Trauma Treatment, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Couples Therapy
Trauma can have devastating effects on a person's inner experiences, relationships, and how they show up in life. It can be defined as: anything from the past that is still limiting your responses to life in the present. It is incomplete. Whenever our nervous system is threatened and overwhelmed it cannot do its job of coding and putting experience into the memory banks. There is ample neuroscience to show how these unprocessed events keep us from responding with flexibility, creativity, and openness to new experiences. It is as if we learn to live with an internal smoke detector always on. In essence our world becomes smaller, increasingly painful (or numbed out), and more difficult to navigate. Trauma treatment such as EMDR, somatic processing, Traumatic Incident Reduction, can address both old and new experiences of trauma to effectively relieve symptoms, increase a sense of inner resourcefulness, and provide an opportunity to re-engage fully with life as it is unfolding in the moment. If you are struggling with trauma, I encourage you to reach out. If not to me then to someone else who can support you through this process. Sometimes trauma can heal on its own but often it only gets pushed further down taking up precious energy that is needed to face the challenges of life. I welcome your inquiry into how we might work together.
Treatment for Stress, Anxiety, Depression
Stress, anxiety, and depression often go hand in hand. Whether from chronic pressures from work, family life, grief and loss, or a painful childhood, it very common to feel like life is demanding too much of us and at too fast a pace. As a way of coping we may turn to substances like drugs or alcohol. We might numb out with food or get lost in the cyber world just to try and escape. We may withdraw from things we enjoyed as exhaustion increases and avoidance takes over. At its worst we may see no positive future to move toward and begin to contemplate suicide. Negative beliefs about our self and the world begin to dominate our thinking and control our actions and choices. Often we can see a pattern of a lack of basic healthy behaviours such as good sleep, nourishing food, exercise, and social engagement. The volume on negative thoughts and beliefs such as I am a failure, I am worthless, I am unlovable, I don't belong, can be overwhelming. These symptoms can come on suddenly or build up over time until one day we just can't face another day. The good news is that stress, anxiety and depression can all be treated. In small steps your can move toward a life of meaning and purpose. Using mindfulness- based cognitive behavioural treatments such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) you will discover how thoughts, feelings, and behaviours can be either a vicious circle or your way out of a painful existence. It takes effort, but in small, doable steps based on what is important to you, each day can move you closer to a sense of resilience and increased ability to face the challenges of life head on. Online supports such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction groups, talking with your doctor about a referral to the provincial free program called BounceBack, or reaching out to community Mental Health and Wellness programs can be that first step toward that new future. Often workplaces have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that cover the cost of private counselling. I am listed on most workplace referral services can bill those programs directly for services. Your benefits booklet should provide you with how to contact your provider.
Couple and Relationship Counselling
One of the great challenges of couples therapy is that the couple often comes for counselling only after many years of conflict and struggle, leaving less commitment and energy for creating change. We might think things will get better on their own or we don't have time to invest. Sometimes one part of the couple is uncertain about how helpful counselling might be so the other feels stuck in their efforts to get help. If we view relationships more from the structure of a team than individuals we begin to see that the team is stronger when all members are doing well. When members have common goals rather than conflicted needs. When there is an atmosphere of collaboration and creativity to reach those goals as opposed to winners and losers. We can't have a team where one member loses and the other wins. Either all members win or all members lose. We often come into relationships full of hope for love and belonging. Over time relationships can struggle when these needs are not met or other needs emerge such as for autonomy and self-fulfillment. Under stress we often default to less effective means to resolve differences such as blaming, defending, resentful compliance, withholding, avoiding, or even using rage to control the other. We may lack the skills and tools to engage in the inevitable conflicts with effectiveness, love, and creativity where both partners can grow and thrive in the context of commitment and love. My training in couples treatment includes the Strategic Development Model of Couples Therapy that uses a lifespan developmental model to support couples in exploring key areas of conflict and growth that allow the relationship to expand as time goes on rather than fall into behaviours that create a stagnant or toxic relationship environment. I also use the PAIRS intervention that is an acronym for Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills. These tools target areas of conflict that are typical in couples and provide a structure for moving toward healthier interactions. Whether there has been a betrayal, a crisis, or slow growing apart, a healthy, vibrant relationship where love can flourish and that supports the wholeness of each member with respect and trust is well worth working toward.