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Sunday, December 03, 2006

1st member of the PRB in Guidance & Counseling

It is with great joy to announce that Malacanang has appointed the first member of the Professional Regulatory Board in Guidance & Counseling in the person on Dr. Luz Guzman. Dr. Guzman has taken her oath last Nov. 16, 2006, and is currently doing her orientation as she takes on the job so crucial for professionalization of Counseling in the Philippines. Congratulations, Dr. Guzman.

There obviously are implications to this, including her being the first to be given the license as Counselor, hence becoming the first professional Counselor in the country. The next in line would be of course the appointment of two more members to complete the Board. Maybe it's time for us Counselors to read again RA 9258 and see for ourselves the implications of this appointment. Let's hope that the next members be appointed and the next steps be done so that the professionalization of Guidance & Counseling go its full swing as intended by the law. ALL THE BEST, DR. GUZMAN. May God be with you as you serve the country, especially the Guidance & Counseling/Counseling Psychology field which needs to bloom more healthily in the Philippines so that we can be of help in the development of mental health.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Those in the pic are (starting from the male in the left front): Cesar Cong, Dr. Linda Bubod (both of Philippine Association of Christian Counselors), Dr. Chit Salonga of CEU, PGCA PRO, Dr. Rose Llanes, PGCA President, Fr. Bernardo Collera, SVD, PACERS President, Dr. Perlie Polestico, PGCA, and Sr. Alegria, SPC, PGCA.

Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines (PCAP) has been given a new name, adding the word "Integrated" at the beginning. Hence, PCAP is now identified as Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines or IPCAP. Herein is one pic from one of our activities, particularly the meeting we just finished at Door of Hope Counseling Center in Makati today Saturday Dec. 2, 2006.

So far, we have now the IRR, Standards of Professional Practice of Quality Counseling, and the Counselors' Code of Ethics ratified by one body of counselors in Vigan as reported by PGCA President Dr. Rose Llanes. Other ratifications will take place as scheduled in order to give us these guiding posts of our lives as professional counselors. One of these days I shall be posting the next meetings for ratification.

This day, in our IPCAP Meeting, we deliberated on the Constitution of the IPCAP. We shall be continuing this task in our next meeting on Jan. 16, 2007 at Alliance Graduate School, where we met last time in Oct. 28, 2006. For more information, you may contact me through the email or through the cell phone number I have posted in my earlier blog a few minutes ago. God bless

PCAP Is Born

I wrote the following article and submitted it as requested for the PGCA (Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association) newsletter which was published and given to the participants during the Midyear Convention held in Davao last Sept. 2006. Have a nice reading!

After many tries (like many couples do), finally an organization that aims to integrate all Guidance-related associations is born! With the able leadership of PGCA President Dr. Rosa Maria Llanes and some PGCA Board members together with representatives from seven guidance-related organizations, with the motivating presence of Dr. Letty Asuzano, the first integration meeting took place last February 4, 2006 at the Assumption College in Makati City to thresh out this integration mandated by Article III, Section 21 of The Counseling Act of 2004 (Republic Act 9258), and further affirmed in Rule 32 of the RA 9258’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). There and then, PCAP became its name: the Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines. Since then, monthly meetings have been held mostly in Assumption College, Makati. The latest meeting was held last Sept. 19, 2006 in Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City. The next meeting is scheduled on Oct. 28, 2006 in Mary Ridge (RGS), Tagaytay City. The current officers, while taking on the nature of a “steering committee” are the following: Chairperson – Dr. Rosa Maria Llanes (PGCA President), Secretary – Fr. Bernardo R. Collera, SVD (PACERS President 2006), Treasurer – Dr. Conchita Salonga (PGCA PRO), and PRO – Ms. Maria Lourdes Chavez (PGCA Secretary). All participating organizations contributed P2,000 to fund the succeeding activities of this organization. PGCA, the current APO (Accredited Professional Organization) for all Guidance Counselors for the next three years hopes PCAP will truly integrate all registered, hence professional, counselors into this organization.

In a position paper by former PGCA President Dr. Leticia PeƱano-Ho, attempts at establishment of a federation of guidance associations have failed to produce concrete results. But with RA 9258 finally signed by President GMA in March 2004, concerted efforts by the seven guidance-related associations led to the formation of the PCAP. Among its activities include: the submission to the President of the Philippines all nominees to comprise the first Professional Regulatory Board of Guidance and Counseling (PRBGC); the formulation of the Code of Ethics, the Standards of Professional Practice of Guidance & Counseling, and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for RA 9258. Two focused group discussions (FGD) on the Code of Ethics, the Standards, and the IRR have been conducted by PCAP. FEU sponsored the first FGD last Aug. 26, 2006 while Adamson University hosted the second FGD last Oct 2, 2006. These three documents shall assist the new PRBGC as it implements its tasks. The Constitution and By-Laws of PCAP are next to be formulated, starting on Oct. 28, 2006 in Tagaytay.

The organizations and persons that came and continually support the organization of the PCAP include the following: PGCA – Dr. Rosa Maria Llanes, Dr. Chit Salonga, Ms. Julie Basco, Dr. Tess Castillo, and Ms. Malou Chavez; PACERS (Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research & Supervision) – Dr. Julian Montano, Fr. Bernardo Collera, SVD, Dr. Susan Eslanislao; PACC (Philippine Association of Christian Counselors) – Ms. Jane Lee, Dr. Linda Bubod, Ms. Joy Laverinto; GCP (Guidance Circle of the Philippines) – Dr. Leticia Asuzano, Ms. Belen Mandin; CDAP (Career Development of the Philippines) – Dr. Chit Umali, Ms. Cecilia Regaya, Sr. Alegria Avellaneda, SPC; PAPSHP (Philippine Association of Psycho-Social Helpers) – Dr. Priscila Dizon. IOTA PHI represented by Dr. Leticia Rebillon backed out from PCAP on its second meeting in March since they are few in their Honor Society, and are PGCA members as well. PCAP has adopted a policy of inclusion, i.e., all other SEC-registered guidance-related organizations are welcome to this promising federation that may yet lead to the growth and development of the practice of Guidance and Counseling, also known as Counseling Psychology. For more information, please contact any of the following:
Dr. Rose Llanes (09178460590, ), Ms. Malou Chavez (09174324440, ), Dr. Chit Salonga (0927-7367175, ), or Fr. Bernardo Collera, SVD (09196236605, ).

By: Fr. Bernardo R. Collera, SVD
PCAP Secretary
PACERS 2006 President

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Indomitable cat's passion: PICS here

I found it difficult to post the pictures of my cats in the previous entry. Hence I am venturing into this page to show you my indomitably passionate cats.

