Monthly Archives: April 2012

Overweight girls who accept their bodies exhibit more self-esteem, fewer destructive behaviors

Heather Rudow April 30, 2012

(Photo:Flickr/Salma Rashad)

A soon-to-be-published study from the University of California, San Diego reveals that young women can be happy with their bodies at any size. Overweight women who reported being satisfied with their size and shape were also shielded from some of the harmful behavioral and psychological effects that can be associated with being overweight.

The study examined the relationship between body satisfaction and healthy psychological functioning in overweight adolescents, assessing factors such as body satisfaction, weight-control behavior, the importance placed on thinness, self-esteem and symptoms of anxiety and depression in 103 participating adolescents.

The researchers found that girls who reported being happy with the size and shape of their bodies had higher levels of self-esteem.

“We found that girls with high body satisfaction had a lower likelihood of unhealthy weight-control behaviors like fasting, skipping meals or vomiting,” said researcher Kerri Boutelle.

She added the positive relationship between a girl’s happiness with her body and her behavioral and psychological well-being suggests that improving body satisfaction “could be a key component of interventions for overweight youth.”

“A focus on enhancing self-image while providing motivation and skills to engage in effect weight-control behaviors may help protect young girls from feelings of depression, anxiety or anger sometimes associated with being overweight,” said Boutelle.

The May issue of Counseling Today looks at the important role counselors can play in addressing childhood obesity. Read “A family affair” here.

Source: University of California, San Diego

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

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Dads just as likely to experience postnatal distress

Heather Rudow April 27, 2012


Postnatal depression is typically associated with new mothers, but a recently released study from the Parenting Research Centre in Australia found that the mental health of new fathers is negatively affected just as often by the arrival of a baby.

The study, which included 3471 Australian biological fathers involved in the early stages of childhood, found that one in 10 reported experiencing anxiety, depression and stress in the first year after the birth of their child.

In comparison with Australian men in the general population, fathers in the postnatal period – especially those who were younger and living in more disadvantaged communities – were more likely to report having psychological distress.

“Fatherhood is a great time of excitement and significance” said study co-author Jan Nicholson. “However, the birth of a baby brings enormous changes in parents’ lives. Even for fathers with other children, a new baby results in sleep disruption combined with increased financial demands, domestic burdens, and the need to renegotiate the balance between work, parenting, family roles and responsibilities. It is not surprising then that fathers, like mothers, can find this a challenging time.”

Additionally, postnatal distress seems to put these fathers at risk for mental distress in the future:

“While these problems did not persist beyond the first two years for around half the fathers affected in the postnatal period, the remainder had persistent or recurrent distress when their children were toddlers and preschoolers. By the time children were 4-5 years of age, 30%-60% of those who had previously reported distress, reported distress at this time, compared to just 5% of fathers who had not previously reported any distress.”

Said lead researcher Rebecca Giallo on the findings, “Much important work has gone toward early identification and treatment of maternal adjustment difficulties in the postnatal period. This research suggests that fathers would also benefit from early intervention for any psychological distress during the postnatal period. This is an important step toward ensuring that fathers are linked into appropriate support as they adjust to the changes brought about by a new baby in the family, with potential benefits for well-being of the whole family.”

Source: Parenting Research Centre

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter.

Music therapy’s role in healing clients, perpetuating social justice

Heather Rudow


A Concordia University professor hopes to bring awareness to the field of music therapy and how it can help clients not only heal from difficult events but also unite individuals with a passion for social justice.

For more than 30 years, Sandra Curtis, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Creative Arts Therapies, has used music as a tool for deeper psychological dialogue with clients ranging from abused children and palliative care patients to female survivors of domestic violence and individuals struggling with problems in the workplaces.

In her recent article, “Music therapy and social justice: a personal journey,” Curtis discusses her experiences as a music therapist, the evolution of the field over time and the ways in which music can serve as a “rallying cry that unites individuals seeking social justice.” Using this context, she then focuses on the practice of feminist music therapy.

“This type of therapy often presents work with an explicit focus on social justice for women, children and other marginalized people,” says Curtis, “but it can also expand to address such global issues as war and the environment with a feminist understanding of their impact on marginalized people worldwide.”

Curtis will be discussing her experiences with gender and music therapy at the first international Gender, Health & Creative Arts Therapies conference being held at Concordia May 5-6.

Source: Concordia UniversityPsychCentral

Also read Counseling Today’s online exclusive, “Using a wider lens to conceptualize client problems,” for another perspective on social justice and the counseling profession.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter.

ACA Update: VA Under Pressure to Improve Mental Health Treatment Access

April 26, 2012

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) announced that it was adding Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists to its workforce as part of the hiring of an additional 1,900 mental health staff nationwide that VA announced last week.  Included in the announcement was this quote from VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, “The addition of these two mental health professions is an important part of VA’s mission to expand access to mental health services”.  The American Counseling Association agrees with that statement, but it looks upon this announcement with a great deal of caution; to date, the VA has hired only a handful of LPCs.  The VA’s failure to adequately provide mental health care to veterans–highlighted by a new report from the VA Inspector General’s office–was the focus of a hearing held yesterday by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and at the hearing, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) told the VA that among other steps, he wanted to see the VA begin hiring more licensed professional counselors.

