As we’re seeing in popular media more and more today, counselling and therapy are not just for the ‘extremely’ mentally ill. Of course, therapists have known this for ages; anyone can benefit from counselling. We all go through the common struggles of life. Feeling ‘stuck’ with problems, and needing professional help, is not something to be ashamed of.
With modern technology available to us, we now have the opportunity to work towards inner growth on a schedule that is convenient and practical. That’s where my North Vancouver online therapy sessions can be of help.
As Dr. Demartini says, “Every problem is an opportunity to learn and to love.” He also says that we gain the most growth at the “border of chaos and order.”
Doesn’t that describe us all? The key is knowing how to turn problems into growth. A therapist – even an online therapist – can lead you towards that transformation.
Note: for more information about my parent counselling services, please see this page. The same principles can apply in an online counselling format. If caregivers are in different locations, we can still conduct conference video calls, so everyone is present for sessions.
As a North Vancouver online therapist, I aim to be your ‘life journey companion’
You may be wondering more about me, and my qualifications to be your therapist or counsellor. I’m happy to speak to this. I believe that finding a bond and a ‘fit’ with your therapist is important.
Of course, I do have the training and qualifications to be able to conduct adult therapy sessions. I have done this for years. Around 2016, I decided to focus my private practice on children and families. However, adult counselling is nothing new to me – not by any stretch!
I’ve earned a Masters of Counselling Psychology. I am well-versed in the standard methods of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I am also trained beyond these methods. You can learn more about me, here.
Aside from credentials, I think it’s important for clients to also know about my passion for, and approach to therapy.
Personally, I can say that, for my career and life’s work, I chose to ‘walk’ with others because it truly fulfills me. I feel it is my ‘calling’ to share in the joy, pain and sorrows of life with my clients. I enjoy supporting people as they learn to discover new ways to live out their true self.
This is perhaps because I’ve been through my own struggles, and continue to explore self growth. I’ve seen what coping skills have done for me, and I want to share the knowledge.
Professionally, one of the words I would use to describe my therapy practice is “client-centered.” There are more words I use, but I’ll explain those below. Let’s hone in on “client-centered” for now.
Client-centered online therapy
Conducting client-centred online therapy means that I must work to ‘meet’ you where you are at. Practically, this is carried out by being respectful of:
- Your emotional needs in the current moment.
- The direction you would like to take in a given therapy session.
- Your readiness to reflect on your situations.
- Your readiness to experiment with new ways of living your life.
However, philosophically, client-centered therapy also involves the concept of the “therapeutic alliance,” or the “therapeutic relationship.” Research shows this is what matters most to therapy clients. This means that a good therapist must also be ‘in tune’ with their clients. So, my job is not just to listen and give you advice. It is to:
- Be empathetic and to engage genuinely and authentically with you. This means that, as your therapist, I may laugh, cry or be angry with you, since it is ‘human’ to react to one’s stories, struggles and victories.
- Be collaborative when defining goals, and when finding ways to work towards them. My role as a therapist is to support you. It is also to provide a confidential, ‘safe space’ for your self-exploration.
- Trust in your innate wisdom and strength to discover and realize your own path to growth and healing. I’ll be ‘there’ so you don’t have to do it alone. This is key, since human beings are ‘wired’ to connect with others.
To that end, I may consistently ask about the state of our therapeutic relationship. For example, you may hear me ask: “how have these sessions been going for you?” or “do you feel that we are missing any points, or overlooking anything in our sessions?” And so on.
In my client-centered therapy approach, you can expect each session to be an exploration and discovery journey. Remember, it is not the therapist’s job to be a ‘stone wall,’ nor to give you text-book knowledge. It is to be human towards you.
During sessions, both you and I will be free to express curiosity and playfulness. We can spontaneously feel, sense, think and try different things out, in order to increase insight and awareness about the issue at hand. Together, we can brainstorm ideas for new ways of living. For example, we may discover new skills to put into practice for your everyday life.
