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Regulating the practice of Psychotherapy in Ontario

Posted on May 8, 2015 at 10:33 AM Comments comments (129)
 On April 1, 2015, the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario was finally given official status by the government. As of this blog, more than 6,000 potential therapists have submitted applications to join the new college. The application process is rigorous and demanding and requires a great deal of supporting documentation.

What this new college essentially will do is provide professional practice standards for all clients seeking service, including general professionalism (confidentiality of client information, consent and record-keeping) and conduct. 

The vision of the College is provide leadership in professional self regulation, dedication to excellence, fairness, openness, responsiveness and respect for diversity.

What it will provide clients is assurance that psychotherapists in Ontario are held to the high standards of professional accountability and ethical and competent practice.

It will also regulate the use of the title of Psychotherapist. The initial's RP or Registered Psychotherapist after a clinician's name will indicate membership in the College and will not be permitted otherwise.

This new College will change the face of our practice in Ontario and will provide clients with confidence that our Psychotherapists are trained and accountable.

Meeting the New Year with a smile

Posted on January 21, 2015 at 1:32 PM Comments comments (61)
Each New Year we are exhorted to create a list of resolutions that are meant to motivate us to make positive changes in our life. Invariably, we go back to our old behaviours and feel even worse because we feel that "we failed" to achieve our goals.

Instead, why don't we incorporate behaviours that won't cost us anything (special diet foods, exercise equipment, gym memberships) but will contribute to a feeling of well being and optimism.

A simple act such as smiling can boost neurochemicals in your brain that release  dopamine, a feel good hormone. Smiling is contagious and the positive feelings are then shared with another person. Try smiling more throughout the day, especially to people who are in the service industry.

Acts of kindness are easy and creative and can be done at any time. A small act can really brighten someone's day and you feel gifted by their delight.

It's so easy to get bogged down by our stresses and worries. We feel lethargic, depressed, anxious and scared. Sometimes just writing down something we feel grateful for (e.g. "This day didn't turn out as bad as I expected!!") will boost our spirits and remind us that there are still reasons to be hopeful and appreciative.

Take a bit of time each day or whenever possible to nourish your body, mind and spirit. Whether through music, walking, meeting a friend, reading a great book, meditating, or just by taking some quiet time-out , you will feel replenished and this will give you more energy for other activities throughout your busy life.

Instead of feeling pessimistic about the new year ahead, do more to encourage yourself that life can be good after all.

The Holiday Blues

Posted on December 25, 2014 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (85)

Whether this time of year always gave you the blues or this year is particularly distressing, remember that there are many triggers out there that are difficult to avoid. Every television show and commercial portrays the idealized image of a perfect holiday and will elicit memories of times past. Many of our memories become "sanitized" with time and we forget the tensions and family squabbles.

Sometimes in looking back we get mired in regret and recriminations. This is also hurtful. There is no healthy point in "shoulding" ourselves.

When our thoughts turn to sadness and loss, let's give ourselves permission to revisit these feelings BRIEFLY and then give ourselves permission to let them go.

As we feel stronger, we will create new traditions and new memories that will add to the richness of our lives.

Please check out my Upcoming Program page for workshops and support groups that I hope will be found interesting and helpful. I look forward to meeting you in person !

Be kind to yourself at this tender time of year.

Anticipating the December holidays

Posted on November 23, 2014 at 7:03 PM Comments comments (306)
Regardless of how large or small, distant or close your family may be or have been, December seems to shine a bright light on what we feel are the empty spaces in our lives.

Some of us may be reflecting on happy times we  can no longer share,
either through death, divorce or fracture within the family circle.

Holidays trigger the tensions that existed previously. We try so hard to create the image of what we wish the holidays to be, our stress levels and expectations can
rarely match the reality of our situations.

This is a time when regret, sadness, and loneliness can derail all the good work we have invested in moving through our grief. We question whether we will ever again  experience these holidays with joy and love.

Sometimes our hearts are opened by finding other ways to create new memories, perhaps with others who are alone, or for the family members who are suffering along with you. Openly permit the person missing to remain a presence in your lives, and the sharing of stories  will help you make the transition.