Over six years ago, Congress passed the “Veterans Benefits, Healthcare, and Information Technology Act of 2006” (P.L. 109-461) which recognized Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors (LPMHCs) to work and provide treatment to veterans in the VA as full-fledged mental health clinicians.  Over a year and a half ago, the VA adopted an occupational standard for the hiring of LPMHCs.

From the perspective of counselors, very little has happened since the law was enacted and the standards were adopted.  ACA has not seen any evidence that the VA is hiring significant numbers of LPMHCs at VA facilities.  A review of the job postings on for this calendar year shows that, on average, fewer than 1 (one) LPMHC position is advertised in a given week, while dozens of clinical social workers positions are advertised. LPCs meet education, training, examination, experience, and ethical requirements on par with those of clinical social workers.  Veterans clearly need better access to mental health treatment–as shown by the recent report by the VA Office of the Inspector General on waiting times for initial mental health evaluations–and there are thousands upon thousands of fully-licensed counselors ready and willing to help provide urgently needed care. Many of these counselors are veterans themselves, and yet they cannot find work with the VA providing services to their fellow veterans.

The VA’s recent statement regarding the hiring of counselors gives us hope.  However, other statements by the VA made just last week–indicating that they do not see a “national need” to establish traineeship positions for LPMCs, and implying that they do not consider LPMHCs to be mental health clinicians–give cause for skepticism.  Ultimately, actions speak louder than words.  ACA will continue working with Congress, other concerned organizations, and veterans service organizations to ensure that the VA finally begins recognizing the counseling profession.

ACA is continuing to collect anecdotal evidence of counselors’ experience in attempting to find mental health clinician positions at VA facilities.  Please share any experiences you have on this issue with Art Terrazas of ACA’s public policy staff, at

You can read the VA’s press release by clicking here.


ACA needs your help!

David Kaplan

The American Counseling Association is seeking help from students and new professionals in designing the 2013 “For Graduate Students and New Professional Only” conference series. ACA wants to hear from you about what should be part of that lineup at the 2013 ACA Annual Conference in Cincinnati next March.

Each year at the Annual Conference, ACA provides education sessions by some of the most famous authors, theorists and leaders on professional counseling on topics specifically chosen by graduate students and new professionals.

Previous “For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only” presentations have included:


  • Gerald Corey              Finding a Meaningful Life After Graduate School
  • Gerald Corey, Marianne Corey, & Jamie Bludworth     Becoming a Professional Counselor
  • RebeccaDaniel-Burke               Insider Tips: Landing That First Counseling Job. Finding a Counseling Job in This Lousy Economy
  • Marcheta Evans          What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Mindfulness
  • Patricia Arredondo     Making the Most of Supervision
  • Gerald Corey              Finding a Meaningful Life After Graduate School
  • Gerald Corey, Marianne Corey, & Jamie Bludworth     Becoming a Professional Counselor
  • RebeccaDaniel-Burke               Insider Tips: Landing That First Counseling Job. Finding a Counseling Job in This Lousy Economy
  • Marcheta Evans          What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Mindfulness
  • Carman Gill &  Stephanie Dailey Got Spirit? Our Clients Do
  • Sam Gladding & Donna Henderson     Keeping the Boundaries From Breaking in Counselor Education: Professor/Student Relationships
  • Jane Goodman            Master Teaching Techniques for Rookie Counselor Educators
  • Allen & Mary Ivey      What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Neuroscience
  • Marty Jencius              What Graduate Students and New Professionals Need to Know About Social Media
  • Jeffrey Kottler            What Can I Do With My Counseling Degree? Career Options for Graduate Students and New Professionals
  • Courtland Lee             Let Your Degree be Your Passport: International Opportunities for Graduate Students and New Professionals.
  • Lynn Linde                 Office Politics 101.
  • Sandra Lopez-Baez     Practical Pointers for Graduate Students and New Professionals
  • Chris Moll                   From Backpacks to Briefcases: Making the Transition From Graduate Student to Professional Counselor
  • Jane Myers                  Wellness & Self-Care for Graduate Students and New Professionals
  • Beverly O’Bryant       Knowing me, Supporting Me, and Marketing Me
  • Cynthia Osborne, Pamela Paisley & Jack Culbreth How to Find Post-Grad Supervision on a Shoestring Budget
  • Mark Pope                   How to Get Through Your Dissertation (and Graduate).
  • Anneliese Singh          “Do Ask, Do Tell”: Current LGBTQ Issues in Counseling for Graduate Students and New Professionals


ACA strives to pay as much attention as possible to graduate students and new professionals, but we need your help to do so. We would love to have you respond to the following two questions:

1. Other than a faculty member in your own program, who is a famous counselor that you would enjoy seeing (and meeting) at the conference? Who is the person most likely to get the following reaction from you: “I can’t believe I’m seeing her/him in person!”

2. What topic(s) would you like to see at the 2013 conference in the For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only series? Most of our student attendees are enrolled in master’s degree programs, so while we certainly want doctoral level-related programs, we are especially seeking topics that are meaningful to master’s level students and new professionals.

ACA thanks you for your willingness to help construct the 2013 “For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only” series. The ACA Annual Conference is the world’s largest conference for professional counselors (over 3,800 attended the San Francisco conference last month) and we hope that everyone can come to Cincinnati. For information on the conference — including how to submit a proposal before the June 6 deadline — visit Even if you can’t attend, we still would love to have your ideas for the series.

You can send your thoughts directly to ACA by emailing


David Kaplan

ACA Chief Professional Officer