How can you protect yourself and your clients when integrating yoga into your holistic counseling sessions? What are the ethical considerations and training needed to safely offer this modality in sessions?
In this holistic short, I will discuss the importance of ongoing training when using yoga in your holistic practice and the risks of not completing the proper training when using yoga or other modalities in your practice.
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Chris McDonald: Hey listeners, in today's Holistic Short, I share with you the importance of protecting ourselves and our clients by getting the training that you need if you want to integrate yoga into clinical sessions. Ethical considerations such as therapist competence, informed consent, and the importance of doing no harm are addressed.
So take some deep breaths and follow me into this important holistic short that impacts everyone on this episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence.
I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.
Welcome to this episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I am trying to take a moment. I have had tech issue after tech issue today, and I'm trying to shake it off literally in my body and breathe and doing a little ha breath so that I can be present for you. So just praying all goes well for the rest of this episode.
If you've ever had a lot of tech issues, you know how frustrating it can be, especially when you're not sure how to fix it. So. Let's dive in. This is going to be a holistic short. That means it'll be 10 minutes or under. And I'm going to be talking about the importance of getting training if you want to use yoga in clinical sessions.
And I'll tell you more about where this is coming from, as well as the risks and challenges if you don't get training and what can happen. Some of the consequences of that, and we'll be getting more into how do you increase scope of competence, which we'll be talking about some of the ethical concerns with this as well.
So this is all integrated together. So as far as the risks. So let's just jump right in. In. So we are in a field full of risks. I know you don't want to hear that today, but this is true. I know we try to put that in the back burner. We can't let that stop us from providing exceptional service for our clients, but we do have to do the back end and protect ourselves.
There is risk to client harm. Therapists are open to lawsuits with malpractice and liability. If we are engaging in unethical behaviors, not following best practices or standard of care, and what is malpractice? So that's basically providing services below the standard of care for the profession and thereby injuring the patient or client, whatever you call them.
So, this can lead, of course, if we do these things, to reports to the licensure board, putting your licensure at risk. And just so you know, I have provided some trainings on the ethics of integrating holistic modalities into session. And what I have discovered in research is that counselor incompetence is the second most often reported area of an ethical complaint.
So let that sink in for a moment. So... It is your professional responsibility to know and respect your limits about what you bring into sessions. So I want you to keep that in mind. Just know that you lose some areas of competence over time. So that is why ongoing training is also needed. The first thing I wanted to talk about was the reason I'm bringing this to you today.
I'm going to backpedal. I went to our state conference, which is called the LCCNC, Licensed Clinical Counselors of North Carolina, I think it stands for, and Someone just approached me. We were just randomly just going around to look at vendors and talk to people and she just happened to say to me, I forgot she had, I think she asked me, what do you do?
And I say, oh, I use yoga with clients in session. We, that came up and she goes, oh, I want to do that. I'm going to do that. But I don't see why you got to have training. So there's me. This is like a rando person telling me this. And I'm like, yeah, I think you do need training. And she's like, nah, I go to yoga all the time.
I'm good. And walked away. So there's me. Like, whoa, wait a second. It was kind of like that deer in headlights. I didn't know what else to do at that moment, because of course I just met this person and I'm not going to go into a tirade against them. So I thought, guess what? There could be people listening to this podcast right now who believe, I go to yoga all the time.
Why do I need training? I'm going to tell you why. Lots of ethical reasons. Scope of competence. Remember, clients come to us, they trust in us, and they have that expectation that we will be competent, as they should, right? They want the best service, we should provide the best service for them. So we have that ethical obligation to do no harm.
If we are not competent, we can cause harm. If we engage in some modalities we have no training with or that we've just experienced personally, just because you go to yoga or, or maybe you've gone to Reiki. does not mean that you can use those competently at all, period. So, competence. So, what is competence?
So, in the ACA guidelines, it says counselors practice only within the boundaries of their competence based on education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience. So, that does not mean personal experience is not in there. So, keep that in mind.
So remember that this is really important for your licensure. And I would think from a legal standpoint too, because if you injure people, let's say that you had to go to court and you physically hurt someone. Oh, let's tell me about your training. Oh, I went to yoga class many times. No, it's not going to fly or for a licensing board.
So that's what I always tell people. Just imagine having to go to your licensing board and they ask you questions of which would be a basic question. Tell me about your training and experience and you're like, Oh. I don't have any, or I just went to a weekend workshop. That may not be enough and is not enough, obviously, if you have zero training.
So this is, that was very scary, that comment to me. So the scope of competence is something that we all have to work on for those areas that we want to bring into our system. sessions and getting supervision or mentorship from people in the field that are using it is what is so helpful. I know I continue to go to other teachers.
