I offer counselling services to children, adolescents, and adults in the areas of depression, anxiety, self-esteem, grief and loss, addictions, stress management, trauma, and eating disorders. I also offer counselling services to couples and am trained in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, which is considered the Gold Standard for treatment.
The counselling models that I use are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Emotion-Focused Therapy, all of which I have formal training in.
I have added a detailed description of my Areas of Focus below:
If interested feel free to call me. I am listening....It is never too late for change and growth.
Areas of Focus:
Depression is commonly experienced among males and females and is debilitating due to having some thoughts and emotions that delay wellbeing. Some symptoms of depression include a lack of motivation to engage in tasks that one usually enjoys, a tendency to socially isolate oneself, and a feeling of low energy over an extended period of time. When symptoms of depression persevere, individuals typically move away from experiencing happiness and pleasure.
The therapeutic process involves examining some of the thoughts and emotions that maintain the depression. We also focus on behaviours that exacerbate the depression and what clients could change in order to move away from the type of life that delays healing.
Through collaborative discussions and experiential exercises, such as diary keeping, derived from the cognitive behavioural model, clients begin to see how behaviours, thoughts, and feelings are interrelated, which can be extremely helpful in overcoming the vicious cycle of depression.
When we experience a stressor, such as a job interview or academic demands, a certain level of anxiety is common. However, when anxiety persists and for no obvious reason individuals often experience a reduced quality of life. Some symptoms of anxiety include restlessness/feeling on edge, racing heartbeat, excessive worrying, and avoiding situations that are anxiety provoking.
The focus of therapy involves understanding how clients experience anxiety and the personal meaning that they attribute to the anxiety. We use a variety of mindfulness approaches to gain awareness of bodily responses to anxiety and to understand the interconnectedness between thoughts, emotions, and physiology. A core process of working through anxiety is through exploration rather than through avoidance.
In order to help clients explore their anxiety I work largely with the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model, which focuses on changing the client’s relationship to the anxiety in order to make the symptoms more tolerable. Through numerous strategies and experiential exercises, clients often discover that although anxiety is unpleasant, they have the ability to manage unpleasant feelings without running away from them.
Individuals with low self-esteem often have an intense fear of being judged. Their thoughts typically involve beliefs around incompetence or inadequacy, and some clients with low self-esteem may even believe that they are defective.
These harsh self-judgments often interfere with the ability to live a fulfilling life largely due to avoiding new behaviours that may re-affirm feelings of incompetence or inadequacy. In therapy, I help clients gain insight into some of the thoughts and emotions that prevent the establishment of self-worth and self-love.
Through various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive restructuring and a focus on values-oriented work, we work collaboratively to help move away from self-defeating behaviours, such as avoidance, and closer toward experiences that promote healing.
Grief and loss
Grief is a natural response to a loss. Losses often involve a death of a partner, family member, friend, or pet. Feelings associated with grief vary but can include sadness, anger, guilt, regret, and helplessness. The way in which individuals adapt to a loss depends on a variety of factors such as coping style, age, beliefs, and personality variables. In order to assist clients with working through their grief issues I largely work from the task theory perspective developed by psychologist J.W. Worden. His model is referred to as the Four Tasks of Mourning.
The Tasks of Mourning are as follows:
Task 1: To accept the reality of the loss.
Task 2: To process the pain of grief.
Task 3: To adjust to a life without the deceased.
Adjusting adaptively often includes making external, internal, and spiritual adjustments.
Task 4: To maintain a continuing bond with the deceased while embarking on a new life.
Individuals experiencing grief may be struggling with at least one of the four tasks of mourning. A major reason for the model’s effectiveness is that the tasks imply that clients can actively do something to manage their grief symptoms. As we collaboratively explore the tasks of mourning and identify the areas that are challenging to work through, clients gain an understanding of how their thoughts, emotions, or behaviours have prevented them from adaptively moving through the grief process.
Clients may also notice how their coping styles have prevented them from grieving effectively with past losses. As they move through the tasks of mourning they often develop a sense of control over their lives, which is a crucial step in alleviating feelings of helplessness. Additionally, clients give themselves the permission to embark on a new life while finding meaningful ways of staying connected to what was lost.
An addiction involves a constant need to perform a behaviour or consume a substance. Addictive behaviours vary and can include shopping, gambling, hoarding, drugs and alcohol, and exercising. When clients engage in addictive behaviours, they feel as if they are unable to control their actions. They may also feel distressed or anxious if they were to abstain from the behaviour. Due to the perceived inability to control actions, clients often feel disempowered and hopeless, which significantly impacts happiness and wellbeing.
In therapy, rather than solely focusing on the detrimental effects of the addiction, we focus on the purpose and function of the addictive behaviour. Clients frequently engage in addictive behaviours due to experiencing beneficial effects. If the behaviour would fail to be reinforcing, clients would have no reason to continue with the addiction. Once clients acknowledge the purpose of the addictive behaviour, they often view their situation through a compassionate, rather than judgmental lens. Gaining insight and self-compassion are essential ingredients for change and growth.
