Tag Archives: Counselling

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Summative Results: Dealing with Expectations & Disappointment

Semester A, Summative results are due for release shortly. For some the stress & anxiety is coming to an end, whilst for others it is just beginning. 


The stress and anxiety you feel leading up to results day has a lot to do with your own expectations, but also those of your family and / or account payer. There are a variety of options available to you in terms of dealing with your and other’s expectations, as well as with the disappoint of possibly not having done as well as you had hoped:

Dealing with assessment result pressure and expectations

Assessment result anxiety is a very real thing and can be experienced during the wait for results or even once you’ve received them. Feelings you may experience include:

  • happiness
  • jubilation
  • disappointment
  • depression
  • guilt
  • confusion
  • anger
  • illness
  • numbness

Expectations, both real and imagined, internal and external, need to be managed in order to minimize their harmful, demotivating effects and maximize their energizing, positive effects. Ways of dealing with pressure and expectations, in relation to assessment results, include:

  • Talking to someone who is not directly impacted by or involved in the situation, such as a friend or the BMH counsellor.
  • Talking to the person who is setting the expectations, and explaining that the added pressure is not helping.
  • Re-assessing your own expectations – are they realistic, are they attainable, are they helping or hindering you?
  • Writing down your feelings, drawing, singing, dancing – these are all cathartic ways of expressing and excising what you are feeling.
  • Avoid using alcohol and / or drugs as a coping mechanism, the problems and stress will still be there once you sober up.

It is also useful to take a step back and put things into perspective:

  • Poor assessment results are not the be-all and end-all of life as you may know it – unless you allow them to, they cannot stop you from achieving your long term goals.
  • Poor assessment results are not a reflection of your worth – they are a snapshot of a moment in time in your life.
  • Ask yourself “Will this matter in five years from now?” – if the answer is “yes” now is the ideal time to make a change and put a plan into action; if the answer is “no” then let it go.


Your options going forward

Depending on your assessment results, you have a number of options going forward:

a) Apply for a Supplementary

Second chances are a wonderful thing BUT before you get too excited and rush off to collect a Supplementary Assessment Breif, read the fine print and make sure you meet the requirements for a supp:

  • Did you get 30% or more for your first summative assessment attempt?


  • Were you legitimately ill or absent for the summative assessment and do you have a valid medical certificate to back this up?
  • The 2017 supplementary fee for summative assessments is R350.00

For more information on supplementary assessments please consult your 2017 BMH Student Rulebook or click here.

b) Submit an Appeal

You have the right to appeal an assessment outcome.  All summative assessments are returned to students for the purpose of advancing learning and verification of grades awarded (excluding exit-point, exit-level subject summative assessments). It is thus your responsibility to check your assessment and grade awarded and inform your Branch Manager if there are any discrepancies.

You have five (5) working days, from the day that results are published to submit an appeal for a specific assessment event. Appeals submitted after the 5 day window will not be taken under consideration.

For more information on the procedure to follow should you with to appeal an assessment result please consult your 2017 BMH Student Rulebook or click here.

c) Set Up a Student-Lecturer Meeting

If after you have received feedback on the summative assessment and you are still unclear of where you went wrong or lost marks, consider setting up a student-lecturer meeting. All BMH lecturers have consultation hours during which they are available to meet with students.

For tips on how to prepare for and get the most from a student-lecturer meeting click here.

d) Schedule a Session with BMHs Counsellor

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to and be there for you, which is why BMH offers free counselling to all its registered students. You may be dealing with problems (personal and / or academic) which are bothering you and preventing you from achieving your goals, or you may just need an objective person to share your concerns with. For more information on how to go about scheduling a session with BMH’s Counsellor please click here.


Reach Out.com (2015). Dealing with Exam Results. Retrieved from:  http://au.reachout.com/dealing-with-exam-results. [Accessed: 24 June 2016].

BMH, Sandton Students – Need Help?

Did you know that Boston offers all registered BMH Sandton students free psycho-social counselling?


