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.

The Whisper Correction

There are several aspects in our Conscious Classroom Management program.

Firstly, we look at Teacher Presence. It is the most significant aspect in the classroom; the teacher in the room in creating leadership and culture. Other aspects are Practical Strategies and Classroom Management and Teaching like:

  • Preventative Management Strategies
  • Supportive Management Strategies
  • Corrective Management Strategies

The Whisper Correction

The main idea is that we want to spend a lot of time and energy looking at what can prevent distraction and misbehaviour. But obviously, regardless of what we put in place, there are going to be times when we need to support our students to get back on task, and that’s the Supportive Management strategies.

Then there are the Corrective Management strategies. The reason I wanted to show you this is because I love Supportive Management Strategies in the classroom. As a teacher, especially if our presence is not right which is the first area of this conscious classroom management training, sometimes we can overreact to things that are not really big issues in regards to student behaviour or distraction.

Supportive Management strategies really look at supporting the student to get back on task without stopping the flow of the lesson or getting 30 people, who are now looking at our show, between the teacher and the student. In other words, if the teacher’s reaction is more than the student’s misbehaviour, that can stop the flow of the lesson.

I love the post by Doug Lemov where he has a short video clip which I’d like to show you. It’s about a teacher in his Math class, Jason Armstrong, and a technique called the Whisper Correction. I really love this and I wanted to show you how this works and how it relates to Supportive Management strategies.

At the 2:17 mark he whispers, “I’m writing, you’re writing. Don’t miss it.” It’s a very soft supportive correction which means there’s little interruption to the flow of the class.

The other thing I love in this scene 2:39 is you see that he’s walking around the classroom, so he’s constantly checking being present in the room.

You’ll see at 3:00, the girl at the front that he spoke to originally has got a hand up and her head is resting on her other arm on the table. And watch this correction at 3:09

“I’d call on you if you’d sit up next time.” What I really love about this is that the teacher has a strong presence in the room, doesn’t compromise on expectations and is consistently teaching not just the content but the behaviour and the procedures of the class consistently. The students then have a clear understanding about what is expected.

The other thing I liked about what the teacher did in 3:33 is not only did he whisper and look at the student but he also used his hands to gesture sitting up. A fantastic example of a Supportive Management strategy. Not only was he assisting the student to get back on task without interrupting the flow of the lesson, he was also teaching here not just the content but behaviour and the procedures of the class.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the NEW Conscious Classroom Management Training, which is now online.

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.

Pressure on Senior Students

I’ve spent 15 years as a Teacher and School Counsellor working with students, particularly Senior students and thought that I understood the pressures and demands that they were under. However, this year, I was genuinely shocked.

In the first 3 months of this year (2013), I have presented to over 6 thousand Year 10, 11 and 12 students across Sydney and we speak about the pressures of the HSC, the Higher School certificate.

I ask students 2 questions, the first one is:

What associations do you have of the HSC, mentally and emotionally?

The responses were overwhelmingly negative.

They won’t have a life,
It’s too much work,
They won’t be able to cope,
and there’s a lot of stress and pressure.

Then I say to them,

“Look, what’s the main message that you’re hearing about the HSC,the Higher School certificate?”

The fundamental response I get to this question is that if they fall short, if they don’t get the mark and if they don’t enter University, their future life career prospects and prosperity is in jeopardy. I say to them straight out, that message, wherever they’ve got it from and however they’ve interpreted it, is false. I reveal to the students that I didn’t do the HSC but have two University degrees and went back as a mature-aged student.

Pressure On Senior Students

I stressed to Senior students that the HSC and the Senior years are critically important but not for the reasons that they have been told or the reasons that they have interpreted. While the marks are important, what’s much more important is getting in the right mental and emotional state to be able to achieve those results.

My main message and my work with Senior students is teaching them practical mental health skills and psychological tips that will help them get in the best mental and emotional state.

Click here to find out how we help and support Senior students

We look at 3 ways Senior students can change their mental and emotional state.

