, closing our eyes if possible, and focusing on our breath for just 90 seconds, we can reset our nervous system, shifting from the fight-or-flight response to a state of calm and relaxation.

In the book, Melo intertwines his insightful teachings with captivating stories from his own life and experiences with clients. His storytelling adds a vibrant and relatable dimension to the practical strategies presented, making them all the more impactful and transformative.

While we can only scratch the surface of Melo’s comprehensive work in this blog post, we hope to have conveyed the importance and potential of self-awareness. By truly knowing ourselves and paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, we open doors to personal growth, resilience, and overall well-being.

Remember, self-awareness is a lifelong journey. So, grab a copy of Melo’s book and embark on this transformative adventure. Implement the practices he shares, such as the 90-Second Breath Break, into your daily life. You’ll be amazed at the positive changes that unfold as you become more attuned to yourself and the present moment.

Stay tuned for more exciting insights from Melo’s book, as we explore topics like stress management, resilience, trust, purpose, and balance. We’re thrilled to have you on this journey of self-discovery and personal growth!

Disclaimer: This blog post is an overview of Melo Calarco’s book, and we highly recommend reading the complete work to delve deeper into the transformative power of self-awareness.

Purchase the book here.

Thank you for joining us today, and until next time, stay present, stay mindful, and stay inspired!

Compassion Based Mindfulness



I came across the RAIN acronym from Tara Brach, Ph.D. and I wanted to share this with you because it’s very similar to what I use personally and teach counselling clients and also in the Accidental Counsellor Training.


RAIN is a way to bring mindfulness, understanding and compassion to difficult emotions. The acronym stands for:

R—Recognise What’s Going On

A—Allow the Experience to be There, Just as It Is

I—Investigate with Interest and Care

N—Nurture with Self-Compassion


Before I go into each aspect I want to share why I think this process is so important.

What I’ve noticed is that humans (generally speaking) struggle and find it difficult to navigate their own and other people’s emotions. This leads to untold conflict within ourselves and with other people.

The number one pattern I see in how we respond to emotions is to resist and judge them. That is we resist emotions by suppressing them usually by distracting ourselves with a range of habits some helpful most not so helpful.

The other pattern I’ve observed is we can be very judgemental of our own or others emotion. You can see this yourself when you notice thoughts or self-talk like this, “I shouldn’t feel this way…” or when responding to others, “Don’t worry things will work out”

The reason I’m saying this is judgemental is because when we think or say any variation of I or you shouldn’t feel a particular way we are saying this emotion is wrong or bad or not good for me.

The reality is you or the person you’re responding to are experiencing the emotion and what we resist does tend to persist. Rather than resisting, avoiding and being judgmental of our emotions simply allow and accept that you’re having this experience.


In the Accidental Counsellor Training we teach that to connect with people we need to respond with empathy and to do that we need to acknowledge, validate and normalise how a person is feeling.

A favourite line from my good friend Dr David Lake is, “Of course for good reason” I use this at times when responding to people who are having intense emotions. Connect to another person or yourself by acknowledging, validating and normalising how you are feeling.


So let’s quickly look at the RAIN acronym a little further:

R—Recognise What’s Going On

Recognising means consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are affecting you.

This can be a done with a simple mental whisper, noting what you are most aware of. The whisper I use is “I see/feel you” or “Hey I’m here for you”


A—Allow the Experience to be There, Just as It Is

Allowing means letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you have recognised simply be there, without trying to fix or avoid anything.

You might recognise fear, and allow by mentally whispering “it’s ok” or “this belongs” or “yes.”

Allowing creates a pause that makes it possible to deepen attention and avoids resistance.


I—Investigate with Interest, care and curiosity

To investigate, call on your natural curiosity—the desire to know truth—and direct a more focused attention to your present experience.

You might ask yourself:

What most wants attention? How am I experiencing this in my body? What am I believing? What does this vulnerable place want from me? What does it most need?

Whatever the inquiry, your investigation will be most transformational if you step away from thinking,conceptualising and analysing and bring your primary attention to the felt-sense in the body.

In other words get out of your head and into your body.


N—Nurture with Self-Compassion

Self-compassion begins to naturally arise in the moments that you recognize you are suffering.

To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need.

Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship? Of love?


You can find the a PDF of the RAIN acronym here at


For more information about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to

Breaking Bad Habits

After reading Dr. Jud Brewer’s excellent book Unwinding Anxiety I started researching more of his work find him at and came across this really simple framework around breaking bad habits.

It explains how our brains learn in a simple, three-step process called “reward-based learning” — a process that’s easily illustrated with food:

  1. We see some food that looks good, and our brain says: Calories! Survival!
  2. We eat the food. It tastes great!
  3. Our body sends a signal to our brains: remember what you are eating and where you found it.

We lay down what’s called a “context-dependent memory,” and we learn to repeat the process next time. See food, eat food, feel good. Repeat.

Trigger, behaviour, reward. Those three things:




Reward is how we create habits.


After a while, our brains connect any time you feel bad, just eat something good and you’ll feel better!

We thank our brains for that great idea, and quickly learn that it’s true: if we eat chocolate or ice cream when we’re mad or sad, we do feel better.

In the modern world, however, we feel bad for many different reasons.

Conflict at work? Stuck in traffic? Just broke up with your significant other? Mad at something you saw on the news?

Our bodies are constantly reacting to the world around us — creating sensations and emotions that often we’re not consciously aware of, but that still make us uncomfortable.

When that happens, our brain jumps in and tries to “fix” it for us. It looks for anything that has made us feel better in the past, and says “Do that!”

Food is the easiest example, but in the modern world, there are plenty of “feel good” experiences right at our fingertips, like checking social media, online shopping, watching cute kitten videos on YouTube… you name it.

All of these things distract us from the uncomfortable sensations with a small burst of the “happiness” neurotransmitter dopamine.

We feel better (briefly) and our brain adds another “context-dependent memory” to the pile — making it more likely that we’ll fall into the same habit pattern the next time we feel anxious or uncomfortable.


Dr Judd has outlined a way out of this brain pattern…

Step 1: What do I get from this?

The first step is easy, and you can do it right now. Think of the habit you want to break: smoking, overeating, worrying, social media, texting while driving… whatever it is, bring it to mind. Really imagine the habit.

Now ask yourself “What do I get from this?”

The first thoughts will come from your conscious mind, telling you things like “It calms me down” or “It feels good” or “I want to know what my friends are up to.”

But look deeper, into your body, not your thoughts. When you think about the habit, what does it feel like? What sensations come to mind? What urges or emotions?

Getting clear on what the actual rewards are allows you to start to unwind the “trigger – behavior – reward” cycle, and actually change a part of your brain that keeps track of how rewarding an activity actually is.

Dr Judd recalls the words of a participant in a smoking cessation group who tried this, paying attention to the rewards of a cigarette got her to say “Yuck, this tastes awful!”


Step 2: Try “RAIN”

The second step in habit formation is easy to remember with the acronym “R-A-I-N”,

See our blog post on “R-A-I-N” here.


The “R” stands for Recognize. By practicing mindfulness, we can become aware of the thoughts, emotions, and sensations in our body. The trigger for your habit might be something external, or something internal, like a feeling.

The “A” stands for Acceptance. Allow the unpleasant feeling to exist within your body without immediately trying to push it away or distract yourself from it. Turn toward it. Welcome it. It’s only a sensation or emotion.

The “I” stands for Investigate. Be curious and ask:

– What’s actually going on in your body right now

– Where is the sensation? How strong is it? Have you felt it before?

The “N” stands for Note. Describe the sensation in terms you’ll remember. Is it restlessness? Tightness? Mouth watering? Learn to recognize these and classify them. Your body is always sending you signals, so knowing your body’s “language” will help put you in the driver’s seat.


Step 3: Take Action

The first few times you try using RAIN, it may feel a little uncomfortable. You will probably still do the habit.

That’s OK.

Keep it up, and you’ll start to recognize the bodily sensations and emotions that precede the habit loop itself. You’ll understand the reward — or lack of one — that you feel during and after smoking that cigarette, or having that glass of wine, or checking Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Reddit for the umpteenth time today.

You’ll learn to ride it out. Dr Judd calls that “urge surfing”. The urges will always be there, just like waves on the ocean. You can stand in the surf, using willpower to try and resist them, but eventually you’ll get knocked down.

But by using and practicing RAIN, you can learn to surf the waves. And break your habit for good in the process.


Hope you find this helpful. Find out more about our mental health and wellbeing sessions at

Turning Down Mental Chatter

Our sense of self is a self construct, a made up fiction created by left brain narratives. If you’re thinking what…let me explain some brief thoughts after reading the book No Self No Problem by Dr Chris Niebauer, a professor in cognitive neuropsychology.

If you stop to notice, there is a voice in your head narrating a constant stream of thoughts. We are often lost in thought recounting stories to ourselves about what just happened, what almost happened, what should have happened, and what might yet happen.

Most of this is simply made up. It’s the nature of our left brain.

Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, one of the most innovative neuroscientists of the twentieth century, found that the left brain’s role is one of beliefs and interpretation and that it had little regard for reality in making up its interpretations.

Two of the primary tools the left-brain interpreter uses is language and categorization.

Now contrast this to the right brain functioning, in the same way that the left brain is categorical, the right brain takes a more global approach to what it perceives.

Rather than dividing things into categories and making judgments that separate the world, the right brain gives attention to the whole scene and processes the world as a continuum.

Whereas the attention of the left brain is focused and narrow, the right brain is broad, vigilant, and attends to the big picture.

The left brain is sequential, separating time into “before that” or “after this,” while the right brain is focused on the immediacy of the present moment.

Both aspects of left and right brain development and functioning are necessary to live life to the fullest. It’s not that one side of the brain is better than the other. More so to bring into balance both aspects of the left and right brain especially if you find yourself in the grip of your left brain’s constant mental chatter.

So how do we turn down some of the left brain noise and turn up the right brain ?

Think of an activity that makes you feel relaxed, calm, content and peaceful. You’ll notice it’s because that activity slows your left brain storytelling. In those activities you feel present, in the moment, absorbed in such a way that you lose track of time.

Activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation and mindfulness all help access right brain consciousness and are focused on experiences in the present moment and in doing and being in a way that is beyond thinking and language.

Earlier I asked you to think of an activity that helped you feel calm, content, relaxed and at peace. It may be things like meditation or perhaps playing a sport, or listening to music or playing a musical instrument, gardening, surfing, walking on the beach, or the awe you feel in nature. All of these activities help you be more present and in the moment.

If you are feeling overwhelmed from the overthinking of the left brain try to turn that down and turn up your right brain with some of these activities.

Anxiety Habit Loop

Think about the fact that anxiety hides in our habits. That is anxiety can be a habit loop.

I’ve been reading the book Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer and highly recommend it. This is a short video that describes a little more on how the anxiety loop happens.

First, it’s important to know our survival brain is set up to avoid danger. We automatically act to avoid danger or unpleasant feelings. If you’re crossing the road reading your phone and hear the honking of a car you immediately jump back onto the curb without needing to think about it – it’s automatic! Just like habits require no thinking they are automatic.

Habits are formed in a 3 step process.

There is the Trigger/Cue for the behaviour and the behaviour seeks to produce a Reward or Result.

Here is an example. You have an unpleasant feeling of anxiety. That’s the cue/trigger. That behaviour could be anything that seeks to avoid and distract from that feeling like eating, smoking or worrying.

One of the biggest habit loops is worry. We feel the physical sensation of anxiety that’s the cue/trigger. The behaviour is worrying and the reward for worrying can be a feeling of being in control even if you’re not in control at all or a feeling of at least doing something.

It’s rewarding for the brain to say,” hey you’re worrying at least you’re doing something (even though it may be unproductive or unhelpful)” and that reward feeling feeds and tells our brain next time you’re anxious you should worry some more and that’s how anxiety is set up as a habit.

I’ll be posting more short videos with ideas from the book Unwinding Anxiety, where there are 3 steps to reframe and change these anxiety habit loops.

The first step is to map your anxiety habit loops. You can do that with this worksheet. Habit Mapper from Dr Jud

Creating A Safe Space As An Accidental Counsellor

One of the core themes we cover in our Accidental Counsellor Training is Connection. That means joining the person in the pit they are in.

Specifically, to acknowledge, validate and normalise their experience by reflecting back verbally and non-verbally not only what they are saying but also the message behind the message in an empathetic way. In this way, the person feels heard and understood

It can be difficult to listen empathically without trying to fix or change the person. By joining the person in the pit they are in and letting them explore what’s most distressing for them, you allow the person to discover and give voice to their feelings.

Yes, it can be difficult to resist the urge to provide unsolicited advice or try to fix the person’s problems. This often stems from a well-intentioned desire to help, but it can also be driven by the helpers own anxiety and uncertainty about how to respond to a difficult conversation.

When someone receives unsolicited advice, it can make them feel unheard and unvalidated, causing them to shut down and withdraw. It’s important to remember that the most helpful thing in these situations is to simply be present and create a safe space for the person to express their thoughts and feelings without interruption or judgment.

When we respond using empathic language, we convey to that person we understand or are striving to understand their situation. This has a powerful effect on people. Within this unique ‘space’ people who feel connected and understood are able to recognise their own strengths, hopes and solutions.

It truly is amazing how this happens. People at the start of a conversation may indeed be oblivious to options/ their strengths/ possible options they have, and yet through our willingness to enter the darkness through empathic responding, it’s like the ‘fog’ lifts and these qualities and options reveal themselves to the person.

I have heard more than once, “After speaking with you, I can see now that I do have other options. Thank you so much for coming to see me”. A person in pain is helped the moment they sense they are being understood.

In summary, the key skill of an Accidental Counsellor is the ability to join the person in the pit they are in, by acknowledging, validating and normalising their experience in an empathetic way. This creates a safe and loving space for the person to express their pain and emotions, rather than shutting down or feeling judged. The focus should be on creating this space, rather than rushing to fix the person’s problems.

Creating a safe space for the person to feel heard and understood triggers a powerful transformative effect on the person, it helps shit their energy, focus and perspective. They are no longer in the grip of the energy of the emotion because they have honored that feeling by giving it space rather than suppressing it. The shift in focus and perspective often leads to the person connecting with their own hopes, options and strengths and helps them feel connected and not alone.

To find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training by Rocky Biasi visit

Top Ten Listening Tips For Accidental Counsellors

An important part of the Accidental Counsellor Training is to listen well.

Here’s a list of ten top listening tips.

  • Pay attention: Focus on the speaker and what they are saying verbally and non verbally rather than letting your mind wander.
  • Avoid interrupting: Let the speaker finish their thoughts before jumping in with your own comments or questions.
  • Show interest: Use nonverbal cues, such as nodding or maintaining eye contact, to indicate that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Avoid distractions: Turn off your phone or any other distractions that may take your focus away from the conversation.
  • Reflect back: Paraphrase in your own words rather than parrot back what the speaker has said to show that you are listening and understand their perspective.
  • Ask questions: Try to avoid asking questions as it can interrupt the speaker. However, in the Accidental Counsellor we do talk about asking strengths based solution focused questions when appropriate.
  • Empathise: When we empathise, hopefully we are still being quick to listen not quick to speak. Put simply, empathy is the ability to step into another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. It isn’t, however, the same as sympathy.
  • Sympathy is about having an emotional response to someone – but one that isn’t shared with them. Empathy’s that extra step of thinking ‘what is it really like to be the other person with their experiences and their view of the world? How would I feel if I was going through this?
  • Be patient: Allow the speaker the time they need to fully express themselves.
  • Practice active listening: This means fully engaging with the speaker by acknowledging, validating and normalising how they are feeling.

To find out more about the Accidental Counsellor created by Rocky Biasi visit

Being An Accidental Counsellor

Being an Accidental Counsellor can be challenging and rewarding.

Who are Accidental Counsellors, first of all?

An Accidental Counsellor is anyone (a healthcare professional, teacher, parent, friend, colleague, Human Resource or community service worker) who is listening and responding to emotional distress.

Even though it wasn’t in your job description, it is not uncommon to find oneself acting as a counsellor. Patients or clients may confide in you about personal matters seeking support and advice. Or perhaps you have friends, family, coworkers, students, or even your own child who might come to you for counsel or just a sympathetic ear.

Being an accidental counsellor can be rewarding and fulfilling, as you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on someone’s life by providing a safe space for them to share by listening attentively. However, it can also be challenging, as you may not feel fully prepared or qualified to provide the help that is needed and in many cases feel burnout from hearing stories of pain and suffering.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge your own limits and boundaries. You are not a trained therapist and should not attempt to provide therapy or counselling services beyond your scope of practice. If a patient or client, student, friend or colleague is in need of more specialized help, it is important to refer and encourage them to access a qualified mental health professional.

At the same time, it is okay to offer support and guidance within your own abilities. You can listen actively, ask open-ended solution focused questions, and provide empathy and understanding. All of these skills you learn at It can also be helpful to provide resources and information, such as websites or hotlines, that may be of assistance.

It is also important to take care of yourself when acting as an accidental counsellor. Dealing with other people’s problems can be emotionally draining, so it is crucial to make time for self-care and to seek support from colleagues or a supervisor if needed.

In summary, being an accidental counsellor can be a rewarding and challenging experience. It is important to recognize your own limits and boundaries, offer support and guidance within your abilities, and take care of yourself. By following these guidelines, you can make a positive impact on those who turn to you for help.

To learn more about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to 




In Australia if you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency department, or use any of these crisis helplines:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or

SANE Australia Helpline: 1800 18 SANE (7236) or

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 or

Black Dog Institute:

Headspace: 1800 650 850 or


Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

13YARN: 13 92 76

Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria (ARCVic) Helpline: 1300 269 438



Finding Peace in a Worrying World: An Introduction to Intention Tapping

In this inspiring and practical 75-minute webinar, Steve Wells, creator of Intention Tapping, shows how you can use this powerful mind-body approach to release your stress, anxiety, and worry over troubling world, work, and personal events and find inner peace.

Download the slides for this webinar here.

To find out more about intention tapping, go to my good friend Steve Wells site

Check out the new Intention Tapping Group Coaching Program here.

Here are two discount codes only for the human connections audience:

HUMANCONNECTIONS1 will give you a $100 discount on the single payment for the 12 month program

HUMANCONNECTIONS2 is for a 20% discount on monthly payments (pay $40 per month instead of $50 per month.

This exciting new online group growth program with monthly live Intention Tapping sessions is for you if you want to:

Be sure to use the links with the discount codes to receive the discount:

HUMANCONNECTIONS1 will give you a $100 discount on the single payment for the 12 month program

HUMANCONNECTIONS2 is for a 20% discount on monthly payments (pay $40 per month instead of $50 per month.



Overcoming Flight Phobia Using Intention Tapping

This is a case study that shows how effective intention tapping can be in dealing with flight phobia.

Watch how Maurice my brother in law went from on the verge of cancelling his flight from Perth WA to Sydney to feeling excited about the flight. In this video we cover how his symptoms started escalating a month before the flight to how bad things became for Maurice 3 hours before the flight calling to inform us he has to cancel because the symptoms were so bad he couldn’t get on the flight and to his disbelief at how quickly intention tapping helped and how he managed when he was triggered again just before boarding.

This a raw, honest and authentic account of debilitating flight phobia and how intention tapping helped so much.

I showed Maurice two breathing techniques including the 4, 7, 8 where you breath in through your nose to the count of 4 and hold for the count of 7 and breath out through your mouth to the count of 8.

The other breathing technique is two quick inhalations through the nose and a longer exhale through the mouth like this.

I’ve found intention tapping to be incredibly helpful in creating calm and relaxation, processing upsetting thoughts and beliefs and processing stuck emotions and memories.

Please share this video with anyone you think may benefit from this.

To find out more about intention tapping, go to my good friend Steve Wells site

We recently ran a free webinar for our audience on intention tapping,  click here to watch the replay.



#AccidentalCounsellor#MentalHealth #Wellbeing#IntentionTapping #Tapping#FreeWebinar

Power of Connection

No one has ever said that to me!

Recently, I’ve been getting to know new friends (always a lovely experience) and I am reflecting on how we use stories to convey powerful messages of who we are to the other person (our new friend).

My friend was sharing a very difficult time in their life recalling a series of significant events in short succession. Starting with a divorce, then losing their mother and ending up in hospital with a sudden and serious illness. When she finished speaking I said, “That must have been a very traumatic time for you”. 

I noticed my surprise using the word “must ” in my response to her.  I’m usually much more tentative when checking my understanding of a person’s experience. In this instance it seemed to me how obviously traumatic that time in her life must have been and reflected that back to her.

As Powell says, “I will have to rephrase what you have said, and check it out with you to make sure that what left your mind and heart arrived in my mind and heart intact and without distortion”…                                                                                    

My surprise moved to curiosity when she said, “No one has ever said that to me – thank you for acknowledging what I went through. She was deeply moved recounting how for 5 years everytime she shared that story no one had ever acknowledged and validated her experience.

Her grateful reaction was another example of what I believe we all seek and yearn – to be heard and understood, to have our experiences acknowledged and validated. 

Kate Murphy in her book, “You’re Not Listening” states, “When you listen and really “get” what another person is saying, your brain waves and those of the speaker are literally in sync”.

I wonder why we don’t do this more often? Why do people tend to feel alone in their experience despite recounting their story over and over again? 

I believe one reason is many people fear acknowledging and validating someone’s traumatic experience in case it may upset them.

My experience and the research says the opposite is more true. When people have their traumatic experiences validated and understood they feel connected to you, they feel less alone.


How to Enjoy Life

Have you ever wondered why the more we tend to have in a materialistic sense, the less fulfilled we are – generally speaking?

Despite decades of economic growth,  the population as a whole is slightly less happy. On paper, many have lives that appear awesome, but they’re just not feeling it. Even those with great material and financial affluence are not as psychologically well-off as they could be. Laurie Santos, professor of psychology and teacher of Yale’s most popular class ever, will explore this paradox. She’ll argue that our brains have several dumb features that tend to get in the way of our well-being. On the upside, Santos says there are a series of simple mental hacks that everyone can implement to fight these biases and feel happier. 

See her full talk here 

Read a summary of her talk below.

The idea that when [fill in a future event or circumstance] you’ll be happy and fulfilled has left many people disappointed, searching and striving for what we need to achieve or have next to feel fulfilled. Santos uses Yale college students as a great example. They’ve spent their whole schooling lives, especially their senior year trying to get into this amazing, prestigious college and they finally made it. But why is it when they get there, all the excitement and love of life tends to fade. 

Here are some statistics from the National College Health Assessment 2018 (USA).

  • 41.9% of college students report being depressed “its difficult to function” 
  • 53.4% say they feel hopeless
  • 62.8% feel very lonely
  • 63.4% say they experience “overwhelming anxiety”
  • 87.4% say they feel overwhelmed by all they have to do
  • 12.1% say they have “seriously considered suicide” in the last year

It doesn’t make sense, these individuals are young, physically healthy students not facing refuge, food or water crisis but they’re still missing something to feel this way (and probably feel the need to read this). David Myers once said “Compared with their grandparents today’s young adults have grown up with much more affluence, slightly less happiness and much greater risk of depression and assorted social pathology.” It seems like once you get to where  you want, you are not as happy as you hoped and that providing material ‘leg ups’ or advantages doesn’t necessarily ensure good wellbeing.


Now that raises a question:

Why do so many people after meeting security needs and achieve wealth and privilege still not feel fulfilled?

The problem has to do with our minds. Our mind is filled with several little glitches that make it hard for us to enjoy the things we love. My good friend and mentor Dr David Lake says, “Sometimes your mind is not your best friend. You need to ask if the stories it’s telling you serve you or not”. One of these so-called glitches can be that despite achieving what you thought would make you happy your mind can interfere and prevent you from feeling how you’d hoped you would once you achieved your goal. 

It seems like these “mind glitches” are part of the human condition, however understanding how they work can help us live more happy and fulfilled lives. The phenomenon of understanding the mind was turned into a class at Yale and 1 in 4 students in the entire campus were attending the class. This shows that students don’t like the mental health crisis we are in and want to do something about it. 

Bottom line-  you can’t get rid of the glitches but you can learn to work with them. So here are two glitches of our minds that hinder our ability to enjoy our accomplishments and what you can do to work with them.


1. Our minds get used to things

One reason we aren’t as happy as we would like to be is because we get used to things, we adapt. For example, if you walked into a room with a loud sound it would be annoying but over time you would get used to it – also known as perceptual adaptation. And this is exactly what our minds do, we are so used to our lives we ignore what’s really great – this is known as hedonic adaptation.  

We stop noticing the amazing things in our lives once they become a part of it. 

“Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition.” – Daniel Gilbert

Due to hedonic adaptation we become accustomed to all the awesome things and people in our lives,  so we constantly strive for more because we feel we don’t have enough, and this becomes a vicious cycle. 

However, if you are aware of what is happening, if you are aware of this hedonic adaptation, you can start doing things to start appreciating the little things more.

Starting an attitude of gratitude is the antidote to the numbing of hedonic adaptation.

Another way to do this is to invest in less materialistic things but things that are harder to adapt to – like experiences. It’s so commonly preached yet so rarely practiced but it truly works. For example, when you buy a new nice car like an Audi it will still be your audi 2 years from now because it’s going to last. But if you spend your money on things that don’t last like a concert or holiday – you are left with a memory and time to savour the experiences. 

Take the time to appreciate things that have become a part of your life –  car, house, relationships because noticing and appreciating them combats hedonic adaptation. All the research shows that happy people tend to be grateful people so make it an event. Practice gratitude look for the blessings in your life, not only the material things but the people – the people in our life can sometimes go unnoticed. It is extremely powerful to practice this level of gratitude because it reduces hedonic adaptation, hence allowing you to thrive. 


2.Our minds seem to care more about context then they do about absolutes

When examining a situation or aspect of life our minds could have the time to look at all the absolutes or maximums in life but they instead take a shortcut and evaluate everything in life, relative to some reference point. Essentially, if you experience something great in life but there’s something out there that’s going slightly better than you, it can hinder that experience and make you feel bad. This emphasizes the power of reference points.

For example – at the olympics there is gold, silver and bronze. The gold athlete is set  – there’s no better reference point or anything better so they couldn’t be happier. Silver – not so much, they could only have been 0.1 seconds off the gold, so their reference isn’t every single other person they beat but the one they didn’t. Bronze is content – they were farther off the gold than the silver, they almost didn’t make it on the podium, so their reference is everyone they beat, not the two they didn’t. Bronze medal winners are almost always happier than the silver medal winners, according to research

This shows why we aren’t happy in our lives – you could be doing amazing, have one of the best salaries in your company, but if you’re second best, that stings. It means we aren’t evaluating all the factors in our life but instead doing it relative to some reference point. This is also known as simply putting things into perspective.


“Men do not desire to be rich, but to be richer than other men.” – John Stuart Mill

This concept leads to a problem – every time you see someone doing better than you, you feel bad about yourself or your life. The other problem is that we don’t get to choose what reference points we use, our mind just takes notice of whatever one is usually doing better than us, which can impact our perception on life and ourselves. We can’t control whether we compare ourselves or things to reference points, we can’t even choose what those points are, but what is worse is we usually get the comparisons wrong.


“If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.” – Charles De Montesquieu

We generally think things are better than they are or people are having more positive experiences than they are so we must learn to not compare to things that we have no real knowledge on and focus on appreciating what we do have and celebrating the wins along the journey. It’s not our fault though, humans tend to hide all the bad things that happen to them. This means that the social comparisons we are getting aren’t just bad for us, they’re incorrect, we are comparing ourselves to standards that aren’t even real.

To fight off these reference points we need to switch things up, introduce variety to notice the good things in our life. This means even if you are the best at something or receiving the best marks, you have to downgrade once in a while to realise how good it is. One technique is negative visualisation – imagine what it would be like to lose all the great things in your life, that then becomes your reference point. If you want to love something – you have to let it go once in a while. It’s not the circumstances in our life that make it bad – it’s our minds perception of it


In summary, our minds don’t do us many favours to say the least. Two aspects of the way the human mind works tend to create upset and suffering. One is hedonic adaptation and the other is reference points. What can help manage these natural tendencies in our minds is to practice gratitude, negative visualisation and appreciation for the material things and people in your life.

How to Reset Your Circadian Rhythm and Fix Your Sleep Schedule

How to Reset Your Circadian Rhythm and Fix Your Sleep Schedule


Having trouble falling asleep? Or what about feeling tired when you wake up even if you went to sleep at a good hour? By resetting your circadian rhythm so your  sleep schedule aligns with your internal  body clock will be the best thing you can do to feel rejuvenated when you wake up and make the most of your time asleep. 


What’s a circadian rhythm?

Your circadian rhythm is your body’s 24 hour internal clock which regulates the stages your body goes through such as when you fall asleep and wake up. It is controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus – this responds to the light in the morning and informs your body to wake up. It does the same at night when it responds to the dark and tells your body to begin producing melatonin (the sleep chemical). This rhythm varies for each person and changes depending on age.


Circadian sleep disorder

According to the National Institute of Health, “circadian rhythm disorders are problems that occur when your sleep-wake cycle is not properly aligned with your environment and interferes with your daily activities.” There are numerous contributors to this disorder including; jet lag after travel, sleeping in or going out late, specific medications and even daylight saving time. 


Can I reset my circadian rhythm?

There’s a very easy fix to resetting your circadian rhythm, or more accurately, discovering what your natural circadian rhythm actually is. The hard part is finding the time to do it:

  1. Start by getting up in the morning at a time that seems normal for you.
  2. Go to bed that night when you begin to feel tired.
  3. The next day, do not use an alarm, just sleep until you wake up naturally.

Repeat this process for several days, and soon enough you’ll develop a consistent sleep pattern and discover exactly when your body wants to be sleeping. At this point, your sleep schedule will now fall in line with your circadian rhythm.


Extra tips to fix your sleep schedule

  • Go outside and get some sunlight in the morning as soon as you can after waking up
  • Get regular or daily exercise
  • Plan consistent times for your meals each day, a scheduled eating pattern reinforces your circadian rhythm
  • Keep cool whilst sleeping – A cool bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67°F (15 to 19°C)
  • Don’t eat close to bedtime (within a few hours), your body won’t sleep as well if it’s busy digesting food
  • Stick to a regular pre-bed routine that lets your body know it’s time for sleep

Techniques to Fall Asleep

Sleep is essential for Mental Health and Wellbeing

The book “Why We Sleep” by Prof Matthew Walker details critical research that shows sleep is the most powerful thing you can do for your mental health and wellbeing.

If you’re an Accidental Counsellor – that is someone who responds to emotional upset and distress without formal counselling skills then looking after your own mental health and wellbeing is critical.

You can find out more about our online Accidental Counsellor Courses including a free 80 minute overview of the Accidental Counsellor at

Below are some techniques that will help with getting quality sleep.


Techniques to fall asleep

Many of us find ourselves tossing and turning, leading to sleepless nights with no remedy. Here are a list of numerous different strategies to combat this issue and you can find the ones that work best for you. 


Get into a routine

Having a regular routine can dramatically improve your sleep quality, your body will have a much easier time falling asleep when it knows what’s coming. Therefore a consistent bedtime ritual is key, try some of these techniques:

  • Yoga, stretching or meditation – Just 10-15 mins can help you relax and calm your mind before bed
  • Warm bath or shower – This allows your body temperature to drop which is a natural part of the process of falling asleep
  • Reading or journaling  – Reading a hardcopy book or journaling with pen and paper can be extremely stress relieving and prepares your mind for sleep
  • No coffee within 4 hours of bedtime – Coffee stimulates the brain and keeps you awake, any caffeine within 4 hours will disrupt your sleep
  • Avoid nighttime workouts – Like caffeine, night workouts also stimulate your body and brain, keeping you awake and restless during the night


Adjust your sleeping environment

Ensuring your sleeping environment is disruption free and relaxing is also essential to optimise your sleep.

  • Make it cool  – Try to keep the temperature between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius
  • Bring the black  – Keep the room as dark as possible, even pitch black if possible by getting blackout curtains, shutting the  door
  • Loose the clock (and phone too) – The temptation is strong to keep checking the time and notifications but these keep your mind stimulated and you awake.The blue light from your phone also delays the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone)
  • Aromatherapy – A variety of scents can help you relax, reduce anxiety, boost mood and improve sleep quality. Scents include; lavender, rose, chamomile, jasmine and frankincense


Keep it regular

The most natural way to fall asleep is to go to bed at the same time every night. Your body survives well with routine and likes to be able to anticipate the onset of sleep. A consistent bedtime allows for this to happen. Sleep consistency also helps your body maintain its natural circadian rhythm, your 24-hour internal biological clock.



The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a method of relaxation that works quickly for many people, its not a sleep remedy but it can help your body decrease its stress. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth
  • Breath in through your nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold it in for 7 seconds
  • Breath out through your mouth while making a “whoosh” sound for 8 seconds
  • Repeat this pattern 4 times



This can be a very powerful technique, similar to daydreaming. Instead of counting sheep think of a calming and relaxing scenario, for example; a walk along the beach, exploring a forest or waterfall. 