How to Book a Session:

  • Students can make a booking directly with Boston’s Counsellor, Robyn Wright-Parkin

            Office: BMH, South Campus (128 10th Street) Room 404, Da Vinci Building.

            Office Hours: 08h00 – 15h00 (Mon, Tues and Friday) / 08h00 – 12h00 (Thursday)


  • Send an e-mail to Boston’s counsellor (Robyn Wright-Parkin) at: robynw@boston.co.za

For more information on counselling please visit the Need Help? – Student Counselling page on this blog.

Remember: Counselling is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL.


BMH, Umhlanga Students – Need Help?

Did you know that Boston offers all registered BMH Umhlanga students free psycho-social counselling?


How to Book a Session:

Counselling sessions are conducted via Skype with Boston’s counsellor who is situated in Johannesburg. Students will be given access, free of charge, to a private computer room and Skype connection.

  • Go see Brett Langton during office hours.


  • Send an e-mail to Boston’s counsellor (Robyn Wright-Parkin) at: robynw@boston.co.za 

For more information on counselling please visit the Need Help? – Student Counselling page on this blog.

Remember: Counselling is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL.



BMH, Pretoria Students – Need Help?

Did you know that Boston offers all registered BMH Pretoria students free, onsite psycho-social counselling?


How to Book a Session:

The counsellor is at the BMH, Arcadia campus on a Wednesday from 09h00 15h00

To book a session:

  • Go see Grace Fennessey in the Admin Block during office hours.


  • Send an e-mail to Boston’s counsellor (Robyn Wright-Parkin) at: robynw@boston.co.za 

For more information on counselling please visit the Need Help? – Student Counselling page on this blog.

Remember: Counselling is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL.


FOCUS ON: Rape – Reactions to Rape

The following excerpt has been taken from “The Road to Recovery: You & Rape” – created and distributed by the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. You can download the complete booklet in English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa, from their website: rapecrisis.org.za


Each person copes with trauma in a different way, depending on her or his circumstances. How long your journey to recovery takes will depend on many things, including your situation and how supportive the people around you are. If you are worried that negative feelings are lasting too long or becoming overwhelming, you might consider getting help. It’s important to remember that there are people who can help you, such as a rape counsellor, social worker, psychologist, clinic sister or even a family member or a friend you can trust.

Partners, parents or friends and family members may not know how to respond to you, and may even share some of your feelings about the rape. They can also choose to go for counselling so that they can learn to understand their own feelings and how to offer you more support.

On the other hand, people around you might need to distance themselves from what happened to you because, although it could happen to them too, they don’t want to believed that. Some people might not be supportive, because they themselves live with men who rape, or because It has happened to them and they don’t want you to remind them of their own painful experiences. The truth is that not everyone around you will be supportive, and you may feel alone in dealing with some things. However, you don’t have to be alone on your journey along the road to recovery – there are signposts that can help you on your way.

Phases of Recovery

The first signpost along the road to recovery is realising that there is a pattern to how most people progress or move through the trauma of rape. However these phases don’t follow on neatly from one to another; you may move backwards and forwards through the phases as you work through the trauma.

There is no single way to recover; your journey is unique. With good support, people can recover from rape, but many people choose not to get support and not to tell anyone about what happened. The following phases can also be seen in people who do not go for counselling:

Acute Phase

Immediately after the rape, most survivors feel shock, dismay, fear, panic and anger. Some survivors show this by being numb or dazed, others by being openly upset. You would probably react this way in the first few hours, days and weeks after the rape, but usually not longer than two weeks afterwards. This is the first phase of the crisis. It is called the acute phase because it is so intense. Many survivors are unable to talk about the rape. You might have nightmares and feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed and afraid of being touched. These feelings can be overwhelming.

Outward Adjustment Phase

In this phase, most survivors try to carry on with their lives as normal. To anyone looking at you from the outside, you may seem to be coping. You might even feel this way yourself. You need to go through this phase to reassure yourself that you can cope. During this phase, you test your ability to survive the experience. You may use all kinds of different ways of coping, such as pretending the rape didn’t happen or pushing thoughts and feelings away.