Here is Boxer, the King: (See the first pic above; I wanted it placed here in this spot, but this spot has not given me that freedom.) Isn't he old? That's my one and only picture of the king cat that ruled the seminary grounds for a decade. He got his monicker because of his boxing ways whenever I played with him in his youth. When he was still in his younger days and his father was still alive (that cat was really big and fierce! all white burly bully!), I pitied Boxer being bullied away when he went close to his father. But when Boxer reached his age, I saw him once bullying back his father, and despite my pleadings to leave the old cat, Boxer chased him until that old king cat never came back.

I have also a picture of a cat at home who looked like Nikki. It's my niece who's handling Moning. I heard from my mother that Moning has not returned for about two months now.

Then I have in succeeding fashion: Merlin (the white photogenic cat), Sim & Merlin and Merlin's cute last brood. I think this last batch has sapped all my energies and made me resolve to stop the birth of more by either Sim or Merlin. Of course am posting a picture where I am carrying Merlin on my lap.

Of the cat's indomitable passion

It's now about or more than a decade that I have cats in my room. It was not for pure rebelliousness that I took them in. I remember having been told when we were younger that cats should not be in the house but outside to catch the rats or mice whichever. The reason given then was that cat's fur can harm our health when ingested. Ingestion can take place when they're in the house shedding fur on the seats or furnitures. Besides, their pooh pooh and urine stink like hell!!! Hence, in my last chest x-ray about two years ago, I asked my physician sister if she had found any trace of cat fur in the x-ray film. She said my lungs seemed healthy sans the cat fur. Modesty aside, one of my cats seems to have diffculty with her breathing. (Siya ang hinihika!!! She's the one having the dreaded problem! From my "smell"?)

Am writing about the cat's indomitable passion because this is the second time I have noticed this behavior. By the way, I have two cats now in my room: Sim, the mother, and Merlin, Sim's daughter who was born at the time Fernando Po Jr (FPJ) had his "amici cureae", hence her name (for historical mnemonic purposes only since I have no birth certificates for my pets). I have given away all Sim's offspring to willing owners, and Merlin was so lucky staying after she was returned by her adoptive human family. After Merlin was born, Sim still managed to have a set of 7! And I noticed that Merlin sucked at her mother's tits the way the last 3 kittens did. Amusing, isn't it? She seemed to not have lost her innocence as a baby cat. After that "accident" set, born on Sept. 11, 2004 (I still remember it because I just came from Davao where we had our PACERS midyear, and the names of the 7 kittens were in memory of my companion counselors who gave the workshops: Nancy, Leo, Susan, Susie, Cheryl, Tintin and Liza), I have kept tight guard since then on Sim and Merlin to keep them from having another set(s: imagine I have 2 lady cats! in my room). Maybe this is what most couples experience after having enough number of kids to care for, and maybe they get tired with the routine! Ha ha!! Male cats were off limits. If one manages to sneak in, it's with permission and supervision - only for feeding, after which I show them the door. And so, Sim and Merlin have gone through their cycles sans fertilization.

The indomitable passion I want to write about here is this: once these two female cats start their reproductive cycle (it is called ESTRUAL CYCLE [click on this site for more amusing information]), they become (if I were only a cat!) irresistible with their loud come-ons (for quite a few hard-to-sleep nights!!! - a week by average), and particular playfulness. Merlin for one develops such a very affectionate behavior she comes close to me and wants to be cuddled like a little baby. This she doesn''t do when she's not in that cycle. (Hence I now know that the cycle is beginning when she starts getting close to me. Is this similar to what couples experience and call "kalabit"? I can only guess since I am celibate. Ha ha!!) AND, she marks the place with her stinging urine. Waah! I have to always activate my nose as soon as I enter my room since she can be nasty marking everywhere (how I always pray and tell her not to do it on my laptop which I leave on my table). Apart from the reproductive cycle, she religiously urinates in my bathroom and not just anywhere. Am just thankful she has not pooh pooh-ed outside the bathroom! Now I know that poohing is not part of the reproductive cycle! It's part of their hygienic cycle.

This cycle seems to be waning as the frequency of her loud come-ons reduces. And she starts to go aloof again!

I remember here in a special way NIKKI, my first spayed cat. It was Feb. 14, a Monday that year (1997?) when I decided to have her spayed. She was simply incontrollable. She has kept me awake the whole night, and when my neighbor's bathroom was opened after breakfast, she quickly jumped in there and ran away with her loud come-on. Embarrassed by that incident, I brought her to the vet and by 6PM, she was unconscious from the anesthesia. I had her inside a borrowed cage (the clinic was so generous to lend me until Nikki was well, thanks a lot indeed!) for a week before I let her free. Wow, as soon as she was free, she became so spritely that her wound opened, and I had to apply the sulfuric medicine on her wound after wiping it with betadine. And she readily spread her legs so I could wipe her operation wound, until it finally healed.

What I couldn't forget was what happened to her when she started to behave the way she did when she had her cycle. NO MALE CAT CAME CLOSE TO HER! I felt guilty, thinking she had become a flower no bee would come close to. So, I decided not to spay my lady cats but just keep them in the room.

Nikki was particularly affectionate a pet. She was one who knew how to massage, yes, massage! Whenever am in bed, she would come to me, and when I say massage my back, she'd put her two paws on my back and start to knead on my muscles. For free of course. She'd do that until I tell her to stop. However, five years later, on Oct. 19, 2002 to be exact, she died. I had her buried under a star apple tree here in the seminary as soon as I came from my apostolate. I saw her in the morning already groggy, and even gave her a dry towel she could lay her body on under the table. When I came back, she was sturdy and cold. She was my first cat I saw from the moment I took her in as a little kitten until she died. My male cats I have not seen die in my presence. They are supposed to die away under the culverts or dark place away from their territories because the next king cat drives them away. Actually the last King I had, Boxer, just stopped coming to my door for his daily ration. It's been three months since I last saw him. I think I have to think his life has reached its peak somewhere. But he left me one of his sons who manages to wake me up in the mornings for his food ration, and maybe the luck of sneaking in for a much-longed for moment with either Merlin or Sim. Wish nya lang!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

ANNOUNCING: PACERS 2007 Annual Convention

It is with joy that I announce here the 2007 PACERS Annual Convention! The PACERS Board for 2006-2007 has decided to hold it on FEB. 21-23, 2007 at the Bayview Park Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Manila City, Philippines. If you are familiar with the US Embassy, Bayview is just across it.

We have set the theme: “Relationships at Risk: Issues and Interventions.” As counselors, we realize that as persons, we cannot but be related. In fact, when our clients come for counseling, they carry with them matters that have import to their relationships: either as cause for counseling (hence they come for counseling - perhaps!), mediating or moderating (which the counselor may use during the counseling process), and possibly an indicator of counseling outcome - hopefully and intentionally positive! It is thus important that we look at relationships as counselors and learn from them. At the outset, I have set for myself the following questions: How are relationships related to counseling? What are there in relationships that we counselors need to "watch out" in our counseling practice? How can we as counselors enhance the aspect of relationships in our clients? If I remember right, the counselors' code of ethics disallows inappropriate relationships with one's client, particularly sexual in nature.