Your sleep is essential for your self care, mental health and wellbeing. Your performance and success during the day is highly correlated to the quality and quantity of sleep. Ensuring you have a regular sleep schedule and optimal environment will allow you to say no to sleepless nights and yes to restful nights. 

To find out more on learning counselling and to access a range of mental health and wellbeing courses including the Accidental Counsellor Course and a free 80 minute Accidental Counsellor Training go to


How to Manage Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

Burnout happens to the best of us, it’s when you feel tired and no longer have the motivation to continue with things you were once so passionate about or enjoyed. A particular form of this is called “Compassion Fatigue.”This specific type of burnout can occur when you have expressed extreme amounts of empathy towards others and even taken on another person’s pain, ultimately causing your own trauma response. It is quite a common phenomenon amongst healthcare, social and mental health workers, particularly “Accidental Counsellors” however it can impact almost anyone who exerts this amount of care towards others. 


The first step in preventing Compassion Fatigue is knowing the symptoms, these can include:

  • Sleeping trouble or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Unexplained physical issues
  • Inability to be decisive 
  • Feeling isolated and hopeless
  • Dreading going to work 

Once you are aware of these symptoms, have identified this problem and recognised that it is not a weakness you can work towards a resolution. 


Go back to basics 

When we feel overwhelmed or fatigued we often forget about the essential things that fuel us such as diet, exercise and sleep schedule. Some tips to help you remember these key aspects of living are:

  • Carry a water bottle around with you 
  • Eating balanced meals
  • Keeping meals and snacks at consistent times
  • Spend at least half and hour outside in the sun – preferably doing exercise or some form of movement


Watch for destruction

When we feel emotionally and even physically exhausted we can look to shortcuts or give into impulses as a quick fix to our problem such as retail therapy or binge eating. This is because they make us feel good in the moment, however they aren’t sustainable and are not good long term solutions. Instead of judging yourself on the impulses understand that they are temporary fixes and look for ways to convert them into manageable solutions. A phrase you could say to yourself to assist with this is “This is not the coping method that will really help me.”


Learn to love yourself

By exerting so much compassion, empathy and love towards others you may find you lack in giving these to yourself which is key for feelings of fulfillment and happiness. Try mindfulness or meditation to help yourself be more in touch with what your mind and body is telling you, this way you will know how to be more self compassionate, ultimately easing your fatigue. Some phrases to say are:

  • It’s okay to feel like this.
  • I’ve been carrying a lot, so it’s natural to feel heavy.
  • I’ve been so strong, and I need some relief.


Radical Acceptance

As an “Accidental Counsellor” or just a person who expresses a lot of compassion, you may find yourself living with the ideology that you must help others, you are the best person to look after a particular individual or that you can save a person if you try really hard. Whilst these are great it can be self damaging because you can find yourself attempting to control the uncontrollables. Practicing radical acceptance means to accept what is in and out of your control and to focus on what is rather than what isn’t. By lessening your self obligations you can ease your compassion fatigue. 



By creating separation between work, play and relaxation you can redirect your compassion fatigue to balanced living. This means to separate the things that cause this fatigue from the things that don’t. For example if your job is the cause, when you walk into your house you leave your clients, patients and/or coworkers at work. Change out of your clothes or uniform and take up a non-work related activity. If you work from home this can look like having separate spaces for work and relaxation. Some other things to consider are:

  • Maintaining a social life with people other than your coworkers.
  • Consistently doing hobbies and activities that have nothing to do with work.


Finding support networks

Finding an appropriate support network, whether that is a certain group delegated by work, a psychologist or mental health expert or even a trusted friend or family member, is key to maintaining your mental health. Having a safe space to vent allows you to express your emotions in a healthy way without judgment or giving into impulses. Another strategy is to join a mindfulness class or art therapy group. Everyone deserves an empathetic ear just like you have been providing to others.


Learning how to manage compassion fatigue and burnout is critical for Accidental Counsellors. You’re an “Accidental Counsellor” when you find yourself responding often to emotional distress in your work or personal life without formal counselling training!


To learn more about the Accidental Counsellor Training go to


The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module: 7 Exception Question


Now that we’ve had posts addressing the wellbeing and connection parts of the Accidental Counsellor, I think it’s time that we take a look at the exception question, another solution-focused strategy. In many ways, our lives, including the problems and challenges that we experience, are like seasons. They come and they go; nothing is permanent. The exception question looks at when things are better or when you are managing better.

The Core Areas

The exception question looks at three core areas that frame the problem. Once you get the nature of the problem, you can start identifying exceptions to it – when it doesn’t happen, when it happens less frequently, when it’s less intense, etc.

  • Nature of the problem (What is your problem?)
  • Time of the problem (When did it occur?)
  • Manner of the problem (How did this happen?)


Identify Exceptions to the problem

On establishing the nature of your problem, you can continue to work on recognizing and acknowledging the exceptions. In order to do so, you need to ask specific questions.

  • When was this situation not happening?
  • When did you feel that your problems weren’t this frequent?
  • When did you feel that your problems weren’t as intense as you think now?

After getting the answers to these questions, you can move forward in exploring the differences between the current problematic situation and a positive past condition.

Explore the Differences

Once you get those exceptions, then you can explore the differences between those exceptions

  • Where were you when this problem wasn’t this intense?
  • Who was with you when you felt less distressed about your current situation?
  • What was different about the time when this difficulty didn’t make you feel so anxious?
  • What else was better about those times when your problems seem less frequent?

You can use these questions to prompt people to think about a more positive time in their life. This can make them feel less hopeless about their current situation.

Incorporating a Scaling Question

Integrating a scaling question is another solution-focused questioning technique. This scaling can be implemented by asking some specific questions.

For instance, when your friend or any individual says, “I’m feeling anxious,” you can ask them a question like, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how anxious are you feeling right now?”

If their answer is an 8 or 9, you can move forward by asking them to think about a time when it was a 10 or even more than that. Try to make that individual think about a time when their problems were much worse.

After making them remember a more negative period of their life, always remember to encourage them. You can tell them that there were worse times, but they were strong enough to push through it.

Now it’s time to transition smoothly to a better situation. If their previous answer was 8, ask them to think of a time when it was 6 or 7. After successfully making them think of a better situation and a worse condition, you will reach the last step of this questioning model.

“Tell me what was different about the better times?”

This is the question that will change their entire perception. It will make them realize how temporary their problems are. The nature of this universe is to evolve, making your difficulties worse and then better.

Wrapping Up

Exception questions give you hints toward possible next best steps by helping you look for strengths in previous experiences.

If you’ve found this post, or any of our previous posts helpful, consider becoming a member and taking the Accidental Counsellor short course. Members also have access to all of our other courses, as well as a monthly online training.


Go back the previous  Modules here:

Module 1 What is an Accidental Counsellor? 

Module 2 The Solution Focused Approach

The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module 6: Connection


Connecting is getting into the pit with someone.

It includes acknowledging, validating, and normalising another person’s experience. Connection is the place where transformation happens because the person feels less alone. They feel that you get them. The emotional consequences of this feeling are that the person trusts you, feels safer, and begins to calm down. These emotional consequences provide space for new thinking and new awareness – a place for positive change to arise.

In that space of connection, the person speaking does not need to defend, justify, or explain because the person you’re talking to (who is listening) gets it.


Empathy versus Sympathy

In Brené Brown’s brief video titled “Empathy versus Sympathy”, she doesn’t use the phrase “getting in the pit”, but I think that’s what she’s talking about. I want to share her work with you because Brené Brown is a remarkable thought leader, and there are some really wonderful distinctions in this video. According to Brown, the difference between empathy and sympathy is that empathy fuels connection, while sympathy drives disconnection.

Theresa Wiseman is a nursing scholar who studied very diverse professions in which empathy is relevant, and from her studies, she came up with the following four qualities of empathy:

  1. Perspective-taking, the ability to take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspective as their truth.
  2. Staying out of judgment, which is not easy when you enjoy it as much as most of us do.
  3. Recognizing emotion in other people and then communicating that.
  4. Empathy is feeling with people.

Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice, because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. An empathetic response rarely, if ever, begins with “at least”. Yeah, you know, that thing we all say all too often because – you know what? – someone just shared something with us that’s incredibly painful and we’re trying to silver-line it (I don’t think that’s a verb, but I’m using it as one).

A few examples:

Share: “So, I had a miscarriage.”

Response: “At least you know you can get pregnant.”


Share: “I think my marriage is falling apart.”

Response: “At least you have a marriage.”


Share: “John’s getting kicked out of school.”

Response: “At least Sarah is an A student.”

Too often, when faced with very difficult conversations, we try to make things better rather than simply recognizing and acknowledging them for what they are. If I share something with you that’s very difficult, I’d rather you say, “I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.” The truth is that “fix it” response rarely makes something better. What makes something better is connection. This is one of the key takeaways from Brown’s video.


Listening with attention and presence

Instead of trying to fix a problem, we need to connect with the person. We need to listen. When I talk about listening and reflective listening or active listening, I’m talking about listening with your heart, with your body. We need to have our entire focus and attention on the person to whom we’re listening. If you’re not present when you’re listening to someone, if you’ve got your own stories going on in your head (“What will I say?” “How am I going to help?”), if you’re thinking about other things, it doesn’t matter what you think you’re showing in your body, the person you’re supposed to be listening to will pick up on your lack of attention.

Listening, the art of listening, is about being fully attentive to the other person – with your mind, with your heart, with your body. Every part of your being needs to be completely there. The following quote from John Powell speaks to this:

“In true listening, we reach behind the words, we see through them to find the person who is being revealed. Listening is a search to find the treasure of the true person, as revealed verbally and non-verbally.”

I think this is a critical point. I often hear things like “But they’re just not opening up”, and I have to remind people that non-verbal communication is a much greater part of communication than verbal communication. Powell says, “Be sure to pick up what the person is saying and not saying through their body language. There’s a semantic problem, of course, ” he says. “The words bear a different connotation for you than they do for me. Consequently, I can never tell you what you’ve said, but only what I’ve heard. I’ll have to rephrase what you’ve said, and check it out with you to make sure what left your mind and heart arrived in my mind and heart intact without distortion.”

I really love this description of listening from Powell, particularly how he describes distortions between sender and receiver. Because of these distortions, it’s important that I check and rephrase what you’ve said to make sure that our communication is clear – I have to connect with you.


The 3 components to listening and responding

As I understand it, there are three core things that Powell is talking about that we need to do when we’re listening well, and it’s not a linear process. As long as these three components are part of your listening process, I think you’re doing a good job.

  1. We need to check that what we’re receiving what was said accurately without our own filters, perceptions, and assumptions.
  2. We need to check the person’s feelings, their emotional state.
  3. We need to connect their emotional state to the content of what they’re saying.



Remember, these aren’t linear. They don’t necessarily happen in that order. You can mix and match as each individual situation calls for.

Let me give you an example. A mother says, “When my daughter stops talking to me, then I know for sure that I’ve done something wrong. She doesn’t seem to be able to communicate with me anymore. Then I think that well, maybe it’s me.”

Based on the reflective listening formula as described by Powell, there are three things we need to do when responding to this mother. We need to check that what we’re hearing is accurate or reflects what the person is saying. We need to check for her emotions, and we need to connect her emotion to her content.

I repeat: it’s not linear.

The most important thing in this instance is to check that we’re accurately picking up on her emotional state.

So, look at her statement again and write down what you think about her emotional state. When we use this example in live workshops, people respond with a range of emotions, and they’re all true. Some say that she’s sad, and, of course, a mother would be sad in this situation. She’d be sad, worried, frustrated – all of those emotions are certainly there. However, we need to be able to reflect back the strongest emotion, the one she most identifies with. Think about it. Wouldn’t it sound odd if we responded to her by saying, “It sounds like you’re feeling worried, anxious, frustrated.” Which one is it? What needs to be addressed?

I think that the strongest emotion is guilt or doubt. If you reread what she said, notice the recurring theme.

She’s doubting herself, blaming herself, and feeling guilty that she’s doing something wrong. I think that’s the strongest emotion because she repeats it. Moreover, when she says, “I know for sure that I’ve done something wrong”, that’s a pretty direct and strong statement.

The trap here is that we might feel inclined to respond by saying, “Well, you’re doing the best you can” or “It’s not your fault”. That’s exactly how most people would respond to her statement because they want to reassure her and make her feel better. However, if we do that, we’re not hearing or listening to what she is saying. There are certainly some really strong statements here (i.e., “I know for sure that I’ve done something wrong” and I think that maybe it’s me”), and you might be thinking “but shouldn’t I challenge some of these thoughts and perceptions”? Absolutely, yes, but not yet. Remember that there are three stages in The Accidental Counsellor model, and influence is stage three. We’re not there yet. After we connect, we can start asking questions that can get her to think about the situation differently.

We need to connect first. So, how do we do that according to the three-part formula based on Powell’s quote? After identifying that her strongest emotion is guilt or doubt, I would respond as follows:

“The way you and your daughter are communicating is really upsetting you, and if I’m hearing you right, if I’m understanding where you’re coming from, it sounds like you’re blaming yourself or you’re doubting that you’re doing it right. I just wanted to check and make sure, am I hearing your right? Is that what it’s like for you?”

Notice that I actually have touched on emotion. I’ve checked more than once, including checking that I heard the content accurately. It doesn’t have to be in any order.

Of course, this is just one example of how you might respond and get in the pit by acknowledging, validating, and normalizing someone’s experience. Once she says, “Yeah, I am blaming myself”, then you can go on with the conversation from there, but you’ve got to get that first yes. If you don’t get that, nothing can come next. That’s the basic premise.


Read the previous  Modules here:

Module 1 What is an Accidental Counsellor? 

Module 2 The Solution Focused Approach

The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module 5: Wellbeing and Selfcare

As you probably know if you’ve made it this far, the accidental counselor model is based on three core areas or themes: wellbeing, connection, and influence. In this post, we’re going to discuss wellbeing.

We’ll begin by exploring the concept of the The Healthy Mind Platter, which was created and first described by David Rock and Daniel Siegel in their book Brainstorm. While I would probably add diet and nutrition, I think the framework they’ve developed has a lot of handy ideas that we can implement in our model. According to their framework, there are 7 factors that contribute to good brain health and increasing wellness when integrated into our daily lives.



Sleep is the absolute foundation upon which all other mental health and wellbeing is built. If we don’t get the right quantity and quality of sleep, it affects our physical and mental health. Routine is critical for obtaining the quality and quantity we need. Having sleep consistency, such has making sure that your room is dark and cool – as you know, you’re much more comfortable and sleep better in a room that is cool rather than hot – is really important with sleep. Additionally, we should really be aiming for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. I know many people think they can get by with 5.5 or 6.5 hours of sleep, and I do that too, but research has shown that this practice has a really detrimental impact on our physical and mental health over time.

Sleep rejuvenates our physical health when we go through slow wave sleep and our mental health when we go through that REM sleep, which is the deeper form of sleep that helps us process traumatic memories and emotions. Moreover, when we’re not sleeping well, we’re usually not eating well either, as we tend to eat more junk food. We also may not be exercising the way we should because we just don’t have the energy for it.

Physical Activity

In addition to sleep, physical activity is key to healthy wellbeing. In fact, some research even suggests that exercise can be as, or even more, effective than antidepressants in treating depression. To learn more about this, check out Professor John Ratey’s work in his book, Spark, or online, where he talks about the critical link between physical health, exercise, and mental health.


Focus time is the next area they address in the Healthy Mind Platter framework. Your energy flows with where you put your focus. So often we feel really overwhelmed because we think we have 10, 15, even 20 things that we need to get done. But the truth is that we can literally only do one thing at a time. I know that a lot of people say that multitasking is a high-level skill. However, there’s lots of research regarding multitasking, including a blog article on our website,, that shows that our energy and focus dissipate when we multitask, and the opportunity cost in refocusing is enormous.

In other words, if you’re focused on doing something and you get pulled away – distracted by a notification or whatever it is – you have to refocus when you return to what you were doing, and that loss in time is not an effective or productive way to work. Instead, being able to compartmentalize – to say, ok, I’ve got these 10 things to do or these 6 things that are stressing me out, to acknowledge those things and then lock them away and focus on one at a time – is much more effective in terms of productivity and wellbeing.


Connecting time is equally important, and we get more of it by using our focus time wisely. Connecting is not just about connecting with other people; it’s also about connecting with nature, which has a rejuvenating quality for our wellbeing. You can connect with nature in simple ways by taking a walk, visiting a local body of water, or enjoying your favorite park. Of course, connecting with other people is important to.

Downtime and Playtime

The next two pieces of the framework – downtime and playtime – are challenging for me personally. Playtime involves making sure that there is some fun and laughter in your life. If you’re laughing, you’re not worried. The two can’t coexist. You can laugh and then a minute later, you can be worried about something, but in the moment when you’re laughing and having fun, you’re not worried. Laughter truly is remarkable medicine. Children are a great example here. They know exactly how to play. They’re in the moment, playing and having fun. As we age, we get too serious. I know that this is definitely a challenge for me. Looking for ways to have fun is really important.

Like playtime, I think downtime also becomes more difficult to conceive of as we age. To understand it, let’s use the metaphor of a car. If your car ran 24/7, it wouldn’t be long before something went wrong. The same is true of human beings. We need to be able to stop and have some downtime – time when we’re simply not doing or thinking about anything. This is often difficult because we’ve got so much to do, but as my great friend and mentor, Dr. David Lake, taught me, there’s always things that need doing. If we try to wait until everything is done before we can relax, we’re never going to get to relax. Instead, we need to schedule time in each day for downtime – time to just switch off. It helps for me to think of it like switching channels. If I’m working on something and it’s just not flowing or progressing, that means I’m not working effectively or efficiently, so maybe it’s time to switch the body’s channels and have some downtime. This means getting up and moving away from work, maybe going for a walk, getting outdoors, or just stretching for 5 minutes, and then getting back to work. It’s truly extraordinary how re-energizing this time can be.


Lastly, time-in is what I refer to as your inner world – your thoughts, your emotions. This could mean a practice of mindfulness, meditation, or journaling. If you’re religious, prayer might be a part of this time. It’s a time to be reflective and self-aware, and there are many ways you can go about doing that.

Thanks to The Healthy Mind Platter framework, we now know there are many small but important changes we can make to our daily routines to increase our brain health and wellbeing.


Read the previous  Modules here:

Module 1 What is an Accidental Counsellor? 

Module 2 The Solution Focused Approach

The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module 4: The Accidental Counsellor Model

The Accidental Counsellor Model

The Accidental Counsellor Model is based on three core themes animated by your presence.

1) Self Care and Wellbeingso we are not overcome by the emotional distress of others. This also includes appropriate referral.

2)Connection so we are able to validate and acknowledge the person so they feel heard and understood.

3) Influence so we can ask appropriate “solution focused questions” if appropriate rather than giving unsolicited advice.



The accidental counsellor model is animated by presence. We’ve all experienced presence before. Think back to the last time you met a new person. Remember how you felt in the first 3-5 minutes of meeting them—either negative (your defense mechanisms kick in, walls go up, you can’t wait remove yourself from the situation) or positive (you’re so comfortable that you inexplicably feel like you’ve known this person for much longer than a few minutes). That’s presence. That’s what really animates the entire Accidental Counsellor Model. It’s your presence that animates the conversation.


Let’s start with influence. This is where a lot of accidental counsellors get stuck because it’s both natural and tempting to exert influence. As a human being listening to people’s stories of pain and stress, it’s quite natural to try to bring them comfort and to make them feel better. Thus, we can be tempted to rush in and provide advice, suggestions, and solutions. Specifically, I’m talking about providing unsolicited feedback and advice. The research says that when we tell people what to do, their motivation for doing it lessens, even if it was something they wanted to do in the first place.

Ask Don’t Tell

When we ask questions and people respond with their own answers, they’re much more motivated because they have ownership and responsibility. It’s much more empowering. The unintended consequence of offering people advice is suggesting that they can’t really fix the problem on their own. It’s like you’re saying, “You can’t resolve this. You need me to be able to get through this.”

Of course, no one intends to say that. It’s the unintended consequence of rushing in and rescuing people rather than just holding a space and hearing them. Obviously, common sense still applies here. If it’s a crisis situation, we need to be much more direct. People need to be safe. If someone’s asking you for some information and you have it, you should probably share it. However, when listening to people’s emotional distress, we typically want to just listen and then ask questions if appropriate.

In terms of preventing the temptation to influence, I recommend remembering the phrase ask, don’t tell. Specifically, ask solution-focused questions.


In order for our solution-focused questions to have an impact, we need to form a connection. I’m not talking about rapport here – if your reading this you know we need rapport. When I refer to connection I’m specifically talking about connecting to the person’s story of pain and suffering.  That is acknowledging, validating, and normalising their experience. Here, I find it helpful to think of the phrase get in the pit with the person.

This is really important because when you do that, the person feels heard and understood. They trust you more, and they feel safer. They begin to calm down, and they feel less alone. I believe that it’s in the connection phase that transformation truly happens. This is the most powerful phase. It is where the healing actually takes place.

There are two key misunderstandings of connection that I want to address now.


Misunderstanding #1 Connecting means agreeing.

The first misunderstanding occurs when I say acknowledge, validate, and normalise the person’s experience. People often respond by asking, “What if the person’s lying?” Well, what if they are?

Consider this example in a school context:

What if a parent said, “I’m sick and tired of this school. The teachers can’t teach. My daughter is not learning,” so on and so forth. The parent is clearly quite upset. They might even be denigrating a teacher or staff member. The response I most often hear in this situation is defensive and explanatory. People start defending themselves or the organisation or the school and say, “Look, actually what happened was…” or “that’s not quite really how it unfolded. Can I give you the facts?” And, I hate to say it, but that’s a terrible response. That comes after the person feels heard and understood. They’re not going to listen to what you’re saying if they don’t think that you’re listening to them first.

In this situation, I would respond by saying something like this: “If I believed my daughter was going to a school and was walking into a classroom where the teacher was incompetent, I would be just as upset and distressed as you are right now.” Do not misinterpret and think that I’m agreeing here. I’m not. Surely, we can listen to people and help them feel heard and understood without agreeing. I’m simply acknowledging that I understand how the parent sees the situation. The first common misunderstanding is that I’m agreeing, but I’m actually acknowledging what the person is saying. I’m acknowledging their perspective so that they feel heard and understood.

Misunderstanding #2 Connecting with the person’s pain will make it worse for them.

The other common misunderstanding is that people think acknowledging, validating, and normalising the person’s experience is making it worse for them.We’re not making it worse. We’re getting in the pit with them and as a consequence they feel heard and understood and less alone.

Now I want to tell you about a client who came to see me about a miscarriage, so just a trigger warning here for people who may have had that experience.

I had a client who originally came to see me with her husband who had been diagnosed with bipolar, and they wanted to get some relationship counselling. Unfortunately, he only came once, but she kept coming back. I saw her over a period of several months. A few weeks after she started coming, she came in and just sat behind me silently.

I asked, “How how are you? What would you like to focus on this session?” And she said, “Oh, over the weekend I had a miscarriage.” And I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“It’s okay, Rocky. I spoke to my doctor, and he said not to worry because I’m still quite young and it was our first time trying and this happens quite often.”

Do you see what happened there? Think about this in terms of energy. When she said I had a miscarriage, my initial response was, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.” My energy was lower. My job is to match where she is, not to bring her down to where I am.

This is a client-centered approach. It’s not about me. I have to be where the person is. So, I adjusted my response: “Okay, so if I’m hearing you right, you’ve had this experience, you’ve had this miscarriage, but it sounds like the doctor’s reassured you, and you seem to be processing this. Is that what you want to talk about this session or something else? What should we focus on?”

And she said, “Oh no, I think I’m okay with that. I really want to talk to you about being harassed at work”

And we spent the next hour talking about the harassment that she was experiencing at work from her manager.

A few months later, I opened the side door to my office, and she was there and in a really terrible state, sobbing at the door. I’d never met a client like that. I almost had to assist her while she walked over to the lounge. I said, “I can see you’re in a really terrible state. When you’re ready, just tell me what’s happened.” Through her sobbing, she told me that this is actually her third miscarriage. I wanted to know whether she had a support framework around her, so I asked, “Besides coming here, are there other people in your life?” because I knew that things weren’t great at home with her partner or at work.

“Are there other people in your life – family, friends – where you can have some support?”

“There’s my mum and my sister, but I can’t talk to them about this.”

“So what do you mean? Why can’t you talk to them about this?”

“They just find it too hard.”

“Well, how do you know that they find it too hard?”

“Because every time I talk to them about this, they just say, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s okay. You’re still young. You haven’t been to the specialist yet. You’ve gotta remain optimistic. You’ve gotta stay hopeful.”

That’s what it’s like when we are on the top of the pit looking down and thinking that we have to pull people out rather than descending down and being with them in that dark space.

So, I said to her, “I’m going to try my best to understand what this is like for you, but I’m not going to pretend to understand because how can I? I’m a male; you’re a female. I can never really know what you’re going through right now.” And while still sobbing, she started nodding her head a bit. When I talk about acknowledging, validating, and normalising, this is what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about having a 20-minute conversation. It can be one sentence, one word.

I asked, “Are you really worried that you’ll never become a mother?”

“Oh my God, Rocky. Yes. All of the time. I’m upset about this all of time. I don’t even want to get together with my husband. I’m scared I’m going to fall pregnant again. I’m going to have another miscarriage.” And she was suddenly energetic and talkative – her state transformed in an instant – and rightly so because she hasn’t been able to talk about these dark fears that she has. She can’t tell anyone about it because people will say, “Oh, it’s okay. Don’t think about that.”

The misunderstanding here is that people think that by asking her this question I have made her feel worse, but what’s making her feel worse is that nobody, including the people in her family who she loves, can actually hear her pain.

When people feel less alone, it’s incredibly healing and transformative. However, getting in the pit and doing this type of work takes a toll on you. And there’s real truth around the idea of vicarious trauma. That’s why looking after your own wellbeing and self care is a very important protective factor. It builds your own capacity to be able to get in the pit the way I’ve just described, and that creates and enhances balance in your own life.

Wellbeing and self care

My simple definition for wellbeing and self care is doing what brings you good, sustainable energy. If you’re hearing stories of pain and suffering and trauma day in day out, you need to be able to live the good life, whatever that means for you. It can be simple things.

One of the things that I’m currently really grateful for is that our trainings are all happening online now, so I’m not traveling as much, and I’m actually going for a walk twice a day at sunrise and sunset. Those walks are so energising for me. Whatever it is for you, you need to make sure to make time for that so that you have some balance to the stories of pain and trauma that you’re hearing, which will build your capacity getting in the pit.


Read the previous  Modules here:

Module 1 What is an Accidental Counsellor? 

Module 2 The Solution Focused Approach

The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module 3: Boundaries and Knowing When To Refer

In this topic, we’ll be discussing how mental health is managed, not cured. Understanding that mental health is managed and not cured means that we need to be mindful of the strategies we are using to manage our mental health and we need to recognise that if we change or stop those strategies, we will most likely relapse.

People often make the mistake of thinking, Well, I’ve taken this medication, or I’m now exercising, or I’m doing meditation (or any strategy), and I’m feeling better, so now I’m “cured”.  However it’s doesn’t work like this. It’s about managing rather than curing. This framework is really about how to assess a person’s mental and emotional state, including your own.

Keep in mind that you’re not a psychologist–that’s not what it’s about. In fact, you’ll find that the entire accidental counsellor training I’ve created helps you make this process “conversational.”

It is important to understand the signs and symptoms that would lead us to either seem more help for ourselves or recommend that for those we are supporting in your role as an accidental counsellor.

There are 4 parts to this framework. Let’s start with number 4 and work our way back to 1.

4) It’s really important to have some type of understanding or agreement about

3) Your role—what you can and cannot do—because…One of the biggest problems with accidental counsellors is that you can be easily positioned to become the primary mental health carer for the person in need. This means that the person you’re caring for may need…\

2) Specialist assistance, whether it’s a psychologist or a counsellor or even an occupational therapist, a speech pathologist or medical doctor.

Oftentimes, your recommendation to see a specialist might be received with resistance, “I don’t want to see the counsellor. I just want talk to you.”

To respond to this, you might want to adjust your language by saying something like, “You deserve for this to get better.”

If you’re speaking to a parent, perhaps, you might say, “Your child deserves to get better.” Here’s another example of what you could say:

“You deserve for this to get better, and it’s not going to get better if it’s just you and I talking about this. We both need to be part of a wider team. We need to have really good people on this team. When we’ve got the right people on this team, the chances that this will get better for you are much, much higher.”

You can adapt and adjust those phrases to your liking, especially when you encounter resistance.

In Summary

You want to have an agreement or understanding about your role and what you can and can’t do, especially when you’re an accidental counsellor. You also need to assess whether the person needs more specialist assistance as part of a wider team.

And here, we finally reach #1: assessment. There are three core elements to assessment: intensity, frequency and duration. We ask a scaling question as another part of the solution-focused approach.

Returning to assessment: When scaling question, we use a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being very low and 10 being very high. For instance, it is very common to ask about anxiety. Early on in a conversation, I might ask the following:

“Help me understand a little bit better. You’re telling me you’re feeling anxious, but on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is I’m feeling anxious, but it’s not that bad and I’m sorta coping okay, and 10 is, no, I’m feeling terrible and Im not coping at all, how would you rate your anxiety? When you say you’re feeling anxious, where are you at right now on a scale from 1 to 10?

When someone mentions a mental health issue like anxiety or depression keep in mind that these issues exist on broad spectrum. My good friend, Dr. David Lake, who you already know if you’re a full member of the accidental counsellor, has a great course called Depression, the Truth is Out There.

In that course, Dr. Lake asks us to think about the following: “When we talk about depression, what are we talking about exactly?” Are we talking about a small “D depression”, which he goes on to describe as a passing mood fluctuation, or are we talking about a “capital D depression” which is ongoing, entrenched and severe?

Scaling questions help make the situation much more concrete for them and for you. Additionally, scaling questions enable you to measure intensity.


For example, say someone reports feeling 8 or 9 out of 10, which means they measure quite high. Is that cause for concern? Not necessarily. There could be some type of external stimulus, like a performance or an exam, that is causing this specific response, or it could be excitement that they misinterpret for anxiety. You will be able to tell if this is the case if they are able to self-regulate and start feeling back to normal after the specific event is over. Due to these types of circumstances, it is very important to measure frequency.


So, if they report feeling an 8 or 9 out of 10, the next thing you need to ask about is frequency because that measures severity–specifically, regularity. For instance, you could say, “Okay, that’s really quite high. So is this something that you experience quite regularly in a typical week? Do you experience this once a week or more often than that?”

From my experience, high levels of intensity more than twice a week indicate a red line. That’s enough  information for you to know that you need to get them some help from other people in your team.


Lastly, duration tells us how the person is managing their symptoms. In measuring duration, there are two key questions that I like to ask. The first one is about symptom, and it goes something like this: “So, when you feel like this, how long is it before you start to feel better? How long does it linger?” You can be conversational in your language and the person might say “Oh, hours, I can’t function. I’ve got to go home.” Or, they might say, “Oh, I’ve learned some techniques and skills, and I’ve got some strategies, and when I use them, I feel better after 10 or 15 minutes.” They might tell you that they’ve learned a breathing technique or a tapping technique. The other thing you want to assess is how they’re managing their symptoms in relation to duration.

Here is one example of how to have that conversation:

“You’re really struggling with this anxiety, so help me understand it a little bit better. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not that bad and you’re coping okay and 10 is terrible and you’re not coping at all, where are you at? If it’s a 9 or 10, that’s really high. Okay, yes, it’s terrible. So is this like a regular thing? Do you feel like it’s quite regular in a typical week—once, twice or more? Almost every other day? How long has this been going on—for weeks, months? And when you feel like this, how long does that last? How long before you start feeling better?”

As I hope this makes clear, this conversation doesn’t have to be forced or scripted at all, and if they resist getting a specialist’s help, you can reflect what they’ve just told you back to them and say, “look, I know that you’re not keen to go and get some extra help, but you’ve just been telling me that this is quite intense and it happens quite regularly throughout a week. It’s been going on for several weeks or more, and when you feel like this, it lingers for quite a while. If I’m listening to you and if I’m hearing you right, I think it’s a really good idea that you get some help with this because if you don’t, I think it’s just going to get worse. If you’ve been experiencing this for this period of time, it’s important that we do something about it. Just talking to me is not going to be enough. We’ve got to have a really good team around us.”

Hopefully this framework and these sample conversations will help you help others.

