Licensing Info: The College of Alberta Psychologists #3102p
Concerns related to:
This one is difficult to answer because people come in for different reasons. All I can say is therapy can be more difficult if we do not have the structures in place to support our healing and growth. For some it is the environment, some it is people, some it is their lifestyle, others its internal barriers. This is one reason why having a good therapeutic relationship and flexible, collaborative, specifically tailored treatment plan is important to the therapeutic process. If you and your therapist are not a good fit then therapy may be less beneficial for you. Ultimately therapy is difficult because we are looking at where we can grow. Over the past 15 years, I have learned about the amazing capacity of people and I am constantly surprised by the resilience or bounce back ability of people.
I practice from a relational way of being, highlighting Rogerian principles, with positive psychology, and Narrative therapy to form the foundation of my practice. You might ask okay well what does that mean? For me, it means that we are multistory individuals and that the narrative or story of a person’s life, and how they understand it, can contribute to symptomatology. I believe, as people, we are constantly searching for meaning in all dimensions of our existence and how we form that meaning influences how we walk through our life story. Sometimes, a shift in perspective/understanding is all we need to become unstuck. These influences to our understanding of our story can be precognitive, early childhood learnings, or experiences you have obtained throughout your life. It can also be formed through dominant discourses or society, social media, and culture helping to form that “should” word in your beliefs instead of “could”. Together we can sift through the influences and keep what serves you and let go of or add to those that do not. You have the power to write your story.
Couples often wait to go to couples counselling until they are at their breaking point. At this point the relationship is on its last life line. This can often make it difficult in therapy because there is sometimes an intrusion into the relationship healing journey in the form of Negative sentiment override. Negative sentiment override is when our partner can say and do exactly what we ask for but we are not happy, we find fault in it, or disqualify our partner's efforts. We can sometimes fall into the trap of mindreading and think we know what our partner really meant by their words and actions. We get stuck in the past and don’t accept the changes, or give room for them to show you change. Statements like “well, in the past you “ or “you never ...”. Negative sentiment override can sometimes make it difficult to empathize with our partner, offer compassion, or even forgiveness. It also leaves us feeling hopeless and defeated in our efforts. We can feel rejected and not want to try again “why should I if I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t”. This can trip up some couples and understandably.
Many times couples come to counselling as a last effort to save the relationship and once they begin counselling they find that much of the pain endured over the years could have been avoided if they had come in earlier.
My approach when working with an individual vs a couple is in the interventions and the focus. In individual counselling the individual is the client but in couples work the relationship becomes the client.
You can learn more about how I support my couples through the Gottman Method in One Life's guide to Choosing the Right Psychologist in Calgary for Your Marriage Counselling.
"You will know that we are a good fit when you feel a sense of comfort and safety in the environment and with myself. That you feel you can reveal personal information and feelings with me without judgment or criticism. You feel accepted as you are but at the same time feel supported to take on challenges. You will feel a sense of connection, feel seen or heard. You will feel that I understand you and your concern or make a sincere effort to understand. You will feel cared about and that I care about your issues. You feel you and I are a team working towards your goals. You feel comfortable with the treatment methodology and interventions."
I have a strong interest in psychology and research but I had a realization that I could be more helpful with the knowledge I was obtaining. I felt I could provide a service that would help to reduce the pain and suffering I saw in my community with families, and individuals. I could do this by using the knowledge I obtain to help create positive change in people’s lives on a local level. I knew I wanted to work with individuals and couples and my early work with children validated this desire and helped me to realize I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to stop the toxic patterns before they happened. I felt I could help in supporting couples and families in utilizing connecting behaviours instead of disconnecting behaviours. This would allow for getting to the root of most family dysfunction and avoiding maladaptive coping behaviours. We could stop the cycle of “Hurt people, hurt people”. When couples or individuals heal from their own traumas and learn appropriate conflict management skills, utilization of empathy, have awareness/ mindfulness, and emotional regulation, I believe many of the problems we see in children and families may not be so prevalent. In my opinion, it starts with the relationship between the individual and the self, as well as, the relationship between the couple/co-parents.