This two-day-&-a-half PACERS convention will highlight two plenary sessions (first afternoon and first morning) on relationship contexts, paper and poster presentations, and three workshops in order to share some intervention strategies for counselors. We have set up something rather innovative this year: our workshops will be for 4 hours, one in the morning and another in the afternoon so that participants can attend two workshops rather than one as has previously been done. We also intend to have the handouts ready as have successfully done during our midyear in Bohol, something we really treasured as the participants went home satiated and secure with materials they could always look back for review and continued development. I have also set my own email list so that materials can be easily sent.

I shall be posting some more as the days go by. You may email me at or

Monday, June 26, 2006

On Vacation

I will be on vacation starting June 26, 2006 and will be back in the seminary only on July 14. My next reflections and sharings will be done then. God bless

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

PACERS Board 2006: Oath Taking at the Garden

From left: Dr. Montano (Chair); Dr. Estanislao (Vice-Chair),
Dr. Eala (Corporate Secretary; Fr. Collera (President),
Dr. Lascano (Vice-Pres.), Ms. Juliano (Secretary),
Mrs. Suarez (Treasurer), Fr. Bustamante (Auditor), Dr. Ramos (Member)

Yes, here is the photo of the actual "thing" we did at the garden. Yes, we did our oath-taking at the garden in the rest house of the De La Salle (Christian) Brothers in Tagaytay City last April 25, 2006.

Why in the garden? Actually, there was not much thought about it, except that we wanted to do our planning as an "official act." What happened in the previous years that I was in the Board - we usually did certain things and the oath-taking was scheduled later somewhere so we could have a "lighter atmosphere." Now, Tagaytay is the lightest place one could ever be. (Besides, if you look at the faces of the Board, you might notice that we're really young [some, ONCE], hehe.)

As an afterthought, I realized that Counseling Psychologists may actually develop a realization that our service is really for the Garden of Life where we used to be. Helping our clients means making them conscious once again of whatever they have to overcome whatever seems to overcome them. Life is like a garden. Everything in there is unique, beautiful, and free, the way we were created to be. Indeed, counseling psychologists help everyone realize that life is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On Exorcism and Psychological Disturbance

I ended my second blog with a case who was believed to be possessed, but who turned out to be stressed out by her board exam review as well as exposure to rape. In this blog, I would like to share another similar case with a "family flair", and compare it with a real exorcism which I happened to join sometime in 1985 before my first vows.

The Exorcism Case
It was a Sunday afternoon in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro about 5PM shortly before the sun had set. I was playing the organ in the parish church in preparation for our apostolate the next day. I saw my classmate Emil rushing to the garage. I asked where he was going, and upon knowing he was going with the priests in the parish for exorcism, I felt curious and hurriedly gathered the musical pieces and joined him in the car. The bishop was there, so were the three priests in the parish. Fr. Vic Panaligan was the parish priest then, so was my M.A. in Philosophy classmate Fr. Gerry Causapin, and another Fr. Vic. The bishop was Fr. Vic Manuel, SVD.

It was dark when we reached the place somewhere in a subdivision. The house was rather isolated and surrounded by a rice field. As soon as we were about to enter the house, I could still remember the girl was by the window of the hut with one feet on the base of the window about to jump off. She would have succeeded were she not held by her father and uncle by her shoulders. When the bishop came in, he immediately greeted the place with "The peace of Christ be with the people in this place." I saw the girl fall to the ground while her father and uncle restrained her in the shoulders. The parish priest then made the assessment. He held the crucifix before her, asking if the girl could identify who or what he was holding before her. But the girl's head wouldn't even face the crucifix but turned to the side away from the crucifix. She was actually an earlier case of the parish priest, hence there was a clear sign that it was a case of demonic possession.

The bishop held his pastoral crucifix, and greeted the family and us again: "Peace be with you." We answered, "and also with you." Then he told the parish priest to do the exorcism while he was there at the side. The parish priest immediately told the family to be strong in faith, and that we will all pray only one prayer, repeatedly, the Credo or I Believe in God. As soon as he started to exorcise the girl, we prayed the Creed. I still remember seeing the girl's closed eyes roll like marble, and then opened a little. I saw her eyes, red as coal on fire, and as I was praying the Creed, I remember some voice in me saying "You won't win. The Lord will win." I was holding the left leg of the girl, my classmate her right leg; the father and uncle in the same position as when we had just entered the house while she was on the floor. The girl was lying on the floor, and on her head was the bishop with his pastoral crucifix; the two priests assisted the parish priest, one was holding the oils, while the other was holding the small book of rituals.

The first to be anointed was the ears: to let the girl hear, then the nose so she could breathe fresh air, and I saw her hands closed so tightly no one among the adult men could force open them. But with the holy oils anointed on the hands, they opened so freely. I was really so shocked to see the power of the holy oils and the whole rite itself. As soon as the girl was seated, she asked why the bishop was around, and the other priests: "Bakit po kayo nandito, bishop? Fr. Vic, bakit po? ANong nangyayari?" ("Why are you here bishop? Fr. Vic, what happened?") Fr. Vic took from the pix (container for for sick calls) the Blessed Sacrament and holding the consecrated host, Fr. Vic asked the girl, "Neneng, kilala mo ba Siya?" (Girl, do you know who this is?") My hair stood as I heard the girl answer, "Opo, siya po si Jesus." ("Yes, He is Jesus.") Then Fr. Vic said to her: "Sabihin mo iha, Jesus huwag Nyo na po akong iwanan. Samahan Nyo na po ako lagi." (Tell him, girl, Jesus don't leave me. Stay with me always.") As soon as the girl said the line she started to cry.

Then the bishop took the holy water and had the surroundings of the house blessed. I went with the bishop holding the flashlight as he went aruond the house. I still remember him tripping by a soft land near the pig pen. I thought the devil must have had his last kick.

Psychological Disturbance Case
It was also a Sunday afternoon sometime in 1996. Fr. Reyes was on the phone asking for Fr. Greg Pinto, SVD. I told Fr. Reyes that Fr. Greg must have been out since there was no answer to my loud call. Then he told me that he needed a holy priest. I told him, "yes Fr., I am a priest but am a little hesitant to admit I am holy. I am still young." Then he told me that a confrere's sister was in his office asking for help for a neighbor who was believed to be possessed. Although hesitant to go, the persistent word of Fr. Reyes made me decide to go.

Upon arriving at the house in the subdivision of my confrere's sister, we were brought to the third house from their place. As soon as I entered the gate, I saw images of the Little Jesus (Sto. Ninio), the Blessed Virgin Mary and the angels by the side of the gate. Those who were there told me that a religious group in the morning had them placed there instead of the family altar. I thought, "no wonder they didn't succeed." I saw a girl lying on the cot, with an older lady fanning over her. This lady told me that she had just started to sleep, and may be better not disturbed.

