FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is integrative counselling and therapy?
A: My practice is integrative in two ways. Firstly, I work with people in their wholeness, and I believe health is a state of being our whole selves. Wounds, illness and symptoms show up when our wholeness has been compromised. I help people integrate their conscious and unconscious selves; integrate their bodies, minds, hearts, nervous systems and energy systems. I also help people integrate their past, present and future experiences of self. When we feel integrated, we feel healthy. Secondly, my work is integrative in that I blend multiple modalities and therapeutic approaches together in a way that is unique to each client. Please see below for my most used modalities.
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 (also known as “parts work”), mindfulness practices, trauma informed therapies, and experiential psychotherapy.
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 and the nervous system?
A: Our bodies are our home, the physical container in which all of our life experience gets felt, processed and stored. Yet culturally we’re socialized away from our bodies into our heads, as if our “self” was just in our minds and our thoughts. I support my clients to reclaim their bodies, to feel at home in their own skin, and to nurture a felt sense of self that can ground them throughout life.
I also do trauma healing work, which always involves the body, because our bodies store unprocessed traumatic experience (unbearable and overwhelming feelings) that our minds dissociate away from. If we’ve experienced traumas that haven’t been held and processed inside a safe relationship, our nervous systems can get stuck in states of anxiety or depression. This happens because trauma energy often has an emotional and energetic “charge” that is too big for our nervous systems to hold alone.
Trauma work is relational and embodied by nature. When we have someone else to help us safely contain and release traumatic experience through somatic (body) work, our nervous systems don’t have to try and hold a “charge” that is too big and scary for us (which is why we can leave our bodies, because it’s too unsafe there.) Together, we can hold experience that’s been previously unseen and unfelt, and we can either integrate it or release it. Then our nervous systems heal, and become more resilient and regulated.
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 Level One 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.