“Many of our patients have economic and social problems caused by the pandemic,” said MA (masters-level) psychologist/counselor Alexander Colombos. “They come to us for guidance and support their families cannot give them.” “Concepts of Well Being “ was explored virtually at the first presentation on Sunday, 2 pm, January 16 at https://www.facebook.com/American-Hellenic-Center-of-Health-and-Well-being. Moderator was Maria Atmatzidou.
Alexandros Colombos, Professional Rehabilitation Counselor and Psychologist explained his experience and knowledge in creating “PROMOTION TEAMS”. He disclosed his everyday clinical experience at a private agency affiliated with HRA where he provides tele counseling (brief over-the-phone counseling) as a CRC or Certified Rehabilitation Counseling. He provides over-the-phone vocational assessment and counseling on vocational, educational, and psychosocial issues to vulnerable populations who are in public assistance/Welfare and receive HRA benefits.
The Counselor/Psychologist explained “All clients have financial issues.
Rarely they don’t. They may belong to one or more of the following categories, which are multiple and challenging: multiple disabilities, physical and mental, or one of them, developmental disabilities and special needs, poverty, immigration (with a VISA or naturalization so they and be eligible for HRA benefits), various addictions, such as drugs and alcoholism, ex-offenders, former inmates, victims of domestic violence, and battered women, and so on.”
Mr. Colombos spoke extensively about the effects and the impact of the pandemic on his clients. “Coronophobia, a term already used in clinical and vocational assessments,” he explained. “It has eventually become a greater problem than the pandemic itself, as people have developed an excessive fear for COVID. They overreact feeling helpless and hopeless. That makes it extremely challenging to set up goals for the future, especially vocational and educational goals (job search/job placement, vocational training, college placement, etc.). The client’s most frequent answer is “I don’t know”. They feel the urge to take a break from life itself, postponing all their goals to the future.
He believes “But future now has become a vague concept without a specific time frame. Most clients live for the next day, for the next hour being unable to make dreams and enjoy life. They act like they are living in an apocalyptic sci-fi movie. They don’t know how to escape that misery. They have become addicted to the media. The older watch TV. The younger watch social media and surf on the Internet for hours a day. Usually, many are locked in their apartments, getting information overload. Without knowing how to filtrate the information they get, some of it may be an exaggeration or simply false.
In Greece, this has been even worse. He even shared an example from his own family in Greece whose health has been affected by TV news-induced stress. A lot of young people experience stress in the pandemic having no job. They basically feel they have no identity. The Counselor narrated an incident when a 24-year-old young man was already determined to jump off his window. Mr. Colombos called him for tele counseling and managed to make him change his mind. This young man now has a job and a purpose in life and enjoys his life with his family. Mr. Colombos added that this was the reason he was awarded by his company for the fourth time in two and a half years. “It really feels rewarding to know that these people do better in their life,” he said. “There is a home for them, despite the daily challenges and burdens they may face. After all, it’s very important, lifesaving, that they learn to cope with these daily challenges and burdens.”
Answering the journalist question on the Greek-American community receiving CRC services, Mr. Colombos said that there he rarely sees Greek clients in his tele counseling job, which was remote only during the pandemic, then went back to the office, and now with the Omicron variant incidents, he and his coworkers are in a hybrid mode: one week working from home and one week at the office, but even in the office they see client sonly by a restricted number of appointments, usually to submit and sign documents or to have a test. “Greeks don’t easily seek mental health services, and they feel ashamed to apply for Welfare/public assistance. They usually ask help from family, relatives, and friends”, Mr. Colombos stated. Currently, there are nothing like the American-Hellenic Health and Wellbeing Center, and congratulated Ms. Atmatzidou for her endeavors and such an important and difficult undertaking to cater to the needs of the Greek American community in terms of holistic health, wellbeing, and social services.
The speaker suggested simple and daily steps to improve our mood. The American Hellenic center of health and well-being site plans to create teams with the aim to upgrade the quality of the community’s daily life.
“It is never too late to change her/his life,” said CRC/MA psychologist Colombos. “Everyone needs hobbies and socialization. Instead of spending time like a couch potato watching the news on TV, the Internet, or social media or playing video games, one may call their friends, family, or relatives or chat on the Internet and social media. One may read an edifying book, watch a funny movie/comedy, or listen to relaxing and soothing music. Older people who feel isolated can participate in various programs for senior citizens for free, where they can socialize with their peers, play a board game, participate in artistic and creative activities, such as plays, as in the case of some programs for seniors in Greece like the multiple resources available here in the states, and especially in New York.”
“Interaction with nature, going to the park, sitting at the bench and talking to somebody regardless of age or walk of life, and also interacting with animals, gives a young person a feeling of comfort,” he explained. “Interaction with animals has been a very therapeutic experience with autistic children, people of old age and Alzheimer’s or other degenerative and neurocognitive problems. An example of how miraculous such interactions with people, animals and nature can be is manifested in the well-known movie “Awakening”, based on the best-seller of the same tile by the late neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks. Taking care of a dog or cat gives the person a feeling of inner peace.”
