I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC. I’ve been working in the field for about 14 years now, in a variety of settings, including mental health, chronic pain, and family and couples counselling. I’m also a spouse and a parent, which is its own kind of education.
To me, the most useful approach is a collaborative one; we put together my knowledge and experience with your expertise in your life and your experience. Sometimes when I say that, the response is confusion and worry as the person may feel they don’t understand themselves well enough to contribute any expertise to the process. One of the most exciting and interesting aspects of therapy is supporting the growth of self-awareness and self-acceptance. Often too, this increasing self-awareness is a crucial part of creating change.
People often ask what type of counselling I use; it’s a good question, but one I find difficult to answer. I’ve had some training in many different therapeutic approaches: cognitive-behavioural therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, family systems therapy, a little transactional analysis, a little exposure to object-relations theories, lots of trauma-informed approaches, a little Gestalt…It’s a pretty long list. I haven’t found anything yet, though, that seems to work for everybody. I rely pretty heavily on my ability to create a safe, open therapeutic relationship – after all, all the research indicates that this is more critical in making therapy useful than the use of any particular modality – but even that is not a good fit for everyone. For some, the emotional openness and acceptance of a safe relationship feels threatening, the very opposite of what I’m hoping to achieve.
I guess, in the end, the best answer is that I take an eclectic approach in therapy; together we choose and draw on the approaches that are best suited to your abilities and your needs. Together we choose how much emotion comes into the room and how much to keep our work cognitive and practical. We decide together how much insight-oriented work suits you and how much to focus on specific goals, plans and skills. The best measure of whether or not the therapy is working is whether or not you are seeing the changes you want for yourself and your life. If you are, then we celebrate that, figure out what’s working and build on it. If you’re not, then we explore the barriers and adjust our work accordingly.
I can’t promise that counselling will be comfortable or easy – more likely it will be uncomfortable and even painful sometimes – but I can promise that if the therapy is not effective, together we will evaluate what is getting in the way and address those issues. There’s no point in investing your time, energy and money in therapy if it’s not working. If it looks like I am not a good fit for you, or another service is what is needed to support you in effecting change, I will support you in identifying and finding the services you need.
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