Andrew Boden: APSA Executive Director

Self-care through Difficult Times

May 10, 2024

Many of you continue to struggle with low workplace morale and deep concerns about layoffs.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of fear on all three campuses right now. As one APSA member said to me, “There’s a real anxiety across the University — all of us are feeling it. What am I going to do, Andrew? How am I going to cope?” 

First of all, I want to remind you that my team and I are here to support you and advocate for you. It’s our job to do so. If you’re worried or facing a difficult work situation, you can meet with us in complete confidentiality. And, to further reassure you, we don’t act on anything you tell us without your express consent.

There are many tools we suggest to members to assist them during such stressful work times. 

The Employment Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is available to you as part of your benefits. There’s access to psychologists and registered clinical counselors up to $2000 in coverage through your Pacific Blue Cross Benefits. If you find yourself very stressed or facing other difficulties that impact your health, whether physical or mental, we can also advise you on how to work with your doctor to take medical leave. 

There’s no shame in using any of these benefits. When I worked for the University, I used EFAP extensively to support me through my difficulties (the counselor I saw was very helpful). Many years ago, faced with difficult family circumstances that compromised my health, I also stepped away from work for a while on medical leave. To further reassure you, accessing services such as EFAP or a registered clinical counselor is completely confidential, and your information is never shared with the University.

While I’m not a mental health professional, I do sometimes suggest to members mental health tools that have helped me. Below are some of my suggested tools. Again, these are suggestions only: there are invariably many more tools out there, and I’d be happy to hear from you about what works for you.

Human Gives Institute (HGI)

HGI is my go-to psychotherapeutic paradigm for many mental health issues. HGI operates out of the UK, and its register of trained therapists is accredited by the UK’s Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA). They have numerous practical and helpful online resources, all governed by a central organizing idea: if we’re not getting our innate physical and psychological needs met, our mental and physical health suffers. 

Some innate psychological needs highlighted by HGI include a sense of autonomy and control, a sense of status within social groupings and a sense of competence and achievement. They also include, among others, the need for security, attention (to give and receive it) and emotional intimacy. You can take their online Emotional Needs Audit to check on yourself or someone you support.

As I did many years ago, you can arrange to meet online with a Human Givens therapist and even take counseling courses (which I’ve also done).

Hypnosis Downloads from Uncommon Knowledge

When you think of hypnosis or hypnotherapy, you may think of a stage performer with a pocket watch lulling you into doing offbeat things to amuse a TV audience. What I’m suggesting here is not that at all. 

From the Uncommon Knowledge website: 

“Emotional problems work much more on the “feeling level” than the “thinking level,” which is why just trying to think differently is so hard when trying to lift, for example, panic attacks or feelings of low self-worth or phobias. We use hypnosis to help you feel different quickly, making you think differently about a situation.”

Each hypnotherapy audio download created by Uncommon Knowledge is developed by experienced and trained therapists, emphasizing doing so within an ethical framework (they will only use hypnotherapy where research supports its use, for example). 

Uncommon Knowledge has an extensive online catalogue of hypnotherapy downloads for various issues. I have successfully used their audios (each 20-30 minutes long) for anxiety, sleep issues, and other life problems. 

Cost? It costs about $20 for each download, though they often have sales.

The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work

I recommend this book by linguist Suzette Haden Elgen all the time. Too many of us have likely faced situations in our working lives where what’s being said to us either seems like verbal abuse or is certainly edging into this uncomfortable territory. This is an excellent book that provides practical techniques for combating verbal attacks at work, both calmly and professionally. 

From the book’s online blurb:

“Powerful yet unthreatening, [Suzette Haden Elgen’s] proven strategies will help you recognize and defend yourself from verbal abuse — from casual obscenities and racist or sexist language to sarcasm, cutting jokes, and subtle put-downs.”

I highly recommend it.

Again, we’re here to help you as you need. Take care always.