  • The first way: Getting into a strong body position.
    • The latest research is now saying that our bodies can change our mind and our emotions. Amy Cuddy on a TED talk revealed that with saliva swabs, people who are in strong body positions compared to weak, contractive positions released different levels of hormones including the stress hormone, Cortisol.
  • The second and third way: Focus and questions and how questions can focus our mind.
    • Today, I wanted to just talk to you about Focus. Let’s do one of the tasks we do with Senior students. Let me just show you in 60 seconds how we don’t have to get rid of negative thoughts and memories out of our minds. A lot of people say, “Well, don’t focus on that negative stuff.” That’s all very well to say but it could be very difficult to somehow remove a negative thought. If you can do it and you can focus on something positive, that’s terrific. But if you can’t, well then you don’t have to do that. What you can do is change how you’re seeing that negative thought or that negative memory. Let’s do this with something positive which is a bit nicer to do.

I want you to focus on a positive experience, a positive memory. Notice whether you were inside or outside, whether they’re people around. You’ll need to do this if  you’re not driving a car or doing anything else. But if you could just take 60 seconds and close your eyes now and focus on this positive memory, this positive experience. I want you to make that memory or experience, that image you’re focusing on right now small; make it about 5 cm in height. I want you to make it dark, black and white. Now take that image and put it way out into the distance, as far as you can put it. Just notice what that feels like. It’s that positive memory but it’s small, dark and way out in the distance. Now just change your focus and now I want you to make that image really big, make it huge, make it your height, double your height, triple your height, make it as big as you possibly can. I want you to make it really bright and colorful. Now bring that image right back to where you are and I want you to imagine that you’re stepping into it. Just notice what that feels like.

The thousands of students and teachers I’ve worked with have noticed that when they make the image bigger, brighter and closer, their emotional state intensifies. If you want to have a positive feeling, get in a positive state, think of a positive experience and a positive memory and you just do that. However, if it’s negative and you’ve got all these negative worries and thoughts and images in your mind, then the best thing to do is to make the image very small, make it dark and put it way out into the distance. This, of course, works really well if you are a visual type of person. If you’re more auditory, well then if there are sounds associated to that negative image, you can just play them up so you can make the sounds or the words into a Donald Duck tone or some other character and you’ll notice then that the intensity really diminishes.

I hope that this tip is just a simple thing that can help your students this year. In my presentations, we spend 90 minutes going through practical strategies that will help them get in the right mental and emotional state.

Click here for Quick Relaxation Techniques

For more information about our Senior Student Sessions and the free online wellbeing resource we provide schools with a seminar booking click here or email

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.

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 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 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 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

Conscious Classroom Management Training Liverpool 2012

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Conscious Classroom Management Training in Liverpool 2012

Click here to find out more about the Conscious Classroom Management Training and register online

I would recommend the Conscious Classroom Management Training to colleagues for the practical approach to classroom management.

Andrews Van Nguyen, Macquarie Fields High School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training was a great professional development, not drowned in theory, but instead providing practical strategies to help in various scenarios.

Peter van der Kley, Macquarie Fields High School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training provided great real life situations that can be applied. A great refresher course for classroom management.

Dena Dahdal, Mitchell High School

This Conscious Classroom Management Training has been absolutely fantastic and truly insightful. I have learnt lots about myself and how my class react on my feeling and attitudes. Thank you and I will be recommending that all teachers at my school at least come to one of your workshops. Thanks again.

Krystal Waite, Caringbah North Public School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training provided a range of strategies, a way of explaining students’ behaviour, a reminder to re-think how we go into a room.

Tracy Law, Hawkesbury High School

It was great at the Conscious Classroom Management Training to be reminded of behavioural management techniques, and to learn some new ones.

Daniel Shaw, Concord High School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training was very practical and gave good examples and fresh ideas for classroom management.

Ashleigh Scocco, Camden Public School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training reinforced many techniques that I am already using and provided new information.

Amanda Smith, Camden Public School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training was a very valuable session with strategies I can use every day in my classroom.

Kate Wilton, Gilroy Catholic College

The Conscious Classroom Management Training was extremely useful and engaging.

Alan Georges, Fairvale High School

The Conscious Classroom Management Training was a great day full of simple and applicable strategies.