Read the previous article here:


The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module 2: The Solution Focused Approach

The Accidental Counsellor training that I’ve created is based on the Solution-Focused Approach to counselling and communication. Let’s start with the following solution-focused questions:

  1. What are you hoping to learnmost from this short course?
  2. Once you answer that question,reflect on the reason it’s important for you to learn that now?
  3. If you could learn that and put it into action,how would that benefit you and others?

Take a moment to reflect on your answers to these questions.

If you pay attention to your responses, you’ll see that there’s a common theme and pattern. The questions help you to paint a picture of how you would like things to be.

The primary goal of solution-focused questions is to help someone paint a picture of how they’d like things to be; I like to frame it as a picture of their next best step. This is really important because when we follow this process, we activate a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System.

I like to describe what this part of the brain does is a little bit like this…

Have you ever purchased a car, but perhaps at the start of the process, you weren’t quite sure what type of car, colour, make or model you wanted? You did some research, spoke to some people and, after a period of time, you have a very clear image in your mind of the car – the colour, the make, the model – that you want. Once you know what type of car you want, you are able to purchase it.

You pick up this car and start driving around. What do you notice about the other cars? What do they look like? If you’ve responded that they look similar, that’s a typical response because most people start noticing their car all over the place. And this is true for most things.

My wife and I couldn’t have kids for 15 years. Now, we only have one. I don’t know what you think about miracles, but she’s a miracle to us. As you can easily imagine, when Anna was pregnant, we just started seeing pregnant women everywhere. Right? I think you get the idea, and you’ve probably had similar types of experiences yourself.

When we picked up our Labrador puppy, we started noticing these Labrador puppies all over our suburb.

They were always there. The cars were also always there, but because you’re focused on it, you see it much, much more. Oftentimes, when people do the Accidental Counsellor Training with me, one of the key worries that people have is that they may say the wrong thing. I want to help allay those fears.

What If I Say The Wrong Thing?

I think we need to be much more mindful of the connection that we have with the person to whom we are communicating. Because, if we’ve got a really good connection, where the person feels heard, we don’t have to get everything right. In that case, if you say something that’s not quite right, it’s easily forgiven. However, if the connection’s not good, then poor communication may be much more triggering.

People worry that they’re going to make situations worse by saying the wrong thing. But, I don’t think that’s how it works, as long as we’ve got the right intention and connection in the work that we do when we’re trying to help the person. Instead of worrying about saying the wrong thing, I would suggest being much more mindful of the questions you ask, because, when you ask someone a question their focus and direction are instantly pulled toward that question.

I’m going to ask you a random question, and I want you to engage with it and see what happens in your mind. What are the colours of the walls in your bedroom? Did you get that? What are the colours of the walls in your bedroom? Now, if you thought about that question, even for a moment, your mind recollected and pictured the colour of the walls in your bedroom. Completely random question. That’s how powerful a question is. It opens up a loop in your brain, and the brain naturally goes there. Thus, it is important to consider where you want a person’s focus to go when you ask a question? Where their focus goes, energy flows. Think about the outcome. Where do you want to get to in this conversation? Then, frame your questions around that desired end point and work backward from there.

Setting The Agenda Questions

Here’s an example from a transcript with a client who I saw a couple of years ago.

If you look at this first question here, “How are you hoping our chat can be of help to you today?”, you’ll notice that this is a very similar question to the one I asked you at the start of this short course, which was, what are you hoping to get from the session?

Her response was, “Well, I’m hoping you can help me with my anxiety.”

To which I replied, “If talking to me now turns out to make things better for you, what would be different?”

And she said, “I’ll be less anxious and more calm and happier.”

Then, I said, “Great, what would you typically be doing differently if you were calm and happier?”

And she said, “I’d be going out more and spending more time with my family and friends.”

I continued for nearly 15 minutes by asking her a series of questions: “Tell me more. Where would you be going out? Who would you be going out with?” – so on and so forth. Now, I want to break down this little transcript, because there are three key things I want to share with you.

First of all, let’s have a look at the very bottom thing here. When she said that she’d be going out more and spending more time with family and friends, if I had responded by simply saying “That’s nice” and just leaving it there, that would not have painted a concrete, specific and detailed enough picture in her mind to activate that part of the brain we just spoke about, the Reticular Activating System.

When she said, “I’d be spending more time with my family and friends,” I asked, “Which one more do you think, family or friends?”

“Friends,” she said.

“Where would you be going out?”

“Our local cafe.”

“What is it about the cafe?”

“Oh, the food, the coffee.”

“And if you were there with your friends and you were having a conversation, what sort of things would you guys be talking about?”

3 Key Points

It looks really odd, and you might have wondered what this has to do with anxiety? But now you know why we do this, right? The whole idea of the solution-focused approach is to ask questions so that the person paints a picture of their next best step. When they start doing that, you want to start asking questions so that they start painting a detailed, concrete and specific picture. That’s the first point that I want to talk to you about here.

Another thing that I think is really important to point out is where she says, “I’d be less anxious and more calm and happier.” This is really important, because when you start asking these types of solution-focused questions, you need to be aware that 80 to 90% of people will respond with the absence of something. “I’d be less anxious” is the absence of something.

They begin by responding to the absence of something, rather than the presence of something. “More calm and happier” is the presence of something. Let’s imagine for a moment that she didn’t say “more calm and happier”, because that’s what happens most times. Let’s imagine that she just said “be less anxious, or I wouldn’t be so stressed. I wouldn’t be so worried”. The problem with this description is that stressed, anxious and worried are the ideas that are remaining in the brain. We don’t want that, right?

As I explained about the Reticular Activating System, we’re searching for what the person wants – what would actually be there if things are better. Thus, we need to be able to help them with some questions, to be able to pull them out of the absence of something and into the presence of something.

I have a video here that provides a very short demonstration of this.

This woman was at a workshop. When we run our public workshops, we have people from all sectors.

She was working with people who had drug and alcohol issues, and she was role-playing a person called Peter. The issue with Peter was that when he got depressed, he dosed up, and he needed to work on that and get clean so that he could have access to his children.

I said, “How would you cope with feeling down?

Then he said, “I wouldn’t dose up.”

This is a classic example of asking a solution-focused question and the person giving a response based on the absence of something, “I wouldn’t dose up”.

Have a look at the question I asked – I asked it twice – and how it pulls the person out of “I wouldn’t dose up” to actually consider the presence rather than the absence of something:

Rocky: So, Peter, you just told me that you’ve got to be aware, so then you don’t dose up, right? What would you be doing when you were feeling down and you weren’t dosing up? What would you be doing instead?

Peter: Just on a regular day?

Rocky: You’re feeling down?

Peter: Yeah.

Rocky: This is the risk, isn’t it? That’s the risk factor.

Peter: Yeah.

Rocky: Okay, so you’re feeling down, and you said to me, “I’m not gonna dose up.” And I’m going, “Okay. So, what would you do instead? How would you cope with this down?”

Peter: Sometimes I just go out to the shops, just try to distract myself,  but then I try not to go after school, before school, because I see a lot of parents with their kids, and that can make the situation worse.

Rocky: Of course.

Peter: Sometimes I’ll just go out, maybe see a movie.

Rocky:  Does that help? Shop? Seeing a movie?

Peter:  Sometimes it does. Yeah.

What you saw there and what you heard there was that I asked a very simple question. (If you’re taking notes, you might want to get this down.) That is, when the person said, “I wouldn’t dose up”,

I replied by asking, “What would you be doing instead?” Then, she said, “On a regular day…”  And, then, I had to find a way to rephrase the question to keep her thinking about alternatives that require presence rather than absence.

So, on a regular day, you’re going about your day, and you’re not going to dose up. If you’re not dosing up, what would you be doing instead? You’ll see that she starts talking about the shops and movies. Of course, if the video went on, you would see that I started asking more specific questions about what movies? What shops? How do these help? And so forth. That’s a little bit about the solution-focused approach.

Here is an overview.

Typically, the solution-focused approach means that we’re asking these types of questions. The conversation is anchored in the here and now and the immediate future, rather than focusing on the past. Now, what does that mean? That we shouldn’t be talking about the past? Not at all. Please don’t misunderstand this; if the person is talking about the past, you need to be right where they are. The concept is match, mirror and pace the person before you leave. We’ll get to that later in the session.

What we mean by being where they are is not deliberately asking questions that pull them into the past and into a past trauma. I don’t find that helpful. Can you ask questions about the past? Sure. That can be particularly helpful if your focus is around strengths and what worked for them in the past. I think that’s really great. We want to focus more on strengths and what’s working, rather than problems and what’s not working.

To join the dots and go back to the Reticular Activating System, if we keep talking about problems and what’s not working, the focus is much more on that. We start saying that all over the place. Instead, the goal of the solution-focused approach is to ask appropriate questions that can help the person paint a picture of their desired outcome or, as I like to call it, their next best step, rather than analysing the problem.

That’s not your role as an accidental counselor. That’s a brief overview of the solution-focused approach.

Read the first module here:



The Accidental Counsellor Short Course Module 1: What is an Accidental Counsellor?

Welcome to the online Accidental Counsellor Short Course, a brief 80 minute overview of the Accidental Counsellor Training that I created back in 2008. The goal of this short course is to help you connect and influence with the people that you support without burning out yourself through the Accidental Counsellor model.

In that model, we will look at strategies based in three key areas, wellbeing and self-care, connection, and influence.

Wellbeing and self-care so we looking after ourselves in the work that we do.

Connection, we talk about being able to connect to the person’s story of pain and upset.

Influence the conversations you have with solution focused questions so you can ask appropriate questions to help the person identify their next best step. Also, we’ll look at a referral framework that will help you identify red flags so that you can refer the person that you’re working with to the right resource.

This quote by Daniel Goldman, who wrote the book Emotional Intelligence, says at all, “When emotionally upset, people cannot remember, attend, learn, or make decisions clearly.” Oftentimes as an Accidental Counsellor, we are in the frontline and we’re responding to people who are emotionally upset.

Rocky Biasi here I created the Accidental Counsellor Training back in 2008, based on my experience of almost two decades as a high school teacher and a school Counsellor also in private practice. And I’ve presented the Accidental Counsellor Training level one and level two, across Australia and New Zealand and Southeast Asia. And since that time, we’ve presented this training to over 10,000 people, not just to people who work in schools but in every sector. So that’s just a little bit about me and how the training came to be.

Let’s just start with the definition of an Accidental Counsellor. I think there are three key distinctions that I’d like to share with you that illustrate the differences between an Accidental Counsellor and a Clinical Counsellor.

First let’s start with a working definition? In my mind I think that someone who is a Clinical Counsellor, their main work is therapy. As an Accidental Counsellor, that’s not the case you’re more a first responder, but not always.

Sometimes you’re in a role where you’re providing ongoing support, maybe managing a team, or you may be the head of  a group at a school. You could be in a role where you have ongoing relationships with people, you’re not just a first responder. What about the goal of the work? I think that a  Clinical Counsellor, like I said before, it’s about therapy.

Why do people come to therapy? They come because they want to have some type of healing and as an Accidental Counsellor that’s not really the case. We’re there to provide help and support. Interestingly at a recent training, I had someone say to me, “Rocky, but can’t there be healing, even when we’re in the role of Accidental Counsellor.”

Absolutely, yes that can happen. I think that that’s what happens when we can listen deeply to the person’s pain and suffering. But that’s not the primary thing, that’s not why people typically come to you as an Accidental Counsellor they don’t usually come for “healing”. Also, it’s not really what your intention is when you’re responding to the person, it’s more a by product of listening well. The third and last distinction is probably the biggest one and that is the nature of the relationship.

As a Clinical Counsellor the nature of the relationship is much more formal and structured.

As an Accidental Counsellor that’s radically different, isn’t it? As an Accidental Counsellor, the nature of the relationship is much more flexible. It’s much more informal. These 3 distinctions and differences help clarify the different role we have as an Accidental Counsellor compared to a professional counsellor in private practice.

Tame Your Mind – Tips for Senior School Students

Hi, Rocky Biasi here from I want to talk to you today in this video about a topic that I like to call, tame your mind, and specifically I want to send this message out to all of our senior students doing their HSC, but not just here in New South Wales, in Victoria, in Australia here doing the VCE, or any senior student in Australia or overseas. Especially during this period of history where we’re going through the COVID-19 period of history that we’re living through. This can be a really, quite a stressful time in regular times, let alone in these strange times. So I think it’s really important to be able to tame your mind, because I really believe this is one of the most important skills that you can learn as a human being. What’s the point in actually having physical health, money, fame, all of the things that the world says that you should have to be happy, and yet you’re not mentally fit and healthy?

This is part of my life’s passion that I’ve been on for the last 20 odd years. And I’m eternally grateful that I’ve learned the skill to tame my mind because sometimes our minds are not our friend. This is a quote that I absolutely loved by my good friend and mentor, Dr. David Lake, who says, “Sometimes your mind is not your friend.” And he says, “Is your mind your master, or is it your servant? Is it serving you, or is it not?” And oftentimes you’ll know it’s not serving you when it’s giving you stories that are running you down. That you’re not good enough. So on and so forth. Typically, what I’ve come to see in the work that I’ve done with students and with clients in my private practice over the last 20 odd years, is that psychological suffering, emotional upset, usually comes because we’ve got these stories in our minds that are on a particular timeline of the past or the future.

And I say the past is memory and the future is imagination. The only thing that you can know for sure is real is now. That’s it. That’s capital R reality. That’s how I refer it to. People sometimes get a little bit upset when I talk like this, because they feel like I’m minimizing, maybe past memories that were beautiful. We had this beautiful memory with our family, that was real. And I go, “Sure, it was real,” or even traumatic experiences. “We had a traumatic,” and they feel like I’m minimizing that. “We had this terrible traumatic experience, and you’re minimizing that. You’re saying it’s not real.”

Let me try to explain a little bit more about what I mean. And I teach with stories. So I want to use the story that I use in my Accidental Counselor workshops. Three days before my 18th birthday, I’m now 55, so it was many decades ago. Three days before my 18th birthday, my dad, who was only 49 at the time, younger than what I am right now, passed away suddenly of a heart attack. Now, why am I telling you this story? I’m telling you this story because it illustrates what I want to teach in this video very powerfully.

First of all, the point that, if I had my brother and my sisters with me, who all witnessed what happened that morning, if we were right here in front of this camera talking about what happened, we would give you varying accounts of what happened that day. So then the question is, well, which one was real? Well, of course, all of them were real, because they were real for us. That’s what happens. We go back, we look at the past, through our own filters. We recollect, we remember, we reminisce. And so through our filters, we can have varying accounts. The details can vary slightly. It doesn’t mean that what happened didn’t happen. It just means that we have varying accounts. And that may be what happened back then, or yesterday, or last week or three decades ago or whatever, wasn’t quite the way we’re seeing it right now.

The past is memory. The future is imagination. That morning, when my father passed away, he knocked on my bedroom door and he said to me, “Do you want a lift down to the station for work?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well, jump in the shower,” because there was seven of us with one bathroom in that home. And he said, “Well, hurry up, jump in the shower and I’ll bring you to work.” I didn’t get to the shower. Neither one of us went to work that day because he passed away 15 minutes later, shockingly, suddenly.

Both of us thought we were going to work that day and neither one of us went to work. The future is imagination. The only thing that’s real is now. Your mind doesn’t serve you when you’re in the past and in the future, thinking about upsetting things. Future, what if? What’s going to happen? Will they like me? Will I fail? The past, bringing back upsetting trauma, upsetting from the past and bringing it in the present. And as I said, people sometimes get upset, but that happened to me. And I say, “Yes, happened, not happening.”

And so we’re not minimizing what happened, but let’s be clear. It’s not happening. But if you start thinking about it and focusing on it, then you will release cortisol, which is a stress hormone that will flood through your body, and your mind doesn’t understand what’s real and what’s imagined, because you are visualizing what happened in the past. It feels like it’s happening now. And you go into what we call this fight flight response.

So this is what we mean by the mind as master or servant. I wanted to share with you an article that I saw recently, this was just a week ago, it was on the 23rd of May. COVID-19 worries and study stress for HSC students, but there are signs of resilience. Well, this is really great. And you can see here, the student was actually talking about, I felt really anxious thinking, “Am I going to get a bad mark? When are we going to go back to school?” These are future focused thoughts.

Here’s another one. My mind was constantly asking questions that I couldn’t answer. Yes. So talk about taming our mind and the mind as master or servant. Let’s be clear about something. Every time you’re asked a question or you ask yourself a question, as you just saw there, your mind literally pulls you in that direction. Just do this for me. I’m going to ask you an absolutely random question. An absolutely random question right now. What are the colors of the walls in your bedroom?

Completely random. Engage in that question and see what happens with your mind. What are the colors of the walls in your bedroom? Now, if you engage with that question, your mind is going and visualizing and picturing the colors of the walls in your bedroom. It’s that simple. It’s that quick. It’s that powerful. That’s why asking questions that your mind can’t answer, means that your mind right now is your master. It’s not your servant. If you’re going to go back into the past and think about really beautiful memories, awesome. It’s serving you. If you’re going to think about the future and how you’re organizing your study and what you’re going to do, the human mind is amazing. And when it serves the human and human beings and humanity, look at the remarkable things humans have been able to achieve, but it’s not always serving us.

Sometimes it’s lording it over us. It’s our master. And we need to be able to tame that and adjust that. So I’m going to give you some strategies to help you do that right now. First of all, let’s have a look at this idea of identity beliefs. This is the story that you tell yourself about yourself. Look at what Ziglar says. He says that you can’t perform consistently in a manner which is inconsistent with how you see yourself. How do you see yourself? The strongest need in the human personality, Cialdini says, is to remain consistent with how we’ve defined ourselves.

So one of the big things that I see with young people in school right now is this whole idea of failure. So they think, “I can’t fail.” Sometimes I even hear stories like, “Well, if I don’t try and I fail, well, at least I know that I failed because I didn’t try.” Huh? Who is it that you’re actually kidding right now? Who do you think you’re fooling right now? You might be able to get away with that once, but there’s a cognitive dissonance in your mind is going to go, “Hey, let’s get real,” right? Because that’s not going to work for you. And unfortunately, one of the problems that I see with this whole idea of failure is that we get really upset about it.

In fact, here’s the problem that I see with failure. We identify with that. So if we get a bad mark or if we get a bad result, then we think, “So I failed this,” or, “I wasn’t good enough in this result, I’m not good enough,” or, “I’m a failure.” I mean, come on folks. Your results are not who you are. You are much bigger and much greater than the money you earn, the house you have, the car you drive, the job you’ve got. The results that you get in your exams. You’re much bigger and greater than that, don’t have such a limiting view of that.

Here’s the problem with attaching your identity with all of those things that I just mentioned, all of those things will go, right? They’re material things that come and go. Money, health, fame, fortune, results in exams, whatever. They come and go. So you want to hold onto character much more than those fleeting things. Identity beliefs are a real problem, because if you’ve got this belief that I’m not good enough, or I’m going to fail, or I’m a failure or any version of this, well, then it’s going to fuel these stories in your head that I was talking about, that are either serving you or not.

Well, if you’ve got a terrible or negative identity belief, obviously these thoughts are not going to be serving you. The belief may be, “I’m not good enough. Who would want to be with me? Who would want to be my friend,” or, “I’m not smart enough.” These types of beliefs are going to fuel what we call your self-talk, your thoughts, your perceptions about yourself and the world. Then they’re going to drive your emotional state. And then, and it’s going to make you feel upset and anxious and agitated. Then you act out and then you’ve got actions and behavior that often… That reinforce the negative underlying belief. So it becomes a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. I want to give you some strategies to end this video about how maybe you can manage this.

First of all, when you’ve got identity beliefs that are not serving you, you need to just ask yourself, “Is that true?” Now, is it true, not does it feel true, right? Is it true? I don’t really care whether you say yes or no, because even if you do say, “Yes, I’m a failure,” I go, “Really? You believe that?” “Yes.” Okay. I then will ask you what’s that like when you really think about that? And what people tell me is it’s terrible. I hate it. It makes me feel upset. I can’t think straight. I can’t do what I need to do. So it sounds like that when you’ve got this thought, it’s really creating a whole bunch of pain for you. Then I do this little framework here where I say, “Well, look, let’s just pretend for a second that you’ve got a 24 hour respite, you’ve got a break, a holiday from this thought that’s creating all this pain. You’re going to have to use your imagination. You’re going to have to pretend.”

And I say to people, “Are you up for that?” Usually they say, “Yeah,” very hesitant. Confused. Yes. And then I ask them the miracle question. And I say, “So how would you be different during those 24 hours when this thought, this belief, is not bothering you?” And typically people will respond with, “I’d be feeling happier. I’d be much more relaxed.” And so then you can ask them, “Well, what would you be doing differently during those 24 hours?” And then you get behavior, the positive behavior, the behavior that’s actually going to move them in the direction that they want to go. Then you can ask yourself or ask the person, “When will you try some of those behaviors?” So you don’t have to change the underlying belief. You just want to go through this process, identify the positive behaviors and emotions, and then start doing those, regardless of whether you think it’s true or not, just do the positive behaviors, have the positive emotions and look at what changes.

I want to share with you a couple of other techniques, breath work and breathing is really important to be able to manage your emotional state. And typically I say you’ve got to relax your body before you can start thinking your way out of a problem. Otherwise, if you’re in that fight flight state, your mind is not thinking straight. It actually blocks out the higher parts of the brain, like the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex that’s responsible for logic and reasoning.

So when you’re really worked up and stressed and agitated, try to relax the body before you start going into thinking thoughts, and changing that around. So breathing is critical part of managing stress, and you can check the website here, Headspace website,, you’ll see the URL up here. It’s also in the slides, and there’s a whole range of different breathing techniques, including the box breathing technique.

So I want to just share that with you right now. First of all, just being conscious of your breath, how the body expands in the inhale, and how it softens in the exhale. Just be conscious, just pay attention to your breathing. That’s the very first simple thing about around breath work. There’s lots of different breathing techniques as you’ll see when you go to this URL. The other one is very simple. One where you can actually breathe in through your nose twice and then out through your mouth. Breathe in through your nose twice and then out through your mouth. And then this box breathing technique, which I think is really excellent. You’ll see this here. It’s really helpful. You go at that Headspace website, really helpful for extreme stress where you can practice the following process.

The box breathing technique is you inhale for the count of four, you hold your breath for the count of four and then exhale for the count of four and wait at the very end of the exhale for the count of four and repeat. This has actually been shown to calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system slowing down the breath allows CO2 to build up in the blood, which stimulates the response of the vagus nerve to produce feelings of calmness throughout the body. So there’s a few techniques and tips there to help you relax during this time.

Finally, the last one is one that is one of my favorites, which is a tapping technique. So this is where you get two fingers, and you can just tap on different pressure points as you see on the screen here, just different pressure points. You need to do this typically for five to 10 minutes. You’ve just noticed there that I’m just taking a deep breath voluntarily, just because every time I do the tapping, that’s what happens. It really helps me relax. You see the finger points on the outside of the finger at the base of the finger nail. So stimulating, you can use one hand on one side of the face. You can use two hands. Stimulating these pressure points, you can actually just rub the pressure points. You can just put pressure on them, but I find that tapping works the best. Now, there’s another deep breath. We’d normally teach the tapping technique in a half day presentation. So I know that that was very, very quick, but there’s lots of more information on the web, including our website, about the tapping technique.

So I hope that this video around taming your mind has been helpful and useful as you’re going through your schooling this year.


Anxiety Lives In The Past and Future [5/5]

Mark: All right, Rocky, I guess my last question is probably the most difficult question I’m going to ask you about the time here. So we don’t know how long this will last and I’d love you to share some of your ideas about the past, the present, and the future. Because obviously I’m thinking to myself, these strategies sound great, and I think for a couple of weeks, I can be super excited about working from home and I can really reframe that in a positive way. I can do the breathing, I can do the tapping when I feel a bit anxious. But what about if this lasts for six months? How do I handle that situation?


Rocky: Well, Mark, I’m hoping it doesn’t go six months, but in my mind I’ve said, “Okay. If this goes on for six months, how am I going to be able to do deal with it?” Okay, let’s look at time, for a start. And I want to talk to our young people and to our students right now. So I go to schools, we speak to students all the time and I know that this year I was at a school before. We have all these lockdowns about a month or so ago. And I say to them … So we’re in New South Wales, so here we have the HSC which is the final year of schooling in year 12. “How do you feel about the HSC?” And overwhelmingly, it’s negative. “It’s negative. It’s stressful. It’s this, it’s that.” And so I want to say to all the senior students, especially, all of those fears and worries that you had two months ago and three months ago, how are they going now? A lot of the things that we think about and then we worry about, often don’t ever happen.

And here’s the thing. Now, you know better than me,  about what’s the latest update with the HSC or with the final year of schooling. Is it going to go ahead, is it not going to go ahead? Even if they say it is going to go ahead, I’m sorry. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I just want to say, I don’t think you can say that with a hundred percent certainty or it might go ahead in a different way. Now, you and I, Mark, we’re really great fans of the NRL. Now, we don’t know whether the NRL season is going to kick back up again and start again. We don’t know that. We don’t know whether there’s going to be a modified competition. We don’t know any of that.

So all of those players and coaches, if they’re right now freaking out, stressing out, going, “Are we going to play this year? Is there going to be a modified competition?” It’s a waste of energy. So if you are a student or a teacher and you’re thinking, “What’s going to happen? What’s going to happen with our senior years,” or whatever. I just want to say to you, you’re not thinking right, right now. You’re not thinking straight. I’m sorry. I’m just going to say it. And when you think like that, it’s just going to make you feel bad.

And my great friend and mentor, Dr. David Lake, says, “Sometimes your is not your best friend.” We’re very rarely focused on the present moment, the now. And we’re often dragged into the past or into the future. Now with this Corona virus thing, it’s probably more the future, isn’t it? Like what’s going to happen and how things going to work out? And I know I get caught up in that, too, but as soon as you realize that, the only answer to what’s going to happen in the future is, “I don’t know.” That’s it, that’s the only answer because nobody knows with certainty, with a hundred percent certainty. We’ve got estimates and guesstimates and all that, but no one knows for sure.

So this is a really great opportunity. Because I know people like me talk about, “Be in the moment, be present, focus on …” and it can be a little bit of an eye roll sometimes. People just go, “Yeah, whatever.” Well, now I just want to say to people, you’ve got no choice. You do, but if you don’t focus on the present moment and you get focusing on the future, I’m sorry, but you’re putting your mental health, your physical health at risk. And then you’re going to be part of this contagion thing. This falls back into what’s going on in our homes, Mark. Then we’re feeling bad. And someone says something to us and we snap back and conflict arises much more quickly because we’re not managing our state. Right? And we’re getting triggered really easily.

And so this is a perfect time to be able to get your mind back under control and manage it. Every time you start thinking about the future and I get it, it’s human. We all do it. I do it. I’m not saying you can stop thinking about the future. You are going to think about the future. But if you’re thinking about the future and it’s upsetting, if you’re thinking about like, “Oh, I had to cancel a holiday and I can’t wait for next year when I can go,” well, okay. That’s cool if you’re imagining a pleasant holiday next year. Your mind is serving you. But when your mind is not serving you and you’re in the future and you’re freaking out about what’s going to happen and no one knows what’s going to happen, your only choice you’ve got is to be here, now.

And I don’t want to be too vague about this. I’m just going to be really crystal clear. Focus on what’s required now. So Mark, I want to just share with you a little process that I went through when I had my own wobbly a couple of weeks ago. I’m taking the dog for a walk and I’m thinking stuff and I’m talking to myself because we’ve always got this mental conversation going on. Right? We’ve got all these thoughts. We’re talking to ourselves all the time. Right? And I was feeling really tightness in my chest. I haven’t felt like this in years. And I was like, “Whoa.” And then I was aware of what I was thinking. And so it was like, “Oh, we’re going to go broke. We’re not going to have this. We’re not going to … The impact is go …” And then I just went, “Is that true?” And I went, “No, that’s not true.” And what I realized was that’s an exaggeration.

So if you’re catching yourself with exaggerating thoughts or catastrophizing thoughts – or here’s another one that David Lake talks about, black and white thinking. Black and white thinking is going to cripple you in a crisis, especially in a crisis. Because it’s never black and white. It’s always both end. So it could be, “I’m really worried about this. There’s a part of me that’s really worried about this.” But it’s also true that there could be a part of you that’s not so worried about this or is less worried about this. So when you’re caught in exaggerated thinking, catastrophizing thinking, black and white thinking, either or thinking, you’ve got this fixed, rigid thinking that’s going to trap you and keep you stuck.

The first thing was, “I’m having these thoughts. Is that true? No, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Hmm. Okay.” Well, what if it was true, by the way? Your parent might’ve lost a job or there’s financial pressure at home. Right?

There’s things that are true, you know? And so what if it is true? Regardless, whether it’s true or not, here’s the next thing. What’s that like? Whether it’s true or not, what’s that like? Well, if it’s not true and you’re thinking about something bad, it feels bad. And if it is true, you feel bad. So the feeling is same whether you were imagining it or whether it’s real.

So I’m feeling bad about this. And that’s where we come back to what we talked about earlier, Marc, the breathing and the tapping. Now I know how people think about this. They just go, “You know, Rocky, thank you. But how is breathing and tapping going to help with my financial situation?” And here’s what I’m going to say to that, when you’re worked up and stressed and you’re not thinking straight, how’s that helping you with your financial situation? So my argument is, if we can manage our upsetting emotions, if we can reduce the intensity of that, it’s going to help us think a little bit differently. It’s going to help us think more creatively. It’s going to help us maybe come up with ideas that we haven’t thought about before. And so that’s why it’s critical to get your emotional and mental state under control.

So it was like, “Is that true? What’s that like?” And I was like, “It’s terrible.” And then I did some tapping. I felt better. And then I asked myself, “Is there something that I can do about this now?” And it was like, “No, now I’m actually walking the dog.” And in a way that is doing something about it, if you know what I mean? So do something that brings good energy into your system. if you can walk the dog around the house or around the block or something, if that’s possible, do it. So what can I do right now? And then another question was, “Can I do anything about the situation, like the job loss or the financial stress? Or can I do anything about this now?” If it’s a no, well then another concept that David Lake shared with me was, let it go. He calls it, allowing.

It’s like, “I can’t do anything about it now, so external circumstances remain the same, but what am I going to do? I’m actually going to focus on something that’s going to make me feel better.” And that could be sitting down and watching a great movie on Netflix. It could be taking the dog for a walk. It could be listening to some music. It could be picking up the phone and ringing someone that you’re great friends with. Whatever it is, that’s going to actually make you feel better because right now I can’t do anything about these external circumstances.

So this is critical too. A lot of the times we’re focusing on stuff that we can’t control. And this is another classic case where we can’t control a lot of what’s going on in the world right now. And so the only alternative we have is to control what we can control, to manage what we can manage, and that’s what’s going on with us and what’s going on right now. And if we don’t do that, then we start losing our minds, thinking, “I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to think that. But I can’t do anything about it now.” But then my mind keeps ruminating about something that I can’t do anything about right now. So you see the futility of that and how it drains our energy. So, “I just can’t do anything about this now, not yet, but there’s things that I can do when I get home. I can do this and I can do that. Okay, cool. So I can’t do it now. I’m just going to walk the dog right now.” So I was walking the dog and feeling really bad and then I started walking the dog feeling much better and much more at peace.


Mark: And it gets back to presence and being present in that moment. And I gathered, too, when you talked about setting up a schedule, if you’ve got a schedule and you’re doing something like watching Netflix, then you’re watching Netflix and that’s all you’re doing. Because I know, personally, sometimes I do something that I quite enjoy, but in the back of my mind, I really have those and that’s not really helpful. Like you said, it’s not allowing me to enjoy actually watching the show that I want to watch. So some really good advice there because you’re right. Some of these situations are not going to solve themselves, but the person in control of their mind, I think we’ve seen some amazing examples of people being really creative in terms of ways to change their business really quickly and under pressure.

And I know, obviously, from an educational point of view, I’ve seen teachers this week switch from face to face teaching to online teaching in a matter of moments. We have technology that is offering us something else. I know even for yourself, Rocky, you’re really adjusting your business to this online presence. And it shows people, in the right frame of mind, that’s when they’re at their best. And that’s when they’ve got the opportunity to find the solution that they’re looking for.


Rocky: I’ll probably leave you with this last thought, Mark, and it’s this. I’m a really big believer in this, as you know, and I’m really passionate about it. I’ll just say, I’m sorry, all bets are off if you’re not managing your state. Your mental state, your emotional state. Everything starts from there.

If your mental state and emotional state is completely deteriorating and you’re just surrounding yourself with negativity and fears and upset, like I said, it’s okay to be feeling that way. Step one. Step two is, “How long do I want to feel that way?” That’s the other thing. And if we don’t do anything about that, if we don’t do anything about feeling better, doing anything we can to feel better and manage our state, well, then we can’t do anything about any of the other challenges that we might be facing right now. So it has to start with that. It’s like building a building. It’s going to start with the foundation, and I really believe that’s the foundation. If we haven’t got that straightened out, well, then we can’t straighten anything else out.


