It has always been a dream of mine to provide counselling services in a private practice setting. My career path to date has involved 10 years of child protection work, a year as a school social worker, and a year as a social worker in a hospital setting. Each of these professional roles have brought me invaluable learning experiences with respect to working with others and seeing people struggle with a vast range of trauma and distress: from violence, loss, fears, anxieties, mental and physical illness, and chronic pain, to insecurities and self-doubt. Out of all of this, one thing has stood out clearly for me: people are resilient. People have all of the skills they need to survive and move forward.
So….if this is true, why can life feel so hard to get through at times? Why is it not easier?
Experiences of past and present trauma often elicit high degrees of emotional distress, which can affect us both physically and mentally. We often push ourselves through times of duress and hardship, telling ourselves that we need to go to work; we need to pay the bills; we need to be the best partner, friend, relative, and parent that we can be. We live multi-role lives within the same 24 hours each day that we've always had, and yet we push to do more. Impacts of cumulative daily stressors that go unattended can sometimes become as damaging as the impacts of trauma, further clouding our ability to see positive resolutions and to problem-solve effectively.
I feel strongly that it is important to strive for balance in our lives given the hectic, high-expectation packed society we live in today. It is due to this belief that I value a holistic approach to working with an individual, couple, or family. I believe that we all carry with us, an array of strengths, skills, and abilities gathered by way of hardship, good role models, resiliency, and learning from our mistakes, or a combination of all of the above.
Those of us who experienced hardship at a young age may have developed beliefs and defense mechanisms that no longer serve us today, particularly in our relationships with others. In these cases, the challenge will be to recognize the discrepancy or inaccuracy, re-discover strengths and inner truths, and to build resiliency skills to develop new patterns of coping and responding to others.
I adopt a strengths-based approach in my work with people, and combine this with client-centered, existential, attachment, and cognitive-behavioural therapies to help others to maximize: self-awareness, a sense of meaning, and the ability to access problem-solving skills more naturally and effectively in order to move forward in life and achieve personal and professional goals.