What it’s like to work with me
After 13 years of experience as a therapist, I have some “core beliefs” about counselling and it’s benefits. The most important thing you should know about my approach is that I believe that YOU are the expert in the room. I know- when your relationships and life feel like they are unravelling, you might not feel like the expert. But you are.
While it’s true that I am an education junkie and have a mini-alphabet behind my name, you are the true professional in your own life. My job is to take all of my skills, expertise and wisdom and help to guide you in new ways of thinking and acting that align with who you are. My approach is very holistic: I believe that all the parts of people’s lives have to be in balance for true fulfillment.
I am not a therapist who practices from one “model” or type of therapy. I am fortunate to have studied many different schools of therapy and I combine these uniquely for you. I do tend to use mindfulness-based approaches in my work and I believe that when we are able to get in touch with our innate wisdom, answers will reveal themselves. Sometimes, we need some help to quiet the mind.
Another core belief of mine is that nothing can change if we are not compassionate and loving to ourselves. This can be scary for most people to consider: that loving yourself is actually possible. I help all of my clients to fall in love with both the light and dark parts of themselves. This is what sets you free.
In sessions, sometimes I will push you and sometimes I will ask you to rest and recover. I believe that a good therapist won’t just agree with clients all the time. Your concerns, behaviours and feelings will always be validated, but if they are harming the quality of your life, they will be challenged.
One piece of feedback that I seem to get consistently is that people are surprised at how easy it was to open up to me. I completely understand how much prior negative counselling experiences can make coming in difficult. I am here to make you feel safe.
the stages of counselling
1. Getting to know you (getting to know all about you):
In this phase, I spend time collecting pieces of your story and your experience. I begin to formulate an understanding of your skills, strengths and capabilities. I work diligently to earn your trust and to make the experience comfortable for you. My goal is to make you feel safe, supported and heard.
Together, we probe into what has been going on that hasn’t been serving you. We discuss how you’d like to feel or act, and we brainstorm your goals, hopes and dreams. You can ask me any questions at any time; I believe in sharing my own humanity with my clients (which means you won’t sit in my chair as I stare at you and say nothing for an hour).
2. Planning & processing
In this phase, I clarify your goals and build a roadmap with you. Depending on why you’ve sought out counselling, I will pull together a unique and individualized game plan for you, and with your approval, we will begin to move through this together.
For some clients, I ask them to grab a binder and bring it to each session to do various “homework” sheets. This might be true if you’re struggling with emotional dysregulation and chronically unstable relationships.
For other clients, we might begin to work on self-compassion and self-care. It truly all depends on what you’ve said you want, but I have lots of tools in my toolkit and soon, you will too.
3. the end of the road (for now…)
Counselling is not an infinite process. Most people want to know that with concentrated effort, they will NOT be seeing me for the rest of their lives. You should know that this is my goal too! I want our work to be effective, transformational and healing. Before we terminate together, I will begin to spread sessions out to give you a good chance to practice outside of my office.
When you feel that your objectives have been met and your healing has occurred, we will terminate our work. That said, I say to all of my clients “you know where to find me”, and if you need a “tune up”, I welcome you back into session with warmth.
Who is counselling for? I’m just not sure that I need this.
Counselling, in my opinion, is for everyone. Counselling is a process where you have the opportunity to be heard, validated and supported. This platform allows you to make fundamental mindset shifts in order to live a life that you are proud of.
If you’ve arrived on this website and are reading this, you are likely ready to work with a counsellor. The counselling process helps you to understand how events of the past influence behaviours and thoughts of today. This is especially useful if the behaviours and thoughts of today are making life difficult.
OK, but I’ve already dealt with my past. Am I going to have to sit around and feel sorry for myself for things that happened before?
I love this question and it comes up all the time. First of all, no- you’re not going to sit around and feel sorry for yourself for all the hard times. Sitting around wallowing does nothing to improve things now and also, it sounds just… boring. And depressing.
What we will do is spend some time (if it comes up) healing the hard times from the past. Healing, giving compassion to and nurturing those injured parts of yourself are important!
And then, we move on.
The past certainly doesn’t define us, but it shapes us. Once you begin to understand what drives the unfavourable thoughts or behaviours that are harming you now, you will be in a position of empowerment to change. That is the beauty of counselling- you have your very own guide to help you with this journey.
Does going to counselling mean I’m really “crazy”? Are you going to judge me?
Um, no. And since you asked, let me be super clear: no one is “crazy”. That word is hurtful. Everyone (yes, everyone) has valid reasons and underlying causes for their behaviour- no matter how outrageous it might seem to you. People who are experiencing those periods of struggle (also known as… you know… EVERYONE) often opt for someone to help them organize and make sense of their lives.
Please know that at this point in my career, you’d really have to work hard to throw something at me that I haven’t already heard. I will not judge you and even more importantly, I am going to work with you to not judge YOURSELF. I absolutely love humans, in all of our light and dark.
Also, it’s about 25 years past due that we stop the stigma around reaching out for help. Human beings are the most inter-dependent species on planet earth. We need each other to survive more than any other group. Plus, all of the famous people have therapists. If it’s good enough for Beyonce, it’s good enough for you.
1. OK, fine. You make good points. But hold on- does this mean I have to be in therapy forever?!
NO! As great as I am sure it will be to work with you, I don’t want you in therapy forever either.
People seek out counselling for all sorts of different reasons. Some wounds need more time to heal than others. I listen carefully to each person’s story when I meet them. I have had clients tell me up front that they are looking for the least amount of sessions possible, which I respect and work diligently to help them achieve. Other clients need and ask for ongoing support. Everyone is different! You’re the captain and I am the co-pilot.
I want to go to couples counselling but I’m scared that my partner is just going to tell on me and you’re going to take her side (or: I want to come to counselling so I can tell you what a jerk my husband is)
Couples counselling is one of THE most vulnerable things people can do. In individual sessions, you have complete control over what you’re saying to me. As a couple, you’re wide open to being “told on”. The most important thing I want to tell you is that I am on (and only on) the “side” of the relationship.
Listen, I get it. Remember how I came to couples counselling? Through… needing couples counselling? My job as a couples counsellor is to help you both hear, be heard and feel safe in our session. I understand that the greater the amount of pain we are in, the greater the potential for crappy behaviour is. I actually wrote a blog about this topic which you can check out by clicking here.
Are same-sex or LGBTQ+ couples welcome? I know it’s 2018, but I just want to know you’re legit.
Actually, I am almost too legit to quit. I am a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and I understand the unique challenges that we face in our relationships. You are safe and understood in my office.
How do I know if you’re the one for me?
If you’ve stuck with me this far, great! I’m not your “traditional” therapist. I keep it authentic, and I am not afraid to challenge you- while providing compassion, warmth and security for you. I will walk with you through the dark times and celebrate you for all of your strengths and triumphs.
People tell me that I helped them see what was possible- even when they couldn’t see it for themselves. I am an experienced, capable and, dare I say it, somewhat “edgy” counsellor.
I can’t wait to meet you. Click here to set up an appointment.