Exploring Innovative Approaches at Cannexus, Canada’s National Conference on Career Development

By Riz Ibrahim

Cannexus is Canada’s largest career development conference, promoting the exchange of information and exploring innovative approaches in career counseling and career development. Taking place January 23-25, 2012 in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, the event is expected to bring together 700 career professionals across all sectors from community-based agencies to education to private coaching.

We are delighted to have NCDA as a Supporting Organization for Cannexus. This allows NCDA members to benefit from discounted registration. It is also our pleasure to have the Immediate Past President of NCDA Cheri Butler presenting on the results of NCDA’s Working in America survey. Cannexus will feature three world-renowned keynotes, including Dr. Mark Savickas, a panel of Canada’s top academics examining the future of career development, 100 concurrent sessions, an exhibitor showcase and outstanding networking opportunities.


Among the sessions on the schedule, several themes emerge, highlighting major trends and issues in career development not only in Canada but throughout North America and around the world.


New Approaches to Counseling that Focus on Positivity and Empowerment

The Stages of Change (SOC) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) have been used extensively in health psychology. An innovative three-year research project has recently concluded, showing the practical application of SOC and MI to be an effective counseling style that is client-centered. The SOC/MI model is the future trend for motivating job-seekers and fills a gap not covered by other techniques. This model has been proven to work for: Youth, Persons with Disabilities, Newcomers and other marginalized groups. It will be presented by Roxanne Sawatzky, President and Founder of Empowering Change. Sawatzky successfully managed a $1.3 million study with almost 3,000 individuals who had multiple barriers to employment.


Using the latest in positive psychology, career practitioners are helping their clients to bounce back from tough situations. Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It has been successfully applied in career counseling to help people reduce anxiety, learn healthier thought processes, and increase psychological well-being and happiness. At Cannexus, Louisa Jewell, MAPP, founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, will share the latest techniques in resilience training and positive psychology. She is a graduate of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at UPENN and studied with Dr. Martin Seligman.


Social Media: What it means for Career Counselors, Job-seekers and the Workplace

Increasingly, career counselors must understand social media both as a tool for building their own professional brand as well for educating clients on job search. From Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube and Quora, there are powerful tools to gather information, position yourself as a subject matter expert and build your network. With interest in this topic at an all-time high, Cannexus is offering a special pre-conference workshop on “The Social Media Toolkit’ with Chris Kulbaba, a popular Web 2.0 Career Transition Specialist. Participants will learn the key social media platforms and the latest tips and techniques to use them effectively.


The use of social media websites as well as personal blogs has become ubiquitous in the workplace. Employees use many forms of social media regularly both personally and professionally. Because of this, employers must take active steps to protect themselves from the potential risks inherent in social media use. Krista Bulmer, a lawyer with Willson Lewis L.L.P., will walk Cannexus delegates through recent Canadian case law, as well as highly publicized examples related to the use of social media in the workplace, and offer up strategies to regulate employee conduct when using social media.

Supporting People with Mental Health Challenges in their Employment

There is increasing recognition that career practitioners can play a critical gate-keeping role in helping people with mental health challenges gain or reclaim a foothold in the world of work. Employment is a cornerstone of equality and social inclusion. Stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health challenges limits their economic and civic opportunities and quality of life. When effectively resourced, career counselors are powerful agents in supporting people to enter, retain or return to competitive employment. Drawing on a transformational new research project, Neasa Martin and Kathy McKee will identify the knowledge and skills career counselors need to effectively support clients with mental health problems.


Best practices in enabling people with mental health-related disabilities to reach employment goals are emerging. Examples are the Redirection through Education Program (RTE), the Augmented Education Programs (AE), and the Assistant Cook and Construction Craftworker Programs at George Brown College in Toronto. These are full-time supported education/supported employment programs for adults dealing with mental health and/or addiction challenges who are interested in accessing training and education as a pathway to work. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jaswant Kaur Bajwa, Susan Toews, Chair of the School of Work and College at George Brown and Tony Priolo, Manager of the AE Programs, will share lessons learned from these psychosocial rehabilitation programs and their transferability to other post-secondary educational programs and employment settings.


To learn more about Cannexus, please visit www.cannexus.ca




Riz Ibrahimis the Vice-President and General Manager of the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC). Riz works with CERIC’s cross-sectoral Board and Committees to develop strategic and functional partnerships that enhance the body of knowledge for Canadian career practitioners. Additionally, Riz oversees all programs and projects within CERIC’s mandate, including Cannexus, ContactPoint and The Canadian Journal of Career Development. Contact Riz at riz@ceric.ca. Find more information on CERIC and all its programs at www.ceric.ca.