When I entered the house, the atmosphere was a little gloomy and dark. Some people were seated, and I was brought to one of the rooms where I saw a girl seated with the Rosary worn in her neck. I was introduced to the girl's father, mother, grandmother, and uncle. The younger siblings were somewhere outside. I introduced myself to the girl. Then she started telling me her story.

The week was particularly difficult for the family as the mother narrated. In fact, the night before, they failed to bring the girl and her cousin (the girl sleeping outside the house as I came in) to the hospital. The two were simply incontrollable. It used to be that Rosa, the girl in the room was the only one shouting in panic for about two days.

I talked with Rosa who told me that a certain Rina whom only Rosa could see, wanted to bring her away to a place she had never been. Whenever the "moment" came, Rosa was observed to be resisting, shouting and saying "No. I don't want to go," and then convulsing, but without froth in her mouth. However when the family members would stop her or coach her to stop, she wouldn't. It happened about three times during the week. The last occurence was the night before.

I asked Rosa what she wanted. She said that she wanted me to help her from being taken by Rina, the girl in her mind. So, I asked her to identify the persons around her. One by one I pointed at the persons in the room, and she was able to identify them perfectly well. And then I saw her look towards one side and started to look scared. She told me "Father, there is Rina. She is calling me to go with her." So I told Rosa: "Rosa, I am here by your side, and so are the persons who love you. Tell Rina that we are here for you, and that she can go away because anyway everyone's here for you." Then she closed her eyes, and started to convulse. I held her by the shoulders, and told her the words I had just said. And as she said them, she added, "Rina, you don't have to come back. My parents won't fight again." WOW!!! I saw the father and the mother start to cry.

When the hysterics stopped, the father knelt before Rosa, saying, "Anak, sorry. Di ko na sisigawan ang nanay mo." (Daughter, am sorry. I won't shout at your mother again.") The mother hugged her from the back, saying, "Sorry anak, di na kami mag-aaway ng ama mo." (Am sorry, my daughter. Your father and I won't fight again.") And then we all prayed together as I laid my hands on Rosa's head, after which I prayed over the family.

The parents narrated to me what was happening in the family. The mother was the one working outside the house while the husband stayed home to cook, and do the woman's (housewife) jobs. Whenever the woman arrived from work, the house was topsy-turvy while her husband was busy cooking in the kitchen. She would shout at him, scolding him for failing to keep the house in order. This became a regular occurrence, up to the point that the husband started to shout back, and even threatened that they would separate. At this point, Rosa started to have her convulsions.

It dawned on me that maybe Rosa was "crying for help" in the midst of a family breakdown that was happening right in her presence. The thought of going nowhere when her parents go away must have been so scary for her, that her psyche must have created a "second Rosa" that wanted to run away from that scene.

The Difference
Maybe this wouldn't be difficult to identify now. The most glaring indication of an authentic case of exorcism seems to be validated by the girl's aversion to the cruicifix. It was simply beyond us why the exorcism case would not even want to see the crucifix. No matter how the father and uncle would try to pin her head and let her see the crucifix, or any of the priest holding the crucifix before her, she would simply turn her head away. The holy oils and the exorcism formula used seemed to have worked their purpose/usefulness. What was more striking was the seeming inability of the girl to know what was happening while she was being exorcised. Up to now, I never knew whether the girl ever learned that she was once exorcised.

The Church, through her bishops, usually undertakes a serious investigation and validation before they would authorize one of the priests (called the exorcist) or he himself to do the exorcism. Cases with a semblance of psychological disturbance may be approached using the ways of psychology. In the first case I presented in my earlier blog (May 31, 2006), I told the seminarians to keep away from the girl's vision the holy water lest the sight would further reinforce a belief that would intensify the hysteria.

In the second case, as in my earlier case, the name and reality of Jesus and/or religious symbols even became instruments for stability or recovery of it. Besides, the girls were relatively conscious about what was happening, and relaxation as well as reassurance were sufficient for them to recover their sense of power over their faculties.

I know these three cases may be insufficient, but these were the "gates" that opened for me how to appreciate Counseling Psychology and how I can use it to help a person in need. Exorcism is something that would need someone higher to authorize before it can ever be used. Whereas, in a counseling case, being with the client sometimes may be sufficient for fear and helplessness to be overcome, recovering one's sense of capability.

Monday, June 19, 2006

PACERS Site Updated

Yes, our very committed and generous colleague, Dr. Leo Capeding has just updated our PACERS website. In it are the names of the new Board Members for the year 2006, plus the announcement to the Midyear Workshops this year in TYagbilaran City, Bohol. The letter of invitation from the PACERS Chair has been posted also. In case you may want to look at the site, copy the following address and paste it in the address portion of your monitor:

You may email our colleagues this message. God bless

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Welcome to the other site

I opened a new blog site entitled Reflections which will contain my thoughts and reflections on Scriptures, a sharing of my faith since I am a missionary of the Society of the Divine Word. The site may be found at Welcome to that site in case you want some food for the spirit and your faith. Hope to hear from you. God bless

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

PACERS Board: Time to Have Faces In Here

Just in case you were wondering who the PACERS Board of Directors for the year 2006 are, here we are, starting from the left:
Dr. Julian Montano - Chair
Dr. Susan Estanislao - Vice-Chair
Dr. Susie Eala - Corporate Secretary
Executive Council:
Fr. Bernardo Collera, SVD - President
Dr. Benny Lascano - Vice-President
Cheryl Juliano - Secretary
Liza Suarez - Treasurer
Fr. Francis Bustamante, S.J. - Auditor
Dr. Ruffy Ramos III - Member

Monday, June 12, 2006

PACERS Midyear Workshops 2006 in Tagbilaran, Bohol

PACERS will be holding its midyear workshops this year 2006 in Tagbilaran, Bohol on Sept. 14-15, Thursday & Friday. The Board has unanimously chosen the Metrocentre Hotel and Convention Center which is located right at the heart of the city of Tagbilaran. The Midyear takes on the theme of the 2006 Annual Convention "PACERS @30: Leading Counseling Psychologists Toward Generativity in Society." This year's midyear workshops shall include the following: "Supervising Counselors and Trainees" to be handled by Susan Almeda-Estanislao, Ph.D. & Ma. Socorro M. Eala, Ph.D. "Crisis Care & Counseling Interventions: Its Human and Spiritual-Pastoral Dimensions" will be facilitated by Benny Lascano, Ed.D. &
Fr. Francisco Rojas Bustamante, SJ, Ph.D. "Counseling Interview and Observation Towards Case Conceptualization" will be run by Julian R. Montano, Ph.D. & Barbara Wong-Fernandez, Ph.D. "Helping Families in Crisis: A School-Based Intervention" will be presented by Fr. Bernardo R. Collera, SVD, Ph.D. (Cand.) & Ma. Liza D. Suarez, Ph.D. (Cand.).

PACERS as professional organization of practicing counselors (educators, researchers and supervisors) usually holds two major events annually. The annual convention is usually held in Manila around February. The second is usually set towards the last quarter and held either in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, primarily targeting those counselors who may not have been able to attend the annual convention.

