counselling

  • Book Excerpt: Impact of Fear on Recollection of Experience Book Excerpt: Impact of Fear on Recollection of Experience

    Book Excerpt: Impact of Fear on Recollection of Experience

Book Excerpt: Impact of Fear on Recollection of Experience

The following is a very brief excerpt from my book, “This is Not That” due to be completed in 2048, based on the current pace. Let me know what you think. “In a rather complicated study, Professor D.B. Fenker and his colleagues (2005) had subjects view a series of emotionally neutral words on a computer screen. Randomly, some words were preceded by pictures of fearful faces or other disturbing images. The exposure to these images, however, was so quick that the individual was not aware that they had even seen the image, referred to popularly as subliminal images. Participants were later shown lists of words and asked to say whether they recalled seeing a word (had a conscious memory of learning it) or knew they had seen the word (they knew they had seen it before but couldn’t remember where or when). The researchers found that when words were preceded by a frightening or unpleasant image, they were more accurately recognized, though not consciously recalled. The implications of this study, and others like it, are momentous. If the brain is so sensitive to negative stimulation as to react in such a powerful way to such an insignificant trigger, imagine its […]

By |July 9th, 2015|Blog, Education, snippets|Comments Off on Book Excerpt: Impact of Fear on Recollection of Experience
  • Perspective: The Gatekeeper Perspective: The Gatekeeper

    Perspective: The Gatekeeper

Perspective: The Gatekeeper

Often we are hard on ourselves when we don’t need to be, particularly when it comes to how much things that have happened to us continue to affect us. We like to think that we can just let things go, move on, and get over it but that’s just not how things actually work. Our past experiences continue to affect our current perception of events unless we actively try to overcome this natural tendency. Similarly, it is very difficult for a tall building to stand straight when the foundation is crooked. The only way to straighten the building is to work on the foundation, not the 30th floor. Often, when discussing current struggles with my clients, they will remark that they feel a lot of anxiety or depressed feelings “for absolutely no reason”. This is rarely the case. It is more accurate to say that they are feeling anxiety for no known reason, or no current reason. There’s always a reason. One way that is helpful for people to unlock the true impact of the past on their present is to get them to see it from outside of themselves. No, this does not involve high doses of hallucinogenic mushrooms, […]

  • Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite

    Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite

Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite

As a counsellor, I have been approached for help with a wide variety of issues. Sometimes it is a last-ditch attempt to save a relationship where years of muddy water has passed under the bridge. Sometimes it is eliminating the effects of a life-changing traumatic experience. Sometimes it is rewiring the brain of a child or partner who has special needs or mental illness. Regardless of the specifics, the basic element of many of these problems is the client asking me the following question: How can I do something hard in an easy way?” Predictably, my answer to this question is not always satisfactory. You can’t always clean up the mud, you can’t always erase trauma, you can’t always rewire someone’s brain, and even if any of these things are possible, it is never easy. There are many ingredients to change, but most important to the recipe is time and effort. Education that leads to understanding can certainly help this process, along with the support of the important people in your life, but even these tools can only go so far in the absence of time spent working on the issue. I’m not just referring to time spent on the […]

  • So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression? So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?

    So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?

So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?

I got a lot of feedback about my previous post on what not to say to a depressed person. I, myself, realized, after I finished writing, that my list seemed to eliminate most of the seemingly helpful things people actually say to depressed people, along with some of the more useless pieces of advice. So, have I thrown the baby out with the bathwater? I don’t think so, but let me explain. The purpose of the list was to describe, for people who don’t suffer from depression, what the mind can do to even objectively harmless and pro-social encouragement when it is weighed down under a cloud of darkness. The most positive and encouraging sentiments are quickly corroded in the acid bath of negativity, rendering them unhelpful at best and harmful at worst. This naturally leads to the question, “So, if I can’t even tell them that I love them, what can I say to them?” Check out this list of suggestions: 1. That must feel terrible… I’ve written before about the importance of validation, especially when it comes to getting someone to listen to your perspective. Much of the usual feedback given to depressed people is intended to be […]

By |October 10th, 2014|Blog, Insight|Comments Off on So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?
  • 10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression 10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression

    10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression

10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression

Depression is no joke. Which is ironic, given how many people mask it with humor, as the recent case of Robin Williams sadly demonstrates. I find it sadly amusing how many experts there are out there when it comes to dealing with the complex interplay between, society, psychology, and our internal biochemistry. Most of these experts are more than willing to share their homespun advice for the rest of us but the reality is that when it comes to helping someone who suffers from major depressive disorder, it’s rarely that simple. For example, try to avoid these common well-intentioned, yet potentially harmful pieces of wisdom: 1. Cheer up This is not useful advice. It’s like telling a sick person to be healthy. If that were possible, they wouldn’t be sick in the first place. Also, you don’t know the reasons behind the depression. Someone once tried to encourage a client of mine to smile more, seeing only their downcast face and negative body language. What they didn’t realize is that this person’s child had just committed suicide. “Cheer up” is an imperative that no one has the right to issue. 2. You Just Need to Find a Hobby To quote […]

By |October 8th, 2014|Blog, Insight, Uncategorized|Comments Off on 10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression
  • Online Counselling: For some, it’s the perfect fit. Online Counselling: For some, it’s the perfect fit.

    Online Counselling: For some, it’s the perfect fit.

