counsellor

  • 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
  • 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
  • The Top Six Barriers to Seeking Help The Top Six Barriers to Seeking Help

    The Top Six Barriers to Seeking Help

The Top Six Barriers to Seeking Help

oday I’m going to be addressing the top six reasons why people who need help from a counsellor are reluctant to reach out and begin the process. These reasons are gleaned from my years of experience working with people who, after meeting, have asked themselves the question, “Why did I wait so long?” Time Most people would probably describe themselves as busy. Many of us actually are. We may have multiple jobs, multiple hobbies, and multiple children, and all of these entail multiple demands. However, if we take a good look at our schedules, we may find that a good percentage of our “busy” time could be spent much more productively. While I was working my way through university, I was employed by my school’s athletic department as an Academic Coach. Basically, my job was to help the student athletes avoid losing their academic eligibility to play for the sports teams. At the beginning of each semester, I would sit down with each athlete from each team and go over their course schedule, help them set goals, and if necessary teach them study skills and time-management skills. The most common reason I heard from the students to explain academic problems […]

By |October 17th, 2012|Blog|Comments Off on The Top Six Barriers to Seeking Help
  • Validating Your Brain (Part 2) Validating Your Brain (Part 2)

    Validating Your Brain (Part 2)

Validating Your Brain (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here Keep in mind that your brain’s task is to survive the moment, not the long-term. Without fail, the automatic behaviors that our brain engages in are accomplishing this task. However, due to its lack of perspective, the brain does not have the ability to coordinate momentary survival with long-term survival. So when your brain is acting, thinking, and feeling on your behalf, what does it think is happening? When we experience automatic behavioral responses, what is the brain trying to tell us? Think of the following example. The next time you feel an itch on your skin (which will be fairly soon, given that I have now invited you to think about it), try to physically look at the area of your skin that is itchy but DO NOT ITCH IT! Just look at the itchy place. If you can’t physically see it, try to visualize it in your mind as vividly as possible. You may even want to visualize yourself itching it. I can almost guarantee that devoid of any foreign substance interference, if the itch is generated by your brain, looking at it alone will be sufficient intervention to remove it. Give it a […]

By |March 30th, 2012|Blog|Comments Off on Validating Your Brain (Part 2)
  • Validating Your Brain (Part 1) Validating Your Brain (Part 1)

    Validating Your Brain (Part 1)

Validating Your Brain (Part 1)

rofessor Julie Baumberger, of Capella University, once told me “You are not your brain”. While to many, this statement may at first appear confusing, to me it made perfect sense. The fact that we are able to notice what we are noticing, to think about what we are thinking about (referred to as meta-thinking by hoity-toity academic types) seems to denote some separation between the physical and automatic processes of our lower brain centres and our higher brain centres. Some may take it further and say that it is evidence of the existence of some non-physical part of ourselves, whether it be a synergistic outcome of the firing of neurons or an intangible soul. That is an entirely different discussion and one that will not be tackled here. However, I would like to talk about Dr. Baumberger’s maxim and how we might apply it in a real way to improving our experience of our existence. First, we need to look at our brain and describe what it is and what its purpose is. If it is separate from me, are we on the same page? Do we want the same things? Do we have the same strategies by which we […]

By |March 29th, 2012|Blog|Comments Off on Validating Your Brain (Part 1)