As a clinical psychologist, I can offer a wide range of services. I currently focus on providing individual therapy to adults. I am also planning to offer a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) group in the near future.
You are a capable and resilient person who usually manages life very well. Perhaps, you’ve had one or more setbacks in your journey at this point, such as an illness or injury, a change in your relationships, or school or work stress. Or, maybe, you’ve been handling one thing after another for a while. You may not have had time to take care of your needs, because you are looking after others or have many competing priorities. Stress can build up until it is hard to ignore. If this is your experience, you may be feeling lost and overwhelmed about your situation. I can offer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), relaxation techniques, mindfulness and other strategies, including knowledge about the biopsychosocial approach to pain management to address your concerns. Over the years, I have helped my clients to learn strategies to successfully address a variety of concerns, including:
Depression. You may be experiencing a profound sense of sadness, more than a typical bad day, that makes it hard for you to relate to others. Because tasks may take a great deal of effort, it can be difficult to feel excited or motivated about engaging in your work or routine activities. For some people, periods of low mood come and go, while for others it can persist for several weeks or longer.
When I work clients who have depression and other strong emotions, such as anger, I help them to explore the patterns in their lives. My clients often discover that there are changes that they can make to some aspect of their experience that makes a difference. However, no two people are the same. I would collaborate with you to develop a tailored treatment plan based on your unique situation to improve your mood and prevent relapse. Strategies that we could explore include using tools to find out what thoughts are holding you back, testing out new ways of doing things in your life, getting going on activities despite having low motivation, considering your positive experiences or strengths, and much more.
Anxiety. People experience anxiety in different ways. You may have had periods of stress and worry throughout your life. I can help you to decide which treatment approaches might work well for you. Or, perhaps, you first started to feel uncomfortable in certain situations after an accident, medical procedure, illness, or trauma occurred. You may cope with unpredictable life events by trying to plan and control situations to reduce the chance that something will go wrong. You may even avoid situations or decide not to pursue rewarding opportunities, because stepping outside of your comfort zone causes too much stress.
If you experience anxiety often, you have likely wanted to make a positive change for a long time. I would work with you to understand your particular circumstances and help you to move towards your goals at your own pace. There are many strategies available to reduce the impact of anxiety in your life. These include gradually approaching situations that you have been wanting to to experience, learning breathing, imagery, muscle relaxation, and other ways to calm your body and mind, as well as mindfulness strategies to observe your experiences without being overwhelmed by them. I can help you to decide which ones might work well for you.
Sleep problems. People vary in the amount of sleep that they need. However, you are more likely to report that sleep is a problem for you if you feel persistently unrefreshed and tired after you wake up. You may be having difficulty falling asleep, because your mind is still thinking about problems. You may wake up in the middle of the night, because you find it physically hard to get comfortable. Then you might have difficulty falling back to sleep and lie awake for the rest of the night. The more you try to force sleep to happen, such as by going to bed early the next night, drinking alcohol, or worrying about the consequences of poor sleep, the less likely you are to sleep well.
If you have sleep problems like these, I would work with you to identify the specific factors that impact your sleep. Depending on what we discover, I would present you with a variety of tools and strategies that you can choose from to establish and maintain a better sleep pattern. These strategies might include, but are not limited to, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), sleep hygiene education, techniques to address worry, and practical solutions to life problems that are keeping you awake at night.
Persistent health problems, including chronic pain. Many people who have chronic pain have more than one condition. Perhaps, you started having pain in your neck, back, or leg as a result of an accident or a longstanding medical condition. Over time, you may have started having other symptoms, such as headaches or stomach issues, or pain in other parts of your body. You might also have started experiencing depression, anxiety, and insomnia as you struggled to cope with the impact of pain on your life, such as losing the support of friends or family members, or being unable to work and earn a living. On top if it all, you may feel that health care professionals do not believe in or take your symptoms seriously.
I have experience with helping clients with chronic pain and other health conditions to practice new ways of approaching daily tasks in order to reduce pain and increase day-to-day functioning. For example, are you a workaholic, a super mom, or an extreme athlete? Then learning to pace your activities and developing a different mindset might be amongst your goals for managing your chronic condition.
Life Stress. Stress is the body’s way of preparing you to deal with a change in your environment. Any kind of change, whether it is positive or negative, can place an increased demand on the body. Have you recently experienced any change to your health, job, relationships, or any other aspect of your life? Feeling that you don’t have enough resources to cope with life challenges can also lead to stress. Do you constantly feel that you don’t have enough time to get things done? Or that it’s impossible for you to meet everyone’s expectations?
I would work with you to explore what is causing the stress in your life. Depending on your situation, I would present you with a number of strategies to address your concerns. These might include a focus on problem solving, setting boundaries, establishing realistic expectations, learning relaxation and mindfulness skills, or even developing new approaches to increase your capacity to handle whatever life brings.
Making a Change. You may be at a turning point, where your habits, former roles, or old ways of doing things are no longer working and don’t fit with your current aspirations. You might have a sense that you can’t keep going on your current path, but you don’t have a clear vision of what direction to take. Or you may have been forced to change by circumstances beyond your control. It can feel very uncomfortable when your sense of where you are and where you want to be are at odds with each other.
If you are in the process of dealing with change, I take a flexible approach to help you navigate your options. I might offer suggestions to increase your awareness of key issues, help you to weigh the costs and benefits of a decision, prepare you to take steps towards a goal, assist you in your efforts to maintain your new life, or take a different approach depending on your circumstances.
Group Therapy (Coming Soon)
In addition to individual therapy, I also plan to offer a mindfulness-based stress reduction group (MBSR) in the next year. This protocol has been shown to be effective for people with chronic conditions. I have been practicing mindfulness since 2003, and I am currently undergoing certification through the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, Ontario. The requirements of this program include an advanced degree, a Mindfulness Core Concepts course, an 8-week MBSR course, a 5 to 7-day silent retreat, a 6-day Teacher Training Intensive course, and at least 22 hours of Facilitation Mentorship. These criteria are comparable to those of the original MBSR program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I am excited that I will soon be able to offer this program to you here in Calgary. Please stay tuned!