Online Counselling: For some, it’s the perfect fit.

Is Online Counselling a Good Fit for You? For many people, the idea of engaging in counselling online gives them cause to wonder what the world is coming to. “Even the highly personal helping professions have gone the way of technology,” they may lament. “Whatever happened to the personal touch?” While it is true that for some, online counseling maybe a step backwards in terms of progress, for others it might be the perfect solution to a number of problems. Below, I will review some of the advantages and potential disadvantages of online counseling and then you can decide for yourself. Advantages 1. Easy access When counselling takes place online, it removes a number of possible barriers. The first of these are lack of time and inconvenience. A recent client survey revealed that the biggest barrier to continuing the change process was not lack of progress but lack of time. The time commitment is not just to the hour spent in the session but also in getting ready for the appointment, fitting it in around a busy schedule, etc. With online counselling, many of these logistical factors are eliminated from consideration. Heck, you don’t even have to wear pants, though […]

By |May 23rd, 2014|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Online Counselling: For some, it’s the perfect fit.
  • 5 Simple Ways to Get More Out of Counselling 5 Simple Ways to Get More Out of Counselling

    5 Simple Ways to Get More Out of Counselling

5 Simple Ways to Get More Out of Counselling

  Many times over the years, I have heard clients tell me, “While I was driving here, I thought, ‘what am I going to talk about?’” Often, we are able to find something to focus on but I wonder how useful these appointments are. Sometimes we end up discussing issues that we have covered previously and there is a feeling of dragging out the appointment just to fill the time. This is difficult for both of us. With that in mind, I thought I would offer some suggestions as to how to get the most out of your appointment and counselling in general.  1. Schedule It at the Right Time Counselling appointments are not your average conversation. As such, it might not be a good idea to try to fit a session in over lunchtime. It is generally a good idea to try to avoid, if possible, scheduling other activities immediately following the appointment. Even if someone is slightly late for their appointment, my preference is for them to sit in the waiting room for a few minutes to gather themselves and their thoughts together before beginning. When we are feeling rushed, stress hormones interfere with our learning, on a […]

By |February 5th, 2014|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on 5 Simple Ways to Get More Out of Counselling
  • Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2) Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2)

    Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2)

Complex Trauma: When the Whole is More Painful than the Sum of its Parts (PART 2)

Attachment Injuries Now that we have a rudimentary understanding of the necessity for, and basis of attachment behavior, we can begin to discuss attachment injuries and their effects. The term “attachment injury” refers to trauma that occurs within the context of a relationship. In order to understand the impact of relational trauma, consider an analogy from the field of physiology. Lessons From Physiology Proprioception is the body’s sense of where it is in space. It is the cumulative interpretation of the body’s various internal and external sensory systems that allow it to have an accurate assessment of the external enivronment. In layman’s terms, it is the body’s sense that allows a person to walk up the stairs or type at a keyboard without the necessity of visual information. When areas of the body are damaged or injured, this vital sensory ability is one of the first casualties. Musculoskeletal injuries result in impaired functioning of this vital sensory feedback system. This results in the increased likelihood of future injury, as the body has a reduced kinesthetic (body movement) awareness of the injured limb or joint. The parallels between this sensory system and the attachment system are easy to see. Attachment theorists […]

By |September 24th, 2013|Blog, Education|1 Comment
  • How to Change The Past How to Change The Past

    How to Change The Past

How to Change The Past

One of the most frequently used lines of false consolation that I hear is “you can’t change the past”. Usually this bit of indispensable wisdom is offered as a word of advice when someone is describing the impact of some negative event from their history, something that they wish had never happened and often something that continues to affect them to this day. Of course, this advice and apparent statement of the obvious is rarely helpful, which is not surprising if we look at the gist of this rejoinder. Let’s say you run breathless to the neighbour’s house, pounding on the door. They open the door and ask what’s going on. You tell them that there’s been a terrible accident and you need them to call an ambulance because you think your brother is dead. I don’t think anyone would feel justified or even attempt to rationalize a response such as, “Well, it’s in the past. You can’t change the past. You just have to let it go and get over it.” We would expect that person to offer help, to repair whatever damage had been done, within reason and their capability. Of course we wouldn’t expect them to take […]

By |March 26th, 2013|Blog, Insight, Uncategorized|Comments Off on How to Change The Past
  • From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress

    From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress

From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress

The purpose of this post is to introduce a new way of thinking about problematic behavior. Many of us struggle to curb thoughts or behaviors that are ineffective at best and destructively corrosive at worst. We try and try again, only to meet with failure. Most of us throw our hands up and either set about resigning ourselves to the seemingly inevitable disappointing outcome of our existence, or continue to push against the same brick wall, using the same approach that has already proven so ineffective. This is the cycle of pain. Kathryn Schulz, journalist and author spoke at a TED conference about the experience of being wrong. She asked participants in the audience to describe how it felt to be wrong. Predictable answers ensued, focusing on the theme of embarrassment or similar emotions. She then pointed out that this was the experience of discovering that you have made a mistake, not the experience of actually making the mistake. She stated that the actual act of being wrong carries with it no emotion of its own; it only carries the emotion and meaning that we give to it. I would take Schulz’s idea a step further and point out that […]

By |January 22nd, 2013|Blog, Insight, Uncategorized|Comments Off on From Shame to Compassion: A How-To Guide to Transforming Pain into Progress