The current Members of the Board for the year 2006 include:
Julian Montano, Ph.D. - Chair
Susan A. Estanislao, Ph.D. - Vice-Chair
Susie Eala, Ph.D. - Corporate Secretary

The Members of the Executive Council include the following:
Fr. Bernardo R. Collera, SVD, Ph.D. (Candidate) - President
Benita Lascano, Ed.D. - Vice-President
Cheryl Juliano, M.A.G.C., Ph.D. student - Secretary
Liza D. Suarez, Ph.D. (Candidate) - Treasurer
Fr. Francisco Bustamante, S.J., Ph.D. - Auditor
Rufino Ramos III, Ph.D. - Member

For more information, your may email the President at this address:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sailing against the tide

That's how I sometimes feel about my work here in the seminary. We have seminarians from other congregations who come to study with us. This has been the set up since our congregation started training Filipinos on home ground. Before that, other congregations "exported" their local vocations to the west and had them trained and ordained there, and bringing them back here to help the local church. Since the SVD started Christ the King Seminary in 1933, the vision of helping the Philippine Church train its own clerics and religious on home ground guided and inspired our work.

I don't really know how admission was done before. But since I came in in 2002, there was a running observation that our students seemed to be not performing as expected academically. With the state of Philippine education in the past ten years on a downward trend, and the so-called "Generation-X" phenomenon, it should have been easier to understand the problem. However, we also realize that we cannot simply let the present problems overpower us, keeping us from doing our mission.

When the request to upgrade our screening materials was made, I immediately scouted for the most suitable assessment measures, a set that would be simple enough yet potent in identifying the performers from the sluggish. I settled for the simplest but most reliable ones: a school ability test, a general intelligence test, and an essay test which the former administrations used. I appliled the normative process to ensure the highest level of the results' validity. To make the screening process self-supporting, I charged a little higher than before so I could continually procure and use only the original sheets and booklets of the chosen measures.

Test administration, scoring and interpretation, as well as feedbacking were all happy moments for me. I have been trained in this academically and professionally. However, the feedbacking was the hardest to grapple with. Here is where I feel like I'm sailing against the tide.

There are congregations who want me to agree to accept all their chosen candidates. But some of them performed poorly in the entrance tests administered. What I did in the past three years was to caution the superiors about probable poor academic performance. I have seen at least one formator literally kneeling down before the Dean, begging to have his candidates admitted despite knowing clearly the results of his candidates. The dean threw me the ball, so to say, and being a humble believer in the Lord, I said, "Let's see." Sure enough, teachers started complaining about these said candidates' poor actual academic performance. Within the year, they all dropped like dry leaves off the tree. Would that the caution were heeded!

Year in and year out for three years, this phenomenon has kept haunting me. I had to find a way to stem this tide. Teachers feel they're wasting their time teaching such guys who just don't get it. These students may also feel like they're wasting their time sitting before teachers whose teachings they don't just get to understand, and when exam time comes, they perform poorly, and shamefacedly just give things up. The congregations may also feel like they're investing their resources for nothing. Everyone loses in the long run. We hope for the best but get the worst. And what was worse was that the recommended support mechanisms were not heeded.

I consulted a professional statistician to help me find a way to solve my problem. There's got to be a way to show that one's entry data may hint at the probable academic performance of the applicant/candidate. I collected all entrance test results of candidates who studied here and compared them with their academic performance for the past 4 semesters, and it showed a high correlation. Armed with this information, I courageously faced my fellow formators to show them the trend.

But somehow there are still those who simply don't get it the first time. Either they're of the lower types, or they're simply playing stubborn despite the fact right before their very faces. One still played an obnoxious ballgame: sending me his candidates at the eleventh hour. I really felt like my hands were being tied, and I was being forced to admit candidates who will eventually just squander all the trust and confidence given them as others their type have shown before. But this time, I had to be more courageous.

If I may hypothesize here: those who eventually continue in formation and ministry later may be those who owned their vocation and participated actively in their formation. I see these guys happily living out their calling, and joyfully witnessing their faith. Owning their vocation and active participation in their own formation seem to be functions of clear understanding about what they're into. The latter is a function of guys whose cognitive faculties function properly. The assessment results may show them. Thus, I am right now into a longitudinal study of this possibility. I understand that there may be other factors that may help along the way, but again, whatever input is afforded and gets assimilated depends upon the vessel that will eventually contain it.

Now as to the timing, I have "opened the gates" so to say so that we can already get to understand the candidates' cognitive functioning, and to make the necessary remediation early enough. And if this won't work, at least we still have more time to scout for more. This is God's work, and I believe He will send us the right persons. I hope our assessment of them is also guided by truth and charity.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The professionalization of Counseling in the Philippines

Yes, Counseling will be a licensed profession in the next two years. If the new law (RA 9258) were to run its course, all those who pass the board exam will be issued the license that will give them the right to practice Counseling. This is something many present counselors seem jittery about. The thought of board exams is very much like any other exam we've had, but passing it will definitely be a big boost in one's practice of the profession. And what if one fails to qualify for the exams, or fail the exams?

Where are we in this process right now?

First, the law was passed in 2004, after a long and harrowing process lasting about thirty years!!! Yes, and most of the proponents of this law, our "ancestors" in the profession have become so old they may no longer qualify to sit in the first Professional Regulatory Board (PRB) in Counseling as mandated by the law. I can also imagine that still some may have left the world with impatience at the slow motion of this law's passage!

Anyway, the names of the nominees for the first PRB have already been submitted to the Presidential Management Staff where they will be interviewed and hopefully they will be announced soon. Quite a few of them are understandably in their 70's. When this Board gets organized, their first task is to compose the Board Exam questions. This should take about two years at most.

Now, some among us may qualify for the "Grandfather's Clause." This refers to those are granted the license without taking the licensure examination. Applications for this privilege must be submitted within two years after the organization of the first PRB, after which the licensure exam shall have become the only means of getting the license to practice counseling. These include: a) those who have PhD and MA in Guidance & Counseling (GC) or Counseling Psychology (CP), with at least 3 years of experience teaching Guidance and Counseling courses and/or full-time counseling practice for the same number of years; (b) those who've passed at least 18 units of MA level courses in GC - Counseling Techniques/Theories (usually 6 units), Organization and Administration of Guidance Services, Tests and Measurements, Group Process/Counseling, and Career Guidance/Counseling; and (c) those had completed their academic requirements for MA in GC/CP and have had 5 years experience as full-time guidance counselors (Article III, Section 14, paragraphs a, b & c of RA 9258).

Now some of us have been into this profession (sans the license) far beyond the minimum time required BUT LACK some units. Hence, there seems at the moment certain concerted actions to help provide those among us without these said units the courses and training which will have to be submitted to the PRB. At the moment, PNU and St. Scholastica have set up their programs to assist in this direction.