Mark:  Rocky, it’s been great to talk to you. And I’ll probably impress upon people that there’s probably a Rocky for everyone somewhere. You’re a great person for me to talk to and I love the things that you share, but we really need to connect with those people that have got really specific strategies. Because we’re going to experience those moments and we need to find our way back out. And some of the strategies you’ve shared today will allow us to find that way. Thanks so much, Rocky, for always illuminating some ideas that I think can make a real difference.


Rocky: No, I appreciate that, Mark. They were helpful to me and I’m hoping they’re helpful for other people. So thanks for doing this with me.


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The Freedom That Comes With Routine [4/5]

Mark: But my next question is obviously, about the organization of your day. A lot of students are now at home, and we were just talking before we started off air there, just about this idiosyncratic work, where we’re not necessarily asking students to stick to the time table that they had at school. With our teachers at work or at home, they’ve got a myriad of jobs to do, that they need to get to their students at a certain point. What advice would you give about even just understanding what you should do with your day? You’ve got this certain amount of hours and what do you do with all those hours and how do you get your job done still, when you might just want to watch Netflix all day.


Rocky: This is super important. And I’ve got a 15 year old and we spoke about this, but thankfully she’s a little bit motivated. So she came up with this herself and it’s definitely something that I would recommend. When you would go to school as a student, you had a timetable and it was a very structured routine. And when you’re at home, that can go out the window. And I can tell you that, I work from home as a business person, and it’s important to have structure or otherwise, things just get away from you. And I would actually say that it’s important to try to get up. I think one of the worst things that can happen right now, is that you go, “Oh, I don’t have to go to school.” So you stay up later and then you get up later. And I think that would be one of the worst things that you can do.

Now, here’s the big problem right now, Mark. Human beings are creatures of habit, so whether we know it or not, we’ve got a whole bunch of habits, good and not so good. And all of those habits have been completely upended and torn apart. So if you were someone who would go to the gym, or who would play sport or who would do whatever, that’s now all stopped. So it’s super important that you don’t fill that space with just sitting and binge watching Netflix. Now, I just want to say to you, I binge watch Netflix too. So cool, binge watch Netflix, but there should be a certain time that you do that. You might say, “From this time to that time, I’m going to sit down and I’m going to do three hours of Netflix.” Great, but you’ve scheduled that.

And I think you’ve got to have a schedule. So I would say to all of the people who are working from home right now, student and non-student, come up with a bit of a timetable, come up with a structure of what you’re going to do. The people who are working from home, you could be sending emails at nine or 10 o’clock at night, because you’ve been not doing that much throughout the day. Does that make sense?

So it’s really important to have a time and place for all of this, so then you can just switch off and say… Otherwise, where’s work and where’s home? Where’s work and where’s relax? Because, now it’s all one space. So go into a particular space to work, have certain times where you do that. And then when you don’t, get out of that space and relax and do whatever you want to do.


Mark: Rocky, you just reminded me, I’m going to share a little story of a really good friend of mine, Tony  Lopez. He is the creator of a comic strip called Insanity Streak. And he’s published in the Daily Telegraph every day and the Sunday Telegraph’s. Essentially a fairly famous guy, right?

But his job is to work each day from home, creating a comic strip and drawing it and getting it ready to send off to different publications. So when he initially did this job, he said to me, he goes, “I’d just get out of bed. I wouldn’t get changed. I’d sit in my room. I’d watch stuff.” He said, “I found it really difficult.” This is extreme, but obviously things were going okay for him. He built an office in his backyard. And then he said to me, he goes, “Once the office was built and ready.” And he goes, “I got up every morning, I changed, I walked to work. It was about 12 steps, but I still took those 12 steps.” And he goes, “It was a total game changer for me, to feel like I went somewhere and went to a space that was work and then walk back and I was home.”

So I love what you said about – it just reminded me of what you said about separation. We need to be pretty considerate of creating whatever schedule works for us. But then we need to have some separation between, where our work life ends or our school day ends. And our leisure time begins, because you’re right, we could find ourselves doing nothing during the day and then about nine o’clock going, “Wow, I’m so far behind.” And then, like you said, we’re not going to sleep on time and everything starts to unravel.


Rocky: Exactly right. That’s exactly right. Yeah.


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Reframing: Responding To What Is [3/5]

Mark O’Connor: So Rocky, when you say that, I’m going to throw one at you, and then I’m going to ask you a question after it. So I’m going to basically contradict myself. So one of the other strategies that we’ve worked on that I think is really important right now is reframing. And we could look at this, and it’s so ironic that people, often when they’re working really hard, want to just stay at home and just do nothing and relax. And now obviously when they’re not allowed to go out there, inside, they’re caged, they feel totally overwhelmed about being inside and not being able to go outside. So the reframe really has to be, what can we do that is going to be advantageous as a consequence of this particular situation we’re in? And we have the option to do the things that we weren’t able to do when we’re able to move around freely.

So things like reading a book, learning a new hobby, YouTubing how to juggle or how to play a guitar or whatever it may be. We’ve got these absolutely enormous opportunities that we’ve never had before, because we’re going to be at home. We can connect with our family in a far deeper level than we have before, obviously maintaining the two meter distance, but we’ve got an opportunity that has never presented itself before. So the reframing, I think, is going to be adding into your two strategies about how long do you want to be like this? Well, here’s an opportunity. Let’s be positive about what we can get out of this situation. But this is my question where I contradict myself. So we’ve got this opportunity to connect with our family, but we’ve also got this great opportunity to have bigger conflict with our family than we’ve ever had before.

And I know from personal experience that some of the doubts or the uncertainty or the lack of clarity about what we can and cannot do is causing some conflict within families about how to handle the situation. Are we going to work? Are we’re going out for dinner, or are we going over to a friend’s place? What is okay to do and what isn’t okay? Obviously we get some information and some advice from the government, but because of that lack of clarity, it’s causing conflict. Conflict can arise out of a lot of different situations. So my question to you, Rocky, is, reframing is great. I can spend more time with my family. But what about when we start to get a bit cooped up, we get a bit frustrated, and that descends into some conflict in our households. What do we do?


Rocky: It’s challenging Mark, and it’s hard for me to just give this flat out advice because it’s different in different families. But I guess what I would say is the way I would reframe things is I would actually encourage students and teachers or whoever’s listening to this to start this practice of identifying three good things that happened today, because that changes our focus and that reframes things immediately for us. So we have a game, the card game, Mark, where we call it On The Plus Side. So it’s like, “this sucks, I’m stuck at home, I’m stuck with people I don’t want to be with.” So we acknowledged what is. Then we say, “On the plus side…” Just doing that, “on the plus side,” and then go and look on the plus side. And what can you find? And I’ve come to see, Mark, that there’s always a plus side if we look for it. Always.

But when we’re focused on negativity and conflict and upset, just can’t see it  because you’re surrounded by that all the time. So the questions we ask ourselves will direct our mental focus. It’s like having a spotlight. “Well, where do you want to be putting that spotlight?” I say, “I hate this. I’m arguing with my parents,” or whatever’s going on. It is what it is, acknowledge it. We’re not sticking our head in the sand. We’re not saying it’s not happening. It is happening. It’s not good. On the plus side… And go and find that. What’s the plus side? And the plus side is different for all sorts of different people.

I can tell you personally, I did this myself, Mark, and I actually went… So on the plus side, I’m actually at home because my job was traveling a lot. So I’m actually spending some more time at home. For me, spending time with my family is a positive. It’s not a negative. So that was a plus side. And the other thing is, I’ve wanted to be creative and create content and do things like you and I are doing right now and putting it out into the world, and I was always too busy to do it. So that’s a plus side. I can be more creative and do things like that. So your job and your responsibility is to find a plus side in these terrible times. But they’re not terrible all of the time.

Mark: So again, Rocky, it sort of comes back to what we were talking about. The reframing is a real choice. It’s a real opportunity to look at things from a positive mindset. And I know you’re a big proponent of the weeks’ work and it is a good opportunity to really buy into that and go, “What is going well? What’s going right?” Because focusing in on what’s going wrong, is, like you said, important to validate, but not important to sit in and dwell upon.

Rocky: Right. Because then we’re participating in spreading that.


Part 1:

Part 2:

Managing Your Emotional State [2/5]


See this second video for more information about tapping:


The second thing I would say is, okay, so you’re not feeling great and you’re acknowledging it. How long do you want to feel that way? There are things that we can do that can make you feel better. So if you’re feeling really worked up and overwhelmed, you can be with the emotion, you can acknowledge it. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, that I would say to you, that there are some strategies that you can do. I really like, Mark, a breathing technique called the four, seven, eight breathing technique. Have you ever heard of that one before?

Mark: No, I haven’t. Yeah. No, it’s strange that you want to mention that.

Rocky: Yeah. I really like this one and it’s super simple. It’s just about putting your tongue to the roof of your mouth, behind your two front teeth, and then you breathe in for four, you hold for seven and then you breathe out for eight with this whooshing sound.

It does look weird. But if you do that three times and then just go back to your regular breath, I absolutely promise you, you’ll just be like … It’s going to help you a lot before you go to bed, you’re going to have a much better night’s sleep and sleep is critical right now. Sleep is the absolute foundation for all of our mental health and wellbeing. I can tell you, Mark, that I track my sleep and it hasn’t been as good as it has been in the last two weeks.

I use this thing called this WHOOP Strap. They actually track millions of people around the world and they sent this report through showing the same, that people’s sleep all across the world has taken a hit. If you’re not tracking it, you’re probably more than likely not sleeping that great during this time. If you’re not sleeping well, all bets are off. Everything I say here is not going to work that well because sleep is the most important part of what we do in regards to mental health and wellbeing.

But going back to the breathing technique, let’s just do one round. Breathe in for four, hold for seven, out for eight. I’m not going to talk through it because I can’t talk and do it at the same time, but I’m just going to do one round, right?


Mark: When you say breathing for four, you’re talking about four seconds?


Rocky: To the count of four. Then breathe out for seven, two, three, four, five, six, seven. You hold for seven and then you breathe out for eight. Breathe in for the count of four, hold for the count of seven, breathe out for the count of eight. You do that three times through, your body will feel really relaxed.

Here’s the really other interesting concept. Nothing in the world has changed. We still got shutdowns, we still got this, we still got that, this virus is still big in the news, but you’re feeling different. You’re not so tense. You’re not so anxious. Your body’s more relaxed. That’s where the power comes in because in these times… So the first tip is acknowledge how you’re feeling. The second thing is, how long do you want to feel that way?

The other technique is the tapping technique. If you do this, I’m sorry, I’m taking this whole thing serious, wash your hands before you do it. I know people would be thinking, “Oh, come on,” but I’m taking it serious and I wash my hands. If you’re tapping, tapping on pressure points like this, again, another really strange technique, can relax the body.

My great friends, Steve Wells and Dr. David Lake, who pioneered a lot of this in Australia, their website is and they’ve got lots of resources there around this tapping technique. Or you can Google tapping technique or simple energy techniques and you’ll see lots of videos on YouTube that go through these pressure points. You can also do the fingers on the outside of the finger at the base of the fingernail.

When we’re feeling worked up and overwhelmed, the first thing is it’s okay to be feeling that way. Acknowledge that. The second thing is how long do you want to feel that way? Because we have a responsibility, I’ve been talking about this way before we heard about coronavirus.

There’s this concept of emotional contagion. If you are immersing in negativity and you’re always consuming and using – what’s this and what’s going on and on, now, sure, you’ve got to know what’s going on and I dived right into it in the early stages. But then you’ve got to pull back because if you’re focusing on that stuff 24/7, you’re not going to be feeling good and we have a responsibility. We don’t want to participate in this psychological pneumonia and I say, when you’re surrounded by negativity, it’s just like a virus. You’d catch that.

By the way, not just negativity, positivity. When you’re around positive people, you know what? You walk away feeling much better.

So we catch that. So we have a responsibility to manage our own state. I really believe that that’s important.


View Part 1 of the series here:

Your Emotions Are Friendly Messengers [1/5]


Hi everyone. It’s Rocky Biasi here and I’m joined by Mark O’Connor, who is a teacher at Emmaus Catholic College. And we’ve been really good friends, we went to university to do our education degree together, and we’ve been talking quite a lot in these quite uncertain and unprecedented times about how we can best support students and maybe even teachers themselves through this time. And so thanks for being on Mark and thanks for doing the job of interviewer, but you’ve got a whole bunch of expertise too. So I’d love for you to jump in here too. And hopefully what we can talk about can be of help to some people in the school community.


Mark: I’ll chime in with a few thoughts, but I’m genuinely interested to get your perspective and your experience and this wealth of knowledge that you have about how to reframe certain situations. Because obviously I can see some real anxiety in society at the moment, like you said, whether it be from teachers or whether it be from students.

So mate, I’ll kick you off with this obvious one, first of all. It’s overwhelming. There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment. And this coronavirus is causing some pretty mass hysteria, and obviously there’s different levels of that hysteria. What’s your number one go-to best piece of advice for people when they’re getting in that overwhelmed state, and they’re starting to worry about things that essentially they can’t control?


Rocky: Okay. Really good question, Mark. And I’ve put together seven tips, and I’m not going to give you all seven right now, but I want to see if I can give you a few. The first thing is it’s okay to be feeling the way you’re feeling. I know that I’ve had my own moments. You and I spoke about it when this first crashed, and the ramifications that had on me, and then I’m thinking the ramifications on others in the society. And yeah, I’ve had my moments, to say the least. And I think to be honest with you, if you’re living through these unprecedented times, it’s quite normal to be worked up and anxious and stressed and worried about what’s going on and what the future holds. So I guess the first thing I’m going to say is it’s okay to be feeling the way you’re feeling.

And here’s the other thing I know, Mark, and it’s this. If you start pushing those feelings down, if you don’t acknowledge them, if you don’t validate those emotions, they actually get stronger. So if you push them away, if you try to ignore them, the emotions are actually intensifying. And one of the things that I like to say is treat your emotions the way you would treat someone that you were listening to.

So, you and I, Mark, we do some work around Accidental Counselor and we’ve spoken about this in the past. And I say, look, if you’re listening to someone, if you’re going to be a really good listener, you would acknowledge what they’re saying. You’d validate what they’re saying, and you would even normalize it. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing right now. If you’re feeling worked up, it’s okay. It’s normal, right? And you can’t make yourself bad for feeling bad, right? That’s just going to make it worse.

So acknowledge how you’re feeling, number one, is key. Sit with the emotion, allow yourself to feel it, right? We’re so frightened by emotions that we push them away. We try to suppress them. We’ll distract ourselves with all this other stuff. And what tends to happen is because we’re not listening, the emotion intensifies and it becomes stronger and stronger.

And so when we acknowledge and validate our own emotions, I like to think of our emotions and our feelings like friendly messengers. And if you’re not listening to them, well, then they’re going, “Hey, you’re not listening.” So they get louder and stronger, right? And so if you acknowledge them and listen to them, just the very act of being present and just going, “Oh, I’m feeling this stress in my back,” or “There’s this tightness in my chest.” Just that act alone, bringing that presence and that awareness to that, is amazing, because it tends to reduce the intensity of it, just that. So that would be the first tip.


Vicarious Trauma: Self-Care for Mental Health Workers

The need for mental health care services and counsellors across Australia is growing at an astoundingly fast rate, with 22,159 mental health professionals reported in the latest figures from 2017. 4.3 million people received mental health-related prescriptions in that year alone, and this is an influx that doesn’t look set to abate anytime soon.

As this sector continues to grow at such a fast rate, one thing becomes evident; mental health concerns and the need for self-care among mental health workers is on a steady incline. Distressing cases and their emotional implications on carers shake not their ability to help people who have experienced trauma, but also the helpers mental health. This is a serious issue that’s coming more and more to the fore and, only by recognising the signs of vicarious trauma in mental health workers do we stand any chance at managing it.

Thankfully, most cases of vicarious trauma subside within a few weeks, but that’s too long to wait if you’re suffering. Instead, taking action as soon as symptoms arise is your best chance at managing your wellbeing and offering the best possible care to patients at all times. 


What will cause me to be vicariously traumatised?

Many in the mental health industry are vaguely aware of vicarious trauma without knowing exactly what can make them feel this way. Ultimately, as with any trauma, this is a personal experience, but most cases arise when mental health workers talk to patients after witnessing or being involved in traumatic events of some kind. The high levels of emotion and confusion that can arise from such conversations have the power to either trigger past trauma for workers themselves, or otherwise impact everyday functioning.


How will I know if I’m vicariously traumatised?

Spotting the symptoms of vicarious trauma fast is essential for full recovery in the shortest time. While each individual will experience vicarious trauma differently, some of the most common signs that you’re experiencing problems include – 

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Excessive thoughts about a traumatic work event
  • Mood swings/emotional exhaustion
  • Increased need to withdraw
  • Loss of pleasure in things that once brought you joy
  • Avoidance of work situations
  • Increased usage of alcohol/caffeine etc.
  • Notable decreases in work performance
  • And more


What can I do if I feel this way?

Taking action is, by far, the most fundamental thing you can do if you notice yourself feeling this way after work trauma. Luckily, there’s plenty of action for you to take in cases like these, especially when you seek the help of support organisations like VTT, Sane, and Mind

VTT’s website, in particular, provides useful suggestions for yourself, your co-workers/supervisors, and your family members in cases where vicarious trauma does make itself known. In general terms, some tips that could help you to cope with these unwanted feelings include – 

  • Debriefing with colleagues
  • Embarking on flexible working
  • Sharing concerns with a loved one
  • Seeking professional help from organisations like those mentioned
  • Finding healthy outlets for the feelings that vicarious trauma causes
  • Accepting your emotions and learning to work through them

Dealing with the Stress and Anxiety of Coronavirus


These are truly uncertain and unprecedented times. Our world has changed and the way we live has changed. It would be impossible to not feel unsure, anxious and afraid. I know I’ve had my moments to say the least. 

I wanted to share some things that have helped me deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with COVID-19 and the multiplier effect it has not just on our physical or financial health but also our mental health and wellbeing. I hope some of these ideas help you also.

1. It’s okay to be feeling the way you’re feeling!

  • Acknowledge and validate how you’re feeling.
  • Pushing your feelings away or feeling bad for feeling bad makes them stronger.
  • A good listener acknowledges and validates what they hear from the speaker. Do the same – I like to think of our emotions as messengers and when we listen to them they tend to reduce in intensity, frequency and duration.

2. The Question is how long do you want to feel that way?

In other words there are things you can do that can help you calm and relax a little more. There are things you can do that can make you feel a little better. Focus on the things you can control because there is way too much we can’t control in this Coronavirus climate. We need to be cautious that our anxiety isn’t playing into a psychological phenomena. 

When you’re surrounded by people who are scared, frightened, and desperate there is a tendency to be negatively affected with those same thoughts and feelings. This is known as EMOTIONAL CONTAGION.

Just like the spread of a virus, we can ‘catch feelings’. Emotions, both positive and negative, actually spread like viruses, whether or not we intend for them to.

Here are 2 practical strategies to help manage stress and anxiety.


3. Try 4-7-8 Breathing

Breathing can be a powerful tool to manage anxiety and any overwhelming emotions.  A simple place to start is with 4-7-8, a five-step breathing exercise that is easy and effective. The exercise can be done anytime, anywhere, and can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and induce sleep. Here’s how it works:

  1. Start by putting the tip of your tongue to the top of your mouth just behind your two front teeth.  
  2. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. 
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven seconds. 
  4. Breathe out through your mouth for a count of eight seconds. Try to make a “whooshing” sound as you do this. 
  5. Start again immediately. Breathe in for a count of four and continue through the cycle 4-5 times before returning to your normal breath for the most benefit. 


4. Tapping

This technique I want to share with you is tapping. Check out where my good friend Steve Wells along with David Lake have lots of resources on tapping. There are many ways to do this including Steve’s intention tapping. In the video on this page I’ll show you some of the pressure points to do tapping because simply tapping on pressure points continuously creates a relaxation effect and it desensitises emotion. The way I like to think about the tapping is that the emotion moves through you rather than being stuck in your body. So let’s do 3 rounds of tapping. 


5. The mind is not always your friend. 

“What’s wrong with right now—unless you think about it?” (Bob Adamson) My good friend and mentor Dr David Lake says .

If you pay attention you’ll notice that your thinking can be unhelpful when it’s fixed and stuck rather than open and adaptable. I can often find myself thinking thoughts that are an exaggeration of the reality or perhaps catastrophizing. 

David say’s, There is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ in everything. A mixture of good and bad, especially in a crisis. Things are neither black nor white. Avoid that kind of thinking where it seems you must ‘vote’! You don’t need to (it’s always both things, in balance).

Part of me is really worried and part of me isn’t; this is a balance you can change—by having a plan.

I also like his comments about…allowing.

Allowing (external) things to be difficult because often external circumstances are out of our control— focus on doing what you can, without excess upset. Don’t struggle with the facts. It is what it is. Ask questions to help you focus on what you can do.

Can I take any common-sense measures? 

What’s one small thing I can do, that can make a difference (fill in the blank) today.

Keep on doing the life-affirming things you have decided on (even if today is the only thing you can be sure of).


6. Psychological Impacts of Quarantine 

It’s SUPER IMPORTANT  to maintain strong social connections during isolation.

We need to be more proactive and reach out to people … and in doing so, it’s likely to help others who might not want to bother you, or who might have mental health problems of their own.

Maintaining good physical health during quarantine or isolation is also key to keeping mentally well.

It’s easy when you’re in the middle of a crisis to let your standard routines or health habits go downhill.

We know physical and mental health are quite closely linked, and so this is a time you probably need to pay additional attention to unhelpful behaviours.

A great idea to connect with friends is to organise a virtual “happy hour”. Log on together and have a glass of wine or coffee virtually.


7. Some tips to looking after your mental health in home isolation:

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, or phone
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing
  • Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods
  • Try to maintain physical activity
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, and taking regular breaks
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing

Tip 7 sourced from Beyoneblue.





The Solution Talk Guide™

The Solution Talk Guide™ is part of The Accidental Counsellor Training.

It will help you:

– Connect and establish rapport quickly with the person you are working with.

– Create and environment trust and safety.

– Facilitate new perspective that lead to new positive behaviours and can give returns in all areas of personal life.

Desired Outcome Questions

1. What difference would you like this session to make for you?

2. What would your closest friend hope be different for you as a result of us meeting?

3. What do you wish would be different as a result of you being here?

4. If you did know?

5. If I asked the person in your life who knows you best what do you think they’d say?

6. What do you imagine?

7. If I had asked you this question when you did know, what would you have said?

8. If I had asked you that question when you were at your most hopeful and motivated, what would you have said?

Related Blog Post:


Resource Talk Questions

1. What do you do for fun?

2. How did you become good at that?

3. What has it taken to stay good at that?

4. What would the closest person to you say is their favorite thing about you?

5. How do you show the people in your life that you care about them?

6. What has improved since we last spoke?

7. How did you do that?

8. When did you first notice that things were improving?

Related Blog Post:


Coping with the Problem

1. What would you like to experience instead of the problem?

2. When has the problem diminished or become less intense?

3. What was different about you while the problem was gone or less intense?

4. How did they notice the problem had gone away or become less intense

5. What difference did the problem going away or becoming less intense make in that person’s life?

Related Blog Post:


Preferred Future Description Questions

1. Suppose you went to sleep one night and a miracle happened that made things better, what is the first thing you would notice?

2. If you woke up tomorrow and your best hopes had become a reality, what would you first notice?

3. What else?

4. What would you do next?

5. What would you notice next?

6. Would you consider this a good thing?

7. What difference would that make?

8. Would that please you?

9. How would those close to you notice you were pleased?

Related Blog Post:


Scaling Questions

1. On a scale of zero to 10, with 10 representing your desired outcome has been realised and zero is the opposite, where are you today?

2. What puts you at that number?

3. How do you know you’re not at zero?

4. What have you done to prevent the situation from going down on the scale?

5. If you moved one point on the scale towards the realisation of your desired outcome, what is the first thing you would notice?

6. What have you done to get yourself to the number you are currently at?

7. Who has noticed you progressing up the scale?

8. What would you notice as clues that you were progressing?

Related Blog Post:


Follow Up Questions

1. What’s been better since our last session?

2. How’d you do that?

3. What skills did you draw upon to make those changes since our last session?

4. What’s been better since we last met?

5. What role did you play in things getting better since we last met?

6. What role did others play?

7. What are your best hopes for this session?

8. What does that progress do to your thoughts about the future?

Related Blog Post:

Top 10 Mental Health and Wellbeing Tips

The following tips are “right” for me after many years of trying different strategies. The quality of your mental health is a reflection of the wellbeing and self-care habits you have.

Right Sleep

Sleep is the MOST important mental health habit you can build. It’s the foundation upon which all of the other mental health tips are built upon. Aim for 8+ hours! It has an enormous impact on our physical and mental health.

To help you get the best sleep:

  • Turn off digital objects and electronic screens at least 1 hour before you go to bed.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep try turning down the lights 30 minutes before you go into bed.
  • Remember that caffeine in soft drinks coffee or tea can keep some people up at night.
  • Create a night-time routine so you have good sleep consistency. This helps you experience quality sleep. Check out the sleep cycle app to help you wake up when you are coming out of your deep sleep.

Right Morning Routine

The way you start the day sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Experiment with different morning routines until you find the combination that works best for you.

Try some of these morning habits:

  • Exercising
  • Eating well
  • Having a good mindset to the day
  • Being mindful

Right Exercise

Most of us know the many physical benefits of exercise: weight control, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes, and increased energy, just to name a few. There is no shortage of mental benefits of exercise also.

Here are some to think about:

  • Help for depression and anxiety
  • Decreased stress
  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Better sleep
  • Brain boost

Right Eating

I’ve really experimented with Right Eating! What I’ve learned is that what’s right for one may not be right for another. Having said that “eating clean” has helped me enormously.

The fundamentals of eating clean encourage you to consume:

  • More whole foods such as fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Whole grains and healthy fats
  • Limit highly processed snack foods, sweets and other packaged foods.


Right Mindset

Similar to healthy food, be mindful of what you consume mentally. 

  • Create space in the morning to be intentional with your thinking
  • Try to avoid work and negative news related information
  • Focus on inspirational and uplifting content
  • Create an attitude of appreciation and gratitude
  • Foster a growth rather than fixed mindset.

Right Focus 

Where focus goes energy flows. Focus and put your attention on:

  • What you want rather than what you don’t want
  • Connect what you want with why you want it
  • What’s the most important thing for you this day, week, month, year.
  • Ask yourself one small thing that would make a big difference to ….

Right Mindfulness

If you pay attention to the “voice in your head” you will notice, we are constantly thinking and focusing our attention on the past and future.

That’s perfectly fine when we are using the human mind to serve us and humanity.

The problem occurs when we believe the negative stories in our minds about ourselves, others and the world.

Bringing your attention to the “Now” or present moment helps reduce the constant mental stories we tell ourselves about the past and the future. Then all that is left, is to deal with a situation or accept what is. Problems worries and fears by definition require the past and future. Have you noticed how often your future fears and worries don’t occur!

Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation Is Good for Your Health

  1. Mindfulness is good for our hearts
  2. Mindfulness may decrease cognitive decline from aging or Alzheimer’s
  3. Mindfulness may improve your immune response
  4. Mindfulness may reduce cell aging
  5. Mindfulness may help reduce psychological pain

Right Relationships 

We are the average of the 5 closest people around us. Relationships can either drain you or fill you with negative or positive energy. Identify and make space in your life for your positive circle of influence.


Right Work

You may need to start with work you are not passionate about. Have a focus on work you eventually want to do. Work you care about, that you’re passionate about and enjoy doesn’t become work that becomes a chore and obligation.


Right Money Principles

Spend less than what you earn. Build savings so you have a backstop for emergencies and feeling of security. Spend your money on experiences that create lasting memories rather than material things that pass quickly.


The Myth of Multitasking – And How It Impacts Your Mental Health And Wellbeing

Many people believe that women are excellent at multitasking, while men don’t do as well. However, the truth is that no one is really that good at multitasking, regardless of gender. In fact, not only are we not built for multitasking, but you could be doing yourself more harm than good by spending your time trying to do multiple things at once. Our brains aren’t really  built for multitasking, and trying to multitask can have a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Let’s take a look at what exactly multitasking is, and how it could be affecting you, as well as how you can improve the way that you work by ditching multitasking.


The Three Types of Multitasking

There are plenty of simple tasks that we can do at the same time. It’s not difficult to talk and walk simultaneously, or to watch TV while you’re eating. However, when it comes to more complex tasks, humans aren’t designed to be able to handle doing several things at once. According to Dr David Meyer from the University of Michigan “as long as you’re performing complicated tasks that require the same parts of the brain, and you need to devote all that capacity for these tasks, there just aren’t going to be resources available to add anything more.”

Trying to do two complicated tasks at once is just one type of multitasking. There are actually two other types of multitasking that many of us attempt to do, but which we’re not designed for.

The three types of multitasking are:

  • Multitasking – trying to do more than one task at the same time
  • Switching costs – switching back and forth between tasks
  • Attention residue – performing several tasks in rapid succession

Each type of multitasking can affect the way that you are able to work, and prevent you from doing your best work. If you’re spending your time trying to multitask, it’s likely that you’re not doing any of the tasks particularly well. In addition, you could be causing damage to your brain and your mental health by multitasking.


The Impact Multitasking Has on Your Brain

Multitasking can have a number of effects on your brain. In fact, some studies have shown that being a multitasker could permanently alter the structure of your brain. One study from the University of Sussex in the UK showed that people who spend a lot of time multitasking using media devices (such as smartphones and TV) had reductions in the grey matter of their brains.

Multitasking could also have an impact on your short-term memory, and your long-term memory. A 2011 study found that multitasking affects your ability to retain memory while working on a task, while a 2016 study showed the same, and also identified an affect on long-term memory.

Increased distractibility is another possible consequence of multitasking. A study showed that multitasking made people more likely to exhibit behavioral distractibility. This could be because it causes the person to lose the ability to tell between an important distraction and an unimportant one.


How Multitasking Affects Your Mental Health

In addition to affecting cognitive function and the brain’s structure, multitasking could affect your brain in another way. Mental health problems can increase with multitasking, including increased anxiety, chronic stress and depression. Multitasking takes up all of your brain’s energy, which neuroscientists say can cause you to be less focused and become more anxious.

Increased stress is another risk of multitasking. A study of students showed that those who multitasked more experienced increased stress levels. Another study linked multitasking to higher levels of depression and social anxiety. Multitasking is mentally taxing, demanding all of your brain’s energy. This leaves you with less energy to deal with everyday situations and to manage your emotions. Many people know what it’s like to feel more emotional when they’re tired. Regular multitasking can lead to your feeling drained of energy all the time.


Switching Costs

Switching costs are the consequences of frequently switching between tasks. You can’t do two complex tasks at once, which means that when you’re multitasking, what you’re really doing is bouncing back and forth between different tasks. Although you can quickly switch your focus from one task to another, it takes a lot of your brain’s energy to do so. Many people think that it’s a faster way to get their work done, but the opposite is actually true. Rapidly switching back and forth between tasks means that you will take longer to get your work done.


How Single-tasking Is Superior

If you really want to make the most of the time that you have available at work, it’s single-tasking that you should be doing. Working on one task at a time is the best way to use your brain’s energy, particularly if you group like tasks together. Working on a single tasks means less stress, cutting out the energy required to switch back and forth between tasks. It’s better for staying focused, helping you to concentrate on what you’re doing and turn down other tasks and distractions that aren’t currently a priority. It can even help you to think more creatively, forcing you to find creative ways to use the resources that you have.


Quit Multitasking and Do More

Giving up multitasking can be hard. When you’re using to switching between multiple tasks, you can do it automatically, making it difficult to stop. The first step you should take if you want to start working on single tasks is to create a work schedule. Allocate your time to different tasks so you know when to focus on what. You can start by focusing yourself for short periods of 15 to 20 minutes to get used to it. Block out distractions from email by only reviewing them at set times, instead of whenever an email arrives in your inbox. If there are websites that you know distract you, such as social media sites, block them using a browser extension to prevent them from tempting you. Make sure to take breaks too, but don’t take them for too long.

Multitasking isn’t the answer if you want to work smartly. Focus on one task at a time to improve your mental health, wellbeing and productivity.

The Power of Sleep

Life would be a lot easier if you didn’t have to sleep.

Just imagine what you could do with all of the time you spend in bed. The potential is limitless, and a lot of people already push the amount of time they spend awake to make the most of it.

Of course, though, you wouldn’t be able to live a very healthy lifestyle without this crucial element. Instead, you would be tired all the time, would struggle to concentrate, and would eventually find yourself in an early grave.

But why exactly does your body work this way?

