Frequently Asked Questions
What is holistic therapy?
Holistic counseling looks at thoughts, emotions, behaviours, physical and spiritual struggles as all related and important to address in your healing journey.
How many sessions will I need?
Everyone has their own processing speed, readiness to change, unique struggles and needs. I do not change you, instead I act as a catalyst and guide for your growth and development, at your own pace.
Why is therapy so expensive?
Paying for professional time is expensive, whether it's a mechanic, lawyer or therapist. Spending money on counseling is an investment in your quality of life, happiness, inner peace, growth and relationships, all things we are not culturally taught to attend to.
Will hypnosis or energy healing work?
Methodologies are ways of working, not magic. They all take time and practice, and suit some people better than others. I am first a therapist, so don't use these without the basis of counselling work.
I've found that people grow and heal on all levels - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. When you get ahead in one area because it is your preference, then the others rear their heads to be addressed and get caught up. Recognizing the needs of those areas that take you out of your comfort zone, just so you can heal your physical distress, seems to be crucial. I've found that long-standing issues have their roots in many parts of your being, which is why the healing process is such a growing process, and often quite lengthy.
There are many healing modalities, and practitioners of all kinds. Some focus on one area of expertise, others focus on the connection between body and mind. Each are able to help you in different ways, at different times. Every person's healing journey is unique, and the exploration is part of the healing journey.
Having struggled with ongoing, chronic illness for decades that neither standard or alternative health practitioners understood, I came to understand the role physical health has in psychological health and wellbeing, as well as spiritual growth. I also experienced what a strong motivator dis-ease in your body can be - to let go of cultural expectations, live fully in the present moment, take responsibility for your own healing, get out of limited thinking, open your heart to all the joy and pain of life, discover your spiritual self, develop really strong desire to heal and then help others heal, to surrender your life to something bigger than you. Ultimately, illness can be a great wake-up call and guide in deepening your life.
It's been a very fascinating journey. And it's meant I had to trust my own intuition, knowledge, experience and guidance more than any other person. Learning that has been very worth it, and crucial to my ability to take that inner power and focus, that wisdom and compassion, and act in the world. Illness seems to be a common experience amongst those who step out of the norms and boxes of society to offer the world something unique and powerful.
I taught yoga for 12 years, 4 or 5 classes a week, from 2002 through 2013, plus school and community events. It was a natural fit for an old physical education student, someone who loves guiding people into inner awareness and meditation, and loves teaching. I enjoyed bringing the physical dimension into my work with people, helping people learn how to move from core body strength and optimal alignment, loosen tight body areas, and develop new habits of moving in our bodies the way they are designed to. For someone who has pursued a deeper path in life, it was a way to help people learn to sit with their inner stillness, listen to their body wisdom and true inner voice, and develop a greater balance between body, mind and spirit.
I soon realized how much people in this society need to learn the skill of deep relaxation, the place where our body rests fully and heals itself. Most people also need to learn how to breathe optimally, which is always life transforming. Learning to live in optimal balance between body, mind and spirit has always been my passion.
I also taught yoga to children and teens, helping children develop body awareness, focus and concentration, balance, co-ordination and strength, and inner stillness and quiet. I enjoyed kids creativity and ability to have fun with yoga poses. Children are often told to calm down, but not given instruction in how to relax, be aware of different inner states, or self-soothe. Teaching yoga in elementary schools, to high school physical education classes, and to community groups was definitely rewarding.
I've always had a deep love of the outdoors, and like many people it was my introduction to the spiritual realm. The natural world has long been used as a venue for discovering a fuller physical and spiritual relationship with yourself, others and the earth. I am always interested in sharing my deep love of the outdoors, using nature to learn to live from a true balance of mind, body and spirit, connected to the earth and thus universal energy. Much of the outdoor education and recreation world focuses on physical survival skills, the intellectual understanding of natural ecosystems, and enjoyment of our miraculous world. I have always been much more interested in learning to be really present in the natural world, deepening my connection with the earth and all animal and plant life, and developing awareness and sensitivity to the spiritual realm.
I learned a lot from living and working outdoors, and my many adventures in the great Canadian wilderness. I also learned from Tom Brown Jr. and his Tracker School in New Jersey (www.trackerschool.com). Tom was taught by a Native elder, an Apache who he called Grandfather, throughout his childhood and teens. These teachings are profound, universal and fascinating, working on both physical and spiritual levels, blending the wisdom of many ancient traditions and lifestyles. To me nature awareness involves learning to be in wilderness mind, that balance between the physical and spiritual, in harmony with oneself and the natural world, perceiving information from both. It means learning to listen to the language of the heart, becoming aware with senses beyond the physical five, deepening one's connection with the earth. The natural world, its rhythms and energy unaltered by human technology, becomes a crucible for stepping out of thinking and head dominance into a true balance between body, mind and spirit. This is always a deeper, more personally fulfilling, truer way of being, as well as allowing you to be a more effective vehicle for developing human consciousness.