In this phase, rape survivors are usually not open to coming for counselling. You tend to feel a lot less troubled than during the acute phase, but you may not want to speak about the rape very much. This can be difficult for those close to you who wish to be helpful and think they can do that by getting you to talk. They may feel frustrated if you don’t want to talk or they may put pressure on you to behave differently. You might find that during this phase what you really need is for people to let you be.

Integration Phase

During the integration phase, the part of you that felt overwhelmed by intense emotions during the acute phase and the part of you that felt almost nothing during the outward adjustment phase come together. The intense feelings start to come back, but less overwhelming than before. You may begin to feel depressed or anxious and start thinking about the rape when you least expect to. This is the time when you might wish to talk a bit more about what happened. You might start having nightmares again and feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed and afraid of being touched or of being alone. You may well find that you cannot function the way you used to. You may also start to think about the rapist more.

Many survivors in this phase believe their feelings mean they have serious emotional problems or are going mad. This is a good time to go for counselling because it can give you support and comfort, with respect for what you are going through. You can also get information about what you are going through in the form of psycho-education. Psycho-education helps you and people close to you understand and deal with the feelings you have. Also, your counsellor will help you find your own strengths, resources and coping skills, so that you learn to be a part of your own recovery and contribute to your health and wellness on a long-term basis. The better the knowledge you have about what you’re going through, the better you can live with it and share it.

Renewal Phase

You begin to make sense of the trauma and to feel safer in the world. During this phase your symptoms will ease off or disappear. The memory of the rape will not have the same effect on you. You may start to feel good about life again. You may still feel emotional at times, but overall you will feel more in control and able to move forward.

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Common Feelings or Reactions to Rape

During the first two phases, many people report feeling or experiencing:

  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Powerlessness and a loss of control
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • An inability to speak about the rape
  • Nightmares
  • A fear of touching
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Grief about loss
  • The desire to use drugs and alcohol
  • The desire to hurt themselves, for example by cutting themselves
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

For information on common feelings and reactions to rape please visit the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust website at: http://rapecrisis.org.za/ – alternatively download “The Road to Recovery: You & Rape” booklet from http://rapecrisis.org.za/rape-in-south-africa/you-rape-booklet/


Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. (2011). Reactions to Rape. In The Road to Recovery: You and Rape (pp. 41 – 51). [Online available from: http://rapecrisis.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/you-and-rape-booklet-english.pdf [Accessed: 21 July 2015].

Need Help?

Please refer to the Need Help? page on the menu bar, select either Student Support Referral List OR Student Counselling for more information on where to access help. 

FOCUS ON: Self-Harm – Getting Help (Part 2)

It is often easier said than done but when you are in the depths of despair remind yourself that you won’t always feel this way; whatever is causing this will pass…


Recovering from self-harm

There is no magic formula to get a person to stop self-harming, instead it involves a variety of factors unique to each individual and their circumstances.

For some the need to self-harm diminishes because of changes that occur in their lives – finishing school, moving out of the house, ending a relationship. By removing or changing some of the factors that precipitate the self-harming behaviour (e.g. bullying, family dynamics etc.) the need to use self injuring as a coping mechanism lessens.

Others may find that the turning point for them is the day they find the courage to ask for help – finding a person who will listen without trying to take control of their life, but instead becoming a partner in helping them work on solutions. This is where counselling and other forms of talk therapy can prove very helpful.

The most important thing to remember when recovering is that change takes time – you will have bad days and relapses may occur; be kind to yourself, learn from your experiences and remind yourself that is a marathon not a sprint.


