Photo credit: Alvimann from

Many of the resources available for Autism and other developmental disabilities focus on children to the age of eighteen. Very few social service programs are geared to support people over the age of eighteen. So what about these young adults?

What career development assistance is available? What are the goals of formal career or vocational development planning? When should career planning begin? What are the life choices that an individual with Autism should explore?

Person-centered planning  (PCP) can help answer these questions.  PCP “takes a longer-term perspective, exploring how the individual, family, community, and funded supports can work together to achieve the individual’s goals,” (Northeast Alberta Community Board for Persons with Development Disabilities, 2006).

Photo credit: angorawol from

This sets a plan of action in place. It is very important to plan ahead and be prepared for the transition into early adulthood to foster the best chance of a satisfying and productive life for young adults with autism.

Here are some strategies that may be set in place to prepare your young adult for his/her future (Autism Calgary Association, 2009):

  • A personal inventory/profile clarifies the strengths, challenges, and necessary supports that the individual requires. It also provides the individual’s unique characteristics and attributes.
  • A career profile lists the individual’s personal strengths, skills, abilities, and interests. It may also include: evaluation reports (IEPs), cognitive testing results, additional assessments (e.g. neuropsychological), functional vocational assessments, and resume and work samples.
  • A psycho-educational assessment is a standardized test (like an I.Q. test), of the individual’s cognitive ability. It provides further information of the person’s intellectual strengths and areas of weakness.

The key to remember is to plan ahead and to use available resources and people to develop the best plan possible. When this is done, possibilities and opportunities are increased for the young adult.

Keep Your Eye On The Job

Photo credit: LukeDavison from

Here are just a few reasons why hiring external counselling support for your business can be a great investment:

  • Objective assessment of human resource, personal strengths and areas for growth
  • Increase productivity and profit through improved working relationships
  • Improve corporate morale and job performance
  • Team building through training
  • Improve group cohesiveness and thus, improve performance
  • Assess job satisfaction, on an individual and group basis, and potential adjustments
  • Coach/conduct a variety of workshops (e.g., how to cope with work-related stress)
  • Address work conflict appropriately, effectively and in a timely fashion
  • Decrease biases when restructuring work roles & responsibilities

Counsellors in the workplace have shown to reduce overall costs, while still being able to improve employees’ well being (

An additional benefit for a company to hire professional, registered counsellors on their team is to effectively coach how to provide candid and constructive feedback to each other (cross-training culture). The thought of giving feedback constructively is often seen as a daunting task. Many employees may fear losing their jobs, being scrutinized or treated differently as a result of providing feedback and may simply just fear any form of confrontation altogether.

As a result, management may end up with numerous unresolved or poorly resolved issues with their staff. Employees can then bottle up their concerns, which can lead to:

  • Increased work-related stress
  • Inhibition to concentrate or remain focused with job responsibilities
  • Decreased overall well being
  • Increased health-related concerns (e.g., hypertension, insomnia)
  • Increased conflict at home (displacement of the stress at work is very common).
  • Emotional outbursts

Photo credit: click from

The apprehension about providing feedback to others is often because people are concerned about communicating clearly and constructively without damaging the relationship. A workplace counsellor providing a non-judgmental and confidential forum can coach both management and front-line workers on how to provide constructive and candid feedback helping to create a workplace culture of openness and mutual respect.

Here are two starter tips when giving feedback: (1) offer a few words of encouragement and then describe what concerns you are observing, (2) communicate the impact of what you are observing, and 3) comment on the behavioural concerns and not about the person. To learn more, give us a call today!


or… Post-Traumatic Stress “Reaction” (PTSR)

“The anger, the rage, the hurt, and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends, and society’s normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive….It appears, it grows, it invades and it overpowers you….You cannot put these things behind you…And the more people advise you to do so, the more you get mad because you know these things will not disappear. Time does not help,” (from Lt-Gen. Dallaire; Davison, Neale, Blankstein & Flett, 2002, p. 197).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly known to be experienced by those who have fought in wars and experienced combat stress; however, it may also occur to individuals exposed to prolonged abuse, trauma, and victimization at home, school, work and in other social situations. Personal tragedy, natural disasters, or overwhelming life experiences also contribute to suffering and potentially being diagnosed with PTSD. The term “reaction” has been used increasingly over more recent years with symptoms following after trauma.

