Clients come with a range of problems to therapy, and we as therapists can offer them a lot of tools to help them with those problems. Many of the tools we offer are ones that can help them in many areas of their lives, beyond the problems they present to us. I find that clients often struggle to perceive the full extent to which different therapy tools may be applicable in their lives. They will often apply it to the examples that are directly discussed in the therapy session, but then don’t see how the same techniques are useful in other situations, once their immediate difficulties are resolved. I try to address this gap by helping clients understand the patterns in their problems, and the potential for small changes to make big impacts across large parts of their lives.
I also see that many clients find themselves avoiding or reacting in unhealthy ways to the experience of their emotions. For example, they may turn to an addictive substance to numb the feelings of shame. It is typically better to acknowledge and feel our emotions, and so I work to help clients learn to do that without feeling overwhelmed by the experience. Part of that is in learning what they can do in the moment to reduce the intensity of the feeling, another part is learning to reduce the frequency and intensity of unpleasant emotions over time, and the final part is learning to recognize how their fear of those emotional experiences doesn’t match up to their reality.
One of the more difficult parts of couples therapy is helping the couple negotiate their expectations for the outcomes of therapy. Couples often conflict with each other over different outcomes to the scenarios they find themselves repeatedly stuck in. In therapy, we work to establish an awareness of these differences from the very first session, but also work to understand how they are often tied together in common ideals. These goals and desires can change as therapy progresses, which can create an ongoing need for monitoring these differences. As your therapist, I hope to help you find the shared golden thread amongst these apparent differences, to help you work towards a future you both want together.
The world of psychotherapy is full of theories and practices designed to help people, often used as a package deal - CBT therapists use CBT tools, humanistic therapists use humanistic tools, and so on. There is so much opportunity to take the best of what is offered by various approaches to therapy, and package it in a way that’s best suited to the client. As an integrative practitioner, I attempt to create a tailored approach to therapy that fits exactly with what you need.
Let’s consider an example of how an integrative approach might help somebody with anxiety to live a healthier and more fulfilling life, by drawing on a few well-regarded therapeutic modalities:
Let’s look at a common couple’s problem - loss of trust in each other - and see how an integrative approach to couple’s therapy draws from both individual therapy modalities, as well as some modalities developed specifically for couples:
You can learn more about how I support my couples through these approaches in One Life's guide to Choosing the Right Psychologist in Calgary for Your Marriage Counselling.
We will aim to establish your goals for therapy from the first session, and these will be a major indicator of how good a fit we are working together. If you perceive that we are achieving your goals, or making progress towards them, great! If you don’t think that is happening, you are welcome to bring up your thoughts, and we can figure out what is not going right yet. I will always be honest about what I believe I can and cannot help you with, and you are always free to make your own decision about whether therapy with me is helping you in the way you need.
Fear of judgement is one of the greatest obstacles clients face in establishing a good working relationship with their therapist, so let me be clear about that right away - you have found a wholly accepting place here! I will not judge you, I will only try to help you as best as I can.
When you find a good fit of a therapist for you, you will feel supported by the therapist, and challenged in ways that clearly have your best interests in mind. You will leave your sessions feeling like you have gained valuable knowledge or insight into your experiences, both in understanding how they came to be this way, and in understanding how you can create a different experience for yourself. Therapy can often be about creating change in a person, and change can often feel uncomfortable, but this discomfort is a type that you will recognize as one that you start to seek out - recognizing that the discomfort in the moment is worth the growth made moving forward.
I knew for a long time that I wanted to work in a profession where I could help other people, and I discovered during my first few years at university that human behaviour was a strong interest of mine. I also knew that I wanted to work in a field where I could use creativity as a regular part of my work, and I find that everyday in learning to interact with new people.
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