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Therapy and Frequently asked questions

Why do people seek individual or couples therapy ?

People come into therapy for many reasons. Some need to respond to unexpected changes in their lives. Therapy is often a guided dialogue and a special quiet space for you to discover the Wisdom within. When coping skills are overwhelmed by guilt, doubt, anxiety, or despair, therapy can help. Therapy can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping for issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of confidence, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, bereavement, spiritual conflicts, stress management, body image issues, and creative blocks. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives.

What can I expect from counselling?

You can expect to be treated with respect, sincerity, and unconditional positive regard. You can share your feelings and thoughts in a safe, confidential, and non-judgemental environment. You can expect to gain insights into the difficulties you experience and acquire new skills, tools, and strategies to tackle the problem you are facing. You will receive feedback and emotional support as you make changes in your desired direction.

Usually, change is a gradual process and does not happen overnight. Most issues have built up over a period of time and will take time to resolve. Clients who take responsibility for their difficulties and are prepared to work hard both within and outside of counselling sessions will get the most out of their investment in counselling.

What can I expect in a therapy session?

During sessions you are expected to talk about the primary concerns and issues in your life. A session lasts for one hour, but some people request longer sessions. Some people who are in crisis or extreme distress need more than one session per week, at least until the crisis passes. During the time between sessions it is beneficial to think about and process what was discussed. At times, you may be asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records. For therapy to "work," you must be an active participant, both in and outside of the therapy sessions.

Psychiatric or Medical Assessment

Often clients arrive in counselling unsure if they should contact their medical doctor in regards to feeling depressed or anxious and depressed. They are questioning the benefits of medication. We will explore this together including my assessment of your depression and anxiety symptoms. This is done with your self reporting and sometimes with depression and anxiety scale inventories. Psycho education is also provided with regards to neurology and the possible important benefits of medication depending on the severity and/or long standing nature of your symptoms. It is often very important to see your physician to ensure at the outset there are not physical situations contributing to or causing your symptoms. Your doctor will provide a more complete understanding of the benefits of specific medications. Often your medical doctor will prescribe medications and treat both depression and anxiety. Together with your doctor you will discuss the benefits or need of specialized psychiatric diagnosis and treatment .

Psychiatric Referral and/or Current Psychiatric Care

It is my belief that a team approach is sometimes most beneficial for client well being including your therapist being able to provide you best care practice. Anything beyond my personal qualifications and skills will be referred via your medical doctor with his or her agreement to a psychiatrist  for evaluation and treatment.

Psychiatric consultation and collaboration is very important for good therapy when a client has a diagnosed condition. Sometimes a client will arrive for therapy when psychiatric assessment needs to precede counselling and  especially before any depth therapy. If your psychiatrist recommends stabilization before your doing therapy this is all important for your well being. It is very important in your therapy for you to disclose if you are currently under the care of a psychiatrist.

Very occasionally a client arrives for therapy and there are obvious thought disorders, psychotic features, imminent suicidal risk, extreme untreated depression, or other clear evidence of very serious problems for a client who has discontinued medications or are experiencing  a very serious mental health concern. Therapy obviously is not helpful at the time and psychiatric assessment and care at the Emergency Centre of the hospitable is imperative. In this case the client will be assisted and directed to Emergency Services.

What benefits can I expect from working with a therapist?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Often it is helpful just to know that someone understands. Therapy can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. Many people find therapy to be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Find new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications skills - learn how to listen to others, and have others listen to you
  • Getting "unstuck" from unhealthy patterns - breaking old behaviors and develop new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
  • Discovering unconscious forces
  • Contacting the Wisdom within
  • Increased openness
  • Increased intimacy with self and others
  • Increased equanimity
  • Learn about psychological defences
  • Transformative or transcendent experiences
  • Spiritual awareness
  • Self Compassion
What if I don't know what my goals are for therapy?

If you aren't sure what your goals are for therapy, your first task is to figure that out. It may take several sessions before a direction is clarified. During the course of therapy your goals may change. However, establishing a direction for therapy will greatly help you get the most out of the experience.

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there are some of exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or neglect. Should there be a concern about apparent, suspected or potential child abuse or neglect, the therapist is required by law to report to the appropriate authorities immediately
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s. The therapist must inform the R.C.M.P. or Police.
  • If a client intends to seriously harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, further measures may be taken without their permission in order to ensure their safety.
  • Abuse by a Health Care Professional. If a client reports sexual abuse by a Regulated Health Care Professional, the therapist is required to report this to the Professional's regulartory body for investigation (i.e.College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Nurses etc).
  • A Court Order. When the court issues a summons for records or testimony.
How long does counselling take?