I've found that many people live with chronic, low-grade anxiety. "A" type personalities seem to have a propensity for it. It's also our society today, and pressures of both work and family. People often aware of all the outer causes of their anxiety. But it's the inner work that gives you the skills to deal with life circumstances from a place of strength, security and calm rather than anxiety.
I find in approaching anxiety that it's important to work on both learning to cope better with current symptoms, and resolving the deeper cause of the anxiety. This allows for real change to occur, change in how you are with yourself and out in the world. Anxiety is a pattern people fall into when they are overwhelmed, and don't know how to work through whatever their challenges. Often these are underlying emotions, usually ones that have been around for years. Or they are restrictive, negative thought patterns, often automatic and unconscious. It may be physical stress, like poor diet, lack of both exercise and sleep, or illness, resulting in a stressed-out nervous system. Or it could be trying to fit yourself into a job or relationship that doesn't serve you, that is not consistent with who you are and your real path in life.
Other than the counselling work of unraveling all of the above, certain methodologies are helpful in re-learning how to step out of anxiety and into a calmer, more balanced way of being. Here you more easily hear your own inner wisdom that guides you best. Meditation allows you to learn to let go of your busy mind and its incessant demand on your attention, so you can hear your body and spirit, not just your mind. Yoga, tai chi and other physical activities can help bring you back into balance through your body. Hypnosis teaches both deep relaxation, and receiving a lot of positive, supportive messages into your subconscious to shift your mental patterns. All help you learn and develop a new inner environment, one that supports you.
Many people complain of stress, sometimes just because of a situation, oftentimes chronically. It seems endemic in our modern day society, with people balancing many responsibilities and demands and not taking time for their own needs. Too much stress takes its toll on our relationships, our bodies, our work and our mental health.
I usually see the need for both a coping strategy, alleviating the symptoms of stress, and delving deeper into the reasons behind stress, the psychological work that allows you to be free of old, automatic reactions and take control over your life. Both need to be addressed for adequately relieving stress. Finding balance in life is an art, between yourself and other people, between your outer and inner life, between putting energy out in the world and self-care. Stress management is always unique, as every person, their needs and their process of change, is quite unique.
Mindfulness means awareness, being aware of what's happening inside you as well as outside you, between you and others. Becoming more aware allows you to take action to effectively deal with a problem. It also means being aware of the different parts of you, even if they are conflicting. If stress is coming from over-working your brain, then being mindful of your emotions and body allows you hear what they are yelling at you for attention. Learning to find and nurture that place of mind-body-spirit balance allows you stay connected to all parts of you. Many methodologies help develop mindfulness.
Meditation comes in many forms, but all work with softening the grip of the demanding head and its constant thoughts, letting them move into the background, strengthening your connection to your deeper self which is always there. This is not a quick or easy process, but instead takes a lot of practice and commitment. Like any difficulty, either you enjoy the learning process, and decide to weather the challenges, or not. Meditation can really change lives because it allows you to recognize your own inner guidance, lets you release stored emotions, gives you perspective so you can make conscious choices, allows you to become aware of the flow of life energy inside you, and opens you to the spiritual dimension.
I include an information section on narcissism because as a therapist, I deal with this as much as anxiety, depression and marraige counseling. Narcissism is a word used to describe the act of being self-absorbed or ego-centris, viewing the world through the filter of oneself. Everyone is narcissistic to some degree, as we all experience life through our own emotions, thoughts and sensations. Of course, like any character trait, there's a huge difference between people, a gradient of how able one is in seeing past their own experience to others, from mature interdependence to being completely stuck in one's view of reality. Since we live in a rather narcissistic society, its often hard to pinpoint what is problematic behaviour and what is not, since its all around us to some degree, and everyone's definition of normal is different.
The natural maturing, growing process of children and adults is working through our narcissistic tendencies to develop the skills and inner security to have caring, supportive relationships. Some people get stuck, using narcissism as a coping strategy and protection from inner pain. Many people have a few narcissistic traits, making certain problems hard to resolve, but otherwise have good relationship skills. Others have many, exhibiting real trouble in the give and take of relationships, making it really challenging for others to hold their own in a relationship or work situation. As well, some people are just more sensitive to another's words and actions, some people are naturally more flexible, and others are less affected.
