Person-Centred Therapy | Bowen’s Family Systems Therapy | Cognitive/ Behavioural Therapy | Transpersonal Psychology | Counselling Appointments, Fees and Confidentiality
This approach to counselling and psychotherapy sees human beings as having an innate tendency to develop towards their full potential. But this is inevitably blocked or distorted by our life experiences, in particular those who tell us we are only loved or valued if we behave in certain ways and not others, or have certain feelings and not others. As a result, because we have a deep need to feel valued, we tend to distort or deny to our awareness those of our inner experiences that we believe will not be acceptable.
The counsellor or psychotherapist in this approach aims to provide an environment in which the client does not feel under threat or judgement. This enables the client to experience and accept more of who they are as a person, and reconnect with their own values and sense of self-worth. This reconnection with their inner resources enables them to find their own way to move forward.
The counsellor or psychotherapist works to understand the client’s experience from the client’s point of view, and to positively value the client as a person in all aspects of their humanity, while aiming to be open and genuine as another human being. These attitudes of the therapist towards the client will only be helpful if the client experiences them as real within the relationship, and so the nature of the relationship that the counsellor and client create between themselves is crucial for the success of therapy.
Gestalt Therapy focuses on the whole of an individual’s experience; their thoughts, feelings and actions, and concentrates on the ‘here and now’ – what is happening from one moment to the next. Roughly translated from German, Gestalt means ‘whole’ and was developed in the 1940’s by Fritz Perls. The main goal of this approach is for the individual to become more self-aware, taking into account their mind, body and soul.
A therapist will constantly promote the client’s awareness of themselves and often uses experiments that are created by the therapist and client. These experiments can be anything from creating patterns with objects and writing to role-playing. Promoting self-awareness is the main objective of gestalt therapy but other areas such as improving the ability to support ones emotional feelings are also important. Gestalt therapy is influenced by psychoanalytic theory and therapists will concentrate on ‘here and now’ experiences to remove obstacles created by past experiences.
Bowen’s Family Systems Therapy
Family Therapy, also known as Systemic Therapy, is an approach that works with families and those in close relationships. Changes are viewed in terms of the systems of interaction between each person in the family.
In systems theory, behaviors and family members responses influence the family pattern and life. Meanings and values are vital components of the family system and provide structure. Every family has a unique culture, value, structure, and history. Values, which are described as the means of interpreting events and information, pass from one generation to the next.
Values continually interact with the environment and change slowly over time. The family processes information with the environment through values, the values identify the meanings of the information for the family’s use. Systems have boundaries that separate the family system from the rest of the environment and control the flow of information between the system and surrounding environment to maintain the system.
This characteristic becomes the family’s internal manager, made up of interactions and relationships of members with one another and with those outside of the family system. The family is considered a unified whole rather than the sum of its parts-an integrated system of interdependent functions, structures, and relationships that acts as a single whole.
Therapy based on Systems Thinking gives us a way of exploring the family’s way of perceiving the world. It offers a way to change how we think about ourselves, and, over time, work toward altering our perceptions, with the goal of finding a more open, honest and effective way of relating and connecting to the people in our family, community and the world we live in. One of the most important aspects of this theory to me as a therapist is that this theory does not view the person as the problem, but rather sees the relationship dynamics as the problem.
Cognitive/ Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combines cognitive and behavioural therapies, and involves changing the way you think (cognitive) and how you respond to these thoughts (behaviour). CBT focuses on the ‘here and now’ instead of focusing on the cause of the issue, and breaks overwhelming problems into smaller parts to make them easier to deal with. These smaller parts can be described as thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. Each of these has the ability to affect the other, e.g. the way you think about things can affect how you feel emotionally and physically, and ultimately how you behave.
CBT is based on the principle that individuals learn unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving over a long period of time. However, identifying these thoughts and how they can be problematic to feelings and behaviours can enable individuals to challenge negative ways of thinking, leading to positive feelings and behavioural changes. It is possible for the therapy to take place on a one-to-one basis, with family members or even as a group depending on the issue and how the individual feels most comfortable.
CBT can be useful for dealing with issues such as:
• drug or alcohol problems
• eating disorders
• obsessive-compulsive disorder
• post-traumatic stress disorder
• Sexual and relationship problems
The emphasis on cognitive or behaviour aspects of therapy can vary depending on the issue. For example, the emphasis may be more towards cognitive therapy when treating depression, or the emphasis may be more towards behaviour therapy when treating obsessive compulsive disorder.
CBT is a practical therapy, which is likely to work best treating a specific issue as it focuses on particular problems and how to overcome them.
CBT sessions may consist of a number of activities, including:
• Coping skills
• Challenging certain thoughts
• Thought stopping
• Homework projects
• Training in communication
Cognitive Therapy involves learning how to identify and replace distorted thoughts and beliefs, ultimately changing the associated habitual behaviour towards them. It is usually focused on the present and is a problem-solving orientated treatment. Cognitive Therapy is based on the principle that the way we perceive situations influences how we feel about them.
