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Counselling for Diversity

Posted on August 1, 2017 at 6:02 PM Comments comments (654)
When I began planning my counselling practice I knew that I wanted to provide sensitive and knowledgeable care to clients from diverse backgrounds. I have been teaching religious and cultural etiquette to students for many years and have continued to expand my own knowledge base. My latest opportunity to learn  will be the 2 day Indigenous Health Summer Gathering I'm looking forward to next week. It will highlight issues of housing and homelessness, mental health and addictions, chronic illness and spirituality and ethnicity. I am very excited to participate in such a learned atmosphere with leaders and teachers from the Indigenous communities that inform public policy.
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A New Spring

Posted on April 15, 2017 at 9:37 PM Comments comments (357)
As spring finds its place on our landscape the new season helps us mark our movement through the year. For some of you, this cycle brings continual reminders of what has been lost. Hopefully for others of you, the time passing is a confirmation of the strength and resilience you are developing as you wend your way through your difficult private journey of grief.

Perhaps by noticing the small changes, the early flowers waking from their winter sleep, the green buds on trees, and the longer hours of daylight, we too can begin to feel a slow awakening to life around us.
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Video Counselling, the next great thing?

Posted on January 6, 2017 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (136)
I recently signed up with a start-up offering counselling using the computer. It isn't SKYPE but is similar to it using a secure platform and confidentiality. What appealed to me was the motivation for this service. It is co-designed by a Family Doctor (MD) who can only see patients for psychotherapy on one day a week- if that. He is looking for dedicated therapists with the professional credentials interested in offering this service to clients who may have financial or mobility issues ( or any other number of reasons) and would prefer to see a therapist via the webcam rather than in an office.

Of course many of you know that I already offer Home Visits, but this will be another service I can provide, even though I still consider myself a novice in this area.

Currently, this service will be at a reduced fee, which should make it very appealing.

I suggest you check out:

Let me know what you think? Is this a service that appeals to you? Any constructive feedback is welcome.
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Posted on November 28, 2016 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (635)
We all know what it means to suffer alone, to feel cut off from others, to believe that we should have the strength and resourcefulness to deal with life's challenges on our own.

This idea of isolation was recently brought home to me in a very different context- that of working in isolation. A very innovative fellow therapist reached out to colleagues whom he had never met, with the idea that most of us are working in our own bubble and could benefit from the support, ideas and expertise of others engaged in this field regardless of their professional specialty or modality.

I had the pleasure of meeting other therapists whose focus is on expressive arts, body work, family or couples counselling, child and adolescent therapy,  addictions counselling, PTSD, men's issues, LGBT friendly plus many others and of course my area: grief, loss and trauma.

We're hoping that in time we will be able to share our best practices and offer our services for referral once they've been vetted.

I'm not sure that life is meant to be lived in isolation professionally or personally. What do you think?
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Posted on August 9, 2016 at 1:02 PM Comments comments (822)
This summer I am using some of my "down-time" to deepen my understanding of my client's concerns.  The month long course on Spiritual and Pastoral Visitor training was filled with fascinating people who represented the diversity of our city. Most of the participants were volunteers but the group also contained leaders of various faith communities.

The Refugee Mental Health course I just completed was offered by CAMH (The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) . This was an intense and multi faceted program designed to inform and strengthen one's basic counselling skills. Many of my assumptions were challenged and I found myself learning a lot more than I anticipated.

Both courses offered me the opportunity for professional development, which I greatly support.
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"It is Never Too Late"

Posted on October 4, 2015 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (158)
I found this poem most inspirational  and hope that you will too.

It Is Never Too Late

The last word has not been spoken,
the last sentence has not been written,
the final verdict is not in.

It is never too late
to change my mind,
my direction,

To say no to the past and yes to the future,
to offer remorse,
and to ask and give forgiveness.

It is never too late
to start over again,
to feel again
to love again
to hope again.

It is never too late
to overcome despair,
to turn sorrow into resolve,
to pain into purpose.

It is never too late to alter my world,
not by magic incantations
or manipulating the cards
or deciphering the stars.

But by opening myself
to curative forces buried within,
to hidden energies,
the powers in my interior self.