Learn to look after yourself

Regardless of whether you are a self-harmer, a recovering self-harmer or a friend or family member of a self-harmer, everyone needs to take responsibility for and care of their mental health – this includes:

Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Depression, anxiety, restlessness and mood swings – common triggers for self-harming – can all be affected by a person’s diet:

  • Don’t skimp on the carbs – carbohydrates contain non-essential amino acids which assist in the production of serotonin (a natural mood regulator produced in the brain) which in turn assists with curbing mood swings. The trick here is to make smart (i.e. healthy) carbohydrate choices such as: whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and legumes.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – research has found that omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in oily fish (e.g. pilchards), flaxseed and certain nuts (e.g. walnuts) assist in warding off depression, among other health benefits. Try aim for 2 – 3 servings of fish per week.
  • Eat breakfast – eating a healthy, balanced breakfast not only assists in improving your mood but also provides you with energy for the day, aids memory retention and wards off feelings of anxiety and restlessness due to low blood sugar levels.
  • Watch your caffeine intake – caffeine can result in an overstimulated nervous system that can increase anxiety levels; it can also impact on the amount and quality of sleep you get, which in turn will impact on your mood.

Get some exercise

Exercise is often referred to as a natural anti-depressant which is easily and freely available but hugely underutilised. Even moderate exercise is known to assist with reducing anxiety, improving mood and warding off depression.

Limit your alcohol consumption  

Alcohol is a depressant that can affect your mood, feelings and thoughts. Ideally self-harmers should avoid (at best) or limit (at least) their alcohol intake.

Maintain relationships

Friends, family and social interaction are vital to maintaining both your mental and emotional well-being. Keep in touch with family and friends, don’t isolate yourself.

Be kind to yourself

We are our own harshest critics. Many young self-harmers are also high-achievers who put themselves under unrealistic amounts of pressure. Learn to be kind to yourself, speak to and treat yourself as you would your best friend – with compassion and empathy.


Where to find help and more information

Websites and forums

Telephone helplines and counselling

  • SADAG Helpline – 011 234 4837 (8am – 8pm)
  • Suicide Crisis Line – 0800 567 567 / sms 31393 (they will call you back)
  • LifeLine – 0861 322 322 (24 hours)
  • ChildLine – 08000 55 5555 (24 hours)

Face-to-face counselling services

Visit the following websites for a list of counselling services and programmes available in your area:



Richardson, C. (2012). The Truth About Self-Harm: For Young People and Their Friends and Families [Booklet]. United Kingdom: Mental Health Foundation.

WebMD. (2008). How Food Affects Your Mood. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/how-food-affects-your-moods?page=3 [Accessed on: 26 May 2015].

Boston Media House: Student Policy on the Possession, Use and Distribution of Illicit Substances

Today sees the official launch of Boston Media House’s Student Policy on the Possession, Use and Distribution of Illicit Substances.

The policy will be made available to all BMH student’s via a handout and will also be posted on notice boards around campus.

A copy of the policy can also be found on the “Policies” page of the blog.

*** *** *** 


In terms of South African legislation the possession, use and / or distribution of illicit substances are forbidden.

Boston Media House’s Stance on Illicit Substance Abuse & Distribution:

The possession, use and / or distribution of any controlled substance or drug, as defined by South African law, is strictly prohibited on Boston premises. Should a Boston student be found in possession of, under the influence of and / or providing others with controlled substances or drugs, thereby breaking the institutions Code of Conduct and bringing the institution into disrepute, disciplinary measures will be implemented.

Boston recognises that in some instances the abuse of illicit substances may have developed into a medical problem, in terms of dependency, and as such the student will be provided with information and / or a referral to a suitable support service.

Disciplinary Intervention for Possession and / or Abuse of Illicit Substances:

Boston staff are duty bound to assist in promoting a healthy, drug free environment, to actively discourage the possession, use and / or distribution of illicit substances and to report any matters relating to the possession, use and / or distribution of illicit substances on campus to Management. 

Boston’s Code of Conduct must be strictly adhered to at all times in instances of substance abuse by students whilst on Boston premises. The following steps are to be followed whilst on campus:

  1. Regardless of circumstance, the substance is to be confiscated and handed over to Management.
  2. In instances where drug abuse, possession of or dealing in is suspected, the matter is to be reported to Management for investigation.

Should Management be required to call a Disciplinary Hearing in order to conduct an investigation into the possession of or abuse of illicit substances; the Disciplinary Hearing will be conducted in accordance with Boston’s policy on Student Disciplinary Hearings and may result in punitive sanctions.