To give you an insight into the power of sleep, this article will be exploring this part of your life. A luxury for some, getting enough sleep is an excellent way to improve your lifestyle, though it’s easy to ignore this part of life when you have a lot on your plate.


What Happens When You Have A Sleepless Lifestyle?

You’ve probably experienced this many times before; you can’t get yourself off to sleep until the sun is rising, but you have far too much to do to stay in bed.

Today is going to be a difficult one.

As you roll yourself out of bed, willing yourself to get on with the day, one of the first things you’ll notice is the way your body feels. Your limbs will be heavy, balancing will be a challenge, and you will face an almost overwhelming urge to flop back into a state of slumber.

Thankfully, these physical effects will wear down a little throughout the morning, and you will slowly regain your ability to handle normal life. At least on a physical level.

Of course, though, you will still have to use your mind to study or go to work. This is one of the biggest issues which comes when you don’t sleep; your mind won’t have had a chance to rest properly.

This can make it extremely difficult to concentrate, keep up with fast lectures or conversations, and will often leave people in a bad mood. Some people use coffee and energy drinks to try and overcome this, but this attempt is a feeble one. Your mind simply won’t be able to function correctly when you haven’t slept enough.

As the years go by, living without enough sleep will have an impact on your overall health. Failing to get the sleep you need will have a negative effect on your lifespan, with those who sleep the most often living far longer than those who don’t get enough time in bed.

Behind The Scenes: What’s Happening To Your Body

In reality, most people have a good idea of what they will feel like when they don’t get enough sleep. This doesn’t mean that they understand why they feel like this, though, and this is crucial when you’re trying to improve this side of your life.

It’s hard to know what to do right when you don’t know what’s going wrong.

Your Mind: Your mind is very delicate. It doesn’t take much to throw it out of whack, and a lot of people don’t realise quite how much sleep can influence this. You won’t be able to concentrate properly, as your mind won’t have had a chance to reset and handle the memories you made the day before. Concentration will slip, as your mind will cluttered and filled with information which it hasn’t had a chance to sort. A lack of sleep is now recognised as one of the leading contributors in the increase of mental health issues.

This will all have an effect on your studies and work, making it crucial that you get enough sleep each and every night. If you let this go on for a long time, things will get even worse, with conditions like dementia being recognised to have causal links with a lack of sleep throughout someone’s life.

Your Body: Like your mind, your body is also very complicated, and will be heavily influenced by the changes your lifestyle thrusts upon it. Poor sleep has been connected with obesity in a lot of different studies, as your digestive system relaxes when you sleep, and it needs this opportunity to process the food you eat properly.

Alongside this, though, there are some far more serious issues which sleeplessness can cause for your body. It will impact your cardiovascular system, making you more likely to suffer with heart disease and heart attacks. You could also increase the chances that you will have to deal with diabetes, infertility, and cancer, as not getting enough sleep can also be linked to these conditions.

Ultimately, living without the sleep you need will lower your lifespan, while also making you feel bad all the time.


Using Science For The Perfect Sleep

It’s not always easy to make sure that you have enough time to sleep. This should be kept to a minimum, though, and most people should be working hard to get as much sleep as they possibly can each week. You can use science to help you with this.

There are four stages to sleep; light, REM, deep, and wake. Understanding these can make it much easier to ensure that you’re always getting quality sleep, while also giving you an opportunity to wake yourself up at exactly the right time.

Let’s take a look.

Light: The light sleep stage bridges the gap between being awake and entering a deep sleep. During this stage, you will be able to wake up very easily, and it will make sense to avoid interruptions to your sleep during this stage. Some scientists believe that people go through this to ensure that they can wake up to threats.

REM: REM stands for rapid eye movement, and this occurs as your body shuts down for the night. The muscles which control your eyes are some of the only ones which function during this time, hence the movement which is often seen. You need the REM stage of sleep to give your mind a chance to soak up memories and cement the skills which you’ve picked up through the day. This stage is essential for students.

Deep: The deep sleep stage is one of the most important. Muscles repair and grow during this time, and your body will produce 95% of its growth hormones when you’re in a deep sleep. If you wake up during this stage, you’re likely to feel very tired.

Wake: This stage of sleep happens throughout the other stages, with most people waking up as many as 20 times each night. You’re not conscious of this, and it usually comes at the end of a sleep cycle.

A healthy adult will go through three to five cycles of these stages each night. Waking up at the right point can make you feel far more rested than waking up during the wrong stages, and it’s always worth spending the time to figure out how many cycles you have time to go through.

Alongside this, you can also think about other ways to improve your sleep. Eating the right food, taking part in enough exercise, and working to make sure that you’re not stressed will all contribute to healthy sleep.

Sleep is crucial to your work, studies, and general wellbeing. This makes it well worth putting time into it, even if you feel like you get enough of the stuff. Just about everyone has what it takes to improve their sleep.

Thoughts on Critical Incidents and Trauma in the School Context

Critical Incidents and Trauma

If you work at a school, you need to prepare yourself for all eventualities and potential circumstances. This includes being prepared for trauma and critical incidents. While we all hope that a disaster or serious accident never happens at the school we work for or attend with our children, being prepared and knowing what to do can make a monumental difference in these moments. With that being said, below, we are going to reveal everything you need to know about critical incidents and trauma.


What are critical incidents?

Critical incidents relate to unexpected and extraordinary circumstances that can result in a traumatic reaction. There are a lot of different types of critical incidents that can occur. Examples include the following:

  • Being a witness to an event that has resulted in someone experiencing harm.
  • Assaults; this includes psychological, sexual, or physical assaults.
  • Vehicle accidents.
  • Death (actual or threatened).
  • Wars.
  • Disasters. 


What is trauma?

Trauma is a term that is used to describe the physiological, psychological, and emotional residue that is left over due to heightened stress that has occurred because of a challenging event. In regards to critical incidents, trauma relates to how we feel afterwards from a mental health standpoint. There are three different types of trauma, which we will explain below:

  • Simple trauma – Simple trauma is painful and overwhelming. This relates to experiences of events that have the potential to result in serious injury and/or can be life-threatening. They tend to be single incidents. The victim does not experience societal blaming and there tends to be less stigma associated with this type of trauma. There tend to be helpful and supportive community responses. Simple trauma involves the experiences of being in cyclones, earthquakes, bushfires, house fires, and car accidents.
  • Complex trauma – Complex trauma tends to involve violation, violence, and interpersonal threat. It tends to include a number of incidents. There is a sense of shame experienced by the victim and almost always a stigma associated with such incidents. Community responses do not tend to be helpful. The targets of violence tend to be disempowered and blamed. They can feel like they do not have support from others, leading to isolation and often a sense of betrayal. Examples of this type of trauma include experiences with imprisonment, war, rape, domestic violence, bullying, and child abuse.
  • Developmental trauma – Finally, we have developmental trauma. Young people and children are very vulnerable to the impact of trauma because of the immaturity of their brain’s development. Because a child’s brain is so malleable, trauma can be faster to manifest. This means that the damage that is left behind is often deeper. Children can often experience splintered development because of the trauma. If an adult has caused the child harm, they can be even more intensely impacted. This is because children rely so much on the adults that are around them. Developmental trauma can include children who experience high parental conflict in the context of divorce or separation, as well as those who are forced to live with family violence, are abused, and are neglected. 

If someone has experienced a critical incident and they are experiencing trauma, there are a number of different things you can do in order to support yourself and others. This includes…

  • See how your friends are doing. This is especially the case if you have noticed that a friend is withdrawn and seems distant.
  • Encourage your friends to talk about what is bothering them. Do not pressure them to talk or pry for details, though.
  • Acknowledge your friend’s feelings and validate their responses.
  • Encourage your friend to connect with the support that is available to them. This includes family and friends, as well as a counsellor.
  • Try to find a balance. Make sure you stay up-to-date with what is happening yet you also need to make sure you do not become so ingrained in the situation to the point whereby it is the only thing that is going on and is discussed between you and your friend.
  • Encourage your friend to return to their usual routine or to maintain it.
  • Encourage other activities that are relaxing or involve exercising, as they can help. 


Have you experienced a traumatic event? 

If you have experienced a traumatic event in your life, there are a number of different strategies that you can use in order to help you with your recovery.

This includes the following…

  • Do not use drugs or alcohol
  • Manage your general stress levels as best as you can. Be aware that your reactions can be more intense during times of the year whereby you are going to be under pressure.
  • Take some time and then start to return to your normal routines slowly but surely.
  • Take time to do things that relax you and that you enjoy. This will enable your body to respond to the changes it needs. For example, direct angry feelings by going to the gym, cry when you need to, and spend time with the people you love.
  • Make sure you have adequate rest by managing your sleep.
  • Talk to someone you trust. You do not have to face this alone. If you do not have a family member or friend you can talk to, turn to a counsellor. 

After a traumatic event, the normal recovery and healing process means that your body needs to come down from a state of heightened arousal. In more basic words, it means that the high levels of energy must come down and internal alarms need to be turned off. Your body needs to re-set itself to a normal state of equilibrium and balance. This is not going to happen overnight. It will usually occur one month after the event. However, this depends on the event and level of trauma too. 

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of critical incidents and trauma. We all hope that this information is something that you will never have to put into practice. However, it is imperative that teachers and school staff members are aware of this.

How to Help and Respond If Your Teen is Depressed

Data suggest that more than 10 percent of adolescents suffer from some kind of major depressive episode between the ages of 12 and 19. For caregivers caught up in the melee, it can be challenging to know what to do, how to identify symptoms, where to find treatment, and how to prevent it from taking over their lives and relationships. 

Recent research suggests that the best thing that caregivers can do is take active steps to attempt to remedy the problem, not just for the sake of their teen’s mental health, but theirs too. 

Signs Your Teen Is Depressed

Prolonged Sadness Or Irritability

Depression and sadness are two different things. But to the outside observer untrained in matters of mental health, it may be difficult to tell the difference. Your child may appear uncharacteristically sad about their lives for a lengthy period (usually more than two weeks), which could indicate depression. Irritability can also arise if the child doesn’t want to interact with the world to the same degree. Depression robs children of their authentic outgoing nature. 

Problems With Sleeping And Eating

Depression can wreak havoc on both sleeping and eating. It can be a challenge for a depressed child to fall into a restful sleep or feel hungry before a meal.

Prolonged Lack Of Energy

A lack of energy or unwillingness to get out of bed (even when there are good reasons for doing so) is a hallmark of depression. Depressed teens often have a lower academic performance at school than their peers. 

Persistent Feelings Of Worthlessness and Hopelessness

Depressed teens may feel that they don’t have agency in the world and that they’ll never feel happy about themselves, their relationships, or their work. In its worst form, feelings of hopelessness can lead to depression and suicide. If you suspect that your child may be suicidal, then seek professional help immediately. 

Steps To Help 

Dealing with depression can be a challenge. For many teens, it can seem like an intractable state of mind – something from which they cannot escape. The job of the caregiver isn’t to “cure” them, but create the conditions that put the teen firmly on the track back to mental health. 

Step 1: Listen With Genuine Curiosity And Compassion

Compassion is where you accept the lashing out of another person, but fundamentally believe that their behavior stems from a place of pain, not evil. A depressed teen may shout and rage, sometimes directly at you. But it’s your job to recognize that this isn’t necessarily a statement about their character, but a reflection of the fact that they are hurting inside. 

The first step is to open up a dialogue with your teen. You want to make them feel as if they can come forward and freely discuss their feelings. Start with simple questions about what is troubling them and how they feel. The goal isn’t to provide advice, but to focus on listening to the problem and offering support. Often that’s all you can do, at least to begin with. 

Step 2: Avoid Reminding Your Teen Of Their Failures

The sense that one has failed in life can breed depression. A teen who believes that he or she is worthless because they lack friends or achievements is at a heightened risk of developing the condition. Paradoxically, depressed teens can withdraw from life and deny themselves the opportunity to form new friendships, romantic relationships, or college aspirations.

Parents and teachers might be tempted to remind teens that they’re missing out on life, but this is risky because it could reinforce their belief that they’re a failure. You don’t want that. Try to find ways to praise your teen for the things that they can do and build a solid base from there. Your teen might not have friends, but he or she is a kind and compassionate person, for instance. 

Step 3: Just Be There

Caregivers often want their teens to open up about how they feel. But forcing this process is not advisable. Teens need space to develop their sense of self and boundaries. The job of the caregiver is to provide a kind of unconditional support, telling their teen that they will be there for them, as and when they’re needed. 

It can be hard for parents to sit on the emotional sidelines while their teen suffers, but it’s essential. Letting go of your own needs encourages your teen to come forward with theirs. 

How To Get Treatment 

The good news is that matters eventually resolve themselves in the majority of cases. However, if you believe that your teen’s depression is deep-seated or having an intolerable impact on their quality of life, then you may want to seek the help and advice of a professional. 

Professional therapists have a theoretical framework in their minds that they use to listen to your teen in a non-judgemental way and find ways to remedy the situation. The nature of your teen’s depression may be challenging to identify, and you may find that without professional help, you go through successive cycles of mental health and depression, seemingly without end. The job of the mental health professional is to find ways to nip depression in the bud before it has long-term development effects. 

How To Look After Yourself 

Managing a teen with depression is an exhausting task for parents. You can’t help but emotionally involve yourself in their suffering. Your teen is still your child, and you feel very strongly that they’re you’re responsibility – that’s entirely natural. 

Coping with a person with depression is, however, a challenge. It can begin to chip away at your own mental health, making you feel worried, anxious, and depressed yourself. As a parent, it’s crucial to recognize that you’re not alone; there are plenty of people who can help you, such as your partner or other family members. You can also seek professional advice if you feel that the situation is affecting you in negative ways or bringing up toxic issues from your past. 

The Impact of Poor Mental Health on School Attendance and Supporting Student Motivation

It’s of little surprise to know that mental health issues have been linked with school absences, particularly during secondary and further education. Having said that there is a worrying trend that primary school K-6 students are increasingly entering these statistics. This eventually leads to a decline in school performance and could cause further developmental issues if the problem issue left unresolved. Knowing how to respond to mental health issues and develop resilience through intrinsic motivation can go a long way in helping reduce school absenteeism.

Increasing Awareness of Mental Health Issues in Schools

Mental health issues can affect anyone at any age, which is why it’s important for teachers and school staff to be even more aware of terms used, the conditions described and also learn how to assist those with mental health needs. This results in more awareness of mental health issues and can actually help in how to respond and refer to appropriate team members inside and outside of school to (if necessary) diagnose a child’s potential health issues.

Often raising the issue of specialised help (particularly with an assessment or to diagnose) creates much resistance. This is to be expected, as parents may react out of fear and the desire to not “label my child”. Teachers and school staff can help parents understand the importance of referral if helping with future strategies and approaches. 

Parent surveys have shown that the first person to identify a child’s mental health problem is actually their teacher or someone within the school faculty. Because of this, it’s vital that we start to inform teachers and make them more aware of the types of things they may see and how to deal with them.

Being able to help students is incredibly important, but teachers cannot do so unless they have more knowledge of how these mental health conditions work, the signs, symptoms and also how to accommodate and respond to a child’s needs if they do have a mental health condition.
This is why the Accidental Counsellor Training is so important.

Intrinsic Motivation In Students

To help manage mental health issues and develop resilience is obviously very important in helping decrease school absence. An increasingly popular method of helping students stay motivated in order to increase their attendance, performance and focus is to use intrinsic motivation. This is a concept that focuses on naturally building up a student’s motivation by offering them four valuable options; choice, challenge, collaboration and control.

Many teachers are still working under the assumption that they must direct their students and control each aspect of the learning process. However, this forced method offers no feedback from the students and it restricts them from making decisions on their own, drastically lowering their motivation. The alternative is to focus on intrinsic motivation which allows a student to make choices for themselves so they feel motivated, not forced, to learn.

There are four principles to intrinsic motivation;

  • Choice – Offering students more choice in their lessons and homework means that they are more invested into their decisions. Instead of being told what to read or study for homework, the focus shifts on letting them decide and make their own choices. This means that’ll be more interested in the subject material they chose and it leverages student autonomy, meaning the students work harder and are mentally stimulated while the teacher has to do less micromanagement of each student.
  • Challenge – The principle of challenge is to remind teachers that students are often smarter than they seem. In order to truly test their capabilities and push what they can achieve, it’s necessary to challenge them. Not only does this allow the teacher to gauge their students’ progress but it also gives them a way to measure their own progress too. We see this often in “gamification” a concept that is taken from the world of onlnie gaming!
  • Collaboration – Collaboration helps students learn to communicate and work together on tasks. Discussions will help students reach conclusions on their own and combining their abilities and knowledge will help them overcome more difficult challenges, stimulating their minds and training them for when they become a part of the future workforce.
  • Control – Control focuses on training students to ask questions so that they can reach conclusions using past experiences or by sharing knowledge with other students through collaboration. By teaching students to take more control of their own studies, it gives them the ability to be more critical of their own work and self motivate themselves to find solutions to problems.

How Self-Compassion Supports Academic Motivation and Emotional Wellness 

Self-criticism can be a way to motivate oneself. It’s often described as the voice in our head that helps to remind us of the actions we’ve taken and the potential consequences we could face. However, self-criticism can often go too far, resulting in fear, anxiety or even depression depending on the results of said consequences. In fact, some students may focus too much on perfectionism and this can lead to serious motivational issues.

This is where self-compassion can help to balance the criticism so that a student does not descend into fears and anxiety which can override their academic motivation. Thankfully, self-compassion can be taught by parents and educators, even if it’s discouraged by our culture. It’s important to differentiate self-compassion with self-pity or even arrogance. It should focus on understanding one’s shortcomings and flaws and being supportive of oneself as one would support other people. Teaching a child to treat others well is easy; it’s teaching themselves to give them the same compassion that is difficult.

Reducing the Mental Health Crisis in Schools

Mental health is still something that people don’t like to address. But for those who are suffering from poor mental health, it’s clear that something needs to be done to help them. The mental health crisis in schools is rising, with 10-20% of children and adolescents experiencing mental disorders; with half of those beginning at age 14. Varying by the child and their personal experiences, the help you are giving them will depend on the concerns they are facing.

The increase in the crisis may be due to a number of factors. Firstly, a 21st Century concern of many adults is the exposure that their children are having to social media. Scrolling through social media applications can be an extremely damaging pastime for many reasons. One recurring theme is the number of articles, images and videos portraying what people should look like in order to be beautiful. This pressure on children and adolescents into young adult around body image can lead to eating disorders, issues with social interaction and depression through issues such as cyberbullying.

Social media isn’t the only reason that the mental health crisis faced by children is increasing, however. Other factors, such as a traumatic event (for example, losing a loved one) or even financial hardship or domestic violence and neglect can cause our young people (as it would those of all ages) to act out of their emotional pain and distress.

When 13 Reasons Why was released in 2017, many children and adolescents tuned in to watch. The plot of the Netflix television series was extremely dark (about a young girl who commits suicide and leaves a series of tapes to those who caused her to kill herself) and has been targeted as the reason why the suicide rates amongst youths have risen. Suicidal thoughts and self-harm are often associated with poor mental health. And when children start thinking this way, whether it be because of a trauma in the family or because of the pressures they feel in daily life, helping school staff address mental health in schools is essential.

When it comes for children to go to school, these issues can be heightened by the pressure of homework, exams, etc. Bottling up these emotions are undeniably damaging, therefore, teachers and school staff can act as a point of contact or “Accidental Counsellor”.  Clearly a member of school staff providing emotional support to a young person who is distressed is not providing clinical counsellor or therapy. Nonetheless, knowing and understanding basic counselling skills such as listening and responding with empathy, solution focused language patterns and others is extremely useful in these situations.

If a child comes to you with an issue or you recognise that they are not themselves, the first thing you could do is simply ask if they are ok. Sometimes their non verbal communication clearly communicates that they are upset – asking them “what they need most or what would be most helpful – right now” is a useful question.

You aren’t a counsellor or a mental health expert (although you may feel like an accidental counsellor), listening to what they have to say is a basic human response to people seeking support. Everyone needs help from time to time, and the pressure they feel may be overwhelming and isolating. Having a trusted person who provides space to listen to the person’s pain is often the most powerful thing we can do.

There are a number of strategies implemented worldwide to reduce the mental health crisis in schools. From reducing classroom stress by taking off the pressure of deadlines, to working with the children’s parents, there are simple ways to ensure that your students feel less stressed. Tools such as the PAX Good Behaviour Game (it uses an array of strategies to assist students in learning and discovering self-management skills, whilst you implement a productive yet relaxed environment for them to learn in) or the Raising Healthy Children Program (that aims to create positive youth development by reducing the chance of them taking drugs, delinquency and failing in school) can be utilised.

Early prevention is extremely valuable when it comes to mental health. And health education has become a primary concern of many schools. Detecting the signs of mental illness in children can initially seem difficult, but ensuring that it is tackled before it’s too late is undeniably important. Children spend so much of their lives at school, therefore they need to know that the staff care about them.

Another way of engaging students is by offering more creative subjects or activities throughout your lessons. Making a subject interesting not only helps with the thought process and productivity but can prove to be helpful when it comes to exam time. Memory games, quizzes and other fun activities will make the information stick and lessen the pressure they feel to memorise it. These types of activities will also help with social interaction, getting everyone involved and making the learning environment a more enjoyable place for them.

Setting up clubs and societies is also a great way of helping the students thrive emotionally. Giving them much-needed space and enriching their time at school, they can focus on what they are passionate about whilst still completing their education.  

The mental health crisis in schools will inevitably continue to rise if we don’t help to reduce it. It is easy enough to not think about how the children are feeling in school and to think that mental health issues are only faced by adults. But in the present day due to a number of factors such as social media and the pressure put on them (whether it be because of deadlines, friendship and relationships including with parents), many children are falling into depression, having suicidal thoughts and developing mental health issues. For teachers and school staff, are often called to perform many roles including “counsellor or coach, parent, teacher etc,. No-one expects them to be fully-trained in mental health or to know all of the answers. However, if there is only one step they can take to help to improve the crisis when in the learning environment (e.g. talking to the students, implementing advisory programs or introducing creative activities in class), it is one worth taking for the sake of the children who are suffering.

Setting Boundaries An Assessment Model

In the wellbeing module of the Accidental Counsellor Training, we talked about several things like positive psychology, about being positive in the present, well-being factors, and positive habits on how to rewire your brain. What I actually want to talk about is setting boundaries.

I have a four part framework for you. The first thing that we need to do is we need to make an assessment of where the person’s at. We’re not doing a clinical therapy assessment, but we do need to assess – What’s going on? How do we refer? Is this something that I deal with myself or is it something that I can work with also?


Lets just pretend someone you’re dealing with is someone who is highly stressed or anxious. When they come in, he or she might say, “You know I’m really stressed and I’m really anxious.” Your response would be, “Okay help me understand. You’re stressed and anxious but ONE of a scale of ONE to TEN is, “it’s not bothering you as much?”, “You’re coping, okay.” TEN, is stressed and anxious, and you’re not okay. “It’s really really hard, you’re not coping at all. Help me understand better give me a number of where you are at.” If they give you a high number 7, 8, 9,10, that tells you immediately that this is really a difficult situation for them. You want to ask how long this has been going on for?

That’s a very important distinction to make because when we find out how intense the problem is, and we start working with the person and supporting them, we need to see that there’s improvement.


If there’s an 8 on that scale, we need to see quickly within the next week  or two  that they are going from 8 to a 6, they are actually going backwards. That there is a reduction  an improvement. They’re coping better. This is what I like doing, I like asking questions about the intensity. “How difficult is it for you?” Then I want to say to them, “When this stress and this anxiety comes about, how long does that last, the duration?”, “Does it last for ten minutes, for an hour, for half a day?”, “How frequent does it occur?”, “Does it happen daily?”, “Does it happen once a month?”.

These are really good indicators about the severity of the problem. It gives you some good information about whether you should be referring immediately or it might be something that you’re comfortable dealing with.

Transformation Through Connecting To Pain and Suffering

Let’s talk about the Connection theme of the Accidental Counsellor Training.

From weak connection to transformation through connecting to someone’s pain and suffering. What do I mean by this? Well, I believe that transformation does occur through a connection. Much more than fancy, smart questioning techniques. They’re important but I think as we talked about earlier people aren’t going to hold on to the fancy questioning techniques if they feel there is no connection.

Not many of us can admit that we have weak connection but the proofs in the eating as they say or in this case the results, I usually see one of two things. One, you don’t spend time on the person’s pain and upset because you may believe that you need to be positive to get them to be positive.The opposite is more the truth because if the person doesn’t believe you understand or you’re trying to understand where they are coming from, well then they don’t trust that you can be the person that can help.


The other thing that I see is that connecting to people’s pain and suffering takes its toll on you. As a result, you protect yourself from feeling drained and burned out. You’re racing to fix the problem, or to offer a solution to the problem because then they’re not in pain and that means you don’t have to experience their pain. When that happens we’re ignoring the person’s pain and suffering and this really doesn’t help them.

What happens then, from my experience is they become unresponsive and disengaged. Also, there’s this fear and doubt that you can actually understand their pain. There is resistance to your advice, suggestions, and solutions. There’s disconnection despite your efforts to help.

What we need to do is to match, mirror and pace them. This establishes rapport and responsiveness. We need to match, mirror and pace their verbal and their nonverbal communication. We need to give back to them what they’re giving us. By doing so, they feel heard and understood. This actually creates high trust. The person feels safe and they will actually take steps to make positive changes because transformation actually happens in that connection.

Influence – Getting Solutions Not Giving Solutions

Move from giving solutions to receiving solutions.

As an Accidental Counsellor have you ever wondered why people don’t follow good advice?
It’s remarkable don’t you think?
The more you give someone a solution or suggestion the more they don’t do it.
It’s not you. It’s the strategy you’re using.
There’s lots of research about this. When it comes to “solutions” I prefer talking about the next best step.


You want to help the client identify the next best steps. When you  give them the answer rather than ask for a possible next best step, you create an unhealthy dependency on the person providing the answer or solution rather than empowering the person to identify the next best possible action for themselves. Not only that, the client will tend to pushback and resist your advice and suggestions. You also get into this “yes but game” and then they are full of excuses.


In order to effectively help, we need to identify the next best step. Effective help is by empowering the client to discover the next best step making them more engaged in creating the change. Then they will be engaged and open to exploring new ideas and new approaches. Instead of the yes but and then the excuse, we get yes and maybe this or that or you get an idea or a possibility from them. When you start doing this you become more clear and more confident as an Accidental Counsellor. You start to connect with and influence the people in your care.

Setting Boundaries Framework

I’ve come to see that there are 4 parts to setting boundaries.

The first thing we need to do is assessment. Make a quick assessment of where they at.

Second, is we need to create a team. Who are the individuals we need to get around the client so they get the best help? And this is one of the biggest learnings I’ve learned in my 20 years as a counsellor.

My good friend, a mentor, Dr. David Lake said to me, “Rocky where’s the army?”

He said to me, “Do you think you can help this child yourself?” and I said “Well you know who else is there? I’m the only counsellor here.” He said to me, “No, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is where’s the pediatrician? What about the GP and and the like. He said, this is not going to be solved just with you as a counsellor. If the problem is ongoing, what about if it increases in frequency and in duration? These are clear warning signs that we need to get other people around the client so they have the best help.

The other problem I see is that sometimes you refer a student and think that it’s all done. That there is nothing else required. However, I still think you have a role to play and that’s the third thing to consider.

You still have a support role and that’s what an accidental counsellor is. They’re seeing an outside psychologist or whatever help they are getting, you could still catch up with them and support them. The mistake is when you become the primary mental health carer to the person in need. Big problems may occur if there is no improvement.  This is why we need the team.

Lastly, it is important to have a contract or a framework on how to work. If you are catching up with the person, consider how long does the meeting go for? Where do you meet? What is it that you discuss? What are off limits? You need to be able to have a framework, a boundary, so that we can operate carefully and productively within our role within a team after making an assessment on whether this is something you should continue. The key question is – are they improving or are they not?

Hints Toward Possible Solutions

Let’s talk about Solution Focused Language Patterns in the Accidental Counsellor Training. There are four of them in the full online Accidental Counsellor Course. In this video  I want to cover the Exception Question- one of the four language patterns. One of my favourites by the way.

Here’s what we do with the Exception Question. The first thing we do is we frame the problem. Then, we identify “Exceptions” to the problem. When is a problem not actually happening or happening less? Remember when we talked about intensity, frequency and duration. So, when is that less intense? When is that less frequent? When does it happen when it doesn’t happened as long?


Then we want to find out and explore the difference. What’s actually going on then? This is the typical thing you guys would all notice. What is it? When does it occur? Where does it happen? How does it happen?

People think that getting a lot of detail from the client about the problem helps you find a solution, however I find getting stuck in the detail of the problem unhelpful. More important is to identify the pattern/s of the problem and looking for exceptions to those patterns.

What we want to do is help the client paint a picture of a solution or next best step. To illustrate, if they tell us, “This is the problem. This is when it happens”. Then you’ll ask, when does it not happen? When does it occur less often? When is the less intense or less frequent?



What was different about that time when it was less intense or when it didn’t happen? Where were you when this happened?

First identify the pattern of the problem. Then you identify exceptions to those patters. When does it not occur? When does it occur less often, less intense, less frequent? Then thirdly, you want to explore those differences. What was different about the time when it was less intense or when it didn’t happen? Where were you when this happened? Were you by yourself or were there people around? What’s different about when it was not there or not as intense? What else is better about those times?


It is also important to do scaling of questions or concerns. Some people would approach you say “I’m really upset about something.” Ask them if they can rate their feeling or concern from 0 to 10. I’ll ask them “Then, where are you?” And they say, “I’m on an 8” or  “I’m a 9”.

And I say, “Okay. Alright, well that’s really high. I can see that this really upsetting you.”

Then I say to them, “Okay, let me ask you this. You’re at a 9, are there times when it’s been an 8 or a 7?” Asking scaling questions enables you to identify exceptions.

The Exception Quesiton is one of 4 Solution Focused Questions we cover in the Online Accidental Counsellor Training

7 Accidental Counsellor Tips Connect and Influence Without Burning Out

An Accidental Counsellor Can Be Any School Staff Not Trained As Counsellors But Often Find Themselves in Counselling Situations By Accident.

The problem I see in schools is the usual approach of helping people is not working well, takes a long time and the problem issue continues without improvement. The reason this is happening is because you are time poor and may rush to give advice and come up with the solution or remedy to alleviate the problem the student is presenting to you. When you rush to tell people what to do, their motivation for doing it lessens. Not only that, you are implying that the person you are helping is not capable of coping or finding an answer for themselves. Below I outline 7 tips and principles that help you connect and influence the person you are supporting without burning out.


7 Accidental Counsellor Tips

Connect and Influence Without Burning Out



  1. It’s all about you.

It's All About YOU!

This is all about you. What state are you in? Your mental and emotional state will influence your approach. You can get triggered easily by some of the things you hear at school. You need to focus on your own wellbeing and be aware if you are stressed or anxious. With awareness you can adjust your state. Otherwise you react unconsciously to the triggers around you and this seeps into your responses.


  1. It’s all about them.

It's All About Them

Listen to the person, match, mirror and pace their language, thinking and nonverbal communication. You can’t hope to influence a person if they think, “you don’t get me”. Enter their world, communicate and reflect back to them what you are hearing and seeing. You want to “get the yes” – that is when you respond to what they say, the person speaking says “YES! That’s right”! They feel not only understood but also calm and safe. With this trust established they are more open to be influenced the solution focused language and questions you have for them.


        3. Influence.


Avoiding pain is the number one driver of human behaviour. Followed by gaining pleasure. To influence a person you need to focus on pain. Specifically, what it’s like for them when their behaviour or circumstance occurs. This is about the person telling you rather than you telling the person. Ask, “What’s it like for you when (INSERT PROBLEM) happens?” “Is this something you are sick and tired of?” “Is it something you want to change?” Of course it goes without saying that the focus also needs to be on what THEY can do rather than what OTHER people need to do.


  1. Get their why.

Get their why

This is critical. Finding personal reasons for change increases motivation for the change. It’s their reason why that has them “own” the change. The usual approach of telling a student the reasons they need to make a change lowers motivation for the change. You need them to convince you.

“So why do you think this important?” “Why would you want to make this better?”

This is the biggest issue I see in “accidental counsellor conversations” in schools. The staff member outlines all the reasons the student needs to change and the student is a passive bystander not owning or being involved in the change required of them.


  1. Paint the picture.

Paint the picture

“Constructing a vision of a solution acts as a catalyst for bringing it about.” This “Solutions Focused” approach is an evidenced based technique that helps you influence the person to achieve what they say they want to achieve. When the person tells you they are:


  1. Sick and tired of the same thing (PAIN) and
  2. Tell you WHY they want it to change you help them by getting them to
  3. Paint a picture of the change.


