More About My specialties
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Working with clients who have experienced trauma is a strong focus for my work. Traumatic responses can be instigated by many events such as the death of a loved one, a car accident, abuse or any other distressing event that causes one to feel threatened, anxious or scared. read more
You may have post-traumatic stress if you experience flashbacks of the distressing event, feel triggered by or avoid certain places or peoples, experience nightmares, have difficulty sleeping or concentrating, feel jumpy or are easily irritated or angered. If you feel your living is limited due to these or similar symptoms, you may consider beginning trauma work.
When beginning to work on a traumatic experience you may notice a feeling or sense that things are worse initially. This occurs when memories or emotions that were buried deep and not acknowledged are brought back to the surface once more. I realize that this work is not easy and requires bravery and trust. For this reason, our first step is to develop a feeling of trust and safety in the counselling relationship. We will work on anxiety reducing techniques and increase your ability to step into a controlled and partial part of the trauma and come to a feeling of relaxation afterwards. When working with you, you will be in the driver’s seat at all times, and I will work as a guide and helper along-side you.
My main modality for working with trauma is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This is an empirically supported technique used to help lessen the strength of the triggers that develop or the associations that leave us feeling easily toppled. Using this method in therapy I can help you reprocess traumatic memories and decrease or remove their negative influence in your life. If you don’t feel you have post-traumatic stress disorder but feel triggered or overtaken when you are in a specific situation or think of a specific event, EMDR may also be helpful for you.
Traumatic memories are distinct from ‘normal’ memories in that they feel more real, like recordings of the event that can be replayed. EMDR helps integrate the realistic part of the trauma memory so that, like all other memories, the details fade and only a partial narrative with flashes of realism remain—in such a way that they no longer ‘spontaneously’ invade your mind when you don’t want them to. Once this is achieved, the symptoms of traumatic memories leave or diminish, and the power the memory once had over you is taken away from the traumatic event.
Another vital element of choosing to do trauma work is that left unchecked, traumatic memories can guide how we live by leading us to avoid certain people, areas, or activities, thus making our world smaller and scarier. Over time, these limitations we put on our lives to cope with the power the trauma has over us can shape a smaller world, and that means a world that looks scarier and causes more anxiety and sadness than is objectively real. Interrupting this process by engaging in trauma work as early as you think you can manage is an important decision. If you feel you have already waited too long, you may be in a place where you are making lifestyle choices you are unhappy with but feel you can’t stop making.
Trauma can feel overwhelming but the truth is that the impacts of trauma are some of the most changeable psychological aspects most receptive to therapeutic work. Together in counselling you can work towards becoming the self you were meant to be.
Couples usually agree to spend money to renovate their homes, but then live inside them feeling lonely, sad or angry when it comes to their relationship with their partner. I encourage couples to attend counselling to improve the parts of their marriages that need tune-ups before resentment or detachment begins. read more
I enjoy working with couples because healthy relationships add meaning and happiness to not only the couple’s lives but to their families as well. Couples who communicate well, share a deep friendship, and care about one another’s goals and dreams are happier and even physically healthier.
I have specific training in Gottman Method Couples Counselling as well as training in Emotion Focused Therapy to focus on what is going on beneath the surface of your relationship. Rather than focusing on problem-solving, I prefer to focus on changing how couples view and/or solve their problems. In session we will look at how each partner feels, and also how their partner reacts to them having emotions (meta-emotions). I hope to facilitate each person learning more about their partner and gaining a deeper understanding of their personality and the background that has caused them to become the person they are today. I also invite partners to make changes once the partnership becomes a safe and friendly place in which they can become vulnerable.
My style is one that focuses on emotions and words spoken in the present moment. I am unafraid to ask the tough questions but I also value humour in session. Some sessions may feel heavy or difficult and others a little lighter. What is important for me is to tailor therapy to fit your needs as a couple considering how ready each partner is to change and also each person’s personality and comfortability with the counselling process.
Changes and experiments are invited throughout the week to encourage the cementing of what has begun in the therapy session. Couples can expect to work on increasing their knowledge of one another, increasing positive communication, building trust, growing friendship, having deeper conversations about goals and dreams and discussing perpetual problems in a new way. I will ask you to experiment with small changes in your interactions throughout the week and we will debrief these on our next sessions. I’m happy to see you, even if you haven’t completed your “homework” ;)
Every couple is treated as unique and therapy is tailored towards their concerns. For instance, if you and your partner are arguing about the same things over and over again or your conversations always tend to end up in the same place, we will work on what is deeper beneath the surface of these interactions so that they happen less and less often. If you are feeling you have lost the spark in your relationship and you have become like friends or roommates without the romance, we will work on changing interactions to revive that which was once there.