Some of us who would be glad to receive the license as guaranteed by the Grandfather's Clause, but I have heard that some will nevertheless take the licensure exams if only to test the validity of the exams. That would definitely add prestige to the license one will have since it will not be via the detested "compadrino" system which the "Grandfather's Clause" sometimes evokes.

What about those who fail the exams? Well, the easiest is to review well and then take it again! Or else, one's practice may be illegal, hence courting the ire of the law. This professionalization thing of Counseling thus challenges those among us who say we're into Counseling. Without the license, one may not call himself a "Counselor." Hence, in order to sort out those who are "legal" the license makes one a "Professional Counselor." Right now, PGCA or Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association is the Accredited Professional Organization or APO. However, in the presence of other counseling organizations like PACERS (Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research and Supervision), CDAP (Career Development Association of the Philippines), PACC (Philippine Association of Christian Counselors), GCP (Guidance Circle of the Philippines), and PAFSHP, a PNU-based organization of those involved in the "helping professions" an RA9258 mandated federation is currently in the works. Under the able leadership of Dr. Rose Llanes, current PGCA president, this federation is gradually being organized. Since February 4, and every month thereafter, the said counseling organizations' representatives (Presidents and Vice-Presidents) have been meeting regulary to thresh out issues concerning its identity as PCAP or Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines. The federation's charter is currently in the works, even as a rolling fund has been provided via the counseling organizations' contributions so the meetings and the needs get properly funded. We have bought the SEC papers for eventual incorporation, gathered the constitutions and by-laws of each participating organization, and by June 10, we shall be meeting again. In time, when this organization/federation shall have had its identity established, PCAP shall become the APO where a roster of registered counselor will be constructed. It shall likewise become a central body for all counseling organizations to gather. The next thing I bet it will go into is something like that among physicians: specialization. This should be something worth looking forward to, especially since the practice of Counseling shall then have become something the society may in the long run really patronize for better mental health and functionality.

It therefore is a challenge for current counselors to really prepare, and with membership in any of the counseling organizations, one's area of specialization may yet forebode a brighter future.

I hope to talk about professionalization per se in my next blog. That's all for now.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Emotional Disturbances Disrupt Thinking & Focusing

When it comes to this topic, I think I have some materials from which I can make a decent claim that indeed the emotional concerns when unaddressed can affect our thinkinng processes. From this narration I would like to map out some strategy for this year if ever I encounter similar situations if only to be of help to those who may be undergoing such internal commotion.

Here in the seminary I administer the entrance tests to those who would like to study here and become priests of the Catholic Church later on as they go through their formation program. I use the Culture Fair Test Scale 3, Forms A & B as well as the OLSAT 7th Ed. I also ask the applicants to write their thoughts in response to three open-ended questions pertinent to their application.

One thing I have noticed is this: whenever a person seems to be in an emotionally disturbing situation, chances are his thinking will be affected as in being unable to function as efficiently as expected. I have several cases to show this point. The most recent one I had just learned about.

Client A, this latest one, is one of two applicants from another congregation. His CFT3 A & B scores were all below the Average. His Form A score was so low as to be categorized as MR or Mentally Retarded (pardon the tag, but that's how it is identified without necessarily meaning the person may be retarded). Given Form B, his score rose up to as high as Low Average (after MR comes B for Borderline or Slow Learner, then LA, Low Average or Slow Learner). His Total score thus settled in the B category.

Their formator wanted me to give him an oral report on the results, so I read to him the results after which he informed me that the guy has actually been to the United States to study theology and seemed to have performed well, only that he had to come back for some philosophy units. Moreover, he will continue with his theology studies here in the Philippines. While in the US, it became clear to his formator that exams do give him the jitters. While he seemed to have performed well in theology, when it comes to exams, he simply bloops. Exams then become his waterloo. I suggested that he go for his own counseling session to get to understand why he performs that way when he takes exams, or else he may be really bound for the gutter. The guy can't simply say that's the way he is because there will be exams along the many more years of academic formation he will still have to undergo, and failure in them is something I would like to believe won't be tolerated. His ability to express his thoughts seems to be satisfactory enough even as his non-verbals seem to be rather poor.

Client #2 is from last year. He was a promising student who manifested really slackened abilities in his first year. But after I gave him some tips about how he can handle the newness of the environment and the demands of his studies, he was noted to have performed well. However, last year, after his summer vacation, as standard here in the seminary, I gave him CFT again. He had taken the test upon entrance, and since two years have lapsed, I gave him the same test. This time, his results were low. In time, he was asked to leave. I myself had observed he has become a different person. While he was in his first two years in college, he was actually warm and would often reach out or talk to me spontaneously. However, after he took the test, he would niticeably avoid meeting me along the corridor. The smile I used to see in his face became so scarce I felt he must have been having some dificulty. I failed however to call him for a talk, and the next thing I heard, he was asked to leave. Honestly, I feel sad about this, hence, what I plan out towards the last part of this write-up is basically in response to this client.

Client #3 was an MA student when I tested him. I could never believe my eyes when I saw his test results. How can someone reach so high and yet be so low in this test. His other tests were rather average, something I really expected him, knowing him to be an industrious person when it comes to his studies. When application time came, he simply backed out and cited personal reasons. HOw I had wanted to talk with him about whatever he may have been going through then, but it was too late.

Another one was applying for the Associate Program when I tested him. His scores were cfategorized as High Average. However, before the school year ended, he came back for testing because he was going for theology. Sadly, his scores were in the Low Average. When I was about to test him with Form B, I just asked how he was, feeling rather familiar about him from last testing. He just poured out his concerns. He was going to have his final exams in a few days, and his assignments were not yet finished. He was worried about how he could ever finish those requirements. Hence, I told him we could talk about it some other time. It was suffcient that he became aware of his emotional condition. Now he can make a choice to act appropriately. I asked him to consciously put aside his concerns and their emotional impact on his thinking. And sure enough, he seemed to have performed within his previous (entrance)scores.

I can cite to you certain other cases. In fact, this observation may yield a question on the reliability of CFT3. First, the test enjoys a faily high correlation coefficient. It is good that these were very few instances that lend veracity to the reliability coefficient question of the test. In a way then, the test seems to hint emotional disturbance marring an efficient thinking process.

If this were only a tip of the iceberg, maybe I can watch out for those will be taking the test tomorrow if the same observation obtains. Maybe I can set up an individual session to help anyone who needs to thresh things out for his own understanding. In this way, Client # 3 could move on with his life after becoming so engrossed with pressures.

Maybe I can also look into some other factors that may affect his cognitive function including but not limited to his family of origin, his educational background, the source of disturbance. If counseling him would be to his benefit, why not? Let's see. I shall write about this as my experience widens.

