As a client-centered, holistic therapist, I use a range of therapeutic approaches to support my clients.
Through the years, I have found that my approach is based in essential core values that guide my work as a therapist, as well as my own life.
To change, we need to see clearly. Hidden feelings and harmful thoughts can run on autopilot within us. Before we know it, we're caught up in unwanted behaviors and moods - with no clue how we got there. In therapy, we learn how to honestly check in with our head, heart and body and to build inner clarity..
For counsellors, awareness is key. I need to be honest with myself about my thoughts and feelings so that my own stuff doesn't get in our way. I consult regularly with a clinical supervisor, a therapist, and colleagues to help see myself and my clients clearly. I also follow a mindfulness practice that helps me to see the good, the bad, and the human inside.
We can learn to accept our messy, imperfect humanity. Throughout our lives, we pick up all kinds of messages about who we should or shouldn't be. So many of us live with a harsh inner judge that watches over our every move. What would it be like to turn down the volume on the negative beliefs you hold about who you are? To compassionately accept yourself, warts and all?
Learning to accept myself, with all of my many imperfections, is a work in progress! I have been lucky to learn from wise mentors that we are all simply human. We are all struggling and doing our best with what we have. To compassionately accept my clients, wherever they are at, is at the heart of my work.
Joy is what all this work is for. Joy isn't found in buying, achieving, or even in being happy all the time. In counselling, we work towards a deeper joy that grows out of suffering, and that connects us to our loved ones, our community, and our own vitality.
In my own life, I have found suffering and joy are deeply connected. When I can open up to pain and loss, gratitude and contentment start to show up in my life. When I can allow pleasure to guide me, I can show up for the people I love more fully. I love to bring joy into the therapy room through humour, identifying strengths, and celebrating growth.
Life can be hard, but we can be strong. Whether we're going through loss, illness, trauma, or the stresses of daily life, hard times can bring us to our knees. In these moments, we feel like we'll never recover. It can be so hard to see our own capacity to pull through.
I've seen again and again in my work that we all have incredible strength and wisdom within us. With proper support and a safe space to slow down, we can take a breath, take stock, find our strength, and then move forward.
Connection with others and healing go hand in hand. Too often, therapy focuses on the individual. We also need to consider our context in community. Who can we lean on? Who leans on us? What role is isolation playing in our struggles? What do we want to contribute to our world?
If there's one thing that I've learned in my years of counselling, it's that we are profoundly social beings. Healing comes from feeling deeply heard and understood by others. This can start within our sessions, and then ripple out into relationships with partners, family, and the larger community.