Many internet sites offer advice and support to those  grieving through the holidays and I offer the Canadian Virtual Hospice as a site full of wonderful information that I'm sure you will find helpful. The web address is:

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness."
                                                                          -  Helen Keller

FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Posted on November 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM Comments comments (50)

I  have found that many people are puzzled by  the profound emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological affects that are caused by death, loss and trauma.

Here are a few of the questions I am asked that cause clients to worry.

Question:  My loved one  died about 6 months ago and now friends and family are  telling me that it is time to get on with my life.  Why am I finding this 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: I have recently suffered a great loss ( whether job loss, divorce, illness, accident, unexpected or sudden death etc.) and I often feel unwell. My doctor says that I am medically fine. Why do I feel like this?

Answer: Experiencing loss affects all aspects of a person. Many people describe their grief in physical terms as in feeling broken- hearted, getting kicked in the stomach, having a huge weight on their chest, or having flu-like sensations. Your first step is always to keep in touch with your doctor, but making sure you are taking care of yourself and getting enough sleep, exercise, good nutrition and social contacts will be very important to your over-all health while you are adjusting.

Question: Am I going crazy? I sometimes feel that my deceased daughter is in the room with me.

Answer: This is not uncommon. Many grieving people report sensory experiences after  their loved one dies.  Whether your heightened awareness is of their scent, touch, or presence , most people find that this is comforting and gradually lessens with time.

Meditation on a new year

Posted on September 28, 2014 at 6:13 PM Comments comments (2508)
I was recently asked to speak to the members of a Retirement Residence about the Jewish New Year. I began by asking them to think back over their long lives and imagine the most eventful New Year they had ever spent. I asked them to try to recall what they were wearing, who they were with, if they were at a party or a dance and  of the fun they were having. Had they had a bit too much to drink? How had they felt the next morning?

After  a few minutes of considering my words, I told them that the Jewish New Year is the opposite of those memories.  This time of year is meant as a review; an opportunity to reflect, to repair and to return. We are asked to reflect on the year just past and question whether we did everything in our power to live up to our potential, to be honest and kind to others, if we had nurtured our physical and mental health and showed love and patience in our relationships. If we found areas in our relationships that needed work, had we made the effort to acknowledge them, ask for forgiveness and try to rectify the hurt we had caused? And finally, had we prepared ourselves spiritually to "return" to the path that would allow our humanity to flourish?

Every person takes stock at some point in their life, often though it is at the end and with regret. Perhaps knowing how fickle most people are, the Jewish people are required to do this reckoning each year and to enter into a new year with a clean slate and with a hopeful heart.

It is an opportunity to meditate on the kind of person one hopes to be, as a role model, as a mentor, as a parent or as a friend. It offers the message that it is never too late to change for the better.

Whether one is Jewish or not, this is a custom that can be transformative for anyone. I invite you to adopt it. Let me know how you get on.

 Shana Tova U'Metukah (a Sweet New year).

Beginning a new year

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 1:58 PM Comments comments (112)
I can't believe the new school year has already begun. I still get butterflies in my stomach the night before the first day back.

The self esteem group I led for Sistering ( a downtown community agency caring for women between 18 and 60 plus who are living with the challenges of poverty as well as mental and physical health issues). It's an incredible agency. I felt privileged to meet with such interesting and "real" women each week and I think we all felt a bit sad when the 10 weeks were concluded.

I volunteer at the Mississauga branch of Bereaved Families of Ontario and that's another very special place. The long drive is more than made up for  by the warm welcome and appreciation I receive from the small staff. The groups continually impress upon me the strength and support the participants are somehow able to give each other even while living with their own heart break.

I am currently expanding my practice to offer workshops, lectures and groups which I can design specially on request.  I figure that with 27 years in education, it would be a shame not to offer more of my educational skills. Since I am so comfortable with  culturally diverse clients, I look forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with others. Let me know if I can plan anything special for your group.

If you have any ideas or creative projects you would like to share, please pass them on and I will try to include them.