So two things seem to come out now quite clearly: as emotional disturbance may impact on our thinking, the CFT3 Forms A & B may be an instrument to help validate this condition in the person.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ethical Use of Test Materials

Last May 30, 2006, I had twenty applicants to whom I administered the entrance tests. I usually give three, and before I give them, I explain to them what they are for. I give standardized measures (admittedly foreign but we've had our own localized, i.e., seminary data evaluation of the tests) and give them in a standard manner as indicated in the manuals. While scoring one test, ALL 13 APPLICANTS from one congregation scored way up even the best person's score. I saw this behavior last year, but it was in an individual, not a group, but of the same congregation. So I decided to give them the other form of the test. But before I gave them the test, I interrogated about their behavior. The following became evident:

1. They took the test in the monastery,
2. administered by a non-psychologist seminarian,
3. and apparently the test was explained to them.
4. The materials used were XEROXED xopies.

Having these data, I told the group to inform whoever did that to them to inhibit, i.e., not to do it again since they are not qualified to do that. Then I asked if they can tell their superior to come and talk with me so we can clear things out.

This morning, we did talk, and I just feel so relieved that I got my point clearly presented, including my indignation. After the talk, I went to the source of the xerox materials and showed the data I got. I just hope they will stop this or else, I will be constrained to have that place raided for intellectual property rights infringement.

I had a talk once with the publisher of the tests I use. I was asked to report anyone I know who infringes on the copyright. However, the same person has admitted that if the law were really implemented, the jails won't be enough to contain them! So, I told the publisher that reporting may not be my task since doing psychological assessment can already consume my time. Plus the fact that we need to have actual and factual evidence before any reliable report may bud into some conviction or case. But I indicated my intention to be more pro-active by my own non-use of xeroxed materials, by buying and using only the originals, and as I practice, to get samples that may be used to demonstrate the validity of the ethical principles over and beyond the economic rationale. I would like to believe that this particular incident proves the point of ethical practice:

1. Trained psychometricians/psychologists/counselors understand why they use such tests.
2. Administration of psychological tests need to have certain parameters outside of which gathered information/data may lose their validity. The term "norms" or standards encompasses these parameters. The use of xerox materials may violate the norms. Some may argue about the "minimality" or scrupolosity in this matter, but let's face it: xerox begets xerox. And without the necessary training, xeroxed materials lose their value, opening the gates for "practicing to the test" which my exposure last May 30 apparently suggested.
3. Memorized answers may only indicate good memory (which some with low IQ's have been observed to manifest, including parrots!), but not correct perception, analysis, judgment, and choices the test may want to derive. Test interpretation goes beyond scores. My own training in the clinic and in private showed this to me: the scores may be high, but the reality grim.

I hope this experience will be of great help to practitioners and non-practitioners as well. Give to Caesar what is Ceasar, to God what is God's, as the Gospel for today said.

Friday, June 02, 2006

On Autism

I would just want to share my thoughts on the most recent (maybe 2006 June) TIME Magazine articles regarding New Discoveries on Autism. There are at least three articles on this topic, and it stirred some ideas after reading them this morning.

First, that there are neurological and chemical considerations for autism that primarily explain all the repetitive behaviors and difficulty communicating with others and their onset, the learning many of them seem capable of when their school does "some science" in the process; and lastly, that there seems needed still a long process before we can fully overcome this Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD.

The "wiring" process is something we discuss in my Psychology I class. Hence, the connectivity there is in the brain and its seeming disparity observed among autistic children lends some clarity. Actually, the wiring process seems attended to by one's environment, such that whatever infants go through in the outside world becomes simulated in "brain terms," i.e., there are spots in the brain "intended" for any particular part of the body, e.g., vision, audition, kinesthetics, olfaction, and gustation, thus making it possible for the child to "master" these functions they will apply in later life. The problem thus seems to become that of the outside world "failing" to stimulate the child. However, the article further admits to findings about certain chemicals involved with vaccines given to children which may contribute to the onset of autism. These "chemicals" may have a "wounding" ability that may complicate the wiring process. Already from these observations, it may still be safe to really go back to the monkeys: Mother mokeys never give their babies to the care of others. Maybe the study on autism may go into querying the type of parenting given to the child, including the possibility of absentee working and stressed mothers and fathers. Already, this hints on an assumption that indeed the environment may have so much to contribute to autism and perhaps its cure or prevention.

What saddened me in the article was the "difficulties" austistic children go through in terms of communicating with the "outside" world. When there seems no connection inside the brain, the coordinating center of the human body, as well as the possibility that their brains are structurally anxiety-producing, or even making them unable to "know" where their heads are - hence the need to bang the head just to make the pain instant or spark something inside - whah, isn't this too much!. Where is the human spirit in the child that craves to reach out? Well, again, if the environment has not been quite "inviting", spurring the development process in the brain, there it is: in the dark, hopefully simply asleep until those around awaken them with their warm love. There your monkey goes again: always there for the baby monkey until whatever is learned has been achieved and the young monkey claims its autonomy.

The "long process" may yet be shortened (just thinking aloud) if we in the environment realize that each child is God's gift to us, someone who is bound to complete its mission with our assistance, and that our presence may really be essential to their normal development. This may make us "like monkeys" and maybe stop those using any chemical that may be the culprit in autistic onset to find other ways than simply put them in the vaccines.

These thoughts may not be "scientific" and at best still hypothetical, but somehow, maybe we need to go back again to the basics of human living: there is in us some force that wants the whole species to continue by active caring for its offspring.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Doing Counseling Psychology in the Philippines

Well, you might be asking how I came into this field? I am a Filipino SVD (Divine Word Missionaries, its Latin name is Societas Verbi Divini) working in the seminary. Way back 1991, I got the rare chance of attending a CPE or Clinical Pastoral Exposure during summer in Taiwan. I was a first year Theology student then, and I've been feeling like there was a need to get into a deeper self-awareness. I was in touch with my feelings, but I did not feel at home with them simply as I did not know my feelings. Hence, one lunch time, Fr. Lou, a Maryknoll priest was at table with my prefect, and I overheard their conversation. I thought and prayed about it, and then asked if I could do that on summer. (They were not talking about me. I just heard CPE, and I thought it was what I wanted.)

The process was simple: we visited the patients at a nearby hospital during afternoons. Then we had to submit our verbatim reports. By verbatim reports I mean the transcript of our conversations with the patients we visited. It was actually like my brain had to replay the whole conversation, and there was every effort to be faithful to what I was saying and what I thought i heard from the patient. We had to submit them to our supervisor, and then every morning on weekdays, one of the six among us in the group had a chance to have that verbatim report talked about or "scrutinized." Yes it felt like being in the hot seat, and none of us suspected that the verbatim report was the field on which we would be "playing out" ourselves. I mean too, that through the verbatim report, a lot of our inner movements and processes which we rarely get to be conscious of we get to touch and encounter. I remember a lot of self-realizations during those weeks (CPE was a 6-week program). I never even thought of it as a "healing" process. Little did I realize that something was growing in me.