Mr. Colombos suggested “to take information with a grain of salt. Yes, COVID is for real. People died. We need not panic. Use our judgment for choosing which information from the Internet or the media is true and valid. We must continue to live our lives, interact with others, show our love and care to others and receive love and care from others.”
Once, the speaker had covid. By taking precautions, prevention, changing diet, taking vitamins, especially vitamin C, and other natural products, and using his natural health skills, he was able to recover very soon. Spirituality is very important in healing. Greeks are endowed with Orthodox Christian spirituality. Greeks are also well-known for their stamina and survival during the centuries. Their ancient Greek cultural inheritance is a major source of pride to continue their long tradition, binging creative and successful for the benefit of all humanity.
The speaker used simple, down-to-earth language, helping us understand complex new phenomena like “information overload.” The new virtual program was enjoyable, informative, and giving the listener an insight into the community’s psychological, social problems, during the past two years of this international pandemic.
Alexander Colombos was born on February 18, 1976, in New York, of immigrants from Pyrgi, Chios. He grew up in Athens, specifically in Haidari. He went to his community’s elementary, Junior high school, and high school, where he followed the 3rd Track of Specialization Electives: Arts & Humanities (Ancient Greek, Latin, history, Modern Greek Composition). The Counselor/Psychologist came to New York for his college education.
He was graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York with a Bachelor’s undergraduate in psychology, pedagogy, history teaching, and social studies. He holds a related teaching license as well as history, archaeology, and history art. From the same university, Mr. Colombos received a Master of Arts in History, specializing in ancient Greek history and archaeology. His Master’s Thesis Research was in Chios, Greece. His personal field research was exhibited at the Museum of Kallimasia.
His second Master of Arts was in Human Relations Psychology and Clinical Counseling at the New York Institute of Technology (School of Allied Health Professions). He has specialized in practice counseling for children, adolescents and young adults with learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism as well as applied psychophysiology, neurotherapy and biofeedback. He has continued with special seminars with renowned professors such as Adam Crane. He spent several years teaching in public schools and Greek parochial schools.
Mr. Colombos tutored, especially in ancient Greek, Latin, and Modern Greek as a second language and special education. In 2011, after lectures at major international and international conferences and publications in major scholarly journals, he received a scholarship from the RSA (Rehabilitation Service Agency), where he took his third masters in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and Guidance for people with disabilities and psychosocial problems. He researched and made conference presentations. He was a college teaching assistant at the New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU). Since then, he has been working as a Certified Rehabilitation counselor (CRC) with the job title of vocational/educational counselor at a Therapeutic Community for people with substance abuse and alcoholism.
The professional has published in international journals on modern Greek language education and teaching history in modern Greek. He wrote a book review on a major author and researcher’s textbook in the Socratic Method as Cognitive Psychotherapy. Mr. Colombos has created a reputation in the academic community for presenting his research on the Socratic Method as a Cognitive Psychotherapy implemented in rehabilitation counseling and special education in conferences around the states during his years as an NMHU/RSA scholar.
He is currently engaged in doctoral studies in Educational Psychology and Education at California Coast University (online), since the end of 2017. His specialization is the psycho-pedagogical approaches to Hellenic Culture, with emphasis on the passage from Antiquity, Hellenistic, and Byzantium Age. Recently, he was selected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a volunteer at the Department of Museum Education. Lastly, he attends online courses in paleography, codicology, illustrated manuscripts, protection and conservation for archives and libraries and the archaeology of the book, human osteoarcheology, Greek art and archaeology, Roman art and archaeology, and conservation in field archaeology. He is an active member of scientific associations, such as the American Counseling Association. The scholar has begun a second doctoral degree in Clinical Herbology ad Traditional Naturopathy with the Genesis School of Natural Health during the pandemic. He added a third doctoral program to his studies in Biblical Archaeology at the Newburgh Theological Seminary and College of the Bible His specialization is in Greeks of the Bible, Biblical/Greek herbs and Health and the Hellenism of the Eastern Mediterranean, with an emphasis on the Hellenistic, Greco-Roman/New Testament, and the Early Byzantium (from Alexander the Great to Constantine the Great). The combination of all three programs allows him to develop the skills to rediscover ancient knowledge and practices for the modern therapy room and classroom. A huge undertaking, Mr. Colombos aspires to complete all three programs at his own pace.
His association includes the National Honor Society in Psychology of Psi Chi; the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback; the Association of Rehabilitation in Substance Abuse; the American Philological Association; the Ancient Historians Association, and the Archaeological Institute of America. Mr. Colombos was a member of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” for 24 years. His duties were the following: Technologist/head of the Technology Committee; creator of Prometheus’ first website and its webmaster; Secretary-General elected for the second consecutive term and with a yearly extension for this position until 2021. He left Prometheus to dedicate himself to his doctoral studies and his day job in counseling.
https://fb.watch/aAbY5jrk6_/ – Prof. Colombos Facebook presentation