AGM 2014

Wednesday, June, 11th, 2014 by Nancy Vogel

On June 10, 2014 PSSP held our Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the fiscal year: July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014.  We passed a budget that recognizes the restraints required due to the significantly increased costs mandated by the TDSB for our two time-release positions: President and VP. Five motions from the floor passed, some of which were “housekeeping items” to modify our constitution.  There were also changes to our election proceedings so that anyone wishing to run for office and be included on a ballot must announce themselves to the PSSP Secretary by the Friday before the AGM in which elections are to occur (in odd numbered years).  Members may still “run from the floor” but only for those positions which are vacant at the AGM.  For example, if no one is running for the Treasurer position, then members may “run from the floor” of the AGM for that particular position.   Additionally, the size of the Executive was reduced from 11 members to 9 members, with the number of Executive Officers reduced from 7 to 5, beginning with the 2015 election.  This was done for two reasons: to reduce the costs associated with the Executive Committee,  as well as to be in closer compliance with other Bargaining Units around OSSTF who have much smaller Executive bodies.

Website Hacked

Wednesday, June, 11th, 2014 by Nancy Vogel

Between May 31 and June 3 our website was hacked.  IT repairs were done but further infected files were located a week later when the site was shut down for the second time, and further IT support was requried.  To date, the Bargaining Unit has spent approximately $200 on this event.  Many of you may remember that our site was hacked just prior to last year’s AGM, too.  That hack was more severe and deleted most of the site’s files, also costing several hundred dollars to repair, but also shutting down parts of the site for several weeks.

While we have the latest in anti-virus and other protection supports in place, the latest hack resulted from an IP address in Spain (although locals can disguise their IP address fairly easily with specialized software) that flooded our site with tens of thousands of “hits” in a matter of seconds.  This harmful type of software is known by IT professionals and is difficult to stop.  Our passwords and deeper url passwords have been changed several times, but this type of attack shuts down website due to the high volume of hits that it cannot sustain. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Vicarious Trauma: How does it affect me?

Wednesday, June, 4th, 2014 by Nancy Vogel

Vicarious Trauma:   Mental health care providers often hear detailed and harrowing stories about the unfair, undeserved and traumatic experiences that their clients have endured.  As a result of utilizing a controlled empathetic response when listening to these stories, counsellors are at risk for vicarious trauma, also known as secondary traumatization, or secondary stress disorder. Vicarious trauma occurs when an individual who was not an immediate witness to the trauma absorbs and integrates disturbing aspects of the traumatic experience into his or her own functioning. Some precursors to vicarious trauma that you might hear about are compassion fatigue or burnout.


Take time for yourself. Resist the urge to work through the day without a break. Your mind and spirit need this respite. It is also critical that we take time outside of work to engage in enjoyable and restorative activities.

Limit yourself. Make sure you are maintaining proper boundaries not only with your clients, but also with your workplace. Try to vary the type of work you are doing (individual vs. group, direct vs. indirect, clinical vs. administrative). Be realistic about goals for your clients.

Separate yourself. As mental health professionals, we often provide a holding environment for our client’s pain in the counseling room. Remember to tell yourself, “This is not my pain. I am just holding it for a little while.”

Take care of yourself. Just as we tell our clients, it is important for us to get enough rest, eat balanced and healthy meals and maintain a regular physical exercise routine.

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