New York Counseling Association

The New York Counseling Association hosts several conferences and continuing education workshops throughout the year for professional counselors and mental health professionals of all types. All conference programs and workshops listed below are eligible for DCA and Psychologist continuing education credits.

ONLINE LEARNING

The Online Learning platform offers on-demand programs to support the professional development needs of professional counselors across a variety of work settings. Courses start at free for members. The online course catalog contains a variety of program topics and new courses are always being added ensuring that programming is up-to-date and informative.

WORKSHOPS

All theDivisions and Chapters offer a variety of workshops during our annual conference interims. Use the Workshop webpage to learn more about individual continuing education opportunities that are taking place around the state. If you are a Chapter or Division interested in having your workshop listed on the website

PROFESSIONAL GROWTH CONFERENCE

The Professional Growth Conference is DCA largest annual conference, held each November. The complete four-day event draws well over 1,500 attendees and is designed for professional counselors working in a variety of settings including private practice, primary and higher education, criminal justice, community mental health centers, hospitals, nursing homes and managed care facilities, among others. The conference generally features 100 sessions including full-day Learning Institutes, Conference workshops, and two General Session keynotes - for the complete six-day event. Conference topics range from mental health, school and college counseling, counselor education and supervision, addiction and offender counseling, community and clinical counseling, marital, couple and family counseling, career development and employment counseling, to diversity, multicultural and social justice issues in counseling.

COLLEGE COUNSELOR CONFERENCE

The annual School Counselor Conference is a three-day professional development event held in early September. The event offers comprehensive programming, full-day Learning Institutes, and draws more than 1,000 attendees. Intended for school counselors across the education spectrum, the conference is an extraordinary opportunity to learn innovative and proven techniques for effective school counseling practices as well as explore new trends and issues related to student growth and development.

COLLEGE COUNSELING

The annual College Counseling Conference is a three-day event designed specifically to address the unique interests and continuing education needs of professional college and career counselors including those working in college counseling centers, community colleges, private practice, or rehabilitation settings as well as counselor educators and student service personnel. The conference is generally held in early September.

About Counseling

The dictionary describes counseling as provision of advice or guidance in decision-making, in particularly in emotionally significant situations. Counselors help their clients by counseling them. Counselors also help clients explore and understand their worlds and so discover better ways of thinking and living.

Some definitions include:

help clients understand and clarify their views of their lifespace, and to learn to reach their self-determined goals through meaning ful, well-informed choices and through resolution or problems of an emotional or interpersonal nature. work with individuals and with relationships which may be developmental, crisis support, psychotherapeutic, guiding or problem-solving The task of counseling is to give the client an opportunity to explore, discover and clarify ways of giving more satisfyingly and resourcefully.

A principled relationship characterized by the application of one or more psychological theories and a recognized set of communication skills, modified by experience, intuition and other interpersonal factors, to clients' intimate concerns, problems or aspirations. A common factor in most counseling situations is that the client is demoralized, distressed or otherwise in a negative state of mind about something.

Counseling can be for one person or a group (typically couples and families) and may be delivered through a number of methods, from face-face dialogue, group work, telephone, email and written materials.

Counseling is largely a voluntary activity whereby clients must wish to change and collaborate willingly with the counselor. Early counseling activity in some cases involves bringing referred clients to this point of readiness.

Results of counseling can include:

  • Insight and understanding of oneself, with greater self-awareness.
  • Changing of one's beliefs and mental models.
  • Increased acceptance and appreciation of oneself.
  • Increased emotional intelligence.
  • Increased ability to control oneself and one's urges.
  • Development of skills and abilities that require self-management.
  • Improved motivation towards actions that are good for one's self.
  • Understanding of others and why they act as they do.
  • Increased appreciation and care for others.
  • Changing of relationship with family, friends and others.
  • Making amends for past negative actions.
  • In summary, counseling typically leads to resolution of a living problem, learning of some kind and/or improvements in social inclusion. Counseling is also a profession, with national associations and control bodies, who, along with academics, have explored its detail further.

