Counselling Approach

Relational Systems Perspective

“The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands.”  ~ Alexandra Penney

Systems Theory highlights relationships and the interpersonal space between people that characterizes those relationships. This is the cornerstone of my work with couples and families.

I look at the recurring patterns of interactions, and the ways in which these patterns are either healthy or otherwise unhealthy. Collaboratively, we will distinguish negative patterns and then co-construct change towards healing patterns. Sometimes, I may accentuate behaviors being enacted by family members, because certain behaviors can predict other complementary behaviors that become coupled in an ongoing interaction pattern.

The Family Systems Therapy stance requires a shift away from individual and the individual as problem towards a holistic view of individuals in relationships.

I seek to understand the context of relational interactions and I emphasize patterns of interaction (what is happening versus why it is happening).

I believe that relationships change when the meanings, through which the problem is understood, changes. Meanings (interpretations) about problems are arrived at linguistically; and therefore, change can occur through generative conversations.

Together we will look at meaning making and how you make sense of the challenges your facing.

EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.”  ~ Joseph Campbell

Most people have the natural ability to cope with day to day stress and find a variety of ways to manage their stress. Our human systems are very adaptive and resilient.

However, when we experience traumatic events in our life our systems sometimes become overloaded or overwhelmed and unable to fully process the event in a way that allows us to move forward or adapt. The traumatic event is coded with all the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that we experience during the disturbing event. Our systems find ways that “make sense” to deal with the trauma (whether it’s a big Trauma or small trauma), and sometimes the systems way of coping leads to anxiety, depression, nightmares, night terrors, self-harming, or other maladaptive ways of protecting the self from further pain and suffering. This is the systems way of dealing with overwhelming stress and trauma. Although, it seems unhealthy to some, it actually makes good sense. Research studies have identified that trauma or disturbing events affects the neural processes of our brains and can actually be seen on CT and MRI scans of the brain.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that these maladaptive, new coping methods, our systems have adopted, make sense…mental health challenges are still seen as a system crash/malfunction. Personally, I think it’s our systems way of staying alive oh oh oh oh staying alive!!! Sometimes it needs to crash in order to protect us. Instead of recognizing the protective nature of what our nervous systems are doing, often people are labeled with disorders and we turn to pharmocoptherapy to solve the problem.

EMDR is like the secret ingredient. Kind of like when your grandma tells you to “rest and drink lots of liquids” to get over a cold. At first you don’t really believe it, but if you spend the whole day in your pajamas on the couch sipping tea, you get better quicker then when you continue with your normal routine. Well EMDR is the “rest and liquid” that helps a person get through traumatic and disturbing experiences.

EMDR is form of therapy that taps into the human systems natural capacity to heal and recover. Through the use of bilateral stimulation (eye movements or tapping) the brain is able to access it’s natural ability to heal and to reprocess the traumatic event into information that is adaptive and healing. It is similar to the way the body uses the REM cycle or dream state to process difficult and challenging events that occur during the day. The eye movements stimulate the brains neural processes, allowing it to recode the information in ways that are more helpful and healthy.

EMDR can be used with toddlers to seniors to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, recurring nightmares, night terrors, trauma, low-self worth, depression, phobias, sexual or physical assaults, death of a loved one, car accidents, or other disturbing events and life crisis that are keeping you stuck. Exciting right?

Want more information? I recommend that you read “The EMDR Revolution: Change Your Life One Memory at a Time, The Client’s Guide” if your considering EMDR Therapy.

Collaborative Therapy

Together We Embrace Life’s Challenges

Reciprocity is a sacred component of Collaborative Therapy: I see client and counsellor as conversational partners, engaging in a collaborative relationship through dialogical conversations.

As a counsellor, it is a critically reflective stance and an approach to counselling that considers the implications of accepted assumptions. In other words, it is a philosophical stance that questions the unquestioned.

It requires the counsellor to take up the position of “not-knowing” and a “listening posture” of curiosity about the client’s reality, beliefs, and experiences. The counsellor is neither a content or outcome expert; instead, the counsellor is responsible for fostering collaborative relationships and generative conversations. This leads to shared inquiry about the issues or tasks the client reveals as important to him or her.

It means that client knowledge is important and valued because the client is the expert on their life and their unique experiences.

What guides, my practice is a set of values and the focus is on generative conversations that develop from both your and my questions, wonderings, and curiosities.

Faith-Based Counselling

Get the Most out of Life

Although relational systems theory and collaborative therapy are the foundation and core of the way I practice, I also draw from several other modalities eclectically to meet the needs of diverse age groups and clientele.

For some individuals Faith is a core part of their identity. I believe in treating a person holistically and I am able to offer Faith-Based Counseling to those individuals or families seeking counselling from a christian perspective and wanting faith to be an integral part of their treatment.

In order to respect and honor an individuals, couple’s, or family’s own values and belief system, this perspective is only incorporated into sessions when a person specifically requests it.