Depending on your goal, counselling can take from a few sessions to over a dozen sessions or even longer. Consider a client who is dealing with a high level of anxiety. If, for example, his or her goal is to learn some skills to cope with feelings of anxiety, he or she may only need 4-6 sessions. If, however, he or she wants to go deeper to work through underlying factors that cause and maintain his or her anxiety, more sessions will be required. Ultimately, you as the client decide how long you want the counselling to be. During the first session, I will help you identify your goal for counselling and give you a realistic estimate of the number of sessions needed to reach your goal, if that is concerning.

How often do I need to come to counselling?

It is beneficial to have regular bi-weekly sessions for the first 4 sessions whenever possible. Having regular counselling sessions at this stage helps you stay focused and creates momentum more quickly. After 4-6 sessions, further sessions can be spaced to every three weeks or monthly until you feel confident in maintaining gains made in counselling on your own.

Trauma therapy

Trauma therapy is by nature typically longer term therapy due to the seriousness of trauma and complex lasting symptoms. Clients undertaking trauma work can usually expect therapy to be extensive over a period of months or longer.

Couples counselling

A large percentage of my practice is couples work. My practice has been greatly influenced but not limited by Dr. Terrence (Terry) Real, Dr. Harville Hendrix, Drs John and Julie Gottman, Dr. John Welwood, Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr Gary Chapman. I am as well strongly influenced by Erich Fromm, Carl Jung, Thomas Moore and many therapists who integrate Eastern and Western theory or psychotherapy and spirituality.

Sometimes both partners are willing participants in couples therapy, sometimes not. Often the biggest reason for reluctance is fear of being blamed for the failure of the relationship. Others fear the “stigma” of needing therapy and would rather try and work things out for themselves.

Because our anxiety can be lessened by having some idea of what to expect, very general understanding of couple's work is explained below. Please bare in mind, however, that every couple is different and that your couples therapy will be especially tailored to you and the unique concerns you bring.

How long will couple's therapy last?

There is no one size fits all, although 6-8 sessions is usually a minimum number to consider. Many couples continue over 6 months and in time reduce sessions from bi-weekly to monthly. However our problems and challenges did not arise and form over night and our relationship recovery or improvement takes an investment of time and effort. Unfortunately many couples would like to come and have things change immediately. Improving communication is very important towards restoring or deepening loving connection. Communication skill training is a large part of the therapy. Often 6-8 sessions will provide significant positive change if the couple has sought counselling early enough. Couples leave troubles unresolved for a very long time for many reasons including fear, hope that things will change over time, not wanting to hurt the other partner and reluctance to ask for assistance. It is sad that many couples have dreamed, waited and worked very hard to unite, only to hurt each other deeply once united. Regretfully many people have not had good role models in their families of origin. Sometimes childhoods have been shaped by terrible neglect and abuse. Childhood wounds and insecurities can be very hard on relationships. Clients learn in therapy about attachment wounds and attachment styles. Couples learn how to relate, grow in intimacy and connection.

Can a marriage or relationship heal after an affair?

The answer sometimes is yes. Sometimes it is true the relationship can even be much better and closer, more emotionally fulfilling than before. Other times the affair was the desperate attempt out or escape from a very abusive, empty or spiritually dead relationship.

What is an Emotional Affair?

Couples are often confused and struggling with understanding what constitutes an emotional affair. Please see the Links section for resource material.

Is Marriage counselling always about keeping the couple married?

Sadly not all relationships are able to be maintained. Sometimes one or both partners come to therapy to decide if they can remain together. Some relationships have been based on such extreme deceptions, hostility, abuse or inauthenticity the partners decide the healthiest alternative is to separate and end the marriage. Sometimes therapy focuses on helping one or both partners grieve the loss of the relationship and move through the ending. Learning to  positively co parent after a separation or divorce is sometimes the next focus.

Skype, emails and phone calls between sessions or after therapy

I am not a therapist who does Skype or Phone sessions. Some other therapists do and may therefore be preferred by you.


Please note that for reasons including my professional boundaries, my personal private time and your protected confidentiality, your counselling will be confined to the therapy hour when we meet in person and not conducted through email or phone.

Termination or Breaks in Therapy

It is optimal to end therapy with a closing session where we review together your therapeutic gains. This can be very helpful to you as you synthesize and integrate your growth and change. You will feel much more secure and able to describe your therapy and change to yourself, partner possibly or a future therapist. Clients often return months or years later as various changes come along in life. It is optimal to have ended well in the past. Please be advised if however clients do not attend the last scheduled appointment and have a pattern of missed appointments your therapist will consider therapy ended and any possible professional responsibility.