Ask the person, “How would you like things to be?” Here you need to ensure that the picture is:

  • Within their control
  • Has specific and concrete behaviours (actions)
  • Is in the “presence of something rather than the absence of something”. For example rather than I won’t be stressed and anxious (won’t be is the absence) I will be more relaxed and having fun (is the presence of something) etc.


  1. Focus on one thing

Focus on one thing

When the person paints a picture of how they would like things to be there may be several aspects to it. It’s important that you help them focus on ONE THING.

Say something like, “Wow you have told me several things about how you would like things to be for you.” Then reflect back to them what they have told you and ask them if you have understood correctly. When they say yes, ask them, “So which one of these things you have just told me about do you want to start with”?


  1. Follow up

Follow up

When the person tells you where they want to start, congratulate them and ask them WHEN they may start. Then let them know that you will follow up with them to see how they went. This acts as a further support and provides some accountability for them.

Solutions Focused Formula Overview

The Solutions Focused Formula is a 4 question process that helps move people from feeling stuck to creating solutions. In this video I put together the questioning techniques from the previous videos in the series.

The key here is to help the person create a goal, follow the steps below and hit those goals:

Step 1: Determining the Goal or Purpose of the Interview or Conversation

The key here is to help the person create a goal.  This little point in talking about an outcome or solution if we don’t know what that is for.

In the video I use the case study of Jennifer student who approached me when I presented at school as a guest speaker. She told me that she was having problems with the parents.  I then asked, “what problems”? And that is really not the best question although it sounds an obvious or logical question to ask.

The difficulty with asking what problem is that it focuses the person’s attention on the problem and not only that in this case had Jennifer found it very difficult to talk about. What’s much better is the question I asked second and that was, “how would you like things to be with your parents”? That allowed Jennifer to focus on the desired outcome and that is step one.

You can find out more about this first step here.

Step 2: Assess desire or motivation

While it might seem obvious in this case I still asked this question, “why is this important you”?

It’s really useful to take a moment to connect the person’s desire and motivation with the goal they’ve just outlined When you do this you can use a scaling question . For example,  is Zero is not much at all and 10 is a lot how motivated how much do you want this to happen.

Find out more about motivation questions here.

Solutions Focused Formula

Step 3: Exception Questions

In the third step we want to help client access still own strengths and resources.  The way we can do that is by linking the goal with the previous success.

So we we could ask, have you been times when you’ve been able to communicate and connect better with your parents? Tell me about those times, what was different about this time is? Exception questions give hints towards possible next best steps.

Find out more about exception questions here.

Step 4: Miracle Questions

The miracle question helps the client construct a vision of the solution and this acts is a catalyst for bringing it about.

Find out more about the miracle question here.

Don’t forget to leave your name and email and I’ll send you some more information about the four different options for you or your school workplace to access the Accidental Counsellor Training.

Solutions Focused Formula – Exception Questions

Unlock your potential, unleash your strength and hit those goals!

Exception Questions

In this segment, we look at exception questions for the goal that the client has set in the previous question in this Solution Focused Formula. The goal is set, the motivation for the goal has been assessed and the desire to achieve the goal has been established. Now we look at accessing their strengths to achieve their goal.

What we’re looking at here is the WHERE and HOW is this goal already happening?

This is an important step because:

  1. It helps identify for the client that they have some existing strengths and resources they can access to help them achieve their goal.
  2. It also helps identify possible solutions or as I like to say “best next step”?

So what is an exception question?

An exception question has the client focus their strengths and past “wins”. The focus on this area rather than the problems that could arise when reaching for the goal. It gives more attention to the strength of the client rather that the problem itself. Problems are like waves that crash to the shore and retreat to the ocean, very few problems are present all the time. In fact most problems aren’t happening at all or is happening to a lesser degree.

Exception Questions

Helping the client notice these scenarios can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by the problem or challenge and can help identify things that they or others are already doing to help solve the problem or challenge.

Here are examples of questions that you could ask that could elicit exceptions to the problem.

If the client is finding it hard to establish a goal and is focused on the problem you can interrupt the negative focus by asking an exceptional question like this:

Tell me about the times when the problem is less troubling or when it’s not happening at all?

  1. Tell me about the times when you’re coping a little better with the problem?
  2. What’s different about the times when better?
  3. When things are better how do you cope?
  4. Tell me what’s worked in the past even if it’s only for a short time?

Remember to ask the detail, “what else? Tell me more,” so that they can begin to construct a detailed picture of when the problem or challenge not as intense or overwhelming.

So, in the next video we will tackle The Miracle Question.

Don’t forget to leave your name and email and I’ll send you some more information about the four different options for you or your school workplace to access the Accidental Counsellor Training.

Solutions Focused Formula – Miracle Question

Ignore those habits that’s not worth worrying and focus on the things that matter through the use of the Miracle Question.

Rocky Biasi here with video 5 of my new FREE Solutions Focused Formula Online Training.

In this video we look at the Miracle Question. In the previous video we looked at Exception Questions. You might recall this formula includes 4 questions that help people move from being stuck to discovering their own solutions and making their next best step.

So after the client identifies a goal. We help the assess their motivation and desire to achieve their goal, then we look at their strengths. And in this video about the Miracle Question we help them construct a vision of a solution for their best next step.

Helping the client construct a vision of a solution or next best step is critically important because it acts as a catalyst in bringing it about. The reason this works is because it opens the Reticular Activating System in the brain. The in the brain or RAS or as it’s otherwise known by its nickname the “gatekeeper” is what allows us to focus and pay attention to something or to ignore or not notice it.

Miracle Questions

Let’s use the example of Jennifer, you might recall that she wanted to connect and communicate better with her parents.

You can then ask the (MQ): So Jennifer, I want to ask you a different / strange type of question… You’ll need to use your imagination… Imagine that tonight after you do some homework, have dinner and do what you do…you go to bed and during the night there is this miracle…The miracle is that you and your parents are connecting and communicating better.

Now you wake in the morning and have no idea what’s happened because you were asleep… What would be something different – within you…that would tell you that the miracle has taken place. Feel better, talking and smiling at breakfast…What about if you need to talk about something that usually scared you or made you withdraw… With this miracle how would you do things differently….Jennifer paused and said, “maybe I’ll write it down first”…

The MQ is a wonderful way, especially when the person is feeling stuck, to change “channels” and dream and use imagination to look for small steps within the clients control that can help toward their goal.

In the next video I’ll put all of the 4 questions in this Solutions Focused Formula together and show you how they can work with each other.

Solutions Focused Formula – Assessing Desire For Change

In this video blog post we look at question 2 of this 4 question process – assessing motivation and desire to change.

Assessing Desire For Change

In this segment, we look at assessing motivation for the goal the client has set in the previous question in this Solution Focused Formula.  After we establish the goal, now, we look for WHY the goal is important to them.

Not being able to help the client identify this “why” can make you easily miss an important detail – does the client really want to achieve this goal? They may have doubts that they can’t do it or maybe are not that motivated to achieve it for some reason.

Desire for Change web

When you take a little time, even if it may seem obvious, to help connect the client to their goal, it allows the client to access their inner motivation and reasons for making it happen.

This is really important because the research says that finding reasons, including personal reasons, to make the changes we are seeking increases our ability to take action on those goals.

To do this you can ask these questions, and then find a scale:

How much would you like this to change?
What would happen if nothing changes?
Why is achieving this goal important to you?

Take note: The SCALE is important.  A scale that is equal to 0 indicate a low motivation, while a 10 scale indicates absolute motivation.

Here is an example:

If a student says, “I’ll focus more in class”, rather than saying “That’s a great idea…”
It would be much better to ask “Why is that important to you?”
Or you could ask “How ready are you to focus in class?”

And scale that is 0 is not ready at all and 10 means that you’re 100 percent ready.

You see all of these types of questions POINT TO ONE THING – THEIR WHY, THEIR REASON FOR ACTION and this helps them align to their inner motivation and desire and that helps them take ACTION.

In the next video we look at the Exception Questions.

Solutions Focused Formula – Setting Goals

It’s always good to identify the goal of a certain conversation. Sometimes, it’s hard to determine as to what is the goal is for a specific discussion, especially if you find that you have very limited time in determining it. In this segment, we make a structured approach to help “frame” the purpose of the interview or the conversation.

Why should there be a goal?

  1. If you don’t take the time to establish a goal or an outcome, then the conversation or interview wanders with no direction.
  2. Taking the time to establish the purpose and goal of the interview does not only help focus you, but also the client in the same direction.
  3. Taking the time to establish the purpose and goal for the interview allows the client to construct a vision or idea of a possible solution or next best step.

This is the central point of the Solution Focused Approach – getting the client to be clear about what they want and where they want to go.

Setting Goals

Here is a quick example…

This is the story of Jennifer who approached me after a student session she found it difficult to say what was going on but told me that she wanted to communicate better with the parents.

Rather than asking her “What’s the problem”, I asked:

“How would you like your communication to be with your parents”?

This actually allowed her to open up and talk about what she wanted to achieve.

She didn’t have to speak about the problem and it allowed her to contemplate and reflect on how she would like things to be.

From there we could speak about:

Well, if this is what you want… “What do you think can help make this happen”?

This allows her to think about the solution or the next step to solving her problem.  You see, it lets the person think about how to move forward rather than making the person keep talking about the problem, which makes them feel stuck.

To find out which questions would help you set the goal for a person, you can download the template I’ve created by clicking the button below.

In the next video we look at assessing the motivation and desire to make the goal happen. Click here to see that now.

Solution Focused Formula Interview Process

Oftentimes, while working with people, the most common issue I hear from them is that they seem to be ‘stuck’, and feel as if they’re not moving forward from the current state they are in.  Because of this, I came up with the Solutions Focused Formula to help people move on from the feeling of being stuck.

The solutions focused formula online training will include four questions that help people move from being stuck to discovering their own strengths and solutions.  My goal in developing this formula is to help accidental counsellors such as yourself to feel more sure and certain about how to help a person in need.  The Solutions Focused Formula provides a certain structure when doing your accidental counselling.

My Accidental Counsellor Training is a solutions focused approach.

Solutions Focused Counselling describes a particular counselling model. This model has a clear focus on the client strengths. It’s a goal – oriented approach with focus on the present and future more so than the past and analysing problems.

solutions-focused approach

The diagram begins with YOU as the solution! Yes that can sound provocative but it has been inspired by my good friend and mentor Dr David Lake who told me that, “I am the medicine”!

You see as an Accidental Counsellor YOU need to be well. This is where the focus on wellbeing for you as an Accidental Counsellor is critical because it allows you to connect to people and to the pain they are expressing to you.

It is then, when you are well and are able to connect to the person’s pain that you can influence them.

This series will look at influence and how we can use FOUR questions that help people to move from being stuck to discovering your own strengths and solutions.

Here is an overview of the 4 questions:


  • Goal Setting – establishing the purpose of the conversation
  • Assessing motivation and desire to achieve the goal
  • Looking for exceptions and strengths
  • The Miracle Question.

Follow through the series to understand how the whole Solutions Focused Formula is used to identify and lead a person to the path that can get them from being stuck, to unstuck.

Click here to see the next video on helping the client achieve set their goal for change

Also, to find out how you or your team and staff can access and participate in the Accidental Counsellor Training click here.

How to get out of a rut

There are those times when you find yourself being stuck. You get that overwhelming feeling of being in a “rut”.  It’s never impossible to get out of a rut.  You just need to do something about the situation so you can break free from it.  The best solution that I can give for this is to create lifestyle factors in your life that could help you for when you feel stuck.

Techniques to help you get out of a rut

1. Learn techniques and strategies to help you relax and calm down.

These techniques will help you clear your mind from stresses and worries for when you’re stuck.  Stress actually clouds your mind and your judgment.  This is the reason why you seem to can’t figure out your next step when you’re in that ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling.  Learning ways to help you relax and feel calm will help you clear your mind, so you can focus on figuring out the next best step on how to get out of a rut.

2. Create lifestyle factors in your life.

Creating lifestyle factors in your life is all about creating powerful habits that will affect the way you perceive each day.  You need to be able to program well-being and apply wellness habits in your own life.  Applying this with emotion management strategies will help you be able to roll with the punches, and make you feel relaxed and calm.  These wellness habits and emotion management strategies is a powerful combination that helps people transform their lives from being stuck, into moving and being in flow.

There are a lot of ways to create these good lifestyle factors.  The best thing, especially when you’re in a difficult time period, is to be able to create a powerful morning ritual.  The way you start the day has a massive flowing  effect to the rest of your day.  Starting your day well and positively, is critically important to live well.  Below are two things that you can apply in your morning ritual.

Exercise – There are more benefits of exercise than you think.  Exercise doesn’t only affect your physical well-being; it also helps you with your mental well-being.  It doesn’t even need to be a heavy work out.  Brisk walking can already be enough.  You can have a more pleasant disposition once you’ve given yourself some exercise.  You’ll be able to feel healthy, physically and mentally.

Gratitude Practice – Remember the things that you want to be thankful for on this day.  There are a lot of ways to do gratitude practice.  This period is just a moment of silence where you can do your affirmations and visualizations for the day.  There are many ways to do this.  Usually, people do prayer, meditation and journaling.  Pick the best way for you, and just use it to help you move forward.  This allows for more positive outlook in hard times.

Do This, Don’t Do That – Accidental Counsellor Training

Counselling is a really big responsibility, which is why a lot of worries come from being a counsellor.  Usually, I hear a lot of counsellors voicing out their worries about their method in providing help to other people.  There are these usual ‘doubts’ in the way they handle their clients.  I’ve heard these from people who have attended my Accidental Counsellor Training.  For example:

“Am I really helping them, or am I hurting them?”
“Am I really providing good intervention?”


I want to really tell you something right now: Be Confident!  I also want you to be much clearer about the principles to focus on and have a sort of framework about what to avoid and what to do.   I needed to come up with a simple ‘do this, don’t do that’.  This is why I’ve designed a template that contains some counselling guidelines you can follow.

Accidental Counselling: 3 Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t: Give Advice
Do: Empower them by creating a space so that they can explore possibilities. Acknowledge, affirm and validate their experience.

What happens when advice is given to a client?  The person will now feel a lot less motivated to act upon this advice.  Researchers say that telling people what to do lowers their motivation for doing it.  What we want to do now, is to connect with them first and create a space so that the client actually comes up with their own ideas and the next best step.  This of course, then, empowers the person and feels like they can they actually get out of their issues and they can cope and manage the problems the face in their life.  You want to empower them and not form a dependency with you as a counsellor or a guru.  When they can discover the answer or the next best step, they own it much more.  The likelihood of them taking action is much much higher.

Don’t: Be in your head
Do: Be in their head!  Create a “space”.  Listen to verbal & non-verbal communication.

Being in your head forces you to think about solutions.  It makes you analyze their situation so you can understand and figure out how you can help them.  Though this might be the case, we’re not actually present and really listening to what’s going with the other person.  You become too preoccupied with what you’re thinking about, rather than simply creating a neutral space.  The purpose is to have this space where you can have no agenda whatsoever in solving these issues.  The only agenda you’re supposed to have is to deeply understand the experience that’s being communicated to you verbally and non-verbally by the client.  This makes you understand these issues better.  Once the client feels like you have understood these issues the same way he or she feels [or maybe understand these issues better than them], the person will be able to allow you to guide them to move on to the next step.

Don’t: Analyze/Focus on the Past
Do: Help the client construct a vision of solution “next step”.

As much as you want to acknowledge that you have understood the problem, the danger with analyzing the past is that it takes your clients to remembering the events and then lingering there, as opposed to moving forward and finding a solution to this problem.  You should be able to help them construct a vision of what the next best step could be for them.  A very simple question you can ask to help you do that would be: “How would you like things to be?”.  This will help the client focus more and elaborate on what is the desired outcome rather than what they don’t want.

If you want to get the template that was presented in this post, just fill out the form below.  You will receive the content in your email.  You will also be included in our list so I can send you news and keep you updated with more resources.

Overwhelm to Clarity: How to Focus on One Thing

Most of the time, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all sorts of different things you need to do.  You can think of so many things that you need to accomplish that you feel like you’re drowning in all of them.  The initial response to this scenario is try to finish tons of things in a short period of time.  This may result to having haphazard work.  If you find yourself in this situation, check out these three tips to find the path from overwhelm to clarity.

3 tips for finding focus and clarity

1. Get up from your chair, and walk.

Give yourself a few minutes away from your desk and try walking around.  Walking around exercises not only your body, but also your mind.  While walking, start thinking about the things that you need to do.  Don’t get too overwhelmed with your thoughts.  There is a purpose.  Just calmly think about the things you need to get done.  Once you feel like you’ve thought about them, you can follow through with the next step.

2. Try writing instead of typing.

Once you’ve sorted out all the things you need to get done in your head, it’s time to take out your pen and your paper.  Don’t sit back down just yet.  It helps to write all these things standing up.  Start listing down the things you need to get done.  Just do a brain dump on that paper.  The good thing about brain dumping is that it frees up your bandwidth.  Your mind will be freed from all those cluttered thoughts, and you can actually focus on the things that you have to get done.

3. Follow a template.

When writing, it also helps to try and organise those writing by using a template.  This helps with the whole ‘overwhelm’ thing.  Having a cluttered list will only overwhelm you even more.  You need to put some structure for those thoughts.  For this article, I will be explaining the parts of the template and what you’ll be writing under those headings.

This part identifies the general category or subjects of your tasks. Think of them as the headings for when you classify your tasks.

[What] tasks:
This part identifies all the tasks that fit under a category. For example, tasks under a category ‘History’ would be the things that you need to get done that are related to the subject ‘History’. This helps you give your thoughts a little bit more organisation.

One thing now:
This part takes away the overwhelm, ultimately. Identify the task that you have the highest priority or urgency. This area of the template requires you to choose one thing to focus on in one category. This means that per category, you should only have one thing to prioritise.

Who: Who is the doer of the task?
Sometimes, there are tasks wherein you get support or help from another person. Identify the doer of the task in this area.

When: When is this gonna happen?
Of course, you need to tell yourself when you need to start working on that specific task. This helps because it makes you have your own concrete schedule for that specific task.

Prioritising and focusing on things actually help you on the long run.  It helps you create a process when you work, and it boosts up the quality of the output, since you tend to avoid doing things on a rush.  Keeping your written template will also help you remember the things you need to do.

The Tapping Technique

Rocky Biasi here with an Accidental Counsellor update where I demonstrate The Tapping Technique.

I’m with my daughter Kaiyen, after a 3-week long road trip where I presented the Accidental counsellor Training in Albury, Canberra, Brisbane and Coffs Harbour. During those workshops I demonstrated the power of use the Tapping Technique for stress and anxiety.

But something happened when we were in Brisbane.

Kaiyen and I went to movie world, and we were lining for the Scooby Ride. We’ve been there several times before but this time was different. When Kaiyen was lining up, she had all these scary anxious thoughts. The interesting thing here is that Kaiyen had been on this ride several times. She even knew what the next manoeuvre would be. Trying to calm her down by using rational or logical thinking like, “you have done this before”, or “we don’t need to go on this ride”, did little to calm her.

tapping points

I started tapping acupressure points on her face and hands. In the beginning she didn’t really feel anything. I did it for a while and she calmed down. Would you believe that when the ride was over, Kaiyen asked me, ‘Dad, can we do it again?’ That’s how much tapping helped.

If you’ve done the training you might recall that the tapping is a great body technique to help people relax and calm down some of that nervous energy.

Kaiyen actually described it in a way I’d never heard her say before – ‘…a shiver went through my body’. The other cool thing is that it didn’t do much when I started the tapping. Sometimes people do notice a big change straight away with the tapping on their pressure points. Oftentimes it actually takes a bit longer.

Click HERE to access a video that show you how to use the Tapping Technique to reduce stress and anxiety.

Accidental Counsellor Skills in Action

A short transcript using some of the skills from the Accidental Counsellor Training (ACT)

Introduction (Part One)

Amy (not real name) is a 19-year-old female who came to counselling at the urging of a friend (who came with her!). The italics indicate the skills from the ACT

R) Hi Amy, I know your not that keen to be here (all laugh) how do you hope this session can be of use to you? (Greeting & goal setting)

A) I don’t know how it would help…I guess I’d be feeling better.

R) If I could wave a magic wand and you were feeling better? What would be different? (Miracle question)

A) I’d have my confidence back. I would feel better about myself.

R) You’d have your confidence back. (Reflective listening) When did you have confidence? (Exception)

A) Up until I was in Year 9 I was confident and happy.


R) You were confident then it went? (Reflective listening)

A) Yeah

R) Where did it go? (Meta question)

A) Comments from my family got to me about being overweight.

R) So on a scale zero being no confidence at all and 10 being full of it! (Laughs) How confident are you now? (Scaling Question)

A) Oh about a 5 or 6

R) Ok so you haven’t lost it all together. How’s that? (Exception)

A) Well, I’ve lost about 30 kilos in the last year.

R) Wow! That’s a massive accomplishment. Congratulations. (Affirming strengths)

A) Thanks

R) What would have to happen for that confidence to get to a 7 or 8? (Strengths question. Creating vision of how things would be…)

A) I would need to lose another 6 kilos

R) So when you lose another 6 kilos you will feel more confident, happy and better about yourself? (reflecting back the goal statement)

A) yes

R) How did you feel good enough about yourself, confident enough to even start losing 30 kilos? (Exception – searching for what she says she wants in her personal history)

A) I didn’t!

R) Really? How could you achieve that feeling bad about yourself and having no confidence? (Matching, reflecting back the implicit communication)

A) Well it wasn’t that bad!

R) What wasn’t that bad? (meta questioning)

A) I guess it got to a point where I had enough and deep down knew I could do it.

R) Ok… so are you telling me that when things are tough you know deep down that you can get through things and achieve big goals? (Matching, reflecting back the implicit communication)

A) Yes, that’s true. I’ve done it a few times.

R) Wow! Tell me about that. How do you do that? (Building on strengths)

A) I guess, sometimes I lose track …and need a reminder (note: did you notice that via the questions she reminded herself!) about how strong I am.

R) Ok that’s great – so you have remembered how strong you are?

A) Yeah

R) Hey…I’m curious – is it just remembering? How do you actually get through tough times and achieve great goals? (Note: I’m persisting in helping her be aware of how she accesses her own resources)

A) I get really determined, and I have to prove it to myself and others. I guess now that I think about it I get angry rather than sad or miserable. No that’s not true, I do get sad, but I get over it – snap out of it I guess and then set my mind to it and it’s almost like I get obsessed by it.

R) Nice! That is what anyone who is very good at something does – get obsessed about how to get better. (Matching, reflective listening, affirming and reframing)

I hope this is of some assistance and reminds you of some of the things we did in the Accidental Counsellor Training.

P.S. the rest of the interview was in this vain – I continued to have her focus on when and how she was able to feel better about herself and more confident and strong.

Finding Exceptions to the Problem

You need many years of practice and the qualification to become an accomplished Counsellor. However, I believe that anyone, regardless of qualifications and training, can become a more effective helper and Accidental Counsellor by learning to apply the basic techniques of Counselling. That’s really what the Accidental Counsellor Training is all about.

The Key part of the Accidental Counsellor Training

The key part of the Accidental Counsellor Training is Solution-focused counselling.

For those of you who have attended the training, you may recall that Solution-focused questions are designed to help people explore their strengths and resources rather than concentrate on their problems or deficits. The questions can help the client identify what their goals or preferred future will look like when they’ve overcome those problems or challenges. It can help the client notice things in their lives that are going well, that they’re doing well or perhaps parts of their goals are already happening.

Finding Exceptions to the Problem

The Key part of Solution-focused counselling

One of the key parts of Solution-focused counselling is helping the client identify exceptions to the problem. You see, very few problems are present all the time. In fact, most problems are only happening occasionally. There are usually a lot of times when the problem is not happening at all or is happening to a lesser degree.

Helping the client notice these times can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by the problem or challenge and can help identify things that they or others are already doing to help solve the problem or challenge. Here are some examples of some questions that you could ask that could elicit exceptions to the problem.

Question 1: Tell me about times when the problem is less troubling or when it’s not happening at all.


Question 2: Tell me about the times when you’re coping a little bit better about the problem. Or, what’s different about the times when the problem’s better?

When things are tough, how do you cope?

Tell me what’s worked in the past, even if it’s only for a short time.

Remember to ask for detail, “What else? Tell me more,” so that they can begin to construct a detailed picture of when the problem or challenge is not as intense or overwhelming.

My name’s Rocky Biasi, this is the Accidental Counsellor training. You can find more at and I hope that this has been a great refresher for those of you who’ve attended the training. Bye for now.

Autism – “I can”… A Story of Love and Transformation For Parents, Teachers and anyone “On the Spectrum”

After 20 years in personal development and counselling as a client and practitioner, this video represents a deep truth – we are not the labels we give ourselves, we are not the labels other people give us.

I urge teachers, parents and all people who have given themselves a label or been a victim of a label to watch this powerful video by Chris Varney.

As I watched and listened I could Identify all the things I know and teach about human transformation over 2 decades in the Accidental Counsellor Training.

You cannot perform consistently in a manner which is inconsistent with how you see yourself.

Zig Ziglar

The strongest need in the human personality is to remain consistent with how we have defined ourselves.

Robert Cialdini
Negative Belief - Positive Behaviour Process
Negative Belief – Positive Behaviour Process

What Cialdini and Ziglar are speaking about are “Identity Beliefs”. This diagram explains how our Identity Beliefs influence our perception and thinking.

It goes without saying that negative and stressful negative thoughts influence our emotions and behaviour. Often when we “act out” our thinking and emotional state this reinforces the “Identity Belief”.

When we change or help others change how they see themselves everything changes! How did Chris change his identity beliefs?

The true transformation Chris speaks about is LOVE. The love of the people in our family and our environment.

There is a popular phrase that was first spoken by Jim Rohn,

“We become the average of the 5 people we spend most of our time with”.

What struck me the most in this powerful story of LOVE and CONNECTION is the number of times Chris speaks of people who entered his life to support him and see him for who he really is rather than the label of Autistic. Be honest – when you think Autistic, what do you think of first? It would be OK if society recognised people on the spectrum as humans with unique, and extraordinary gifts that this world needs.

From the stories Chris’ mother read to him and the person she was to his grandfather who taught him motor skills in his wheelchair, to the teachers and friends who connected with him, but loved him because they could see him for who he really is NOT the LABEL that was given to him. All this combined to help Chris believe “He could”, rather than “He couldn’t”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Please share this with everyone you know!

Click here to find out how to manage anxiety and help an awesome school that helps children and families with Autism.

Counselling – Active Listening Skills

As an Accidental Counsellor, are you often wondering whether what you’re saying to the client is the right thing or whether you are headed in the right direction?

I’m recording this at the end of the 1st day of the Accidental Counsellor Training in Dubbo where I’m working with a great group of  School staff.

What is Active listening?

One of the things that I’d like to reflect upon today is this whole concept of being able to do reflective listening or active listening as it may otherwise be known. What we mean by this concept is to be able to pick up what the client is saying and reflect it or mirror it back to them.

How does a speaker know if we listened or understood them?

The whole idea of being able to reflect back and pace the client has a lot to do with that so that the speaker feels heard or understood. They get to hear their inner thoughts out loud reflected back to them and that’s really some of the basic counselling skills that we teach, but we also go a little bit further. Often times, we hear dark, disturbing thoughts and emotions from our clients. As Accidental Counsellors, we can feel quite perturbed or anxious by that. As an example, if someone wants to say to your client,

“I’m hopeless. I’m worthless. Nothing ever works out for me,” we can be tempted to rush in there and to say things like, “You know, you need to believe in yourself. There’s lots of people who think that you are a great person.” And one of the School staff at Dubbo really labeled that perfectly when he said, “It’s false hope or false belief.”

Often times, in my teaching, I say, “We need to be able to enter the conversation in our client’s head.” Let’s not be scared by that. If they say things like, “I’m worthless. I’m no good. Nothing will ever work out. Everyone hates me.” You know, those dark, disturbing thoughts. To be able to say something like this to your client, it must be really difficult for you walking around believing all that stuff about yourself; believing that you’re worthless, believing that you’re no good. Now, people get a little bit worried about this and they think, “Oh no. But if we say that and if we repeat that back, isn’t it going to make things worse for the client?” And I want to say, “No. Look, you’re not saying anything that’s different from what’s already going on in your client’s mind and what they’re already feeling in their body.”

Always Listen First

Being able to reflect that back can be a soothing balm. It can be the antidote to feeling really worked up. Can you imagine someone being able to open up, say to you and reveal to you those deep, dark thoughts? And for you to actually to be able to hear it, understand it and empathize with them around that can be really quite a relief for people. They’re already thinking this often on a daily basis. So, my message to Accidental Counsellors is it’s okay to join those deep, dark thoughts; to be able to go in there and reflect that back and let the client know that you understand

that they’re thinking those deep, dark thoughts. And of course, in our other videos and in the training, we also talk about what I would call the pivot and how to help the client refocus on how they would like life to be. I hope you can look at the other videos I’ve talked about this. My main message for Accidental Counsellors today is…

Your clients are already thinking those things, those deep, dark thoughts. There’s no need to be worried about repeating that back to them. They’re already there.

And, being able to let the speaker know that you understand that those thoughts are there can be quite a relief for them. They finally feel that someone understands that I’ve got these deep, dark thoughts and emotions in my mind and body. Thank you for joining me for this video blog today. To find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training, simply go to and I hope to see you at one of the trainings around Australia.

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Dubbo 2013

I really appreciated you sharing parts of your life with us. The role plays in the Accidental Counsellor Training helped me realise how effective your methods can be.

Andrew Shannon, Dubbo School of Distance Education

The Accidental Counsellor Training offers practical strategies that can underpin effective communication in the school context.

Janelle Dowton, Dubbo School of Distance Education

I find the Accidental Counsellor Training useful because it gave me confidence to approach situations.

Kerrie Chopping, Orange High School

I strongly recommend Rocky to present this Accidental Counsellor Training to the staff – I found it fantastic. I can’t believe what I have
1) confirmed what I am doing is right and
2) what I learned to do in a different and more effective way. Thanks Rocky!

Sharron Lee Bulley, Narromine High School

Thank you Rocky! The Accidental Counsellor Training was definitely a worthwhile course, and wish I could have done it BEFORE I started in my role as Pastoral Care Coordinator. I now have some excellent strategies to take back to my school, to hopefully benefit my students (which is what this is all about!) Will keep in touch and let you know how I go!

Belle Wheaton, St Matthews Catholic School

I liked the reality of the examples. Having a ‘teacher’ background gave the session’s credibility. The Accidental Counsellor Training was a very enjoyable course, well worth attending, worth every cent. Thanks DET for the professional learning funding.

Kim Baker, Kelso High Campus

The Accidental Counsellor workshop has been of great value with practical ideas focussed on people finding their own solutions. Opportunities to practice skills is very useful.

Anne Neville, Anson Street School

The Accidental Counsellor Training reinforced what I am doing already but it is fine-tuning to enhance what I know.


The Accidental Counsellor Training was fantastic. Thank you. I am really looking forward to applying all I have heard and learnt. Wish me and my kids luck.

Barbara Hughes, Parkes High School

The practical component in the Accidental Counsellor Training made it very easy to understand.


The Accidental Counsellor Training made me re-evaluate the power of what we say, how we say things to make positive behaviour change.

Erika Mullholland, Walgett High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training definitely has provided me with a new set of skills to deal with students.

Kali Ratu, Walgett High School

I was highly engaged in the Accidental Counsellor Training the whole time. Only relevant information was provided. I feel like I’m going back to my school with a set of tools, skills, and ideas to research and think about. I am really excited about what I can share with others. I am motivate to use this in the classroom, as girls advisor and in my personal life. Thank you for changing my perspectives and listening skills. Thanks.

Anne Glynn, Forbes High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful and entertaining. Thanks!

Belinda Haigh, Dubbo School of Distance Education

The Accidental Counsellor Training was sheer, bloody brilliance; practical, useful, do-able. I can understand why it works.

Allyn Smith, Dubbo School of Distance Education

The Accidental Counsellor Training was really very helpful. The best training I have done in relation to student welfare in 30 years!

Bernadette Wood, Denison College Bathurst High Campus

Hi Rocky,
I just wanted to let you know that yesterday I had the chance to put the Accidental Counsellor training into practice. I have a student who suffers depression and anxiety and is a school refuser. She hates school, hates teachers and is doing no work. No one has been able to get through to her.

We went to visit her yesterday, 3 teachers; 2 spoke with Mum. I spoke with the students. As soon as we turned up, the student made a point of keeping an almost hostile distance. One word answers. Head down, covering her face. Buried in her mobile phone.

After throwing out a little bait to try and get her to just slightly engage in a conversation I managed to sit next to her and give her the opportunity to talk about herself. I joined her conversation. I didn’t challenge anything she said, but rather agreed that it must be awful to be in her situation. She really started changing her attitude and I think was a bit taken aback that i didn’t challenge her or tell her what to do.