When individuals are distressed they often can’t recognise that their thoughts are distorted, so Cognitive Therapy helps them to identify these thoughts and reassess them. For example, if an individual makes a small mistake they may think “I’m useless, I can’t do anything right”. Strongly believing this may cause them to avoid the activity where they made a mistake and confirm this belief deeper. Addressing these thoughts, and reassessing them can lead to more flexible ways of thinking, allowing the individual to feel more positive, be less likely to avoid situations and be able to challenge their negative belief.
Cognitive Therapy was first developed in the 20th century by American psychiatrist Aaron Beck who realised what usually held his clients back most were negative thoughts and beliefs such as “I’m stupid” or “I can’t do that”. Beck initially focused on depression and developed a ‘list of errors’ in thinking, that he believed could maintain depression. The list included errors such as magnification (of negatives), minimisation (of positives) and over-generalisation.
Albert Ellis, another therapist, came to similar conclusions about his clients’ negative beliefs and their tendencies to ‘catastrophise’ or ‘awfulise’. Ellis’s work also became known as a form of Cognitive Therapy, now referred to as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).
The cognitive approach came into conflict with the behavioural approach at the time, which focused solely on assessing stimuli and behavioural responses to it. However, during the 1970’s behavioural techniques and cognitive techniques joined forces to create Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Behavioural Therapy is effective for individuals who require treatment for some sort of behaviour change, such as addictions, phobias and anxiety disorders. Based on the principle that behaviour is learnt, and can therefore be unlearnt, or reconditioned, Behavioural Therapy concentrates on the ‘here and now’ without focusing on the past to find a reason for the behaviour.
The most famous examples of conditioning are those of Ivan Pavlov and B.F Skinner.
An experiment conducted by Pavlov demonstrated how ringing a bell close to dinner time caused dogs to associate the ringing of the bell with the expectation of food, which made them salivate even if no food appeared. The importance of this experiment is that the conditioned response (the dogs salivating) decreased in intensity the more times the conditioned stimulus (ringing of the bell) occurred without the appearance of food.
A similar technique can be used to treat phobias, for example, where an individual can gradually be exposed to the stimuli that triggers the phobia, and recondition their behavioural response to it.
B.F Skinner conducted an experiment that associated reconditioning with rewards. The experiment involved feeding a rat via an automatic dispenser until the rat leant to associate the noise of the dispenser with the arrival of food. Once the rat had learnt this behaviour, a lever in the wall was raised so that when the rat touched it (accidently) with its paw, the food was dispensed. The rat then learnt to associate the lever with the arrival of food and continually pressed it.
A similar technique can be applied to individuals by reinforcing desired behaviour, or not reinforcing undesired behaviour.
Transpersonal psychology began within humanistic therapies, however today it is gaining recognition by many psychologists and a number of professional organisations, and is now often seen as its own separate psychological theory (along with the other three main categories: behavioural, psychoanalytical and psychodynamic and humanistic).
Transpersonal psychology literally means “beyond the personal” and involves encouraging the individual to discover the deep core of who they really are (the real person that transcends an individual’s body, age, gender, physical space, culture, appearance etc.) It involves building and expanding on an individual’s qualities, their spirituality and self development.
Transpersonal Psychology encompasses three major areas: Beyond-Ego Psychology, Integrative/Holistic Psychology, and Transformative Psychology. It involves an integration of the idea of a higher, spiritual level of consciousness, sometimes referred to as the “higher self”. Techniques such as meditation and visualisation are often used for self-exploration and personal growth.
Counselling Appointments, Fees & Confidentiality
I have flexible hours, reasonable fees and flexible payment methods, with a strict confidentiality policy.
I have appointments available evenings and some weekends. Please call for an appointment time that works best for you.
Counselling Intake Process
When you call I can answer any questions you may have about the counselling process and how you can get started. You can also check out A Beginner’s Guide to Counselling article to learn more.
Generally, it is best to begin with weekly appointments, but it is possible to come less frequently. People sometimes just consult with us about a difficulty for one or two sessions, most engage in short-term work lasting 10-20 sessions, and some people, who want to make more substantial gains in their personal growth, engage in longer term therapy. Sessions are typically 60 and 90 minutes in length. You can set up your appointment by calling 604-773-7252.
$119.05 per 60-minute session ($125.00 including G.S.T.) or $157.14 per 90-minute session ($165.00 including G.S.T.)
This is consistent with the fee schedule set out by ACCT (The Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapist. I do not charge extra when working with couples or families.
Fees are charged for NSF cheques and reports and letters written on behalf of clients.
If you are seeing me in person you can pay by cash, credit card, e-tranfer or cheque. You can either prepay or pay at the time of your session.
Prepayment is required for Skype, Zoom or Telephone clients. I accept payment through email money transfer or credit card.
I ask that you cancel appointments with me as soon as you are aware that you need to. If you cancel with 24 hours notice there is no fee. If you phone to cancel with less than 24 hours notice, our full fee is charged. If you do not phone to cancel I will assume that you are late for the appointment, wait for you throughout the appointment time, and the full fee will be charged.
All of the information that we share together is strictly confidential unless one of the following should occur:
-The courts subpoena my files.
-I am subpoenaed as a witness in court.
-I suspect a case of child abuse that has not been previously reported. In this case I am required by law to report to the Ministry for Children and Families.
-If you threaten to harm yourself or another. In this case I am also required to report this to the proper authorities.
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