Neuroscience-informed, body-oriented, mindfulness and skills-based online counselling
My additional phrases for describing my approach to therapy include: “neuroscience-informed,” “body-oriented,” “mindfulness,” and “skills based.” With these I’d also use: “trauma-informed,” “nervous system regulation”, “body-mind-spirit connection,” “spirituality,” “authenticity,” “congruence,” “experiential,” and “expressive.”
These may sound like topics that don’t go well together. For example, “neuroscience” sounds like very ‘solid,’ evidence-based therapy. Whereas the term “body-oriented” or “body-mind-spirit connection” may seem like a philosophical belief that is not backed by science (it probably sounds a little hippie-ish, too, right?). However, this is not the case. These concepts are very much aligned.
“Connecting with our body” may sound weird to some. This is probably because, for the most part, we are not trained to do this. We are far more accustomed to feeling our emotions, or talking about our emotions and thoughts.
However, with the exponential growth of knowledge in the field of neuroscience, we now know much more about our nervous system, and how it affects our mental health. We know that talk therapy alone is not enough for healing; not even when it includes the ‘gold standard’ of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Though these are great forms of therapy (don’t get me wrong).
Neuroscience informs us that we are very much controlled by the workings of our nervous system, which reside in our body. We have only one body, and everything we experience – mentally and physically – is ‘kept’ in our body.
For instance, when we are in a fearful state, our nervous system may automatically trigger our body to do many physical, biological things. These can happen without our realization. For example, our heart rate will increase, blood will be pumped to our extremities and we may become anxious or highly irritable..
We also experience what’s commonly known as the “fight, flight or freeze” response. This can also be expressed as “hyper-arousal,” which manifests as heart rate increases, anxiety and excessive motor activity. On the flip side, we also have “hypo-arousals,” which manifest as feeling tired and lethargic, numbed or depressed.
Our body does these things to protect us from the perceived threat we are experiencing. The problem is, sometimes, our so-called ‘threats’ are not actually threats. We may feel that they are, because of some trauma or past experience we’ve had. This is where trauma-informed therapy also comes into the picture.
In order to get our body back into regulation from these dysregulated states, we need to learn healthy coping skills. Some of them focus on nervous system regulation.
It may seem hard, but we can be trained to mindfully ‘tune in’ to our body’s experiences. We can help our body’s response. The first step is to acknowledge and ‘befriend’ the emotions and body sensations that arise in us. We can ‘listen’ or ‘talk’ to them, digging deeper to understand what they are trying to tell us about our struggles and challenges (whether long past or recent).
Thereafter, we may engage in bodily movements to discharge excessive energy. Or, we can ‘rev up’ our depressed energy. Examples of these movements include breathing exercises, or even changing our posture, believe it or not! Internally, we can also choose to think differently about our perceived challenges.
This is why yoga, tai chi, meditation, breathing exercises, movement, singing, rhythmic activities and expressive art are all beneficial for healing from trauma. They help us get into that “mind-body connection.” In my therapy sessions, we may do these types of activities (as long as they resonate with you, and you are comfortable with them).
Why? In neuroscience-informed therapy, the goal is to provide opportunities to develop new neural pathways (i.e. thinking patterns and reactions).
Think about it this way: if you have been traumatized, or are depressed, you are (almost literally) ‘wired’ to have fears that are not present, or to think negatively. In therapy sessions, you can ‘face’ those emotions in a totally safe, secure and confidential space. A trained professional can be there to ‘hold your hand’ through this process. They can teach you coping skills to practice facing those emotions and thoughts as they arise in daily life.
Eventually, these coping skills can become ‘normal’ reactions for you. For example, instead of being afraid of your triggers, you may eventually find yourself in an ‘inner calm’ when they happen. Instead of looking at your ‘glass half empty,’ you’ll see it as ‘half full.’ And so on.
However, this does not mean we would be aiming at retelling and reliving trauma in therapy sessions. We will not be forcing anything (in fact, you may not be fully aware of your traumas, to begin with). We would simply be engaging our body and mind in new ways, so as to experience and perceive present challenges. Then, we may experiment with new ways of regulating the nervous system through those challenges.