Narcissistic behaviors that create relationship difficulties include:
- Blame, the number one relationship block all therapists deal with, making others responsible for our happiness, problems and behavior, not taking responsibility for oneself
- Control, needing control of one's environment and the people in it at all times, needing things to stay the same, handling challenges with bullying
- Being right, needing to be right and make the other person wrong, whether openly or covertly, thinking one is better than others, needing to define oneself as the norm
- Not listening, interrupting to re-assert one's experience, not hearing, valuing or taking into consideration anothers' experience
- Dumping, feeling justified in imposing one's anger and pain on another, often a lot of yelling, blaming, ranting and raving
- Controlling conversations, not answering questions and diverting back to one's argument and agenda
- Arguing, staying in one's head and arguingone's point of view incessantly to avoid feelings or hear the others experience
- Demanding, hounding until others give in because they are tired of fighting
- Emotions, having a really hard time with vulnerability and feelings, inability to relate to others emotional needs, needing others to repress weakness to feel OK
-Using manipulation and guilt to get what one wants, rather than direct, honest communication
- Labelling others as selfish, crazy, ungrateful etc, if one's needs aren't met
- Inability to negotiate and come to a compromise, making unilateral decisions and expecting others to go along with them
- Not respecting limits, having to enforce your limits clearly and incessantly
- Taking more from others than giving, not recognizing the often vast difference in how much people give in a relationship. especially emotionally
Some people are highly sensitive and others not, we're all different. Both have their gifts and challenges. Being a very sensitive person means being aware of everyone's emotions around you, and picking up on the energy of a person, site or situation. Usually it also means being hyper-aware of what is going on inside, in your body, thoughts, emotion and intuition. It also means heightened physical senses, taking in more physical information from the outer world than most. The problem is, what to do with all this information, especially when its overwhelming.
This world is not overly kind or welcoming to sensitives, or even understanding. Cultural norms often support being outwardly-focused, tough and productive. What happens to a super-sensitive child trying to grow up in an insensitive environment? They often close down awareness of their feelings and inner voice, to pretend to fit the world around them. This often ends up in constant, low-grade anxiety or depression. They often feel bad about themselves, learning to hate their inner world rather than work with and for themselves. They feel responsible for all the challenging emotions others bring, taking it on themselves to let others feel better, but ending up with overwhelmed nervous systems and the resultant psychosomatic problems. Recognizing this is children allows family and school to help the child learn how to deal with the world, and look after themselves in it.
How do sensitive adults fare? Many have recognized how they operate and have learned skills to look after themselves in the world. Others think there is something wrong with them because they don't fit the world like others. If so, they have often attracted friends and family who don't see or respect their sensitivity. Learning to love oneself with all your strengths and weaknesses, have clear needs and limits, and choose how best to deal with situations all help you work in-line with yourself.
Highly sensitive people tend to:
- Be aware of what others are feeling, thinking or want, even if it is never stated
- Experience high anxiety, often chronically, with busy heads and trouble sleeping, liking to be in control
- Sacrifice their own needs for others, and have a hard time recognizing their own needs
- Have high standards, be perfectionistic, are hard on themselves
- Be aware of the spiritual realm, are highly intuitive, and often have extrasensory talents
- Absorb emotional energy from others
- Have a strong relationship with the natural world
- Be creative and naturally gifted in the arts
- Be overwhelmed by the tension and interpersonal dynamics in a room of people
- Are fearful of conflict and how others may negatively respond if they speak out
- Need time and space to process information overload and come back to inner balance
- Attract children and animals, who feel comfotable, seen and loved by them
- Often struggle with ongoing health problems nobody understands
- Be sensitive to certain foods and often develop food allergies
- Be overwhelmed by physical sensation in a way others don't even notice, such as as odours, loud sounds, the feel of clothing
Many people are awakening spiritually now. Human consciousness is growing and developing. Those sensitive to the energetic shifts happening in the world now feel it. And it seems to be getting more intense every year. It's part of a big shift, one we have to go through to change our way of being in the world, in order to survive and thrive on this planet in a whole new way. This awakening has to do with becoming more whole, recognizing the existence of the spiritual realm, and allowing the ego, personality self to live in balance with one's spiritual self.
Many people call it an awakening because once you've got a glimpse of a new way of being, a larger world, it feels like you have just woken up and stepped out of a dream, glad to be back home. You look at yourself and your life in a whole new way, from the viewpoint of spirit. It feels like you just stepped into a deeper truth, that of your true self. It's very liberating, like you've just walked out of a dark cave and into the light, as if you've just walked away from blindness and restriction and found a vibrant, loving world.
Experiences of awakening spiritually can include:
- Recognizing an inner voice desiring change that you can no longer ignore, but not knowing where it will lead so feeling really scared
- Feeling like your inner foundation is no longer there, and you are vulnerable, stranded, with no solid ground yet in place
- Cataclysmic change is your life, like relationships, jobs and homes leaving your life
- Emotional turmoil, as old emotions arise to release and clear out, feeling as if you're on an emotional roller-coaster
- Recognizing the need to clean up your thoughts, becoming really tired of old criticism, negativity, limits, and taking responsibility for changing them
- Stepping out of your old way of being and being completely free and open to re-define your self, your life, your truth
- Becoming very concerned about the current state of humanity and our earth, asking questions far beyond your immediate life
- Feeling like you have a role to play in the world, in aiding humanity's change process, but you just don't know what yet
- Feeling little commonality with the majority of people in society
- Becoming heart-centred and inner-directed
- Finding that being really present in the world is an incredibly hard ideal to live up to
- Recognizing the need to take good care of your body as the vehicle for something larger than yourself
- Receiving information and knowing beyond the five physical senses
- Experiencing greater joy, sense of purpose, connection, inner depth
- Recognizing your life is no longer your own, that you have said yes to something larger