I view consensual and healthy sex between couples as very important and work with couples to ensure that their sex lives become satisfying to both partners. At times a couple’s difficulties in their sexual interactions is an extension of what is going on a deeper, more subconscious level within the relationship. Counselling can help bring these to the surface so that shifts can occur within the relationship that then relate to a more satisfying sex life. I work with couples who struggle with specific sexual issues such as pain during intercourse (dysperunia), chronic illnesses that effect sexual intimacy, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, differences in sexual preferences, frequency preferences as well as overcoming affairs or previous sexual trauma. In session together, we will work to build affection and respect for one another and deepen your connection. We will work on learning to approach conflict in a different manner where you can gain a deeper understanding of one another’s personalities and needs.
Identity and self-discovery:
One of my favorite areas to work in with clients is in the area of creating meaning or in developing one’s own identity. Often, we may “wake up” in our lives to find ourselves questioning how we got to our place in life, wondering if we consciously made decisions to arrive here or whether we just went along with what others expected of us. read more
In a time like this it is valuable to re-assess and to gain an understanding of who we are, what our values and dreams for our lives are and begin to work towards living in a more authentic way. This work may also be important when dealing with major life changes such as loss of job, a loved one dying, graduating high school or a recent divorce.
This work may include gaining an understanding of how your personality was formed in early childhood. Often, with greater insight into the “where did this come from?” clients can then feel more choices for future behaviours or ways of interacting in the world. Often times this work is accompanied by a sense of grief… grief for the person that was or the person that one could have been but wasn’t. Clients who decide to take the journey of self-discovery often express feeling more alive and more present in their lives day to day.
I feel honored to journey alongside those working on these deeper issues in their lives. No person is the same, and I draw upon my diverse training including Existential Analysis to co-create a method that works best for each client.
Grief and Loss:
Grief and loss feel like the hardest things we can go through—impossible even to live through at times. Some loss is more visible, such as loss of loved ones or divorce, while other loss is not seen by others, such as miscarriages, loss of a job, loss of a sense of self, and loss of one’s place in life or sense of meaning. read more
Too often the psychological toll these terrible events can take on us can be seen by those around us and ourselves as mental illness or pathology. Really, however, the processes of loss are better understood as painful journeys of mourning, of grief, redefinition and reintegration, rather than as symptoms to be treated. The best course forward is not alleviation of the ‘symptoms’ but rather honoring the impact of the loss and working through the hole it leaves in us to help shape what will now grow in its place.
I rely on my background in psychodynamic and existential approaches to help navigate the overwhelming impact of loss through its widespread effects on the psyche. This is from conscious sharing of memories, through exploring alternate meanings of the loss of those we had broken relationships with, through dream work and analysis as our minds attempt in their own unique way to process the loss when we sleep. Hidden emotions we didn’t know we would feel, like anger, are often difficult to acknowledge or express around those sharing our loss, and I offer a place where such nuances can breathe and find a place to be understood and organized as you develop and co-create a new relationship and understanding with who or what was lost.
Sexual Health and Dysfunction:
Sexual difficulties can affect a person outside of the bedroom by increasing feelings of inadequacy, grief, loneliness and anger. As humans are sexual and relational by nature, it is important not to leave sexual difficulties as they are. I work with individuals to explore their personalities and their relationships to determine how their sexual behaviours are enhancing or decreasing fulfillment in their lives. read more
I believe sexual issues such as pain or erectile dysfunction have physiological roots, but that they can also be affected by psychological reasons as well. My job in dealing with sexual health and dysfunction is to determine what is occurring on a psychological level for a person that may be contributing to their difficulties engaging or enjoying sex with their partner. I work with clients experiencing vaginismus (pain during intercourse), difficulties with orgasm, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low libido, anxiety surrounding sex, polyamory, open relationships and sexual exploration.
Sometimes sexual issues are best addressed with one’s partner in couple’s counselling, and I often see couples to work through these issues (click here to see how I work with couples in counselling).