When we are exposed to difficult situations, it can sometimes feel unbearable to cope with. Excessive memory loss, increased doubt and insecurity, thoughts that bad things are inevitable, trouble sleeping and eating are just a few symptoms of excessive stress. At times, our family and friends may develop unrealistic expectations that we are “strong enough” to overcome life’s challenges. This may inhibit sufferers of PTSD from seeking help and being able to move forward. Living with untreated or under-treated PTSD, people may subsequently, over time, “experience problems with anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, substance abuse (as a means of self-medicating), marital problems, poor physical health, and occupational impairment” (Blankstein, et al.).

Feeling stuck in this dark place, as Lt-Gen. Dallaire describes above, can make us feel like there is no way out. We may be reliving traumatic experiences on a daily basis and not realize that there are ways to overcome the situation differently—ways to cope, ways to feel loved and supported (not shameful or guilty).

One-to-one therapy can help address the specific needs of an individual with PTSD. Group therapy may create a space of support for those also suffering with PTSD; being in the “same boat” with others who are able to relate to similar symptoms and experiences. Together, both individual counselling and support groups can help individuals overcome the symptoms and impact of severe trauma and regain a positive perspective on life. Call us today for an appointment and additional resources to assist you.

Heads are leaning on heads. Bodies are squished together in small seats. Eyes are closed and heads are nodding forward. When eyes are open, we see angry faces and hear people in pissed off moods… and it’s only 7am. What is the rest of our day going to look like?

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a world of hustle. Some of us work 8-12 hour days and still have to “work” on daily family tasks when we get home. When our heads hit the pillow and we finally attain a moment of silence, we begin to process all that needs to be done for the day to come). We ask ourselves; “Where did this day go?”

So I have to ask: “Is the hustle and bustle of our lives really worth it?” We are begging for a vacation because we need that escape. We are looking for new jobs and opportunities to make our lives better (or easier). We are asking ourselves; “Does life have to be this hard?”

Stressful events and life’s hiccups are inevitable; however, how we perceive and cope with these experiences make a world of difference. Balance is an essential component to consider when we make decisions in our lives. Of course, once we make these decisions (e.g. to work here or there, to commute or not, etc.), it is important to “own them”, take responsibility for the results of our decisions and be accountable for our actions.

To attain a balanced lifestyle, we must shift our thoughts from stress and worry, to positivity and action. Staying positive is difficult to do on our own; however, building a strong connection to our higher power and with friends and family can provide us with the support we need. Action may sound tiring; however, staying active prevents doubt, builds confidence, distracts us from stressful thoughts and releases endorphins or what we like to call the “happy hormones”.

Solution-focused counselling can help us train our mind into being more positive and action focused. This form of brief-therapy is future focused, goal-directed, and centers on solutions rather than problems. To attain your goals without having to feel burdened or stressed each morning, call us today!


“Mark was 38 and after earning his M.B.A., he joined the marketing division of a large conglomerate. He worked his way up the corporate ladder. His talent and long working hours was rewarded by his promotion to lead his division.

The promotion left him with mixed feelings. Soon after the promotion, during his routine check up, Mark was informed his blood pressure had rocketed to the borderline hypertension range (around 150 over 100). He was given an ambulatory monitor which provided 20 blood pressure readings per day.

The first day of monitoring, Mark had a staff meeting to lead. As he was preparing, the monitor recorded his reading which was 195 over 140. The following day, Mark resigned from his managerial role and returned to a less stressful position” (Davidson, Neale, Blankstein, & Flett, 2002).

At some points of our lives, we can all relate to Mark’s story. We set goals for ourselves, aim high, and take the necessary steps to achieve BIG goals. This hard work and dedication can take a toll on our lives, our bodies, and our well-being. How many times have we ignored the subtle signs of stress that our bodies bear? We sometimes feel the need to push ourselves beyond our limits, often to the point of exhaustion, because we believe this is what it takes or means to become successful.

Even Mark, early on, ignored his inner voice, his real self. Those “mixed feelings” were his body’s way of trying to fight his stinkin’ thinkin’; providing some sort of sign for him to sit and wait and consider all aspects that this promotion can bring to his life (healthy and unhealthy). In business, this may be referred to as a “cost-benefit analysis”

For Mark, and for most of us, we often wait for our body to give us a sounding alarm that a change needs to happen. This occurs although our inner voice/spirit has been with us all along.

