My Philosophy & Approach
Just as a seed requires the essential elements (earth, water, air, light, space) to grow, we too require the right conditions to experience balance and wholeness.
When the right conditions are present, we are wired to heal.
We all yearn to feel loved, accepted and cherished for who we really are.
When early relationships are attuned, and appropriately responsive to our needs, we are much more likely to develop the ability to manage our emotions, and have a positive sense of self.
In the absence of secure attachment, more primitive survival based brain structures are activated and our ability to master key developmental tasks is compromised.
Our coping strategies are rooted in early developmental relationships.
While our coping strategies reflect our strengths, they are often habitual, learned defense mechanisms that are our best efforts at self protection.
Readiness for change is enhanced when we can respect the role of less adaptive strategies, but acknowledge that our ability to flourish requires we develop more skills that are more aligned with our goals.
When clients can take a new perspective, they can experiment with more creative and self-affirming strategies, and valued and elusive parts of themselves can come online in service of their needs and goals.
Language is only one aspect of our universal human experience.
True healing happens when we not only talk about change but experience it in the present moment through imagery, sight, sound, touch, smell, sensations, and movement.
The body is a powerful vehicle through which we can be present with what is, and discover new possibilities for harmony, balance, and growth.
I recognize that the foundation for everything we do together rests on my ability to establish a positive and trusting therapeutic relationship with you.
Getting to know you at a pace that’s comfortable for you helps me to gain an understanding of what’s at the heart of the issues that bring you to counselling.
My clinical experience has taught me to listen well, not only to clients’ words, posture, body language, and movement, but also to the different voices that personify what they want, and what’s getting in the way.
Integrative and holistic, my approach has been influenced by:
Affective neuroscience: the study of how relationships and experiences shape the brain.
Research on Trauma: During trauma we lose our ability to cope with what’s happening, and go into a survival response (fight/freeze/flight).
Research demonstrates that deeply held traumatic memories are stored in the body.
When safety is established, a state of mindfulness can allow previously disruptive sensations, impulses and movements to be observed, and used as access points for processing traumatic memories. (Sensorimotor Psychotherapy). (My thesis integrates neurobiological, relational, sociopolitical perspectives on trauma, and the role of mindfulness in the treatment of trauma.)
Download my thesis here.
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP): We are shaped by our relationships with early attachment figures. The quality of early bonding experiences impacts how we connect with others; whether we feel securely attached, or whether avoidant/dismissive, ambivalent/preoccupied, or fearful/overwhelmed attachment strategies undermine our sense of safety and happiness. AEDP uses the therapeutic relationship as a vehicle for recognizing, acknowledging, affirming, and ultimately supporting clients to feel seen, heard, as well as loving and loved.
Gestalt/Internal Family Systems Therapy: Inner conflict happens when two or more different voices actively struggle to control our inner world. We seek equilibrium, a state of balance in which parts of ourselves that grew out of developmental experiences, can influence the self in positive ways. Mindfulness, body awareness, and compassion inform this process in which clients recognize the parts that take up too much space, are intrusive and over controlling, and help them to grow, evolve, and take on a more positive role in our lives.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is focused on being non-judgmental while paying attention on purpose to what’s happening in the present moment. Mindfulness helps us to cultivate a different relationship with our thoughts, feelings, and memories.
Yoga Therapy: Our breath, movement, posture, and nervous system are profoundly influenced by our emotional state. Breath, movement, touch, mindful awareness, and imagery can support clients to feel safe, and discover inner resources that promote insight and healing.
Solutions-focused brief therapy (SFBT): Also referred to as “Brief Therapy”, SFBT was originally developed to help clients articulate their goals, and focus on the solutions for the issues that bring them to therapy. SFBT is based on the premise that the client is the expert in their own life, and solutions to problems are already inherent in our lives.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Lasting change takes place when clients are determined to challenge the maladaptive patterns that are built on dysfunctional thoughts, and the feelings and behaviors that stem from them. CBT has been thoroughly researched and has been shown to be effective with numerous issues, including anxiety, depression, mood disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
Narrative therapy (NT): NT recognizes that language has the power to story our lives. In this approach it is essential to develop a felt sense of how the problem affects a client’s life and relationships, and the various ways that the problem has usurped a person’s power. NT conversations function to externalize the problem from the person. A collaborative process, therapist and client work together to uncover sites of resistance, highlight exceptions to the client’s problem story, and use client agency to develop unique outcomes.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): Developed by Marsha M. Linehan, DBT is a Cognitive Behavioural Approach that equips individuals with mindfulness and distress tolerance skills to reduce vulnerability to behaviours that a person is trying to change. In clinical research, DBT has been demonstrated to be highly effective with difficult disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, and Self-Harm.
Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP): Originally developed by Habib Davanloo at McGill University in the 1960’s and 70’s, ISTDP is a brief form of psychotherapy which is informed by the understanding that most psychological disorders are rooted in early attachment injuries in which the person experienced complex emotions that became blocked or avoided. These early injuries can lie dormant until they are stirred up or triggered by distressing life events, or subsequent traumatic experiences. The ISTDP therapist is skilled at helping the client to recognize unconscious processes that perpetuate their symptoms. Interventions are matched to the individual client to reduce anxiety, increase tolerance for core emotions, and restore health and wellbeing in life and relationships.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a phase oriented trauma treatment that takes place over 8 steps. The 3 pronged protocol includes past memories, present disturbances, and future targets. It works according to our innate capacity to heal known as our adaptive information processing system. Within this system our brain is composed of memory networks that include our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, physical sensations, and impulses. When an individual goes through a negative experience, and it continues to interfere, and even reinforce their expectation of more negative experiences, there is a glitch in the adaptive information processing system. This occurs when a disturbing event was insufficiently processed, and as a result symptoms that resemble the event are easily triggered by emotions, sensations, thoughts, beliefs, impulses, and internal as well as external stimuli. In EMDR, clients learn about their Window of Tolerance, and are assisted to develop a strong present moment focus. Successful trauma treatment, restores safety, confidence, and resolves symptoms such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and overwhelming emotions.