FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is integrative counselling and therapy?
A: My practice is integrative in two ways. Firstly, I believe health is a natural result of wholeness. Wholeness means having a harmonious balance and dynamic interaction between all our human dimensions. In our inner world, this means the different parts of our psyche/mind, our body, our consciousness and unconsciousness, our spirit or life energy. In our outer world, this means our relationships, our families, our immediate communities and the global community as well. When these dimensions are oppressed, disconnected from each other, or wounded in some way, our wholeness is compromised. When this happens, imbalances and symptoms show up. Imbalances and symptoms aren’t problems in themselves. They’re signals that point the way towards what needs care and attention. A core aspect of our work is to explore your suffering and symptoms from this perspective, discover what wholeness looks like for you, resolve past traumas and wounds that have impacted that wholeness, and find ways to nurture your wellness in the present that will also help you create the future you want.
Secondly, my work is integrative in that I blend multiple modalities and therapeutic approaches together in a way that is unique to each client. Healing is a completely unique process. Some people will benefit more from a body-centered approach; others prefer to focus on the inner workings of their psyche; some want tools and practices to focus on between sessions and others don't. Figuring out what works best is an ongoing and collaborative process. Please see below for my most used modalities, and ask me any questions if you're curious!
Q: How many sessions will I need and how frequently will I need them?
A: Most people see me on average from 10-20 sessions, usually once a week or once every two weeks. If we’re healing intergenerational trauma or early childhood trauma that is held in deeply ingrained patterns, that can take longer, usually 6 months to a year or several years. In the first few sessions we’ll map out what our work might look like and collaborate on an approach that feels right to you.
Q: What therapeutic modalities do you use with individuals?
A: My most used approaches include Somatic Relational Therapy, Attachment-Based Therapy, body-centered psychotherapies, Internal Family Systems Therapy, neuroscience, Psychodynamics, mindfulness practices, trauma informed therapies, and Experiential Psychotherapy. My work is also influenced by archetypal psychologies and Buddhist psychology.
Q: What therapeutic modalities do you use with couples?
A: I most commonly use a Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT), which focuses on three domains: developmental neuroscience, nervous system regulation, and attachment theory. I also draw from Internal Family Systems therapy, attachment-based therapies, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Family Systems theories in couples work.
Q: How do you work with the body?
A: Our bodies are the first way we connect with other human beings, our first line of protection in this world, and our physical container in which all of our life experience gets felt, processed and stored. Developmentally, we're a body-self before we become a mind-self. Yet, culturally our body-self gets denied, and most of us grow up disconnected from knowing who we are as embodied beings. It's my belief that collectively we're vulnerable to trauma because of this cultural disconnection from our bodies. Why? Because healthy boundaries, healthy intimacy with others, the ability to give and receive love, and psychological and emotional maturity all require us to know how to communicate with our bodies, to understand what the feelings arising from our bodies are telling us. When we listen to the body within the context of the therapeutic relationship, we gain a deeper understanding of what we need and how to meet those needs; and we can discern whether our feelings are relative to the present moment or if they are old feelings arising from unmet childhood needs.
Frequently, feelings are confusing because some of them are arising from unprocessed past experience. (Getting “triggered” is an indication of this.) This psychological and emotional material remains unconsciously stored within the body-mind because we went through periods of time when we were alone and it was too overwhelming to process and feel our feelings. Any experience that is overwhelming and creates intense emotions that we are forced to bear alone is registered in the body as trauma. To cope, our bodies survival patterns of fight, flight or freeze get activated. These patterns are initially mechanisms of protection; if they become chronic, however, they become mechanisms of ongoing stress and disconnection, often preventing us from being able to relate to and love ourselves and others in the ways we long to.
Healing is always embodied and relational, because we need other people with regulated nervous systems to help us safely contain, then process and release traumatic experience that is stored in our bodies. The therapeutic relationship is one in which we start to feel previously unbearable feelings again in a safe way, and to help the body to let go of old fight/flight/freeze patterns. When we reclaim our sense of being at home and safe within our own skin, possibilities for living in courageous and expansive ways open up, allowing us to become who we truly are.
Q: How do you work with the mind?
A: My approach to working with the mind is based on a “multiplicity of mind” philosophy. This means that we don’t just have one mind. We naturally have lots of little “minds” or “parts” to our personality. You know when you’re aware of one part of you that wants one thing, but another part of you that wants the opposite thing? That’s two different parts of your mind. And no, this isn’t a disorder, it’s not pathology. We ALL have multiple parts of mind!
However, sometimes we suffer from internal conflict or parts acting out in polarized and extreme ways because they’re burdened with pain that hasn’t been processed. For example, some common ways this shows up: having a strong “Internal Critic” that shames or criticizes you, or parts that engage in emotional eating, drinking, or addictive activities. No parts are bad; they’re just trying to cope in the ways they’ve learned. My work is to help you become aware of, and learn to relate to, all the parts of yourself with increasing care, compassion, and freedom. I also teach my clients mindful self-compassion practices and mindfulness meditation practices that will anchor this way of caring for the mind into their daily lives.
Q: What does “attachment” mean in the therapeutic context?
A: We humans depend on each other for safety and survival, and our bodies and nervous systems are wired for interdependent and intimate relationships. When we’re born, the healthy development of our brains, bodies, minds, and self-identity is neurobiologically shaped from our relational bonds with our early caregivers. Think of it this way: when we’re little, we’re completely dependent on our caregivers for everything we need for survival and nourishment. What we receive from them, we internalize and take into our own self.
So, our relational attachments are crucial in our development. If we had safe adults in our lives who supported and protected us, we can internalize love, connection, stability, compassion, and we can face life’s challenges with age-appropriate responses. We can also form healthy adult relationships because we know how to balance give and take, communicate needs, set healthy boundaries, and feel safe in our bodies. If we haven’t had healthy attachment figures, or our caregivers were relationally wounded in some way, then we may have attachment trauma.
I strongly believe attachment trauma is at the root of most human suffering. Therapy is one way we can heal relationally, by creating a safe therapeutic relationship together (a new, healthy attachment bond) in which maladaptive patterns of relating to self and others, distorted self-identities, and unbearable feelings can be held together, processed and transformed into new ways of being.
Q: I’ve heard of “Shadow work.” Can we work on this together?
A: Yes. The shadow is our unconscious self, that acts, or rather reacts, without us being aware of what it’s doing. These reactions often take the form of emotions, thoughts, identities or behaviours that have been oppressed, suppressed, or denied somewhere in either our personal or collective history. Together we can reintegrate and transform the shadow self so that you’re more in alignment with the values you hold and the actions you want to be taking in the world.
Q: What are your professional credentials?
A: I have/I am a:
Masters in Counselling Psychology from the City University of Seattle
Registered Clinical Counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors
Psychobiological Approach To Couples Therapy Certification from the PACT Institute
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Simon Fraser University
Trained Hatha Yoga Teacher
Q: Is there a difference between counselling and therapy?
A: I use the words interchangeably in my practice.
Q: Are Registered Clinical Counsellors covered by health insurance?
A: Many health insurance plans do cover RCCs. Please call your provider to confirm. If you’re covered, you’ll need to give your provider my RCC number (#14300) and they will reimburse you after you provide them receipts from our sessions.