The Campaign – a Word about Money

Dear reader, Since I’ve told you about the big news gone bad, I moved on, looking for other possibilities. I’m a very altruistic person, money plays little role on my priority scale. However we both know where (sadly) the power is and that money does make the world go round (the good news about this being it doesn’t bring any sense for its spinning – other things that money cannot buy provide that!).

So I started looking elsewhere, how I can make my dreams come true on one hand without losing my passion and energy by being absorbed in financial issues and on the other offer my knowledge and time to everybody without charging for that. I still hope these things go hand in hand, so I’ve launched a campaign of fundraising for my project.

Today a dear friend of mine whom I’ve met in London sent me a message, commenting my campaign in terms that I should think about how to engage people to feel that there can be some difference through my project and I need to show how I want things to be. He’s really smart and has helped me before, so I’m taking his advice seriously. If you’re following this blog regularly, you might have some clue about what I want and why I want that. Still it might be a good idea to put it into concrete details and outline the project more specifically, since I didn’t want to do that in the campaign description (wanted to be very short and precise).

I expect this project to be a masterpiece. I want to do with the students the same as spring does to the cherry trees (P. Neruda’s quote). I want to help them blossom, discover their full potential not only in academic sense, but also in their core qualities, their inner beauty. Since I’ve been engaged through one form or another in student academic and extracurricular activities I’ve seen a lot. Also being a student myself, I know it’s a huge pressure to be a “good” student. Besides, I’ve experienced some very tough time myself and was also very ill, but there was nobody who would offer me support. I’ve experienced exclusion, shame, stigma and lots of pain. Pain caused by words, denial, avoidance and physical pain as well. There were doctors, all sorts of specialists I didn’t want to go. There was no one, who would listen, who would understand. I had suicidal thoughts and have caused lots of harm to my body. Everybody pretended they didn’t notice. This has been going on for quite some years before I came to university.

Most people, according to statistics collapse and fail. I survived. I had to pull myself up, it was one of the hardest things I had to do and yet the one I’m most proud of. Even though I did some very nasty things that were very wrong and I’ve caused lots of trouble especially to my family, this is a part of my life that helped me shape into the person I am today. Back then I was alone, couldn’t talk to anyone and yet I managed. Still I remember how deeply I wished there was someone or something that I could run to and rest a bit, just put my head into someone’s lap and close my eyes for a moment and forget about everything. That has always been my driving force that pushed me forward in doing what I do with my students. I wasn’t lucky to be provided with support. But I can be that support for somebody else, because I understand. Not everything, but I understand at least what it’s like, when it’s really bad.

So my dear reader and potential contributor, that’s what I HAVE TO DO. Be the one for those who need it, be the one I didn’t have. Students come to me because they feel welcomed, they feel accepted and safe. The effects we both (a student and I) witness in sessions are hard to describe. Just one session can sometimes cause huge consequences in terms that a student realizes she/he can do it and is not alone. But I can’t do that voluntary my whole life and at the same time I want the students to have free support. That’s why I need your help.

So if this project is to succeed, here’s what you (engaging) might be part of:

– if you are from the higher education area and the project is running at your institution, you may notice better student’s performance, less stress and more cooperation. Solution focused approach brings people together and fosters collaboration instead of competition.

– If you are a company or an employer you’ll benefit from confident and reflecting graduates, who might gain their confidence in the sessions.

– If you are not directly engaged, still there’s a chance you’ll have an intern who has benefited from this project. Or a business partner. Or a spouse, a son in law, etc. Because all these students will one day take the role in society. If they are able to fly instead of being depressed, then the future society looks good. My faculty (and university) is large, our graduates travel and move across the globe. So you never know when you’ll meet someone who’s been down at a certain point in their life, but with this project he/she got the support to develop the wings.

– If you want, you can be an active part of it. I’m always opened to new ideas, new partners, who share the same ideals. If you want, I’ll come deliver a workshop for you. Or a training course. Or can help you with what I have to offer. And I may not have everything. But what I do have is unique, it’s real, based on my own personal experience and it’s provided with honesty and enthusiasm.

Take care. Now time for some garden soup.

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Sky’s not the limit today.