I’ll cut this a bit short.

By the end of the conversation she was making eye contact, telling me her future plans (incredible) what she sees herself doing in her life and said (and this is the incredible bit) “I know I’m going to have to start doing my schoolwork”. That was huge. The only things she’d ever said about school previously was how much she hated it and there was no way she was going to do it. Ever. Full Stop.

It was huge. We aren’t fully there yet, but this is the first and only hopeful and positive step towards re-engaging her in her work.

So thanks. It works.

And I NEVER write testimonials. That’s how impressed I am.


Allyn Smith, Teacher – Music & Entertainment | Year 8 Adviser | Dubbo School of Distance Education

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Dubbo.

  • Walgett High School
  • Narromine High School
  • Orange High School
  • Forbes High School
  • Dubbo School of Distance Education
  • Nyngan High School
  • St Matthews Catholic School
  • Kelso High Campus
  • Denison College Bathurst High Campus
  • Anson Street School
  • Parkes High

Accidental Counsellor Training Newcastle – The Power of Silence

I’m here to talk to you about an Accidental Counsellor tip.

I’m filming this tip from the Newcastle venue at the end of Day 1 and we just had the whole group practice in their small groups. They came back and I’ve got some great feedback.

From one teacher, we were talking about silence and how that is an important component when we’re an Accidental counsellor working with people not to continually fill the space. Typically, as Accidental counsellors, we need to ask questions to facilitate and elicit the best solution for the client from them so that we’re not giving the answers and the solutions. I’ve created videos about this and there are other tips. Be sure to check them out here.

The Power of SilenceWe ask questions so the client can reflect and go into their own inner world to come up with their best solutions. Typically, as the Accidental counsellor, we can become quite anxious about solving the problem or fixing it for the client. We don’t allow the client the time, space, and silence to be able to reflect on these questions that we’re asking them. We’ll ask a question, don’t provide the space and fill the space with another question.

One of the teachers here at Newcastle, provided  great feedback for her group,  she told the person that she was in the role of a student and the teacher asked a question. She thought it was a great question and she was thinking about it. She went on to say, “I was just about to answer it.” However, the teacher asked another question and she said, “I just totally lost it and I wasn’t able to focus on that anymore.”

It’s very important to allow people the space to reflect on their own answers and solutions.

I hope that this tip has been a great reminder for those of you here at the Accidental Counsellor Training when you go back and look at the video clip and also for others who have attended the accidental counsellor training. If you are interested in coming to the Accidental Counsellor Training, be sure to go to or email me at [email protected] to find out one of the dates and venues that we are running the training across Australia.

Thank You!

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Newcastle 2013.

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful because I have had similar training a long time ago and it was good to be reminded!

Sharon Everson, Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was absolutely fantastic. I had many “light-bulb” moments. It is great to see and practise effective communication. Thank you.

Loretta Wells, Rutherford Technology High School

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training useful because it gave me a different view and a clear message of what to do and not to do. Can’t wait to try it!

Blair Newham, Rutherford Technology High School

The true empowerment of the Accidental Counsellor 2-day Training was ‘listening’ to the student/issue. Rocky, you allowed me to see that having the answer is not the answer. The course was well-planned and fluid. As a group, there were many different strengths and ideas. A truly worthwhile professional development.

Liz Stokes, All Saints College – St Joseph’s Lochinvar

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very useful. It provided real world examples and a true student-centered approach.


The Accidental Counsellor Training will allow me to use techniques with students, etc.

Paula Couper-shone, Kotara

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training useful because it was relevant and can be implemented immediately.


The Accidental Counsellor Training was 100% useful either by confirmation of current approaches or adding new tools to the toolbox.

Steve Hannon, Maitland Christian School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful because there were lots of tools to add to the toolbox.

Dorota Naszka Ballardie, Floraville Public School

The Accidental Counsellor Training gave lots of practical examples.

Fiona Matthews, Hamilton South Public School

Hi Rocky,
I found the Accidental Counsellor Training extremely helpful. Your techniques and approaches were really valuable. Just some things that I took away from the training:
– Focus on the best outcome for the Student – not what everyone else thinks is best or decides you do with the student.
– Silence is ok – creates space for sharing and opening up.
– Confidence in maintaining professional boundaries and knowing when to refer on.
– Props and imaginative techniques.
-Tapping technique – have used many times now and everyone has reported feeling great.
I have a long way to go in developing my skills – but I feel I am on the right track now.
The other suprising thing is how the techniques have helped me in my personal life. I have been able to help friends and family with their challenges better. The other day I used one of your techniques on my daughter. She is a worryer, has high expectations of herself and doesn’t like to stand out in the crowd. She had given a speech in class where she spoke much faster then the rehearsal. She was ruminating on this. I tried the usual “it doesn’t matter now…you did your best. I am sure you did great”, but she just kept coming back to it throughout the day. I talked to her about the voice in her head going over and over it…..I said how about she took of the imaginary earphones so that she could not hear the voice anymore. She pretended to take them off and smash them to the ground. She walked away smiling with a spring in her step. We heard no more about it. It was very powerful. But it was incredible how easily she understood the concept and went along with the play act.
Thanks and Regards,

Louise Dibbs, Student Welfare Worker

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Newcastle

  • Scone High School
  • Maitland Christian School
  • Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School
  • Biddabah Public School
  • Floraville Public School
  • St James Kotara
  • Hamilton South Public School
  • Hunter River High School
  • Mt View High School
  • All Saints College – St Joseph’s Lochinvar
  • Rutherford Technology HIGH SCHOOL
  • Warners Bay High School

Accidental Counselling Tip – What Creates Change?

I’ve returned home to Sydney from Victoria where I presented the Accidental Counsellor to a wonderful group of school staff in Frankston. One of the cool themes of the Accidental Counsellor Training was based around Solution Focused Brief Therapy which is a strong component in the training.

One of the key principles of Solution Focused Brief Therapy is that we don’t really need to analyse or understand the cores of the problem to try to create change in a behaviour. What’s really more important is to construct a vision of a solution or a future possibility. When we’re working as Accidental Counsellors with our clients, it’s important to have the client experience some of the change and also recognising when the client has already acted differently.

Accidental Counselling Tip There’s a whole range of different questioning techniques, all of them are aimed to do justice and that is to help the client to construct a picture, a vision, a future possibility or a solution, recognising times when they’ve done that and also experiencing those times. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Rather than asking the client, “Why did you do that?”, or “Why did you think you felt that way or did this?” A lot of the times, those sorts of questions bring the focus back to the problem behaviour.

We need to listen empathetically and then help pivot the client to that future possibility.

Here’s an example of a question that would do that; how would you like things to be. Here are the two questions.

“Why did you do that?” which brings the focus into the past and into the old behaviour.

“How would you like things to be?” which would open up the client to consider future possibilities on how they would like to be.

If you think about it, it’s obvious isn’t it? And that is, how can you possibly make any future change if we don’t know what that would be?

Helping the client focus on the future change with a range of different questioning techniques is one of the core principles of Solution Focused Brief Therapy which is what we teach in the Accidental Counsellor Training.

I hope that this has been a great reminder for those of you who were in Frankston with me and for people who have not attended the Accidental Counsellor Training or you’d like to know more, just go to and you’ll find a lot more about the venues and the training, and I look forward to seeing you at one of those.

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Frankston 2013

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

I find the Accidental Counsellor Training useful because it was very informative with excellent framework and application of processes and skills.

Rachel Angel, Erasmus School

Rocky’s style of delivery in the Accidental Counsellor Training was extremely empowering as he explained very sensible and logical approaches to counselling. The booklet provided will be very valuable particularly as a reference back to what we have covered over the two days.


The Accidental Counsellor Training gave me lots of good ideas on communicating with students.

Christos Siamas, Victoria University Secondary College

Loved the practical aspects in the Accidental Counsellor Training


The two days in the Accidental Counsellor Training were spent consolidating, affirming and learning practices to do with relationships, communication and counselling. It was not only professionally rewarding – it was about personal development as well. Thanks.

Mary Moore, Rolling Hills Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training had very practical strategies that I know I’ll use. What a brilliant PD! I’m really excited to put these ideas into practice, very informative and helpful.

Alexandra Saffigna, Mater Christi College

The Accidental Counsellor Training gave me lots of ideas about how to speak to students, validate their experiences and start to move towards solutions.

Dianne Howard, Victoria University Secondary College, Deer Park Campus

Thank you Rocky for giving me the inspiration to continue with my future in the well-being career path. The session in the Accidental Counsellor Training has been realistic and extremely helpful for my future with students, staff and parents. Thank you!

Mary-claire Boudreau, Gleneagles Secondary College

A very rewarding workshop because the material and technique in the Accidental Counsellor Training are practical, manageable and realistic. Thank you!

Susan Smith, Erasmus School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was one of the best PD’s I’ve attended. I always judge whether a PD has engaged me by the number of times I look at my watch. I’m happy to say that I did not look at the time once! The 2 days (including the afternoons) were full of clear, practical and engaging ideas and strategies which I will definitely use when I’m back at school. Can’t wait to see the results!

Maryse Manix, Fountain Gate Primary School

I acquired very useful information in the Accidental Counsellor Training. Now I will be able to help the students better.

Maria Chicas, Maranatha Christian School

Great, useful information. Highly relevant to schools. All teachers (in a well-being role or not) should attend the Accidental Counsellor Training.

Alana Singh, Mordialloc College

This experience in the Accidental Counsellor Training was an eye opener seeing how well some basic ideas can change a perspective.

Carolanne O’Brien, Rosebud Secondary College

I find the Accidental Counsellor Training useful especially the role plays and real examples.

Pauline Rahilly, Xavier College

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful because I will be able to assist my students.

George Jolly, Frankston High School

What a wonderful opportunity to be part of a great PD. Thank you Rocky for your wisdom, enthusiasm and guidance in the Accidental Counsellor Training. I look forward to applying this back in the school setting.

Anne Phyland, Bacchus March Primary School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Frankston


  • Frankston High School
  • Mater Christi College
  • Hampton Park Secondary College
  • Fountain Gate Primary School
  • Rolling Hills Primary School
  • Gleneagles Primary School
  • Maranatha Christian School
  • Mordialloc College
  • Monterey Secondary College
  • Erasmus School
  • Xavier College
  • Victoria University Secondary College
  • Rosebud Secondary College
  • Melton Christian College
  • Bacchus March Primary

How To Create Positive Habits

It’s not motivation you want, it’s habits. The quality of our lives equals the quality of the habits, routines, or rituals, whatever word you want to use, that we have.

What is a habit?

Let’s have a look at this diagram.

How To Create Positive HabitsWith a habit, you can see that there is a cue, a trigger that tells our brain to go into automatic mode. A cue can be internal – such as a feeling or thought; external – such as a time of day or being around certain people. All these things are cues or triggers. As soon as we are around that environment, context or in that time, then there’s a routine that’s performed. This is the behaviour that leads to the reward.

The routine can be physical – like eating a chocolate. It could be cognitive – you can actually remember a test or emotional – I feel anxious in a Math test.

The second part is the reward. Not surprisingly, the reward can be physical – like a sugar craving, cognitive – gets us interested in something or again emotional – I always feel relaxed in front of the TV. The reward determines if a particular habit loop is worth remembering. When a habit emerges and our brains say,  “Yes, this is worth remembering and has a really cool reward,” it goes into automatic mode. It gets stored in the part of the brain called the “Basal Ganglia.” This can be good or bad.

When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in the decision-making because that’s the nature of a habit, it’s automatic.

It stops working so hard and diverts focus to other things or tasks. That’s why rather than fighting the old habit, research is saying that it’s very difficult to change.

Keystone habits

We need to start creating what’s called Keystone habits. These are positive habits – such as eating the right food, exercising, setting good, clear and concise goals; focusing on one task at a time and working on the most important or difficult task when we’re at our most energetic and when our self-control is at its strongest. It’s not about feeling motivated. It’s about setting-up consistent routines that create these positive habits that will just unfold automatically.

In the mornings now, I go for a walk. This has been happening for about 5 years. In the summertime, I go to this little outdoor gym not far from my place and then I come back home and have a swim. It’s a cool routine. I know that when I do this, regardless of wherever I am or whether I’m traveling around Australia presenting my Accidental Counsellor Training, I need to make sure that I’m out and I go for a minimum of  a half-hour walk but usually I do an exercise routine for 50 minutes to an hour. I end much better for the rest of the day.

Often times, I would have people say to me, “I don’t know how you can get motivated to get up, go and do what you do in the mornings; your exercise routine.” I was thinking about this and I thought, “Actually I don’t really feel motivated to go either, but it’s become automatic.” This is what I mean by creating these good habits.

The diagram

Let’s go through this diagram that can help us with a habit that we want to create.


We can just right down here what our new habit will be. It might be a new study routine or an exercise routine and let’s begin with the cue.

Step 1: Every habit has a trigger, the cue.

This is what some of the cues are:

  • What time will this habit occur?
  • Where will you be?
  • Who else will be around?
  • What will you hope to have finished?
  • What emotion do you think you’ll be feeling?

You don’t need all of these to create a habit, only one of them is needed to become a cue. The more of these cues you test out, the faster the habit takes hold.

Let’s look at No. 2.

Step 2: The reward.

Now this is really going to be the big thing because if you’re engaging in a routine which is No. 3, the brain would want to know if the reward’s worth doing this routine.

What reward will you give yourself at the end of the behaviour?
As I said, for me was really mostly about how the rest of my day would unfold and how I’d feel about it.

Do you actually enjoy this reward?
If it’s a yes, after a few days ask yourself…

Do you crave this reward when you’re exposed to the cue?

In other words, when it’s that certain time or environment, are you looking forward to the reward that’s coming with the behaviour – whether it’s exercise or study routine?

Look here over at No. 3, the routine. Now we want to put it all together. In this diagram, routine, this is the new behaviour that you want to become a habit. And cue, this is from step 1.

What’s the cue?

What’s the time of day?

Where will you be?

Who will be around?

Will you be listening to music?

The other thing I wanted to mention was when I go for my exercise, I’m listening to podcasts and things that fill my mind with really cool positive things. Here now, I’m exercising which is obviously good for my body, but I’m also exercising my mind.

Once we’ve got the cue in place, we want to have a look at the reward and make sure that we have a really good reward. It might be extrinsic like a little treat, a movie, or some time-off to relax. The reward ultimately will need to be how it makes you feel.

Studies show that the easiest way to implement a new habit is
to write a plan.

Let’s get right down to the bottom here and we want to complete this.
When and here we want to include the cue

I get up in the morning and go for a walk, whatever the exercise or routine is, when I get back home from school, whenever I complete the task, when I get up at whatever time in the morning, or when I get home from school…

Whatever the case may be, we want to get this answer here from the answers we came up with in step 1 when we looked at the cue and the trigger.

I will describe the routine because it provides me with and then outline the reward.

You want to make sure you post this plan where you’ll see it and try it for a week.

Studies say the new behaviour will become automatic and you’ve now programmed a really cool positive habit. This means, you don’t have to rely on how you feel to get things done that don’t make you feel that great because now it’s a habit and it’s automatic.

Professional Development For Teachers

Helping Mentors Understand The Root Causes Of Bullying With Professional Development For Teachers

Children spend a great deal of time in school. And while it is the parents’ duty to form the character of their children, teachers are at a unique position to monitor any unusual problems they see among their pupils. However, more often than not, they are not properly equipped to handle mental and behavioural issues that arise in the schoolyard. This underscores the need for professional development for teachers which will give them the tools and strategies to help parents and their children remedy such issues and allow kids to fully reach their potentials.


One of the most common behavioural issues that arises in schools, not only in Australia, but seemingly, the world over, is bullying. Bullying takes a variety of forms, the most recent of which is cyberbullying. And whilst conventional bullying is deplorable, cyberbullying ups the ante because the perpetrator is shrouded by the anonymity provided by the Internet.

For educators, awareness of the root causes of this problem can help them get a better perspective and understanding of the issue of bullying which in turn will allow them to help both the bully and the victim.

Absurd as it may sound, bullying can be a way for the bully to find acceptance into a group. Kids may be egged on by their friends to victimise another kid or other kids gravitate towards the bully, forming a clique, so that they can avoid becoming victims of the bully.

Doing well in school, academically or through extra-curricular activities like sports, gives children a sense of empowerment, and as such, should be encouraged. However, there are those who falter in their schools and find bullying as a means to find empowerment.

Also, there are students who engage in acts of bullying as a means of finding freedom, breaking the rules to establish their autonomy. More often than not, children hear “no” from their parents and other authority figures. Whilst most kids who engage in this type of bullying often do less violent acts, this does not mean that they should be condoned.

In bullying, both the perpetrator and the target are the victims.

The problem is that often, the signs are overlooked simply because teachers and other school staff are ill-equipped to handle such a matter. By finding the right professional development for teachers, they can upgrade their skills and become proactive in the fight against bullying, helping make schools a peaceful haven for learning and development.

Schools often have bullying polices and procedures in place. Often the focus can be on the bully – so that the bullying behaviour is stopped. We also need to place a determined focus on the “victim” of bullying. Unfortunately those who are on the receiving end of bullying behaviour seek to leave that environment and go to new schools only for the bullying to commence again.

Helping school students develop capacity and resilience in dealing with the emotional turmoil of bullying is an important aspect of an integrated response to bullying in schools. Many school staff and teachers attend a professional development called the Accidental Counsellor Training. This teacher professional development training helps school staff to respond to the bully and victim in ways that enhance resilience for all.

Teachers Professional Development – Accidental Counsellor Training

Mentors As Accidental Counsellors – Equipping Them Through Teachers’ Professional Development

In the professional world, employees must learn to separate their personal lives from their work. And while their co-workers and their managers may offer a sympathetic pat on the back, when it comes to performing their assigned tasks, their personal problems should not get in the way. The same cannot be said when it comes to students. While students are enrolled in schools to learn, they are not equipped with the tools to effectively separate their school life from their personal troubles. This may manifest in a marked deviation from their usual performance in school or even behavioural problems.

Although the main task of teachers is to pass on their knowledge to their students, they are at a unique position to notice any personal problems that afflict their students which often manifest themselves in the form of poor academic performance. There is a variety of teachers’ professional development programmes available but very few are designed to help teachers assume the role of accidental counsellors.

Just like adults who are pressured in their professional lives, students also experience a high amount of pressure.

One reason for this is that modern society has become fixated with achievement rather than the learning process.

In turn, some students buckle to the pressure or find themselves lost.

The school is also a unique eco-system, each student with his or her unique trait that will allow him or her to fit in and find acceptance from peers. In an ideal world, such unique traits should be accepted and embraced. However, such is not the case, resulting sometimes in bullying.

There are also students who are transplanted from one home to another. And while adults find that they need some time to adjust to another environment, such is doubly hard for kids who are uprooted from the place they grew up in and transferred to a new place that is alien to them.

Finally, there are children who suffer from mental health problems and disorders which can range from somatic complaints to attention problems to aggressive behaviour. Unfortunately, not every kid who suffers from such gets professional help.

Like it or not, teachers assist parents in upbringing children. With their unique position in the school, they are often the first ones to notice the problems regarding their pupils. Also, they are in such a position that children may find them trustworthy and as such, they turn to them for advice. This makes them accidental counsellors because although they are not trained to do counselling work, they are placed in a position wherein they cannot simply ignore the troubles that ail students. With the right training, teachers and other school personnel can provide a support system that will enable kids to successfully manage whatever it is that troubles them.

Accidental Counsellor Training Mistakes

If you’re an Accidental Counsellor often finding yourself giving people advice and telling them how to fix their problems, watch this video as I discuss the most common mistake Accidental Counsellors make.

The common insight people have when they attend the Accidental Counsellor Training is… “Wow, it’s really hard to get out of the old habit of just giving people advice.”

You might be thinking…

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Isn’t that what an Accidental Counsellor does?”

“Isn’t that what an actual Professional Counsellor does?”

“Why would you go to a Counsellor?”

“Why would you go and speak to someone about your problem?”

Surely, it is to get guidance and advice. However, often times, that’s not the best way to support the client that we’re working with.

Receiving advice and guidance is the common understanding of the counselling process. Here I am in my office where I work in my private practice. I would have some who would walk in and say things like, “Well, I hope you can fix me.” That already begins the one-up power dynamic.  let’s just say the person you’re working with walks away from you feeling better and has made some wonderful changes in their lives that have supported the life that they want, whether it’s at school, work or wherever it is.

The worst thing that could ever happen is that they would credit you for the change. I had clients do this, “You’ve saved our marriage.” It’s really not true. You don’t want the students or clients you’re working with to abdicate their personal power and responsibility, and help put you up in that one-up power position that holds you as the mentor and guru. This is difficult because that’s the common understanding of counsellors. You go to a counsellor and they’ll fix your problem. Even the dictionary says that the counsellor is a person that gives counsel and advice. And yet, research is clearly stating, I’ve seen this over 20 years of counselling work, that the most effective part of counselling therapy is the rapport and the connection that the counsellor or the Accidental counsellor can have with their client. It’s this joining with them.

To be able to let go of your perspective, what you think is right, your moral judgment and to see the world through your client’s eyes, to match them, to provide and to communicate with them an empathetic understanding, can be very difficult. However it does sounds simple.

Accidental Counsellor Training Mistakes

What if the client is talking about things that are abhorent to you that you have little tolerance around. They’re talking about engaging in a lifestyle or whatever the case may be, to be able to see the world and come to an understanding of the other person even though that is very different to how you would see the world, is really a difficult thing. It’s much easier said than done. The concepts of rapport and empathy to mirror back, to match the client as I say, are very easy. What I have noticed at the Accidental Counsellor Training,  after the small group role plays is a common reflection from participants. All of a sudden, people say, “Wow, it’s really hard to get out of that old habit of giving advice.”


The problem with advice-giving

What’s the problem with advice-giving? Here’s a case study. Just recently, I was working at a school with a wonderful group of teachers and, of course, all of these concepts made sense and lots of nodding of people’s heads. And yet, when it came time for me to demonstrate some of the concepts that I’m speaking about, we had one

Let me give you one quick example because a lot of this might seem vague. In this situation, the student would say,
“You speak to my mother.” It was a problem with her mother; not enough freedom and her being too domineering. Often times, we might say, “Well that’s a reasonable suggestion or that’s not a bad idea, why not speak to the parent? Let’s see if we can mediate.” Of course, that would be part of a solution. But if you really listen carefully, for instance in this situation with the student, it may not have been the best solution. So I said…teacher come up and take on the role of a 17-year old girl in Year 11. This girl was asking, almost pleading, “What do I do?” I would say things like, “I’m not sure. Let’s talk about this. Maybe together we can work something out.” But I would never want to put myself in that one-up position.

It was a very frustrating and difficult interview where there didn’t seem to be many options or solutions. The more and more I refrain from telling the student what to do, in this case the teacher in the role play, the more and more even the teacher in the role play was able to come up with their best solution. They were able to accept the situation that they were in. They knew that it wouldn’t be too much longer and that they will be able to make a change in the environment that they were living in. But up until now, that was the best thing for them. Now that was very uncomfortable for me and for the people watching because we all wanted for it to be a nicer, happier solution; a happy ending where perhaps their was a resolution to this.

“Well has that happened?”

“Have you ever asked teachers or school counsellors to contact your mother?”

The client said…

“Ah Yes! And it’s just gotten things worse. Mum’s blamed me…”

Instead of racing ahead of the client, we need to work out where they’re at; find out what they’ve already done and not just repeat the old advice that they’ve received that hasn’t worked. If we do they will walk away even more frustrated. We want them to have wins to improve the quality of their life.

The Solution

Our job is to guide them through asking good probing questions and allowing the client to reflect on those questions and come up with their own understanding. This is the fundamental premise of the Accidental Counsellor Training, and that it’s based on Solution Focused Therapy where the critical philosophy is that the client has the answers and the best solutions to the problems in their own context. Our role is to walk with them and journey with them, asking questions, holding the space even during lots of times of anxiety and being uncomfortable. We need to get comfortable with not knowing and uncertainty and with our own anxiety. If we are working super hard in trying to fix a problem, harder than the client, well then whose needs are we responding to?

If we can manage our own anxiety and accept the fact that sometimes this problem is not going to be resolved the way I personally would like it to be resolved. It’s resolved in the best way for the client, through the client’s eyes and context. That allows the client to learn also to be comfortable with uncertainty and doubt, and also have the knowing that they can work through their own issues with guidance and help. Then, they come to their own unique understanding of the solution.

I hope that some of these ideas and concepts resonate with you and are a reminder for those of you who have attended the training. If you are interested in attending an Accidental Counsellor Training, go to

I look forward to seeing you at one of the trainings around Australia.

Accidental Counsellor Training Sydney – How To Change Negative Thoughts

Early in March this year we presented the very first Accidental Counsellor Training in Sydney for the year 2013. There was a great group of people there that I’ve worked with over the 2 days.

Now, for those of you who attended the training, this is a bit of a refresher and a reminder. As you know, over 2 days, there are many strategies and techniques that we look at. But I want to just talk about one today.

The technique and the strategy I’m referring to is “Negative Thought, Positive Behaviour.”

The aim of this strategy is to interrupt the negative thinking pattern. All too often, as Accidental Counsellors, we would’ve experienced working with people who have negative thoughts and beliefs. When we try to challenge them on that cognitive level, usually we come unstuck. The client will hold on to rigidly their own self-concept and their own belief. What we need to do is we need to interrupt the pattern and one of the ways we talked about doing this in the workshop was by asking people to use their imagination. You’re entitled to have a break, a holiday from this negative thought, you know, and it’s weighing you down as you’re telling me. It’s really affecting you badly. Just imagine, if you were for one day not have that thought bother you and even if it was around, somehow it just didn’t affect you, certainly not as much. How would you be different? For one day, going to school, going to your workplace, being at home with your family if that negative thought and negative belief wasn’t around.I even had students in Year 7 who answered this question beautifully.

“If I wasn’t bothered by that thought I’d be happier. I’d be more confident.”

How to Change Negative Thoughts?

In summary, to create a pattern interruption, we can say to people,

“You’re entitled to have a break from this. I’m just wondering. Use your imagination here, if for one day, this thought wasn’t bothering you as much. How would you be different? What would be different with you in that day?”

Spend a lot of time with that person unpacking with clear detail exactly how they’d be.

I hope this has been a reminder for those of you who have attended the training. And for people who have seen this video and are wondering what the Accidental Counsellor Training is all about. There are some details at the bottom of this video on how you can get in touch with us. Or you could go to

Thank You!

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Sydney 2013

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and and register online

The Accidental Counsellor Workshop was fantastic. I noticed Rocky using techniques discussed generally in the workshop which gave me additional ideas about accessing strategies and how to re-phrase and integrate questioning techniques. The reflections and modelling – especially before role-plays, really allowed me to understand the content and then transfer the ideas and strategies to new situations.

Rebecca Fitzgerald, Jamison High School

I was feeling a little out of my depth with some of the issues that students have been bringing to me. Because of the Accidental Counsellor Training, I feel that I have some strategies and approaches, and feel more confident in dealing with these issues.

Melanie Parsonage, Jamison High School

Absolutely loved the Accidental Counsellor Training. It gives a clear goal for helping students begin learning to cope with their situations.

Kirstie Brass, Orana Steiner School

The Accidental Counsellor Training will be useful for ways to talk to people/children in distress.

Rachel Coleman, Epping Boys High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training gave me new tactics to be able to use with my Year 7 students.


Counselling is a dynamic but daily challenge. The Accidental Counsellor Training has given me enormous confidence to challenge teachers who demand that I use traditional, authoritarian counselling methods. I now will say “No” and be able to really help Anne B and Anne Ross in their roles. The magic wand – the client focus – the empathy was just brilliant. Positive thought – clients coming up with their own solutions do create change. Before this course, I really thought change was really impossible. Band aid solutions will no longer apply to me as a leader of learning.

Melissa Blackwell, St Andrews College

The Accidental Counsellor Training was most definitely useful. It was an informative, enjoyable and confidence-building training with lots of practical questioning skills and ideas to help our students.


The part in the Accidental Counsellor Training where I find useful is discussing and seeing the technique; having options.


It was an excellent training and practical course. The Accidental Counsellor Training helped me understand a process of listening to a client/student and identify what they are really saying. It gave me a good scaffold to not try to fix students but to let them explore how they can fix their issues.

Michael Sugitha, Wyong High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was extremely useful; practical application of theory.

Jane Watson, Orana Steiner School

I find the Accidental Counsellor Training useful. I feel like I now have some constructive processes when interviewing students.

Kelly Armstrong, Orana Steiner School

The Accidental Counsellor Training is practical; lots of strategies. A lot of the content can be used with personal relationships as well.


The Accidental Counsellor Workshop provided an invaluable opportunity to collaborate and share ideas with other teachers. Rocky’s delivery of the
course and genuine passion for the content are infectious and I am looking forward to practicing my new skills when I return to school. Thanks so much for a remarkable two days.

Simone McKay, The Jannali High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was excellent and has practical techniques for dealing with student issues from the corridor to the meeting room. A valuable course.

Jacqueline Read, Cheltenham Girls High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training has a good balance of input and practical experiences. Words –> Modelling –> Role-play; user-friendly, useful and practical. It sets our boundaries – what is our job/what are our limitations/what should we be working on.

Cathy Smith, St Monica’s

I learnt a huge amount in the Accidental Counsellor Training about sitting down with students and discussing issues. I now have more confidence when a student wants to talk. I feel like I will be able to help them.

Ros Arnold, Chester Hills High School

I find the Accidental Counsellor Training useful because the context and content are applicable to the school environment as well as background to the human psyche.


The Accidental Counsellor Training was great. It has helped me rethink how I speak with students who are struggling.

Glenn Kayes, Epping Boys High School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Sydney


  • Epping Boys High School
  • Cheltenham Girls High School
  • Westfields Sports High School
  • Jamison High School
  • Sydney Boys High School
  • St Andrews College
  • Springwood High School
  • St Andrew’s Cathedral School
  • Chester Hill High School
  • Mitchell High School
  • St Monica’s
  • Orana Steiner School
  • The Hills Sports High School
  • Sydney Technical High School
  • The Jannali High
  • Wyong High School

Accidental Counsellor Training

Hello, My name is Rocky Biasi and I am the director of Human Connections. I have been a Secondary High School Teacher and Year Coordinator for over 10 years. Also, a School Counsellor and in these days, I’m in private practice.

In 2008, I created the Accidental Counsellor Training. The reason I created this training is because I could see that in my time in schools, as a teacher and as a year coordinator with Counselling training school staff, often found themselves in that Accidental Counsellor role, many times with little training around basic counselling skills. The Accidental Counsellor Training is a Solutions Focused Approach that focuses on client’s strengths and possibilities. The Solution Focused approach believes that the client has the solution to their problem and the role of the counsellor or the Accidental Counsellor is to facilitate and to help the client discover that solution for themselves.

Who should attend the Accidental Counsellor Training?

School staff, Community service workers or anyone who really finds themselves in a counselling role but not trained as counsellors.

Here’s what you will learn when you attend the training:
  • How to direct your questioning so the client identifies their own possible solutions.
  • How to listen effectively to help clients clarify their problems.
  • How to assist them in setting goals and to consider new possibilities.
  • How to focus the client positively towards solutions.
  • How to help clients access their own personal resources to assist them to develop positive action plans.
  • How to help clients challenge their negative self-talk and create positive behaviours.

This is some of the content that we will cover during the training:
  • We look at positive psychology on how  we can help students minimise risk factors and enhance well-being.
  • The first morning we also look at the topic of  boundaries, burn-out and self-care. It’s the relationship between the listener and/or the helper and the client that provides the best impetus and influence for healing and we need to be able to make sure we’re in the right state to be able to do that so looking after ourselves, making sure that we set appropriate limits to our care is crucial.
  • Reflective listening and Meta communication is really just mirroring back to the client what  that they’re saying and also focusing on open-ended type questions all too often because we’re in a rush to help the person we’re working with, we could slip into the role of advice-giver. Often times, it’s just important to hold the space, reflect back to the person what the person is actually saying and the person hears their thoughts out aloud reflected back to them. This can provide the impetus for new perspectives. Here’s a very simple example. Often times, if we would look at the school context you might have someone say, “I can’t do this” or “Nobody likes me.”

A meta-question would be “What is it that you can’t do exactly?” Meta-questions help us discover deeper structure communication rather than the surface structure communication.

We also look at challenging negative identity beliefs: I’m not good enough, no one likes me, I’m not smart enough.

These are the negative identity beliefs and what we do is we help the student through a series of 4 to 5 questions, look at the positive behaviour that occurs when they’re not focused on that negative belief, that negative thought. And then, we help the student take action; identify the positive behaviour and implement some of that positive behaviour.

focus on solution-focused brief therapy.