Matthew Humphry, Prairiewood High School

Thank you very much for the time you took during the Conscious Classroom Management Training discussing specific needs of students in my class. I had tried everything and felt hopeless/unsure of how to make it to the end of the year. I feel more confident, realise I have been doing the right things and better prepared to go back to the classroom with new strategies.

Sarah Davis, Caringbah North Public School

The tips presented at the Conscious Classroom Management Training were great. Information was relevant to both Primary and High school.
Andrea Bowen, Koonawarra Public School

I liked the practical ideas presented at the Conscious Classroom Management Training, and scenarios discussed. Will surely help me and other teachers in my school. Thanks so much, Rocky. An excellent workshop!
Ni Ketut Ayu Puspita Dewi, The University of Sydney

Attendees from the following schools joined the Conscious Classroom Management Training in Liverpool

  • Macquarie Fields High School
  • Mitchell High School
  • Caringbah North Public School
  • Camden Public School
  • Gilroy Catholic College
  • Fairvale High School
  • Prairiewood High School
  • Hawkesbury High School
  • Concord High School
  • Koonawarra Public School
  • The University of Sydney

The Accidental Counsellor Training Liverpool – May 2012

The following are a sample of testimonials received during the Accidental Counsellor Training Course in Liverpool in May 2012

I found the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop gave me so many strategies to help me in my role as year advisor. The role plays were very helpful.

Emily Shumack, Inaburra School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was a beneficial introduction to anyone in a welfare role, or even those who want to communicate better with the youth of today. The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop opened up new techniques and possibilities to implement positive changes with my year 7 cohort. The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was one of the best professional development courses I have done in a long time.

Helen Alalikin, Fairvale High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was highly practical with enough theory to “understand” the process. This Accidental Counsellor workshop was an excellent presentation with outstanding content.

Brad Milburn, William Carey Christian School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was excellent and very informative.

Julia Morales, Leumeah High School

This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop provided reinforcing and supporting sessions that guide the “learner” to improve their confidence with this important area.

Christine Meharg, Mount Carmel High School

New ideas/approaches to dealing with students and the issues they are dealing with were presented at the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.

Kim Foo, Fairvale High School

This Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was very very useful with lots of practical advice – a totally new way of dealing with kids.

Amy Child, Robert Townson High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training workshop gave clear steps to find solutions and was definitely worth attending. The Accidental Counsellor workshop gave excellent practical strategies to use that were relevant and wholistic.
Practical and realistic questioning to assist our students to move forward were provided at this Accidental Counsellor Training workshop.
Thank you so much – the Accidental Counsellor Training workshop was fantastic! One of the best professional development opportunities I have experienced.

Jonathan Hull, Fairvale High School

Teacher Professional Development

As any teacher knows, trying to control an entire classroom of young people can be extremely challenging, particularly if there are students who just do not want to cooperate. It can be difficult to know what to do to gain control and respect of the class so that each student gets the most out of their education. A well-managed class is a productive class, where students are engaged and performing at their full potential. Professional development for teachers is vital for learning classroom management strategies, interpersonal skills, and how to deal with behaviour issues.

When it comes to classroom management, prevention is the key to creating a good learning environment. This involves setting ground rules and expectations from the beginning so that students know what the boundaries are. Prevention also involves creating a good connection with the students so that they respect and trust the teacher. Once a good rapport has been established, students will be less likely to act out.

Professional development for teachers can also impart behaviour management strategies that teachers can use to keep the students on track. These could include verbal and non-verbal reinforcement, humour, positive and negative feedback, and rearranging students and work stations for better productivity. Teachers must have a range of methods for ensuring that communication lines stay open and consistency is maintained.

Finally, teacher professional development courses can give educators insight into how to correct a behavioural problem in the classroom. Effective strategies include removing the student from the classroom, diffusing the situation before it gets out of hand, and involving the parents. Experienced teachers know that not every strategy will work with every child, so professional development sessions can give teachers a range of backup options to choose from.

Regardless how long one has been teaching, a teacher professional development course can give a great deal of insight into classroom management techniques, and how to effectively facilitate better behaviour in the classroom. Teachers can learn new methods of how to assert authority, foster communication and respect, and create an environment where students can learn at their full potential. When order is maintained in the classroom, both students and teachers can benefit.


Brain Rules: Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School.