In sickness and in dying, it is never too late.
Living, I teach,
Dying, I teach,
how I face pain and fear,

Others observe me, children, adults,
students of life and death,
Learn from my bearing, my posture,
my philosophy.

by: Harold Schulweis
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"The Law of Attraction?"

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 1:17 PM Comments comments (265)
Many people believe in " the law of attraction" and apply it every aspect of their life whether relationships, finances, health or professional success. I can't confirm or deny this phenomenon but I can share with you how I feel it applies to my own life.

I have been on a vertical learning curve the past few years. I earned my M.A. after not having been in university for 40 years. After 27 years in education I created a new business for myself in the form of my private practice in psychotherapy and counselling. And above all, my life is filling up with many new people I would never previously  have come across.

In the every day challenge of establishing one's credentials and expertise, it is not uncommon to be kept at arm's length by others who may be more established. I'm sure that has happened to me but much more have I been mentored, encouraged, supported, complimented. So many people have been so generous with their advice, knowledge, suggestions and even further contacts. People I never knew have agreed to meet with me, have shared their own experiences and have in some cases, even referred clients to me. When someone recently asked me why I would bother meeting someone they happened to know in another context,  I immediately thought of how generous other people have been to me and that it's become my pleasure and obligation to "pay it forward".

I can't tell you if I have become a poster child for the "law of attraction" but I can tell you that being open to others, being kind and generous and allowing a positive light into your life can really do wonders.  I recommend it highly!!
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FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (514)
Many people are puzzled by the profound emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological affects that are caused by death, loss and trauma.

I thought that I would respond to a few of the most frequent questions I get asked.

Question: Since my loved one has died, some of my friends and family are telling me that it is time to get on with life, and that I've spent enough time grieving. Why am I finding it so difficult?

Answer: Friends and family are well meaning, but the fact is that everyone grieves at their own pace and in their own way. It is not unusual to feel strong emotions throughout the first year as you commemorate holidays and birthdays without the deceased.  Each year will have its own triggers but in time you will become accustomed to your own "new normal".

Question: Am I going crazy? I sometimes feel my daughter's presence in the room with me and it feels as real as when she was alive.

Answer: This is not uncommon. Many people report sensory experiences after their loved one dies. Some people report feeling touched, smelling their unique scent, and feeling that the person is in the room with them. For most people this is comforting and gradually lessens with time.

Question: My doctor says I'm medically fine but I often feel unwell. Why do I feel like this?

Answer: Loss of any kind, whether from divorce, job redundancy, empty- nesting, death or from any of the other many reasons we feel bereft, affects all aspects of us. Many people describe their pain in physical terms, as in feeling broken- hearted, kicked in the stomach, having a weight on their chest, or flu-like sensations. Make sure you keep in touch with your doctor and take care of yourself while you are adjusting.

If you have any questions that you would like me to address, please feel free to send them to this blog and I'll do my best to answer them.

"When bad things happen to good people they become better people."
                                                                               -Alison Stoneman

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Support groups versus individual therapy

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 1:14 PM Comments comments (177)
People needing counselling often question whether they would benefit best from individual counselling or group therapy. 

In my practice, clients come to me for my undivided attention, my specific recommendations based on their goals and needs, and the working relationship we develop through time and discussion.

The success of the groups that I facilitate depend more on the compatibility of the group members, the balance between participants who are vocal versus those who are listeners, and the respect and support that is fostered within the structure of the group.

Some clients prefer the privacy of working one- on- one with a therapist while other clients enjoy the camaraderie and good will that can develop in a well maintained group.

Not all therapists though are comfortable or trained to be equally competent in both. When deciding which format is best for you, the chief  requirement will still be on the personality fit with the therapist.
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Changing Roles: Children and Parents

Posted on July 19, 2015 at 9:06 AM Comments comments (307)
As our parents age, adjusting to their changes in mobility and cognition often pose a special challenge to adult children. Accustomed to being cared for themselves, now the children must assume more responsibility for their care. There is a saying that "It takes one parent to raise a child but 4 children to care for a parent". Our life-long relationship with that parent comes into focus with this change. Long buried memories and emotions may surface, conflicts and misunderstandings are elicited. With support, this time may become a period of repair or simply one of duty. Good counselling may help the adult child navigate this often complex experience so that one's parents' death leaves not more scars but more love.
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