One of the questions in this therapy is called the “Exception question.” All too often,  lots of time is being spent on focusing on why the student is behaving the way they are, why they’re being picked on, why they’re not paying attention, why they’re not turning up to school. Now, this is counter-productive. The focus here is on the unwanted behaviour. We need to pivot on the desired behaviour.

Solution-focused brief therapy has a fundamental philosophy.

“The meer act of  constructing a vision of a solution acts as a catalyst for bringing it about.”

The aim of our conversations with the people we’re working with is to create some sort of picture or vision of what it is that they’ll be doing that’s desirable. We can use the Exception question as an example here. Rather than focusing on the unwanted behaviour, we could just ask questions like:

“Tell me about the times you haven’t been kicked out.”

“Tell me about the times when you have come to school.”

“What was different then?”

There are 3 processes that we engage to learn the skills during the workshop:

The first part is explanation where I explain what the skill and the theory is. I ask one of the participants to do a very short 5-minute roleplay to demonstrate the skill. The crucial part of the training is when the attendees form small groups of three and roleplay and practise the skill and I come around to provide individual and small group coaching.

To find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training, go to

Accidental Counsellor

Email [email protected]

 or Call 0425 365 294

The Accidental Counsellor Training – A Solution Focused Approach

I love traveling around Australia presenting the Accidental Counsellor Training for many reasons, and here’s two:
Firstly, it’s just terrific meeting all the wonderful teachers and other professionals who attend the training working really, really hard to make a difference for the people in their care. It gives me a chance to catch up with family so I have cousins and relatives in Melbourne. It was great to catch up with them when I presented the Accidental Counsellor Training in Melbourne.

The Two-day training is structured in these three ways:

Firstly, I stand in front of the group. I present and teach the concept. Then, I demonstrate the concept when I ask one of the attendees to come to the front and we do role play for 5 minutes. They can take on the role of a student, a parent or any client. Everyone who is at the training gets to see me demonstrate what I’ve just talked about. The best part for me is when everyone teams up in groups of three and I come around. I listen in and do small coaching in those groups of three. The people get to practice and experience the skills. That’s the format of the two-day Accidental Counsellor Training.
Solution Focused Accidental CounsellorSolution Focused Accidental CounsellorSolution Focused Accidental Counsellor

Solution Focused Brief Therapy

The major focus of the Accidental Counsellor Training is Solution Focused Brief Therapy.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy has a focus on the client’s strengths rather than weaknesses. We look for possibilities because, as we know, creating a vision of the solution acts as a catalyst for bringing it about.

During the training, I provide the attendees with different techniques and questions that can help them work with their client so the client can create this possible vision of where they want to go. Here’s an example of how we do that. We might ask something called the Exception question. The Exception question gives hints towards a possible solution. Rather than analysing why a student may not be doing what they should be doing in a classroom, we ask an Exception question looking for times when they have done what they needed to do in the classroom. As an example, the student might come and say,

“I’m always been picked on by the teacher.”

“I’m being kicked out of class and it’s unfair.”

The student can go on with the complaining and blaming. And often times we can get caught, as teachers, in that Accidental Counsellor role that we have often by saying,

“Well, you must’ve done something…”

“You need to take responsibility for your behavior.”

What’s much better is to say to them,

“Tell me about a time when you did go to that class and it worked really well for you.”

“Tell me a time when you went to that class and it was lots better than what you’re telling me about right now.”

“What did you do on that day?”

“What happened next?”

Asking those types of questions, looking for exceptions gets the student or the client that we’re working with to start constructing a vision of a possible solution. Usually, there’s been exceptions to the problem in the past.

I hope that, that has reminded some of you who have attended the Accidental Counsellor training about the exception question and for those of you who were looking to come, you can find out more:

More about the dates, the towns of where we may be visiting and presenting the Accidental Counsellor in 2013.

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Melbourne 2012

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

I really enjoyed the Accidental Counsellor Training session as it provided practical strategies, ideas and theories that I could implement and see the value of. It was great to see demonstrations and use role plays to practice each skill. Great friendly atmosphere.

Felicity Stewart, Mordialloc College

Thanks for helping me find clear and positive path in helping our students through the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

Sommer Azzopardi, St John Bosco’s School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was fantastic, practical, encouraging.

Heather Pendergast, St Jude’s Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was informative, practical and full of info I will use. Finally I feel like I have some support.

Bianca Gualtieri, Mount Scopus Memorial College

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop is relevant for every staff member. Essential for Year Level Coordinators, Student Support Staff.

Colette Brennan, Newcomb Secondary College

I feel better equipped to speak with troubled students, now I have attended the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop. I have learned that the connection is more important than the technique. Really important and valid!

Ben Riley, Werribee Secondary College

As a classroom teacher the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided some fantastic new skills. Definitely not a waste.

Mardi Shepherd, Frankston High School

Accidental Counsellor Training has given me confidence to work with students to challenge their negative thoughts and how to get them to get to think of their own positive solutions. Recommend this training to anyone who works with students/young people.

Robyn Hough, Shepparton High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was great personal development. Would recommend.

Christine Haasz, Marist-Sion College

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was very useful, with practical skills to use.

Tania Anticev, Clonard College

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was very useful, it was practical.

Paula Hardy, Clonard College

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided good “common sense” strategies and was practical.

Sharyn Uteda, Beaconhills College

Lots of practical information was given at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

Carmel Mithen, St Mary of the Angels School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop has made me more confident to work with students.

Trish Herbstreit, CBC, St Kilda

Other Comments

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop has been useful as I have been in a coordinator position for six years and this has given me the tools to continue to develop.

There were sections of the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop (SFBT) that were good. It was good to get others’ perspectives on things.

I have completed a Masters of Ed in Student Wellbeing with counselling skills subjects. This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop has affirmed my studies.

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was relevant, purposeful and achievable.

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Melbourne


  • Mordialloc College
  • Werribee Secondary College
  • St Jude’s Primary School
  • Mount Scopus Memorial College
  • St John Bosco’s School
  • Newcomb Secondary College
  • Frankston High School
  • Shepparton High School
  • Marist-Sion College
  • Clonard College
  • CBC, St Kilda
  • Beaconhills College
  • St Mary of the Angels School

Accidental Counsellor Training Parramatta

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Parramatta 2012

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was awareness raising, offered practical assistance and sound methodology. Thanks.

Christine Gibbins, Colo High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was a very good overall exercise. Never ever knew about these strategies.

Mona Sidhu, Jamison High School

The importance of learning was a feature of the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop that I found useful.

Shirley Hoogewerf, Greystanes High School

This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided useful information to deal with students in school.

Grace Moodley, Jamison High School

Wow! The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was practical, precise and to the point! I’m prepared!!

David Perfect, Burgmann Anglican School
Other Comments

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop very useful.  Really found the examples used very effective and the overall workshop was great.  Insightful and very practical.

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was invaluable – informative and practical.

This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop gave me help and practical strategies to take back to school.  It was most useful being able to talk through questions or problems around the skills.

I found some new ideas at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

The tapping technique introduced at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was a great relaxation technique.  Just may be a different approach or way of dealing with kids.

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was a balanced presentation – theory and practice.

I found the Role Plays at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop useful – seeing how to use the technique.

A variety of useful strategies were presented at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

Small group work at the Accidental Counsellor Training Parramatta

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Parramatta


  • Ravenswood School For Girls
  • Fairvale High School
  • Model Farms High School
  • Greystanes High School
  • Jamison High School
  • Colo High School
  • Oakhill College
  • Bossley Park High
  • Bomaderry High School
  • Burgmann Anglican School

Accidental Counsellor Training Perth

This was the second time we traveled to Perth Western Australia to present the Accidental Counsellor Training. It’s always a fun time as we catch up with friends and family.

Lunch with family on our last day in Perth presenting the Accidental Counsellor Training

Kaiyen loves visiting her cousins and spending time at the farm

Although the Accidental Counsellor Training is the same across Australia. There are always similar and different themes that emerge from the workshops because attendees bring differing views and experience.

A theme I’d like to reflect on is “who wants the change to occur”.

At the Perth training (along with others) teachers and school staff work very hard to. “get a student to turn up to school”, “stop the student from distracting the class or being rude to teachers” etc.

The Accidental Counsellor Training helps school staff connect, build rapport and trust and use targeted strategies to help influence students. It does not provide strategies and techniques that “will make a student do what they need to do”!

Ultimately, the “client” needs to take responsibility for the change required. As school staff supporting students it can be frustrating and disappointing to know what is required but helpless in “bringing about the change”.

I often experience this in my own private practice. A client was referred to me and in our second session I was hoping to suggest a plan that involved several participants and agencies to help this young man with his severe drug, gambling addiction and OCD. He didn’t turn up for the second session!

A critical aspect or the helping role is to manage our own upset and distress during these times.

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Perth Western Australia 2012

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

Fantastic training Rocky. I have learnt so much at this Accidental Counsellor Training and can’t wait to apply it. Thank you!

Julie Waller, Hudson Park Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training made me feel confident that I’m doing things well, and it also gave me new ideas to use.

Chanel Fenwick, Corpus Christi College

This Accidental Counsellor Training was definitely worthwhile and has upskilled me.

Rae Witham, Dunsborough Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was helpful as effective questioning to find the source of the problem is difficult and time consuming but so necessary.

Allison Stralow, St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls

The strategies outlined at the Accidental Counsellor Training were great.

Gavin Palmer, Cocos Islands District High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very useful and relevant in a school setting.

Kerrie Montgomery, Chapman Valley Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop gave me tools to use that I did not previously have.

Adam Przytula, Winthrop Baptist College

Other comments

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was useful as it was applicable to real situations with real students.

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop made logical sense with strategies which are able to be used easily.

Good practical strategies which can be applied in a variety of situations made the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop very useful.

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop useful as it validated what I already do.

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was useful as it gave strategies to deal with students and to give teachers back at school.

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop gave several useful options for counselling.

I found it useful to discuss and review strategies at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

The Accidental Counsellor Training Workshop was extremely useful.

Small Group Work Accidental Counsellor Training Perth

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Perth


  • Kearnan College
  • Melville Shs
  • Tuart Hill Primary School
  • Donnybrook Dhs
  • St Stephens School
  • Kelmscott Senior High School
  • St Andrews Grammar
  • St Hilda’s Anglican School For Girls
  • Hudson Park Primary School
  • Balcatta Shs
  • Kensington Primary School
  • Dunsborough Primary
  • Cocos Islands District High School
  • Corpus Christi College
  • Chapman Valley Primary School
  • Kalamunda Senior High School
  • Takari Primary
  • Mandurah Catholic College
  • Winthrop Baptist College
  • St Norbert College

Accidental Counsellor Training Wollongong 2012

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Wollongong 2012

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was well presented and had a good balance of theory and practical content. The workshop has made me consider my ways of counselling and listening to students and how I can refine it and make it more meaningful for the student.

Donna Markham, Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was fantastic. I’ve learnt many wonderful techniques and now have the confidence to implement them.

Wendy O’Malley, Lake Illawarra High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was great! There are a few new techniques that I will take away and use. It was really great that Rocky pours his passion for the subject into his presentations.

Nicole Gonzalez, Albion Park High School

This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop gave me new techniques and re-assured me that I am on the right track.

Pheona Cashman, Kiama High School

After this Accidental Counsellor Training course I feel more confident in what I am doing, even in my parenting.
Jacki Harrison, Kiama High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was useful and fun.  One of the best PD’s I’ve done.
Mitchell Comans, Smith’s Hill High School

Rocky, thank you for telling us your stories at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop. I found the workshop useful because you used real experiences.

Jodie Russell, Kiama High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop presented very practical and effective skills.

Sandra Hogan, St John the Evangelist Nowra

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided great theory – able to put into practice during the course. The Accidental Counsellor workshop was very practical. Can incorporate with my existing knowledge/skills.

Rod Zabell, Smith’s Hill High School

Thank you for your very personable manner at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

John Jakimyszyn, St John’s High School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Wollongong

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

  • Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts
  • Lake Illawarra High School
  • Kiama High School
  • Albion Park High School
  • Smith’s Hill High School
  • St John’s High School
  • St John the Evangelist Nowra

Accidental Counsellor Training Adelaide 2012

Here are some of the testimonials from the Accidental Counsellor Training in Adelaide

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

This Accidental Counsellor Training program has allowed me to re-examine best practices in dealing with conflict and other personal issues.

Bill Trewartha, Rostrevor College

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop has enabled me to identify some traps I’m falling into while counselling students. I’m looking forward to implementing these techniques and empowering students to move forward and build resilience.

Suzi Pedler, Torrens Valley Christian School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was thought provoking.

Sally Wilson, Findon High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging two days.My brain is on overload however I’m looking forward to putting my new learning into practice! I’ve been really challenged by all of the content and really wish I did this session three years ago when I was thrown into the counselling role. Thanks.

Carol Davey, Hallett Cove R-12 School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was presented with confidence and enthusiasm. The different questioning styles and different ways to direct conversation were most useful.

Glen Malkin, Rostrevor College

The Accidental Counsellor Training was excellent and allowed plenty of group discussion/sharing and practice.
Argie Buesnel, Blackwood High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided excellent worthwhile training for year level managers.
Robin Parsons, Windsor Gardens Vocational College

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop taught great practical skills and strategies to use with students and staff, and to help develop my own practice. Excellent.
Alan Peat, Underdale High School

At the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop I learnt to look for the positives in everything. Anonymous

Here’s a letter from Sally Wilson about her experience at the Adelaide Accidental Counsellor Course:
Hi Rocky,
I would like to say that I found your training very useful and have had the opportunity to use some of the skills that I encountered on the day. I was amazed at how empowered I felt when I could pull a strategy out of my hat right away and what’s more felt like I had enabled a student to be in control probably for the first time in a while.

FYI it was the scaling question and using the magic question and then helping them paint a picture to find their own strategy. Such a good course it should be mandatory in teacher training.

Regards Sally Wilson.

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Adelaide


  • Rostrevor College
  • Torrens Valley Christian School
  • Hallett Cove R-12 School
  • Blackwood High School
  • Findon High School
  • Windsor Gardens Vocational College
  • Underdale High School

Accidental Counsellor Training Albury 2012

On the 25th and 26th of June 2012 I presented the Accidental Counsellor Training in Albury. This has been the third year the family and I travel to Albury for the Accidental Counsellor Training.

This year some of the wonderful attendees informed me about a great play area in Albury called Oddies Creek Adventure Playspace.

We all had a great time there after the first day of the training.

Here are some of the testimonials for the Accidental Counsellor Training in Albury

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

The Accidental Counsellor Training was incredibly useful – it gave me a lot of new ideas and resources for dealing with students. I will definitely start to integrate!

Emma Allen, Corowa High School

Love the Accidental Counsellor Training. The group work was excellent, great skills that I would use.

Graham Booth, Murray High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training helped me realise some of the things I do wrong. It’s not me giving strategies but allowing the students to come up with strategies.

Angela Heale, Kyabram P-12 College

The opportunity of role play at the Accidental Counsellor Training gives valuable experience as the accidental counsellor, and the opportunity to observe is beneficial to defining techniques or possibilities.

Sandy Edgar, Murray High School

I thought I knew a lot – I do now thanks to the Accidental Counsellor Training. The workshop gave me the tools to support what I could do to help.

Andrew Barber, Colac Otway Shire

I found this Accidental Counsellor Training course really informative and useful. It has given me some great strategies to try with my students.

Amy Boylan, Junee High School

Great presentation at the Accidental Counsellor Training. Thanks. The techniques have given me some great information on how to assist my students.
Ken Walkinshaw, Corowa High School

Great at the Accidental Counsellor Training to see how to approach things differently and confidently.
Belinda Chambers, St Francis College

The Accidental Counsellor Training will help improve current skills that I have developed and has helped me come up with new strategies.
Angela Hahn, Intereach

The Accidental Counsellor Training was truly enlightening. I will feel more confident when dealing with students and their issues.
Tracey Puntoriero, St Francis College

This Accidental Counsellor Training was probably the most useful and practical inservice that I have been to. Heaps of strategies and ideas that can be used every day. Something all teachers should go through and something I should have done years ago. Can’t wait to start tapping.

Maurice Woodman, Murray High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training worked looked at the positive approach to problem solving rather than the negatives.

Meredith Mackenzie, Corowa High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful outlining different approach to peers, students, parents, carers.

Toni Moore, Barellan Central School

In 2013 we will return to Albury to present the Accidental Counsellor Training on the 24th and 25th of June.

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Albury


  • Corowa High School
  • Murray High School
  • Kyabram P-12 College
  • Colac Otway Shire
  • Junee High School
  • St Francis College
  • Intereach
  • Barellan Central School

Accidental Counsellor Training Canberra 2012

As soon as we pack up after the Albury training on the Tuesday afternoon we start the journey to Canberra.

In 2012, I presented the Accidental Counsellor Training in Canberra on the 28th and 29th of June. I have to say that it is interesting presenting the Accidental Counsellor Training across Australia. I get to meet lots of people and to be honest the different locations and people at the training provide different experiences for me.  Some groups are more quiet than others and some groups ask more questions that others!

The group who attended the Accidental Counsellor Training in 2012 were fantastic!

The whole family loves the Canberra trip. It may be for different reasons. Anna and Kaiyen hit the shops and Kaiyen loves Questacon. I’d have to say that we all like some of the restaurants.

Kaiyen loves visiting Questacon on after the Accidental Counsellor Training Canberra

Visiting Parliament House after the Accidental Counsellor Training in Canberra

For the past two years the Accidental Counsellor Training in Canberra has filled very quickly. So for 2013 we have scheduled two Accidental Counsellor Workshops in Canberra. The first date will be on the 27th and 28th of June and the second Accidental Counsellor Training in Canberra will be on the 25th and 26th of November.

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Canberra 2012

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

Thank you for the suggestions and techniques for dealing with Accidental Counsellor sessions. Some good strategies, particularly with discipline cases.

Jena Shaw, Monaro High School

Really enjoyed the two days at the Accidental Counsellor Training. Will be encouraging our school to line up some training.

Bobbie Dawson, Daramalan College

The Accidental Counsellor Training was a great course – so jam packed with useful information – charismatic, flowing presentation.

Vivian Martin, Canberra Girls’ Grammar School

I really appreciated your calm manner at the Accidental Counsellor Training – nothing was rushed. Plenty of time to cover each topic. You were flexible in your approach and responded to our needs.

Liza Laird, Merici College

Thank you for the two days of training at the Accidental Counsellor Training. I have some practical skills to take away and try, and my interest in the field of psychology is once again fuelled! Now I want to do more! Thanks so much.

Sarahan van Kimmenade, Campbell Primary School

Thank you – I will really try to implement these ideas from the Accidental Counsellor Training.

Colleen Kain, St Mary Mackillop College

This Accidental Counsellor Training course was an excellent workshop that provided a practical and effective ‘solution focused’ way of dealing with student issues. I am looking forward to trying some of these techniques when working with students to make a change to the current situation.

Ben Antoniak, St Mary Mackillop College

I would highly recommend this Accidental Counsellor Training. It provides practical strategies – another way of helping my students (and myself!). Thanks.
Anne Ellis, Canberra Girls’ Grammar School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was a fantastic workshop. Great strategies to use when working with students.  Great to have different ways in working with students to uncover issues.
Emma Whiting, Karabar High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very practical and the situations covered were very authentic.
Julie Schofield, Trinity Christian School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith


  • Monaro High School
  • Daramalan College
  • Canberra Girls’ Grammar School
  • Merici College
  • Campbell Primary School
  • St Mary Mackillop College
  • Karabar High School
  • Trinity Christian School

Accidental Counsellor Training Queensland 2012

For the past two years I have presented the Accidental Counsellor Training at Logan Diggers around 20 minutes from Brisbane.

As you can imagine we schedule the Brisbane trip to coincide with the NSW school holidays and we enjoy visiting the theme parks.

Here are some photos of us at the theme parks.




When I have presented the Accidental Counselling Workshops in Brisbane during the past two years many attendees ask if I will present this training further north in Queensland. So I’m happy to announce that in 2013 the Accidental Counsellor Training in Queensland will be on the following dates and locations:

  1. Logan Diggers 11th and 12th July
  2. Rockhampton 29th and 30th of August
  3. Caloundra 24th and 25th of October


Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Queensland 2012

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

I found this Accidental Counsellor Training one of the most useful professional developments I have been on. There is so much of this I will take back to my school.

Anita Ramsay, Coomera Anglican College

‘The Accidental Counsellor’ was engaging and very practical. I feel confident I will be able to work with students in a more supportive and effective manner.

Michelle Davidson, Loreto College

This is one of the most useful PD sessions I have ever experienced. As a Year Level Co-ordinator, I am often an ‘Accidental Counsellor’ but instead of “hoping for the best” I now have a practical “bag of tricks” that I am excited about practising.

Claire Stevens, The Gap High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training provided practical strategies to use back at school. Great opportunity to practise in a supportive environment.

Katrina Lyon, Coomera Anglican College

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training relevant to my position/duties.

Tiffany Dixon, St Mary’s Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training gave me a different way of looking at kids and how to deal with them and not force my solutions on them. I could observe Rocky all day.

Robyn Harm, St Joseph’s Primary School

Although challenging, I found this Accidental Counsellor training to be engaging and enjoyable. The workshop gave me new strategies to ask questions without judgement or trying to predict outcome.

Rexina Harding, St Paul’s School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was thoroughly beneficial, enjoyable, knowledgeable and practical. Overall an excellent uplifting two days.

Patricia Trebbin, St Joseph’s College

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful with practical strategies backed up with sound research.

Paul Staines, Citipointe Christian College

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very helpful. Very engaging, relevant to situations faced at work, dynamic.

Lakshmi Mohan, Clayfield College

The Accidental Counsellor Training helped me construct better meetings with students and parents.

Sharon McHugo, St John’s Anglican College

The Accidental Counsellor Training has provided me with some extra tools and strategies to use with students and parents.

Kelly Allgood, St John’s Anglican College

The group work at the Accidental Counsellor Training gave more opportunity to remember and learn from our own experience how to deal with various scenarios.

Jo Palmer, Emmanuel College

Thank you for facilitating today’s session of the Accidental Counsellor Training in such an interesting and clear manner. I enjoyed how practical the session were and Rocky was so articulate, flexible and his expertise was very helpful.

Helen Heckenberg

I would also like to thank you for the excellent workshop which you provided in Brisbane recently. I have made use of these newly developed skills with my son, my husband and several students at school already. I can honestly say that in the last week, I have used the reflective listening technique everyday, I have asked a scaling question twice and a miracle question once.
In talking to our counsellor, she was very impressed by the array of questioning techniques that are now part of my daily repertoire. I can’t claim to be in control all the time, but it has certainly made a big difference to the way I listen and respond to people’s situations.


Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith


  • Anglican College
  • Loreto College
  • The Gap High School
  • St Mary’s Primary School
  • St Joseph’s Primary School
  • St Paul’s School
  • St Joseph’s College
  • Citipointe Christian College
  • Clayfield College
  • St John’s Anglican College
  • Emmanuel College

Accidental Counsellor Training Coffs Harbour 2012

On our way back from the the Brisbane training we ran the Accidental Counsellor Training at Coffs Harbour.

Why run the Accidental Counsellor Training in Coffs Harbour?

  1. Previously the Accidental Counsellor Training was held in Newcastle and Tweed Heads on the North Coast of NSW. Many people requested something in between.
  2. My sister and her husband and two boys live in Sawtell – a short drive to Coffs Harbour

We loved our stay at Sawtell, catching up with family and walking on the beach in the morning before I presented the workshop.

Here is a photo of the beach on my morning walk.

Here are some of the testimonials from the Accidental Counsellor Training in Coffs Harbour

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

The Accidental Counsellor Training provided great practical strategies – liked the role plays.

Donna Kouwenhoven, Chatham High School

Real solutions to real problems were presented at the Accidental Counsellor Training. Wonderfully presented.

Chris Browne, Coffs Harbour High School

At the Accidental Counsellor Training I learnt better ways to establish empathy and connection with the client through building rapport.

Jacinta Gillespie, South Grafton High School

Thank you for the excellent Accidental Counsellor Training. It has made me think differently. For example, have time for myself so I can help students more effectively.

Anna Carle, South Grafton High School

All the ideas at the Accidental Counsellor Training are highly functional and I don’t feel overwhelmed I just need to readjust my thinking – not easy but not impossible! So thank you very much and I will be helping my colleagues understand what I have learnedover the two days at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

Jo Grady, Clarence Valley Anglican School

This Accidental Counsellor Training will guide my counselling sessions in the future. Thank you.

Lisa Schuler-Glase, Camden Haven High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very useful, inspiring.

Rohan Kallmier, Melville High School

Well done Rocky – this Accidental Counsellor Training course was a good all round workshop. I will be able to use some of this stuff myself.

Roxanne Ruprecht, Camden Haven High School

Through doing this Accidental Counsellor Training course I have changed my way of helping students help themselves. As I knew about students owning solutions but didn’t know how to implement. Role Play strategies gave me the opportunity to practice the skills of the course. Very helpful indeed.

Elizabeth Lloyd-James, Camden Haven High School

An amazing leap into the challenging but possibility-filled reality of incidental counselling. Thanks heaps.

Kempsey Adventist School

Great to learn at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop alternative ways to dealing with issues, rather than just by the textbook and having to follow the rules.

Estelle Foord, Wollumbin High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training presented different ideas, methods, and practical ways of using them.

Greg Moss, Camden Haven High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was great. You can never have enough information / skills to create happier children / parents and teachers in life.

Paula Window, Chillingham Primary School

The Accidental Counsellor Training contained helpful insights and understanding of helping students and how to approach them with more skills. You’ll find it harder to be an effective year advisor without this Accidental Counsellor Training course.

David Jacobs, Westport High School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith


  • Chatham High School
  • Coffs Harbour High School
  • South Grafton High School
  • Clarence Valley Anglican School
  • Camden Haven High School
  • Melville High School
  • Kempsey Adventist School
  • Wollumbin High School
  • Chillingham Primary School
  • Westport High School

Accidental Counsellor Training St George Leagues 2012

Here are some of the testimonials from the Accidental Counsellor Training at St George Leagues Club

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

Unlike many 2 day courses that leave you questioning whether or not you should have taken time out of work to attend, the 2 day Accidental Counsellor course certainly proved to be an exception to this. Rocky, a charismatic and knowledgeable facilitator, managed to really capture the course attendees with his stories and presentation style.

The structure of the 2 days encompassed a myriad of visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic activities and a steady, but focused pace. As a novice in the world of counselling, I found the course particularly helpful. The balance of theory and practice, the incorporation of a range of activities, and the enthusiasm of the facilitator ensured that the experience was memorable for all the right reasons. Thank you Rocky.

Janine Parkinson, MTC Work Solutions

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very worthwhile. Great strategies relevant to my situations.

Kym Ellis, Kogarah High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was an extremely informative and resourceful course.

Kate Mulligan, Concord High School

Since the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop I feel better advised and confident with strategies to apply for my students.

Angelina Bova, GRC Penshurst

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided helpful information, presented in a personable way and equipped me with skills to deal with delicate situations for which I have no formal qualifications.

Tania Oxley, Randwick Girls High School

This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was the most meaningful professional development I have attended in my six years of teaching.

Fay Prevezanos, Fairvale High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was a great teacher training day.

Alex Osborn, Alesco Learning Centre

Since completing the Accidental Counsellor Training I feel more confident in dealing with students as I now know I can help them to deal with their issues.

Hanadi Barsoum, GRC Penshurst

To date, this Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was the most useful course I have taken as a teacher as it is well scaffolded, not overly crammed with statistics and pedagogy that has no real world connection. This was 100% applicable to today’s classroom.
Amanda Hodgson, Sydney Secondary College Balmain Campus

The Accidental Counsellor Training course had practical application of worthwhile and well researched theory.
Karryn Jenkins, Fairvale High School

So glad I attended the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop. It was fantastic!
Paula Stuart, Gymea Technology High School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in St George Leagues


  • Kogarah High School
  • GRC Penshurst
  • Randwick Girls High School
  • Fairvale High School
  • Alesco Learning Centre
  • Concord High School
  • Sydney Secondary College Balmain Campus
  • Gymea Technology High School

Accidental Counsellor Training Victoria 2012

The whole family loves the time when we go to Victoria to present the Accidental Counsellor training because we see family we love and care for.

This year (2012) I presented the Accidental Counsellor Training in Dandenong on the 16th and 17th of April and Geelong on the 19th and 20th of April.

Anna’s birthday was on the 16th so we took the opportunity to go out and have a meal together.

Here are some testimonials from attendees at the Geelong Training

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

The Accidental Counsellor Training was useful. The material has relevance to what I do. Pacing of delivery was great.

Adele Ryan, Ballarat Grammar School

The Accidental Counsellor Training will allow me now to ask the appropriate questions that will invoke a positive reply.

Merilyne Johnson, Warrnambool School

I found the sequencing ways to unpack problems – identify them etc useful at the Accidental Counsellor Training.

John Collins, Preshil School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very useful. Has given me some excellent skills to start practicing and applying.

Victor Toufas, Preshil School

I learnt great skills at the Accidental Counsellor Training that will get used every day. The Accidental Counsellor Training was highly relevant to running a boarding house and will be extremely valuable for every day use.

Lyndal Runge, Ballarat Grammar School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was much appreciated. Really useful stuff!

Tony Costa, Christian College Geelong

The Accidental Counsellor Training provided strategies to approach difficult situations. Really enjoyed the workshop.
Jennifer Hassett, Rollins Primary School

Good clear instruction on skills to build student control/focus in the interview/chat situation were provided at the Accidental Counsellor Training.
Lynette Lanman, Warrnambool School

Thanks Rocky, this is one of the most useful and interesting P.D’s that I have done.  I now have some different ideas on how to pose questions to students.
David Stanley, Laverton College P-12

Here are some testimonials from attendees at the Dandenong Training

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

This Accidental Counsellor Training was the most useful inservice I have been on – questioning techniques on how to ask open questions so the parent/student teachers answer their own problems.

Julie Crees, Flinders Christian Community College

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training very useful! It was clear and easy to understand.

Peggy Kruse, Beaconhills College

Thank you. The Accidental Counsellor Training was a great help. Great to implement in my job.

Chris Monos, Aitken College

Thank you. I truly enjoyed these two days at the Accidental Counsellor Training. The strategies, confidence in knowing what to do or say were most useful.

Kaisu Tonkyra, Erasmus School

I found the strategies presented at the Accidental Counsellor Training well suited to a school situation. I would recommend this training to anyone working in the helping professions.

Debbie Nugent, Wooranna Park Primary School
In 2013, we will run the trainings again at Geelong and Frankston

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Victoria

Click here to find out more about the Accidental Counsellor Training and register online

  • Ballarat Grammar School
  • Warrnambool School
  • Preshil School
  • Christian College Geelong
  • Rollins Primary School
  • Laverton College P-12
  • Flinders Christian Community College
  • Beaconhills College
  • Erasmus School
  • Wooranna Park Primary School
  • Aitken College

The Accidental Counsellor Training Dubbo 2012

The Accidental Counsellor Training in Dubbo is always a favourite time for the family. This year we visited the Dubbo Zoo (which is fantastic)! and the Old Dubbo Gaol. My daughter found it a little spooky though.

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Dubbo 2012

The Accidental Counsellor Training was extremely relevant and practical. A very worthwhile course which I will definitely use in the future.

Karen Parkinson, Dubbo Public School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was excellent and thought provoking. Can’t wait to put into practise!

Diane Simpson, Parkes East Public School

I loved the Accidental Counsellor Training. It was very engaging. Learnt lots of new things. Thank you!

Michelle Wallace, Parkes East Public School

This Accidental Counsellor Training gives you a process to follow and how you ask your questions.

William Ward, Walgett Community College High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was fantastic. Best workshop I have attended in a long while that all information was relevant.

Marissa Gibbs, Walgett Community College High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training provided me with a direction to go when students tell me the unexpected. Thank you.

Leisa Rowlands, Trundle Central School

Rocky talks from experience and relates to participants. The Accidental Counsellor Training was relevant to what is happening in our schools.

Anthony Le Couteur, Kinross Wolaroi School

These two days at the Accidental Counsellor Training have been informative and applicable to the very situations I find myself in when attempting to assist students. I’ve left with ideas that I’m keen to adopt and utilise.

Philip Worrad, Kinross Wolaroi School

The Accidental Counsellor Training provided great use of examples and in depth responses to questions. I felt like I was interested and concentrating the entire time.

Ashleigh Hiskens, Kinross Wolaroi School

I think this Accidental Counsellor Training should be a course that is run as a compulsory training for all teachers. I learnt a great deal. Thanks Rocky, your workshop has definitely given me many ideas to take back to my school.

Liana Leigo, Dubbo School of Distance Education

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Dubbo

  • Dubbo Public School
  • Parkes East Public School
  • Walgett Community College High School
  • Trundle Central School
  • Kinross Wolaroi School
  • Dubbo School of Distance Education