Therapy is about change. Think about change in your life. What comes to mind? Maybe times when change has been unexpected, imposed, unwelcome. Maybe times when change has been intentional, desired, and positive. The word change may bring up certain emotions – excitement, anxiety, shame or frustration about “failed” change attempts. Change can be gradual and barely noticed or sudden and intense. Sometimes we wait and wait for change instead of creating change. Even positive changes (getting married, a new job, starting a family) can be stressful. Change can involve growth and progress but also loss. Sometimes we have a delayed reaction to change, getting through tough times admirably only to struggle when we can finally let our guard down.
Therapy involves figuring out what we can and can’t change. Sometimes changing our situation makes the most sense. When we can’t change our situation, we are called on to change ourselves (our reactions, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours). Both individuals and couples have established ways of doing things. As we go through life and circumstances change, we must adapt and grow, to challenge old ways that no longer work.
We usually have some degree of ambivalence (mixed feelings) about change. This makes sense. What we’ve been doing has worked at some time in some ways, even if hard to see. It serves some function and feels predictable compared to the “great unknown”. Sometimes we know something isn’t working, but we’re not sure what to do about it. Other times, we know what to do but get stuck in contemplation without taking action. Still other times we “dip our foot” in a new way but return to our old ways and a sense of failure grows about not being able to sustain and deepen change.
Research shows that most change happens on our own, without professional help, but there are times where we need to reach out for help.
I strongly believe that the therapy relationship is the foundation for change in therapy. Fit, comfort, and trust are key. In the relationship, clients experience hope, support, and guidance. I help them to cultivate their capacity for curiosity, reflection, and self-awareness. They often feel surprised by their ability to be more open, honest, and expressive with their thoughts and feelings, both in and out of therapy. I enjoy helping clients find their personally relevant reasons for change, move from contemplation to action, witness confidence grow as they experiment with new ways of handling life, and deeply accept themselves at the same time.
My therapy style is compassionate, supportive, respectful, and knowledgeable. I find gentle humour to be valuable. You have the right to know what is happening in therapy at all times. I welcome questions and feedback at any time.
I use a flexible and integrative approach that draws from different therapies depending on clients’ situations, goals, and preferences. There are often different ways to approach any problem, however, where possible, I use research-informed techniques. I have experience with the following approaches: motivational interviewing, interpersonal therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, emotion-focused therapy, mindfulness meditation, existential, acceptance and commitment therapy, schema therapy, and positive psychology. Don’t worry if these terms don’t mean anything to you. I’m happy to explain them.