Sorry, I can’t deal with your situation?

remember im a person

Dear reader,

This post is a very important one, because it’s time to outline some limits and say it black and white. I’m not officially trained for any mental illnesses, I’m not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist and within SFBT I cannot address every situation. There are several limitations. Although SFBT is reported to work at least as effective as any other therapeutic approach (see Gingerich, W. J. & Peterson, L. T. (2013). Effectiveness of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: A Systematic Qualitative Review of Controlled Outcome Studies. Research on Social Work Practice, [online version], pp. 1-18 and

Franklin, C., Trepper, T. S., Gingerich, W. J., & McCollum, E. E. (2012). Solution-focused brief therapy: A handbook of evidence-based practice. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.)

and may work well with severe difficulties such as drug/alcohol abuse, family violence, anxiousness, etc. (see Langer’s presentation at http://casat.unr.edu/docs/StephenLanger_SolutionFocusedBriefTherapy.pdf for details), there are limits. It may not work with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is also not appropriate to go into SFBT where one’s life is endangered/at risk.

I’ve been working with students with disabilities at my faculty for over 8 years. I had students with mental difficulties as well and wasn’t “properly” trained nor prepared for that. Did that prevent me from meeting them? It could, but I didn’t think about that back then. Also, I was one of the few who was there for them, as we don’t have any support centre for students with disabilities at our faculty as mentioned in one of the previous posts. I only wanted to see the student as he/she is. Up until now I had no such case where I couldn’t “deal” with the situation. Because there was no such situation. People didn’t come to me for diagnosis, nor did they come for any kind of assessment or treatment. They came to me because they felt comfortable with me. Because I was their colleague and because (they told me) they didn’t want to be treated or healed. They just wanted to be understood and wanted to get help they asked for, not their doctors/psychiatrists.

You may think these were students with mild mental difficulties. I don’t know, honestly. The students told me they had a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, epilepsy, autism, etc. and had a proof for that as otherwise they would not be granted disability status at the faculty and wouldn’t find me. As I’m not trained in this area and have only very basic knowledge about these mental health conditions*, this info didn’t influence my approach, so it’s up to you to decide how “difficult” their cases were from that point of view. I only had students in front of me and a sensitive ear to focus on what they wanted. I once had a student, who’s had several sort of panic/epilepsy attacks (her doctors and psychiatrists didn’t know for sure what she “had”, so they treated her with all sorts of drugs) and she had these attacks in class. You can imagine the panic she’s caused the teachers and students as well. On the day we were sitting together she told me she had an attack just the day before. I quietly asked myself what I would do if she had one now and of course I would look for help, but still, this didn’t turn me away from her in terms of “I would rather avoid seeing you than let the chance of attack happen while we’re together because I can’t deal with you”. Important to say: our meetings were not about her condition or about me trying to get her better. They were about her studies, but her situation and distress came up, so this is how I know about all this. In fact, I know much more, because she told me things she said nobody would listen to. And she was thankful for my non-judgemental response. Still I hear from her every now and then and I dare to think she considers me friends.

It would be different however, if she told me information that could be harmful to herself or others. Then it would be my duty to talk to someone who is trained in this area. But in this case that didn’t happen.

So dear reader, there are limits when it comes to safety and risk. Sometimes you have to react as a human being and do the right thing (like call 911 or refer the client to someone who’s trained to deal with these situations. In my eight years of practice fortunately I didn’t have a situation where I would have to do something like that, but such situation may come and it is necessary to be alert. One situation I may overlook may cause real harm.

On the other hand, I agree with one of my colleagues who made a comment when we addressed issues of risk when discussing launching Brief Coaching for our students. She said she’s been treated for depression she didn’t have and she was uncomfortable with being a “patient” where all she needed was an understanding ear. She found that in someone who was far from being trained for this, but it worked for her. Luckily. So due to one situation in which I may overlook some important signs of risk, should I give up the rest, where the outcomes may be outstanding in positive terms? What do you think?

* During my time working as a disability coordinator, of course I had to participate on courses and familiarize myself with all sorts of disabilities in terms of basic do’s and don’ts so I would be able to recognize and act accordingly. But I didn’t spend years on training/studying it. So please don’t get me wrong and do bear in mind, that training is very important. Kind of sensibilization training so that you can get an idea what it means to have for example dyslexia and you don’t confuse it with being lazy (and similar common mistakes made when pre-judging and making too fast presumptions and conclusions).