Exercise boosts brain power.

  • Our brains were built for walking—12 miles a day (19.3 Kilometers)!
  • To improve your thinking skills, move.
  • Exercise gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.


Every brain is wired differently.

  • What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like—it literally rewires it.
  • The various regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people.
  • No two people’s brains store the same information in the same way in the same place.
  • We have a great number of ways of being intelligent, many of which don’t show up on IQ tests.


People don’t pay attention to boring things.

  • The brain’s attentional “spotlight” can focus on only one thing at a time: no multitasking.
  • We are better at seeing patterns and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail.
  • Emotional arousal helps the brain learn.
  • Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.


Short-term memory

Repeat to remember.

  • The brain has many types of memory systems. One type follows four stages of processing: encoding, storing, retrieving, and forgetting.
  • Information coming into your brain is immediately split into fragments that are sent to different regions of the cortex for storage.
  • Most of the events that predict whether something learned also will be remembered occur in the first few seconds of learning. The more elaborately we encode a memory during its initial moments, the stronger it will be.
  • You can improve your chances of remembering something if you reproduce the environment in which you first put it into your brain.


Long-term memory
Remember to repeat.

  • Most memories disappear within minutes, but those that survive the fragile period strengthen with time.
  • Long-term memories are formed in a two-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex, until the hippocampus breaks the connection and the memory is fixed in the cortex— which can take years.
  • The way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals.


Sleep well, think well.

  • The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals that try to put you to sleep and cells and chemicals that try to keep you awake.
  • The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when you’re asleep—perhaps replaying what you learned that day.
  • People vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.
  • Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.


Stressed brains do not learn the same way as non-stressed brains.

  • Your body’s defense system—the release of adrenaline and cortisol—is built for an immediate response to a serious but passing danger, such as a saber-toothed tiger. Chronic stress, such as hostility at home, dangerously deregulates a system built only to deal with short-term responses.
  • Under chronic stress, adrenaline creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember.
  • Individually, the worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem—you are helpless.
  • Emotional stress has huge impacts across society, on children’s ability to learn in school and on employees’ productivity at work.


Sensory integration
Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.

  • We absorb information about an event through our senses, translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.), disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.
  • The brain seems to rely partly on past experience in deciding how to combine these signals; so two people can perceive the same event very differently.
  • Our senses evolved to work together—vision influencing hearing, for example—which means that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at once.
  • Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories, maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations, which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.


Vision trumps all other senses.

  • Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.
  • What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.
  • The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.
  • We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.


We are powerful and natural explorers.

  • Babies are the model of how we learn—not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion.
  • Specific parts of the brain allow this scientific approach. The right prefrontal cortex looks for errors in our hypothesis (“The saber- toothed tiger is not harmless”), and an adjoining region tells us to change behavior (“Run!”).
  • We can recognize and imitate behavior because of “mirror neurons” scattered across the brain.
  • Some parts of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s, so we can create neurons and learn new things throughout our lives.


Brain Rules
John Medina

Rocky Biasi

How to Motivate Students to Learn – Research from Psychology and Neuro – Science

For the past 20 years I have been intrigued about resilience and mental toughness. What makes some people, despite lack of resources, strive and overcome set backs and challenges? And why is it that other people (some with many resources) “crumble” and quit at the slightest hint of difficulty and challenge?

If we are wondering about what we could do to motivate a love of learning in our children, it is useful to consider two questions:

1) What motivates you? Think of a time when despite the difficulties you still continued and achieved your goal.

2) What motivates your student / child?

I think these questions are useful because the similarities in the answers to the questions hint to what motivates us and our children and what causes us and our children to at times lose hope, quit or not fulfil our potential.

I’ll focus my language at this point toward motivating students. However, I believe there are many commonalities between adults and children when it comes to motivation.


Identity Beliefs

How we define ourselves tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Zig Ziglar says, “You cannot perform in a manner which is inconsistent with how you see yourself.”

And Robert Cialdini says, “The strongest need in the human personality is to remain consistent with how we have defined ourselves.”


This is illustrated in the diagram below.







Our beliefs determine our understanding of our potential. This potential determines whether we dare to take action. By taking action we get results and by interpreting these results we form our beliefs.