At Jeff Packer MSW & Associates, we help people uncover or rediscover their inner voice/spirit and more effectively use their emotional guidance system. This helps those we work with gain the strength and confidence to trust themselves even more.

Seeking counselling for work-related stress helps develop healthier balancing of personal and career goals. Contact us today!

Is Something Getting In The Way Of Your Employability?

Some of us may ask ourselves: “Has anyone noticed how difficult it is to get a job, or is just me?” We focus our attention on job searching engines for 2-3 hours every morning. We search every possible key word that can describe our field of work. If we’re lucky, we will find about 5-10 new postings a day–and we apply to them all of course. We keep track of the application deadlines and as those days approach, we are consistently checking our phones, anticipating a call for an interview. But then no phone calls come in. Days without work turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. I won’t mention what months can turn into. Are we ready to give up?

Did you know that just that simple thought, those two small words, “GIVE UP,” can hinder our ability to find work? It’s true. Even if we don’t say it out loud, when we think about those two words, our feelings change. We can become sad and depressed. We may start to think that we are not good enough.

But we ARE good enough! We’ve gone to school, we’ve gained experiences, we are talented, and our personalities are contagious. These are the thoughts we need to have in order to improve our chances of finding an employer who will be thrilled to have us join the team. These thoughts are easier said than done, especially when the credit card, mortgage, and all other bill payments are due (or past due).

How do you think counselling can help? Counselling may help us land our next job. With coaching, we can find the root to our stinkin’ thinkin’: the negative thoughts that have us discouraged and telling us to just forget it. Those thoughts did not simply emerge because we are having difficulty finding work.

Those same words came from way back in our past. At some point in our lives, we heard these thoughts, we heard examples of people “giving up”.  After that, at some point, these words turned on us as we told ourselves to give up or that we were not good enough. This stinkin’ thinkin’ has stayed with us all this time.

Counselling helps us to create new ways of thinking that improve beliefs about ourselves. Shifting stinkin’ thinkin’ in the background and bringing new positive thoughts to the foreground shifts our energy, demeanor and then the employment/career search also improves.

With help, we can learn to stay focused on the amazing qualities we have. This will increase our confidence in applying for jobs that truly interest us. Coaching will also help present the best parts of ourselves in interviews. And we will be able to celebrate our efforts and the process that gets us to our success; rather than viewing it as a struggle. If you feel other stresses are getting in the way of finding or keeping employment, and you want help –  give us a call .

Accusation or Acceptance?  Anguish or Forgiveness?

How many times in our lives have we expected something to happen or someone to come through on a promise or commitment. Maybe we have expected to be recognized for having done something a little special? When this doesn’t happen, how do we respond? I know I’ve been upset, let down and even angry on many of these occasions. Of course, with heightened emotions our behaviour can also become less than optimal making a frustrating situation even worse.

We have the whole wide range of emotions for a reason. There are no “bad feelings” like I thought growing up. It is, rather, how we choose to express our emotions can either be helpful or hurtful.

And what about the expectations we have for ourselves? All too frequently the goals, aspirations and targets we set can be thwarted, unreached or underachieved. Perhaps we fail to put in the required effort or decide the goal was too lofty or not worth the effort? At those times, negative thoughts can easily arise in the back of our mind, contributing to excessive emotions and negative behaviours. Some of us over/under eat, others over/under talk and still others turn to addictive habits (e.g. smoking, drugs, sex, exercise etc.).

As we learn, grow and mature, I like to think our expression of feelings and reactions improve.  The advanced ability to address upset with humility and grace, however, is not an automatic right of passage or a quality one develops by aging.  Through reading, education and practice we stand the best chance to improve. How we think about ourselves and others, when expectations are unmet, is central to both our emotional and behavioural response. When disappointment and upset surface, we can adopt positive attitudes that foster empathetic reactions.

“We are all human and are learning all the time”… “How can I do better next time?” “Some goals you reach… focus on those”

The next time you don’t reach a goal you set or someone you placed confidence in doesn’t follow through, dig deep inside your mind for an attitude or acceptance that fosters a balanced emotional state, and subsequently, wise and healthy behavioural choices. Additionally, it is important to take ownership for letting ourselves or others down, finding creative ways to reconcile the relationship.

Let us remember, healthy relationships are constructed, built up, maintained and enhanced over time. When efforts don’t match expectations we can still be polite and respectful.