Registered Clinical Counsellor
Certified Trauma Professional
Certified Play Therapist and
Equine Facilitated Therapy
what i offer
Over the years I have learned many different ways to assist people who find life emotionally overwhelming or spiritually underwhelming. There are many elements that come together to make a therapy session worthwhile, like the skill and experience of the therapist, along with the amount of readiness to engage that you might bring. But what's really important is the relationship. I value the trust you will put in me and I'll bring warmth, compassion and openness to our sessions. We will collaborate on the process and I'll draw from a variety of therapeutic modalities as appropriate to help you find your way through the problem. I believe you already have the answer within you - you just need some help uncovering it. Below are some of the ways we might work together. But before you get into that you might want some clarification on the distinctions between coaching, counselling and equine facilitated therapy.
COACHING: Coaching sessions are future oriented. It's not about digging into the past but about setting a goal and keeping yourself moving toward it. Are you working on maintaining a healthy lifestyle but need someone to be accountable to to stay on track? I'll be your coach and cheerleader and help you figure out what is stopping you from living your best life. Or perhaps you are at a crossroad, trying to decide between options and feel stuck. Coaching is all about creating the life you want to live without getting mired in the past. These short, practical sessions will keep you headed in the right direction. If we end up talking about how your past keeps you stuck then we have moved into the realm of counselling.
COUNSELLING: Entering into a counselling relationship does not mean you have to get mired in the past. It means we can look at your past together to see what worked, what didn't and what is keeping you stuck. Sometimes what happened to you is not your fault and you developed some coping styles that helped then but no longer serve you. It might be that there are some patterns of functioning that you are not aware of that are causing some challenges for you now. Maybe some definitions like "employed" or "healthy" or "married" no longer apply and you need help discerning who you can be given changing circumstances. No matter what brings you to self-examination we will work from a strengths-based perspective. I believe that all of our behaviour has a purpose that has served us. Therefore, we can embrace our past actions, learn from them, and grow to become even stronger. This requires a willingness to see our part in what went awry and an openness to trying new ways of being. I offer you a non-judgmental, supportive therapeutic relationship from which you can safely explore your past, your present and your imagined future.
EQUINE FACILITATED THERAPY:
Horses are very sensitive beings. They sense what we are feeling. They stand with us in our grief, play with us in our joy, challenge us in our resistance. They help ground us in the present moment and teach us the value of patience. What makes this a particularly effective therapy is that you will engage all your senses in a unique environment, thereby enabling your brain to create new neural connections and associations. You will be able to shift from those well worn pathways that kept you stuck in a stress or trauma response to new ones that will free you into a new life. We will do this through systematic somatic processing and emotion regulation at a gentle pace that feels safe to you. Over time you will re-establish your ability to trust the world and you will re-build your confidence. This kind of work takes place in that sweet spot of emotional regulation where learning and change are enhanced. This is what allows me to state with confidence that this is "Learning That Lasts and Therapy That Makes a Difference." Works with brains of all ages :)
Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): This works great for issues that are affecting you right now but you just can't seem to see your own way out of. This approach helps you identify practical solutions and keeps you on track with your goals. Many Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) suggest this approach as problems can often be tackled in only 4 to 6 sessions. Sometimes you just need to talk something out with someone who won't judge you and who keeps things confidential (like me). No need to get into your whole life story with SFBT. We'll just deal with this darn thing (or person) that's bugging you and find some practical solutions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Ever find yourself thinking "My life's a mess. This will never get better. Why does life always suck? Why are people always so hurtful?" We call that "all or nothing thinking" or "catastrophizing." It's easy to get sucked into the vortex of negativity and go blind to the good things in life. So CBT is helpful when these kinds of thoughts and feelings pull us down and get the better of our behavior. Negative thought patterns can keep us stuck and CBT gives you tools to take back your life. Like SFBT, CBT tends to take fewer sessions. You'll learn practical tools to help you deal with the challenges you face.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Fancy name for this baby. This approach works well if you've been having challenging relationships for a while now. Like consistently. This is for you if you've heard one too many times that you are "hard to get along with" or you're "too implusive!" It's also really effective if alcohol or drugs are managing you (not the other way around), if you have frequent thoughts of suicide, or if you self-harm. DBT will help you learn to recognize and name your emotional states so that you can better manage them and reduce your tendency to over-react. In a nutshell, DBT will help you create better, healthier relationships in your life. This, too, is a practical approach with helpful tools.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Have you ever heard of the Serenity Prayer? It goes like this, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." ACT is about identifying what actions or changes can realistically be made and helps you learn to accept what is out of your control. ACT will help you get a handle on what is really important to you at this stage of your life, learn how to keep that as your goal post, and then move towards it.
Bowen Family Systems Therapy (BFST): I'm into horses. We have a saying, "If you haven't fallen off, you haven't ridden hard enough." In BFST we could say, "If you think your family isn't f*cked up, you haven't looked hard enough." If you are into family history you will love BFST. If you don't know sh*t about your family, you will love BFST. I love BFST. Never a dull moment with this puppy let me tell you! What you thought was just Uncle Bob's problem or Auntie Jane's secret will somehow be yours too and you will have a blast unpacking it all! Mind you, it often gets worse before it gets better so you have to saddle up, but it's worth the ride! If you want lasting change this is the route to go. Ride 'em cowboy!