Carol S. Dweck (“Mindset – The New Psychology of Success”.) discovered in over 35 years of research that there are two predominant identity beliefs.

Fixed and Growth Mindset

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually “all-great” people have had these qualities.

In summary, students with a fixed mindset focused more on looking smart than learning, more on the result / grade than the effort required to achieve a good grade and as a consequence, chose easier tasks that demonstrate that they are smart. This protects how they have defined themselves, smart, brilliant or gifted.

Students with a growth mindset have a different focus. While grades are important what is more important is that they worked hard, put in the effort. They felt that improvement was important and realized that the most brilliant scientists or athletes worked hard to achieve their success. Students with a growth mindset understood that Einstein and Michael Jordan were not born brilliant they had to develop their gifts.

Impact of Praise on Mindset & Motivation to Learn

It goes without saying that our students need good self-esteem. However, the view in the past 30 years has been that to build a sense of self-worth we should tell our children how smart and intelligent they are.

Dweck and her team document a study of children who were given a set of problems from a non verbal IQ test. Afterwards children were randomly assigned to receive one kind of praise. Some received intelligence praise, “Wow, that’s a really good score, you must be really good at this.” Others received effort, process, progress or concentration feedback, “you must of tried hard.” The study was conducted over 6 times as results were so dramatic:

  • Those who received the intelligence praise were now endorsing the fixed mindset
  • Those given effort praise believed this is something they can develop through effort
  • Afterwards the groups were asked what type of task would they like to work on next
  • Presented with a challenging task where they could learn but also make mistakes – 90% of growth mindset students decided to take this task
  • The alternative was to take an easy task so you won’t make mistakes – fixed mindset students overwhelmingly took this option
  • The fixed mindset students wanted to preserve the label – smart
  • Their motivation to learn was dampened.

What does this mean?

  • When we praise students’ intelligence we send the message that this is the most important thing
  • Their sense of self / worth is intertwined with their performance
  • A big task as educators is to build student confidence
  • Within the fixed mindset confidence is very fragile
  • If a fixed mindset student has to exert effort – confidence in their ability goes down
  • Also if they have a set back confidence in their ability goes down
  • Confronted with challenging tasks they haven’t learned – confidence also goes down
  • Within the growth mindset these are not threatened they are welcomed
  • Opportunities to learn are part of the learning process.

What we now know is that students build a stronger sense of self, a stronger self-esteem when they experience success, rather than be told they are successful or good at it. Evidence based on their own experience is much more powerful than words – particularly if the student does not believe the words are true for them.

A new definition of success needs to be born! Rather than the focus being on grades and individual results (future based), the focus needs to be on effort and improvement (present based and in the individuals control). To decide to be our best, give our best, regardless of the difficulty or challenge is what separates resilient and determined people from those who quit when the going gets tough.

Neuroplasticity Research

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This is exciting research that shows our brain is a dynamic system that has the capability of significant growth. The idea that our IQ measures our intelligence and that it is set throughout the life span no longer holds credibility.

As a result of this new research along with studies in the Psychology of Peak Performance we now understand what creates great performance – and natural ability has little to do with it!

Students love to hear that their brain is like a muscle and the more they practice the more the brain forms new connections every time they work hard and learn. They love the idea of a growing brain being in their hands. One student was relieved when he said, “you mean I don’t have to be dumb anymore”. What a liberating message! This young boy had created a new “identity belief” and teachers noticed changes in motivation to learn and higher grades for all students who understood this.

We can teach our children that the correct answer is important but what is more important is how the brain worked (and exercised) in arriving at the correct answer.

Would it be too radical to say that an incorrect answer is better if thought about than a correct answer to an easy problem that didn’t require effort to achieve?

The outcome from this new research applied has been:

  • More resilient children
  • Children who love to learn and solve problems
  • Students who are more motivated to learn
  • Children who know the value of hard work, effort and celebrate improvement.

We can teach our children this growth mindset message and help form them into happy, resilient, determined adults who strive to be their best and do their best.


Rocky Biasi is a counsellor and educational consultant. He offers teacher professional development training and runs student well-being sessions. For more information and to contact Rocky CLICK HERE

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