    About Depression

    Sadness or downswings in mood are normal reactions to life's struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word "depression" to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness. Some people describe depression as "living in a black hole" or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless. Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

    Are you depressed?

    If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms—especially the first two—and they just won't go away, you may be suffering from depression.

  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you've lost interest in friends, activities, and things you used to enjoy
  • you feel tired all the time
  • your sleep and appetite has changed
  • you can't concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you can't control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • you're consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

    Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It's important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life's normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they've lasted—the more likely it is that you're dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help.

    Signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there's nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You've lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
  • Depression and suicide risk

    Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and learn to recognize the warning signs.

    Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about killing or harming one's self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like "Everyone would be better off without me" or "I want out"
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
  • About Anxiety Disorder

    Symptoms

    Anxiety disorders can cause physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and a general feeling of unease. A person suffering from anxiety feels incapable of acting in certain situations and will avoid those situations that make them uncomfortable, no matter what it forces them to give up - whether it's being able to go to work, enjoy a movie in a dark theater, or spending time in a public place like a shopping mall. Recognizing anxiety symptoms can put you on the right path to diagnosis.

    Diagnosis

    A diagnosis of anxiety disorder must be given by a licensed professional. The evaluation is usually done with the help of a standardized questionnaire or interview along with a personal evaluation of the patient. A medical examination is recommended to rule out medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms. A family history of anxiety disorders can be very helpful as well.

    Types of anxiety disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Treatment

    There are several treatments available for anxiety disorder, and some are more appropriate for certain kinds of anxieties while some are used in combination with other treatments. There is no "cure" for anxiety disorders; however the patient can learn to cope with the unpleasant feelings and be able to participate in all facets of life. They may find these feelings returning at a later point, and want more therapy to reinforce the success they are having, and they may need help each time they are presented with a new, as yet unresolved situation.

    Therapies include anxiety medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes. They tend to work best when used together, however each patient must be evaluated and monitored on an individual basis by a licensed professional who knows the patient and family histories. There are several drugs available for treating anxiety disorders, and the decision of which to use should be left up to the professional in charge of the patient.

    Five major types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder
  • Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
  • Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder, is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation — such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others — or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
    Art Therapy

    It may surprise you to learn that art can be an effective tool in mental health treatment. What could art possibly have to do with psychotherapy? As an expressive medium, art can be used to help clients communicate, overcome stress, and explore different aspects of their own personalities. In psychology, the use of artistic methods to treat psychological disorders and enhance mental health is known as art therapy.

    Art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve mental health and well-being. The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy as "a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.

    It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight."

    When Did Art Therapy Originate?

    While people have been using the arts as a way to express, communicate, and heal for thousands of years, art therapy only began to formalize during the middle of the 20th-century. Doctors noted that individuals suffering from mental illness often expressed themselves in drawings and other artworks, which led many to explore the use of art as a healing strategy. Since then, art has become an important part of the therapeutic field and is used in some assessment and treatment techniques.

    How Does Art Therapy Work?

    An art therapist may use a variety of art methods including drawing, painting, sculpture, and collage with clients ranging from young children to the elderly. Clients who have experienced emotional trauma, physical violence, domestic abuse, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues can benefit from expressing themselves creatively. Hospitals, private mental health offices, schools, and community organizations are all possible settings where art therapy services may be available.

    You might also wonder how an art therapy session differs from the average art class. "In most art therapy sessions, the focus is on your inner experience—your feelings, perceptions, and imagination. While art therapy may involve learning skills or art techniques, the emphasis is generally first on developing and expressing images that come from inside the person, rather than those he or she sees in the outside world," explains Cathy Maldiochi in The Art Therapy Sourcebook . "And while some traditional art classes may ask you to paint or draw from your imagination, in art therapy, your inner world of images, feelings, thoughts, and ideas are always of primary importance to the experience."