The following sanctions will serve as a guideline for the Disciplinary Committee when deciding on how to deal with incidents of possession and substance abuse whilst on Boston premises:

1st Offence: Possession and / or Substance Abuse

  • The student will be asked to go for counselling in order to receive support and education.
  • Parents / Guardians may be informed at this stage. Should parents / guardians not be informed the student will receive a warning that parents / guardians will be informed if there is a repeat offence.
  • The student will receive a final written warning for possession and / or substance abuse whilst on Boston premises.

 2nd Offence: Possession and / or Substance Abuse –

  • Parents / Guardians are informed.
  • The student is requested to enter a formal rehabilitation programme.
  • Should the student refuse to attend a formal rehabilitation programme, Boston will take the necessary disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion and / or reporting to the relevant state authorities, as per the relevant legislation.

The Trafficking, Supplying and Selling of Illicit Substances on Boston Property:

The trafficking of, supplying of (without the expectation of payment), offering of illicit substances to other students and the sale of illicit substances to other students whilst on Boston premises will result in a Disciplinary Hearing which may end in suspension or expulsion.

In accordance with the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act No. 140 of 1992, Boston’s Management is obligated to report their suspicion of any person/s who may be dealing in illicit substances on Boston premises to the South African Police Services.

Should a student be found guilty of dealing in illicit substances (either by means of a Disciplinary Hearing or via a SAPS investigation) whilst on Boston premises, the student will face immediate expulsion and will be reported to the relevant state authorities, if this has not already been done.


Boston will support any student who voluntarily comes forward, is honest about their substance use and is willing to receive help for their problem. 

Students who approach Boston’s Counsellor (where available) or Principal asking for assistance with a substance use or abuse problem:

  • Will not face any disciplinary action.
  • Will be dealt with confidentially.
  • Will be required to agree to a management plan as set out by Boston’s Counsellor

The management plan will include:

  • A contract to stop using / abusing illicit substances.
  • Attending substance abuse counselling.

Should the student not comply with the management plan, the Counsellor / Principal will bring the matter to the attention of both the student’s parents / guardians as well as Boston’s Management, who may then decide to call for a Disciplinary Hearing.

Support Services:

A variety of support services are available to students involved in substance abuse:

  1. Boston Counsellor (Sandton Campus only) – an appointment can be made to meet with Boston’s on-site Counsellor: Robyn Wright-Parkin (robynw@boston.co.za / 011 883 0933). Confidentiality will be maintained.
  2. SANCA / Phoenix House – provide both in-patient and out-patient treatment programmes and counselling services: 0861 173 422 / 011 673 0400.
  3. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – NA meetings are held twice a week. A full list of meeting places and times is available at: na.org.za or from the Boston Counsellor. Confidentiality will be maintained.
  4. Life Line – provide both telephonic and face-to-face substance abuse counselling: 0861 322 322 / 0800 567 567.


  • Boston: is taken to mean Boston Media House.
  • Deal in / Distribution of: in relation to a drug, includes performing any act in connection with the shipment, importation, cultivation, collection, manufacture, supply, prescription, administration, sale, transmission or exportation of the drug.
  • Drug: refers to substance that produces a psychiatric effect. In this policy the term “drug” is used generically to include pharmaceutical drugs (prescribed and over the counter), illicit drugs, image and performance enhancing substances and inhalants and other volatile substances.
  • Illicit / Illegal Drug or Substance: A range of drugs which the production, sale, possession and use of is prohibited. These drugs include but are not limited to amphetamine, cocaine, marijuana (dagga), ecstasy, heroin, LSD, mandrax.
  • Possession: refers to when a controlled substance is found on your person; when the controlled substance belongs to you, even if it is not on your person and, you know the whereabouts of the controlled substance and that it is illegal.
  • Selling / Supplying / Trafficking: in relation to a drug, includes offering, advertising, possessing or exposing the drug for sale, to dispose of it, whether for consideration or otherwise, or to exchange it.