When I resumed studies in September for my second year in Theology, I was overwhelmed by comments from my classmates telling me "Law Gu, ni bien la!" ("Law pronounced as lao, not lo" is a monicker among friends, and Gu happens to be my Chinese family name. Hence, the sentence reads: "Old Gu, you have changed!" ) I was surprised and then I asked for some qualitative statements to back up their observations. Among those which I remembered and helped me a lot was this: that I have become more "Dz Dzai!" meaning I was there, now, the self was a transparent one, not somewhere hiding in a feeling or thought, not scared, not pretentious, no defenses, just me, real and vulnerable, open and free. Their comment really boosted my sense of self that I virtually recommended the program for all those among us who would be priests. Maybe I was speaking too much because by the end of that school year, CPE was required in the subject on the Sacrament of Anointing, one of the 7 sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church of which I have become a priest since 1993.

When I had to come back to the Philippines in 1995 because my student visa couldn't be renewed and the government then was not ready to give me a missionary visa instead (they were trying to put some control into the onslaught of foreign workers and other foreigners coming to Taiwan to do missionary work but on the side they were teaching English, and yes, it was a lucrative job then, maybe until now!), I was sent for studies. One of my former companions in the Overseas Training Program was in De La Salle University working as a counselor while studying Counseling Psychology. He was the one who toured me around the school, and eventually, maybe out of the feeling of being totally alone and a stranger in the school, I chose to take the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology, majoring in the Clinical setting. There were at that time other settings including the School Setting, the Industrial Setting, and in a few years, they added the Community Setting. I took a full load, and in three years time I finished the course work, and took the comprehensive exams which, thanks God, I easily passed. Until now, since 1998, I have been a Ph.D. candidate while some of my classmates have defended their dissertations, thereby becoming Doctors. While I sometimes feel a little "lesser" than them, the experience of some PhD classamtes asking my help for example in the fields I have been working into like Clinical Assessment for Child Custody, for example, or which test to use for what type of assessment, makes me feel am one like them. But of course, PhD is PhD! No feeling can take its place, no matter who affords me the chance!

Anyway, that's how I got into this field.

Recounting how I loved doing counseling psychology work, I remember Dr. Rayco, the guy who toured me around DLSU who was so generous with his time then that he immediately brought me to one Center for Sexually Abused Girls. That started my desire to get to understand the inner person of victims, and my CPE experience came back.

Hence, after my first two terms in the course work, when we were required to do our Practicum in Assessments I & II, I went back to that Center and spent half of the required hours with them, and did the other half in my Professor's clinic where I got to practice a lot of what I learned in class. With her continued supervision and inputs during class supervision, the whole task of doing clinical assessment became so enlivening. After I finished my required practicum hours, my supervisor asked me to stay and work with her. This time it was "professional." I got paid for the work. I went there every Saturday, and was given case loads. I got to master some of the tests we used there. I did the test administration, scoring and interpretation, clinical interview and integration report which the supervisor signed. Most of the tasks I did there were forensic cases for psychological incapacity, meaning the reports I wrote were submitted to the courts where annulment cases were tried. While I may not have signed my name in the report, but the whole report was mine, "as commissioned" though. Of course, my supervisor read and edited the whole piece before she signed the final copies that were printed. One of these copies was for the client to whom I gave an oral feedback after they read the report. The other was for the office files, while the other was sent to the judge wherever the said case was being tried.

There were times when children were given to me for assessment. I remember one particular client who was so hyperactive that I decided to "invest" in him, if only to get the needed data for my assessment report. I virtually bribed him so I could measure his behavior, or even just get to talk with him and see if he was capable of focusing or being with someone else. I remember my managing director (who was then my Supervisor) congratulating me for the efforts although she did not refund me for the "investment." But I just told myself, "I pay in school to learn. Why can't I spend this 'tuition' with this client?"

Since I resided here in the seminary, I took the chance of getting my "clients" for class requirements some of the seminary workers who were available or willing to be videotaped or done a report on, and even some of the seminarians. I remember one of the requirements was a videotape for my Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Each one of us in class was required to demonstrate one of the teachniques in NLP. I did "Anchoring" and it was in this technique where I had seen for myself the "magic" of NLP, as the main proponent in the Philippines said in her book with that title "The NLP Magic." Another requirement was in the use of TAT which I did as an adjunct in the counseling sessions. The seminarian on whom I tried using the test was a referred one. He was at a time of his life when he seemed so angry at the world, especially his prefect. He was simply too rough and cutting in his retorts, that when he was referred he came to me and I suggested we use TAT to get to understand his inner dynamics. It was in this particular case where I learned that the task in TAT may also open up in the individual an occasion to learn about oneself. It's as if after having done the TAT, an internal "re-arrangement" had begun in him. In my last session with him, he reported that his father came o him in a dream. The abreaction throughthe TAT atsk completion led him to some realization that made him cooler, but also more aware of his passions in life. In time, what I could do started to "catch fire," so to say. Other workers and seminarians simply started coming to me on their own.

One Sunday, I was coming out from my room after my 8:30 AM Mass. It was about about 10AM, and some seminarians were calling for another student priest who was unfortunately not there to respond to the call. I went as requested to the crypt. There I saw a girl in hysteria. Without any footwear, in her shorty shorts and white t-shirt, entangled hair and sweaty body, she was close to the door of the sacristy and claiming the the devil was coming in to possess her. I asked one of the seminarians who happened to be her brother for her name. Then I did some "reality check" by calling out her name. She responded, I introduced myself, and then asked if she could still recognize where she was and pointing at the the tabernacle I asked what it was supposed to be. She said she was in a chapel, and that Jesus was in the tabernacle. So I told her, "then, don't panic because the devil cannot get near you in this place. Jesus is here, and so is your brother, (then the brother also said her boyfriend was by her side), and we will be with you." Then I mirrored to her the situation she was in: she looked tired, and I asked her to simply take a deep breath, and with NLP-approach, I asked her to take another deep breath, and in a second, she was asleep. Her boyfriend had her in his arms in a Pieta-like scene. Then I asked her brother to have her lie down on the last pew, made sure there was sufficient ventilation, and allowed to sleep for as long as she needs. He could also request for a guest room where she can stay while asleep. Later, her brother disclosed to me that she was actually a rape victim who was trying to rebuild her life by preparing for the board exams. The exam date was nearing in a few days, and she must have been stressed out by the review, and she freaked out.

That particular event made me temporarily say that panic and hysteria of that kind (claiming possession or threat of being possessed) may not necessarily be a true case of demonic possession but a temporary psychotic attack, a "demonization" of her victimizer/s.

I shall continue with this topic in my next blogs. Thanks for reading. God bless

Friday, May 26, 2006

Modernizing Counseling in the Philippines

It was a confrere in Italy who gave me this idea of opening a blog spot. I actually feel overwhelmed by this new thing. However, upon seeing the possibility for it becoming a forum for discussion, I gave in to it. Thoughts develop when written down, and especially grow and deeper when there is someone on the other end listening and interacting. This site is still under construction, and hope to see its first issue in a few days.