If you have more questions about my approach to therapy, I encourage you to get in touch. We can conduct a short, 15-minute consultation to determine your needs.
FAQs about my adult online counselling and online parenting counselling
Below I’ll answer additional questions about my North Vancouver online counselling services. Click on a question to expand and see its answer.
How do you keep your online therapy sessions secure and private?
Before we begin our session, I will send you instructions and an agreement that we will both sign regarding confidentiality and privacy. For example, it will state that neither of us will record or take photos of the other person during the session. It will also describe steps you can take to keep the sessions technically secure and private on your end of things.
Do you offer phone counselling without video?
However, if virtual counselling through video chat is totally undoable for you, let me know. I can make a judgement call about whether or not I can still help you over the phone.
Is online counselling just as effective as in-person counselling?
While I personally prefer the connection that we get from being in the same room together, we must also acknowledge the research. According to studies, adult remote therapy is just as effective as adult in-person therapy.
Generally, it is more important that the client feels comfortable and supported by their therapist, whether sessions are online or in-person (hence, the “therapeutic alliance,” noted above).
Now the pandemic is an extraordinary situation. In extraordinary times, we resort to extraordinary measures. The industry is ‘experimenting’ as we go (so to speak). We are all learning how we can better use modern, technological tools to carry out effective counselling.
However, it is clear that online counselling is here to stay. Many prefer and enjoy this method. It is convenient, and comes with several other benefits. For example, it is quicker to schedule appointments, which allows for earlier intervention. It also prevents the fear of being seen going to appointments, which some clients have. And, for those who can’t access a therapist near them, online therapy provides them with a viable alternative.
If, for any reason, you feel you need in-person sessions, please let me know. I will need to learn more about your case. From there, I can make a judgement call about whether or not it is necessary to have you come to my office for therapy.
Are there cases when one should not use online counselling?
- Clients with inconsistent internet strength or connectivity (e.g. in rural areas).
- Clients who don’t have access to reliable, secure technology. This can potentially compromise confidentiality.
- Clients who don’t have, are not familiar with, or are intimidated by the use of technology.
- Clients with serious and complicated mental health or psychiatric concerns (such as suicidal attempts, being near suicide, or being in crisis).
- Clients who are dependent on insurance coverage, since some insurers may not cover online counselling (although during the COVID-19 pandemic, this probably wouldn’t be an issue; your insurance provider can confirm).
If my finances are tight, can therapy still be effective for me?
How do I know if I really need counselling, or if I’m just going through a bit of a ‘rough patch,’ like everyone else?
The most telling sign is when one finds that their issues and concerns are creating dysfunctional patterns that become barriers to their regular life functioning.
For example, with depression, sadness and low energy can get so bad that it’s a struggle to get out of bed to face the day. This can become a pattern, and get worse with time. Eventually, one can start missing work or school a lot. Or, they find that it takes tremendous energy to do very small things, such as preparing a simple lunch, or attending to personal hygiene.
If one is socially anxious, they may begin to avoid all social situations. They can self-isolate, maintain no friendships, stop engaging in activities, and so on.
In those cases, and more, professional help is needed. If you think this even might be your case, please don’t ignore resources to address your mental state of being. You can start by seeing a family doctor covered by insurance (such as MSP in BC), if finances are a major issue.
Learn to love life, think positively, grow healthy relationships, develop self-worth and more; online counselling can give you mental health skills for inner growth and healing.
Life is an ongoing journey of order, chaos, change and growth. We will never be done with struggles, suffering and pain. However, we can choose to learn how to find meaning and purpose out of these experiences.
By learning this life skill, we can better connect with others, to form better relationships (which we need, as humans). Those relationships can include one with a higher power, if that is ‘in the picture’ for you.
Moreover, therapy can help us discover our own self-worth. It can help us address our anxieties and fears. Therapy can help us live life more fully, overall.
If you think you can benefit from my Vancouver online counselling, I encourage you to give me a call today. We can schedule a free, 15 minute phone consultation to find out if I am a fit to be your therapist. Or, as I like to call it, your ‘life journey companion.’