Internal Family Systems (IFS): Are you someone who presents really well to the world but often feels turmoil inside - like what others sees about you from the outside and what you feel on the inside can be two really different things? IFS looks at the many different parts of self we have and how they can sometimes seem to work against each other. We can have really successful careers but feel very wounded inside. We can really have our sh*t together at work but suck at personal relationships because we are so afraid of getting hurt. These parts of self that are afraid or wounded often get pushed aside so we can hold it together and look good to the outside world. But the time comes when these parts need to be heard. You will discover that every part has a positive intent and as you learn to harmonize and integrate these parts you will feel less internal dis-ease and gain an increased sense of calm confidence. This is a very emotionally healing form of therapy that leads to greater connection with your true Self. As such, it is a more insightful, reflective and deep therapy that takes time to unfold. Still, you go at your own pace. This work is very transformational.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Somatic Awareness and Trauma-Informed Therapy: Stress permeates life. There's good stress and bad stress. When the stress is overwhelming and incapacitates us it has shifted into the realm of trauma. No matter what type of therapy we are engaged in you will learn some MBSR techniques to help you get through your day. Should your therapeutic process stir up traumatic memories, we will deal with them as you are ready. Somatic Awareness involves learning how to witness what is happening in your body with deep compassion for yourself. You will get in touch with your body's message for you which is understood to have the purpose of bringing greater awareness to the holistic BodyMindSpirit experience. Through mindfulness-based work and somatic awareness you can learn to experience the present moment with unconditional love for yourself and your body. This, in turn, will help you heal the emotional wounds that might be expressing as physical symptoms or pain. MBSR and Somatic Awareness practice will help you witness the self with equanimity in the present moment, whatever that brings, and studies have shown that this is a very simple (though not always easy) method of enabling one to move forward from being stuck in a stress or trauma response. I will use the latest evidence-based treatments from the fields of neuroscience and traumatic stress to guide you through this process.
Processing Trauma: You need someone who is trained in how to effectively process your trauma and I am a Certified Trauma Professional through PESI, have successfully completed the Trauma Master Series with the National Institute of Clinical Behavioral Medicine, and I am a Certified Traumatic Stress Studies Professional through the Trauma Research Foundation led by the big cheese himself, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.
There are many types of trauma: single incident trauma, complex trauma, developmental trauma, complex developmental trauma, inter-generational trauma and historical trauma but basically, trauma can be thought of as any event that is overwhelming and that stretches us beyond our normal ability to cope. I've been there. And I've come out the other side, stronger for it. You can too.
I will teach you about how the brain works and what neuroscience has taught us about traumatic experiences. I will help you process those icky or scary or angry or fearful or sad bodily feelings and sensations that get triggered that you really wish would just go away. You will learn the tools of MBSR for emotional and physical regulation. You will discover that you can move forward with life and that there is hope.
You will eventually make meaning of what happened - it doesn't have to be a pretty meaning, it can be an ugly one (I said I'd keep it real), but it's still a meaning, an explanation to help you make sense of it. Most importantly, you will learn to lessen the impact of your trauma responses without needing to tell the story behind the trauma. Neuroscience teaches us that talk therapy is not the most effective treatment for trauma. In fact, it can worsen symptoms. What is effective is a combination of MBSR, Somatic Awareness and Trauma-informed Practice which will move you from feeling disconnected and disempowered to feeling connection and empowerment.
Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy (STST): Most of us have experienced difficulty when we try to change even a simple habit. STST helps us see the automatic patterns that we've adopted and the patterns of coping that have gone out of our awareness that keep us stuck. It also delves deeper into the underlying beliefs and attitudes we hold about the world that were instilled in us in childhood. What were once rules for survival might now be holding us back. This is a strengths-based approach to understanding your family dynamics and helps you uncover the expectations, perceptions, feelings and yearnings which were part of your early development that affect your emotional reactions today. Eventually, you will realign your identity with your true life and purpose with your Self as it is calling you to do.
above all, what i offer is a safe place for you to explore what you are ready to
In the end, you probably don't care what kind of counselling method is used. You just want something to get better. And you are right. The method of counselling doesn't matter as much as the relationship of trust that we will build. Above all, my job is to hold a safe space for you to explore whatever you are ready bring. I'll even bring my sense of humour so we'll have some levity too!
It's being alone with the pain that's hard
Having said all of the above, the healing can only begin once you've taken the step to reach out. So call and let's chat and see if you think we can be a good fit. 1-604-885-6777
move from feeling disconnected and disempowered to feeling connection and empowerment
make peace with yourself
learn to calm
the emotional storm
Just because your past didn't turn out the way you
thought it could
doesn't mean things can't
Do something good
for yourself today.
Your future self will
thank you for it.
A brighter future awaits...
from "a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse"
Do you qualify for insurance coverage for counselling?
Check with your private insurance plan or Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) to see if they will cover your counselling costs. Some companies cover Registered Clinical Counsellors (like me) for 100% of the cost, others will pay 80% or 50%. Most have a limit they will pay up to and some have a deductible. A doctor's note is not usually needed but check with your plan administrator to find out.