Areas of Practice
As infants and children, we all express a wide range of emotions. Somewhere along the way you might have received the message or learned through traumatic experience that certain emotions were too big or too difficult to express. Now, you are finding it difficult to connect with loved ones, to let others know what you need, or to even know what you need yourself. When you look inwards, you might feel empty or blank. When we disconnect from our emotions, we disconnect from ourselves and others. This might have been helpful or necessary in your past, but it might not be serving you now. We can work towards identifying what messages your emotions are sending you and get you back to connecting with yourself and others in ways that feel safe and meaningful to you.
Our worlds are always changing. Some changes are chosen by us and others are not, both can be stressful. Change, or lack of change, can leave us feeling stuck or stirred up. You might be experiencing anxiety, depression, stress, or burnout after a challenging transition. You might be finding it difficult to maintain your routine or to feel comfortable in a new one. Transition can look like many things: a new job, a baby, divorce, marriage, retiring, caregiving, moving, a loss... If you chose to make a change, the difficulty of it may feel confusing or unsettling, you might ask yourself if your choice was a mistake. If the change was involuntary you might feel angry, betrayed, or as if a fulfilling life is no longer possible. We can work towards navigating transitions or planning for change in a safe and compassionate space; a space where you can express yourself fully without fear of judgement so that you can experience peace with the changes in your life.
Body Image & Embodiment
When is the last time you paused and turned inwards? Do you routinely medicate your headaches, bodily pains, and GI issues without giving them much thought? Our bodies give us feedback every minute of every day. Most of the time, we are so caught up in a routine that we fail to notice. Embodiment is stepping into who we are in the fullness of our bodies. Without bodies, we don’t experience the world. There are many instances where it may feel like you and your body are fighting on opposite teams… Past traumas can make the body feel like an unsafe place, chronic pain can make the body feel uninhabitable, a negative body image can make you nitpick and criticize yourself constantly. But there are other ways of being, ways that you can get on the same page as your body, regardless of whether you are always pleased about the messages it is sending you. We can work towards beginning to notice what your body is saying and how best to honour it, because you deserve to experience the world as a place where you can show up as everything you are.
No matter your age, the length of your relationship, or your personality, relationships are challenging. If you and your partner ever struggle with communication, meeting one another's needs, or the same conflicts seems to come up time and time again, couples counselling can be a fruitful place to work through these challenges. Couples counselling does not need to be a last resort option when you are at your wit's end in your relationship. In fact, it is helpful to work on these issues before they feel unmanageable. We come into romantic relationships with all of our past relationship experiences influencing us, from platonic to parental. This can make it difficult to parse out what is happening with your partner now versus what you might be carrying forward from old relationship wounds. It might feel like you and your partner are speaking different languages or that your partner just doesn't understand where you are coming from and why. In couples counselling, we can work towards unifying the language of your relationship so that when conflicts do arise, you know that you are on the same page and you both trust that you can work together towards a resolution.
For some people with chronic pain, the thought of reaching out for mental health support can feel defeating. Many people who live with chronic pain are already made to feel as though their experience is not real or that it's "all in their head,” and seeking out counselling might seem like it gives credibility to those statements. However, as much we try (and historically, we’ve tried a lot!), we cannot separate the mind and the physical body. What affects your body, affects your mind and what affects your mind, affects your body. Research shows that the brain processes physical and emotional pain in the same places, making it very clear that our mind and bodies work together as one. In fact, most chronic pain does not show up physically on an MRI or an X-ray, but this does not make your pain less real or less painful. Despite all this, it can still be confusing and frustrating when pain shows up or lingers when an injury has otherwise healed or there was no injury at all. My thesis research as part of my graduate degree focused on experiences of meaning for individuals with chronic pain and my findings are hopeful: experiencing meaning in life with chronic pain is possible and it does not require the absence of pain. If this feels impossible to you or you're not sure how to get there, counselling can help. Our work in this area can include everything from work on pain beliefs, sleep hygiene, exploration of meaningful activities and relationships, and trauma processing. It is my hope that your greatest takeaway from such work is that pain does not remove your worthiness to live a full and engaged life.
Full thesis document found here
Presented at Pain BC's Interdisciplinary Pain Education Day, October 2021
Presented at the International Network of Personal Meaning Conference, August 2021
Research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) - Frederick Banting and Charles Best - Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s, 2020
A good fit between client and counsellor is important. Contact me to book a free 15-minute consultation. Some insurance providers will reimburse for part or all of your counselling services fees from a therapist registered as a CCC (Canadian Certified Counsellor). If you wish to use your benefits, please enquire with your provider prior to our initial meeting to ensure my qualifications (MA, CCC) meet your provider’s requirements.