Another fundamental aspect of therapy is gaining insight into the cause of an addiction. Individuals with addictions often engage in dysfunctional behaviours in order to compensate for something that is lacking in their lives.
The addiction may also be linked to past events, such as trauma or abuse. As a result, we explore the underlying cause of the addiction in order to assist clients with targeting their core issues. With the incorporation of multiple treatment models, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and mindfulness approaches clients also learn to sit with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that accompany the addiction.
Over time they learn that having urges does not mean they have to act on them. Instead, they learn how to replace the urges with adaptive coping styles. As clients gain control over their addiction, they often feel a sense of empowerment and strength, which instils hope for a new and improved future.
Sometimes clients may feel hopeless in managing their stress levels. They may have longer than desired work hours, too many chores to complete, and not enough leisure time. In therapy, I help clients manage stress by first gaining insight into the cause of stress. Understanding where the stress comes from assists with acknowledging the factors that maintain stress.
I also help clients acknowledge their role in the maintenance of stress in order to gain control over their lives and prevent further feelings of burnout and exhaustion. Although some stressors in life are inevitable, such as deadlines and bills, therapy involves focusing on some of the thoughts and emotions that exacerbate feelings of stress in response to life demands. We also engage in problem solving strategies largely through solution focused and cognitive behavioural approaches to determine stressors that are controllable, even though clients may initially anticipate no factors to be within their control.
After working through a range of possibilities to improve wellbeing clients often gain awareness of the resources that they have in order to cope with life demands.
Trauma is a reaction that individuals have in response to an event that they perceive as overwhelming. Responses to trauma can be so overwhelming that completing daily tasks, such as going to work, or getting out of bed, may be a struggle. A significant symptom of trauma is feeling as if the traumatic event is still happening, sometimes, even years after the event occurred.
In therapy, we go through various stages of trauma work that help clients regain safety and wellbeing. Through experiential exercises clients have the opportunity to re-tell their story in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. I also offer multiple techniques that alleviate anxiety and help "put the brakes on" in case trauma work becomes too overwhelming.
Once clients have strategies to cope with their trauma symptoms, which may include sadness, anger, and/or dissociation, they often experience renewed hope for the future. Additionally, I help clients gain insight into their internal experiences through psychoeducation on the relationship between trauma responses and brain activity.
Eating disorders occur in males and females and are present across a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. Individuals with eating disorders develop an unusual relationship with food, resulting in dysfunctional eating behaviours that may include eating much less or more than is required, completely cutting out certain types of food due to an intense fear of weight gain, exercising excessively, developing a rigid, inflexible food plan, counting calories excessively, or chewing very slowly and eating extremely small portions.
Admitting that an eating disorder has developed is a very brave and courageous step. Many individuals are in denial about their eating disorder and only acknowledge their problematic behaviours once their health is severely impacted. Since the behaviours of an eating disorder are unique across clients, the treatment plan too, is unique. In therapy, we largely explore the meaning that clients give to their eating disorder, how they developed their relationship with food, and the purpose that the eating disorder served in their life. Once clients understand the cause of their eating disorder, they often view themselves through a nonjudgmental lens, which is a crucial step in the healing process.
In order to help clients overcome their eating disorder, I use a variety of therapy models, such as narrative therapy in order to separate the disorder from the person. When clients perceive their issue as separate from the self, they are more likely to activate their self-healing capacities, which is important for experiencing change and growth. I also use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for challenging some of the thoughts that clients have about food. Once clients gain insight into their personalized history of the eating disorder, as well as the resources that they have for overcoming their dysfunctional eating patterns, they begin their journey to recovery.
Couples often seek therapy when relationship problems are affecting their mental and physical health. For many couples, participating in couples therapy is a brave and courageous step due to a fear that the therapist may take sides and as a result, leave one partner feeling invalidated and misunderstood. The approach that I use is the Gottman Method Couple Therapy, which involves understanding each partner's inner world, beliefs, and values. I make sure that each partner feels validated and understood in order to create a safe space to share concerns.
The Gottman Method Couple Therapy was founded by Dr's John and Julie Gottman and is an evidence based approach that helps to understand why some couples live healthy lives while others resort to divorce or separation. With over 40 years of research the Gottman Method has proven as highly effective for helping couples build better friendship, manage conflict, improve intimacy, and gain a deeper understanding of their partner's inner world.
The therapeutic process largely involves helping couples identify the strengths in their relationship and the areas that need improvement. Often couples who participate in therapy struggle to acknowledge the positive factors that already exist in the relationship. When they realize that positive aspects are already present they gain renewed hope for the future. They also feel motivated to continue engaging in the behaviours that create a healthy bond with their partner. I also offer multiple interventions on the Gottman Method that help couples improve communication skills, as effective communication is a key ingredient to understanding each other's wants, needs, and values.