I'm continuing my education. I'm in a 60 hour training right now with yoga. Qigong is in somatics practice right now. So I'm continuing to learn and monitoring myself. That's the other piece of our ethical codes is we have to monitor effectiveness. And I know for me, I'm starting to Use the same stuff over and over, which is fine, but I need to spice it up too for me and my clients just to keep it interesting.
And of course, with our brains, love novelty, love new things. So the more we can integrate different things with clients in session, the better. So another risk, if you just say, Hey. I go to yoga class, I should be good is, I'm guessing you probably didn't put it in your informed consent. So informed consent is another ethical guideline that we have to follow that we have to inform clients.
And I'm pretty sure that the social workers and psychologists also have to inform clients of the risks and the benefits. Of anything that we offer them, just to give you an example, I have brain spotting that I use in session. I use it with clients and explain, you know, once they signed, I still talk to them about what it is, how it can help them, but also the benefits in person.
When I talked to that or on video, I had a client that did a brain spotting session for maybe seven minutes. He went home and passed out and, and just slept and slept and slept. And he was like, is this from brain spotting? And honestly, I wasn't sure. I've never had that impact. We only did seven minutes, but I contacted my mentor who I've gone to for follow up supervisions as well.
And she said that it could be from brain spotting and that we really must have hit some deep stuff. And I won't go into more detail on that, but that. Just to give you an example that even these other modalities like EMDR, brain spotting, the risks are there. They are real for people. And what I tell people now to cover myself.
So if we do brain spotting, I tell them the after could be after effects, what they could be. And please reach out to me if anything, you experienced any of this, if we need to do a follow up session, or I can try to. help you if there's other things you need to do to calm your nervous system. So that is the other thing to be thinking about, that it can affect clients and affect us if we're not explaining clearly, which comes in the informed consent.
Now thinking about the physical issues, every client I use yoga with, I have a liability waiver, I have it in my informed consent about the risks and the benefits. We need to make sure they are clear, because again, this would be in a court of law. Or your licensing board would ask about was your client informed about this?
Do they know the risks and benefits? So you are doing something unethical if you're not in your scope of competence, not using informed consent. So important. And if you do harm, That goes against our code of ethics as well. So keeping all this in mind. So I feel like yoga itself is a lifelong training and I always want to continue to learn more.
I think it's so essential, so essential to keep up to date with that because things change. We learn more about the brain, about neuroplasticity, about neurological functioning. So just, just keep that in mind that We really have to keep on this and if you hear anybody saying that, why should I get training?
Please let them know about this episode or you could share as well of the physical risk. And, and the other part I didn't mention was the emotional risk. With brain spining, sometimes people have emotional episodes. Now, I've never had anybody have to be hospitalized or anything that extreme, but I could see if you hit on some trauma without proper resourcing, without really knowing what you're doing, you could really cause harm.
And that is not what we're here to do. We are not here. We're trying to make this as safe as possible. And of course, if you treat people with trauma to keep it the most trauma informed as possible, it is just so important. I can't emphasize that enough. So in summary. Going to yoga class does not make you competent to teach yoga.
Going to Reiki does not make you competent to teach it or essential oils or any of those. So just, just keeping that in mind. And the more that we can get, the more consultation, supervision and document that the better off we're going to be. And the better off clients are going to be so we can keep bringing these in safely.
And just one other point I want to make that research also shows that we cannot use. Techniques that are just comfortable for the therapist, but not functional for the client. So if you love yoga, but your client hates it and it's not working for them, that is unethical. So stay within your scope of practice, your scope of competence.
Anytime you're unsure, reach out for supervision, reach out to the board, look at legal laws for your state, your counties, wherever you are, and do not claim to be certified if you are not. So. That's my word of the day. This holistic short went a little long. I feel like I'm on my soapbox just a little bit, but I think that's important because client safety is of utmost importance to me as it should be for you.
So that brings us to the end of another episode. Be sure to tune in next week on Wednesday when another episode drops. Are you ready to take your journey as a holistic therapist to the next level? I'd like to personally invite you to be part of our growing community. of like minded individuals who share a passion for holistic therapy and the importance of investing in self care.
If you haven't come yet, come on over to my Facebook group, the Holistic Counseling and Self Care Group. It's a fun, supportive, engaging group, a great way to connect with other fellow holistic therapists. You can ask questions, share experiences. exchange ideas. Don't miss out. It's a great group. Hcpodcast.
org forward slash holistic group. That's hcpodcast. org forward slash holistic group. And once again, this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love until next time. Take care. Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only and it
Chris McDonald: given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guest are giving legal financial.
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