You have taken a very positive first step in reaching out for counselling by clicking onto my website. Making a decision to seek out counselling is not always an easy one. Despite efforts within society to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues, many people continue to experience feelings of shame or embarrassment in this regard.
There are also many people who see the need for counselling or any additional type of support as a "sign of weakness" - a sense that "I should be able to fix this or do this on my own" type of attitude. I am always fascinated by this belief as these same people might readily seek medical help for a broken leg but would rather suffer in silence than to acknowledge they are struggling emotionally.
I would like to encourage you to fight against your own fears as well as the stigma placed on counselling and mental health. This stigma might be reinforced by friends, family, society, etc. Positive mental health can generate incredible change in all areas of your life such as your relationships with partners, friends, family or co-workers. It can increase your confidence and self-esteem while reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. It can provide you with greater perspective and a clearer idea of what is actually causing you such emotional pain or difficulty thereby allowing you to take more effective steps to addressing these concerns. It can also assist you in identifying ongoing patterns in your thinking, behaviours, attitudes, relationships, etc., which keep you stuck in a distressing emotional state.
Counselling Can Help!
Counselling provides you with a safe and neutral environment in which to explore these issues. Clients have often expressed concern about "burdening" their friends or family with their worries so counselling provides you with a place to do that without the worry. My role as a therapist is to assist you in attaining the goals you set out for yourself in your life. For example, how to recover from a divorce or the loss of a loved one. How to develop clearer communication with your partner or reduce your feelings of anger and impatience with your children or your employer. For more information about counselling, check out my section on "What to Expect" and the section in Articles on "Counselling Information."
There are, of course, different levels of readiness for change and if taking the step to reach out to a therapist for support still feels a bit too daunting, then consider doing some research or some reading into areas you are struggling with. You can access articles on this website which address a variety of topics and you can also link to my Facebook page which provides additional information. By doing some personal exploration, you might find some support and relief.
No matter which course you decide to follow, I wish you health and happiness in your journey toward healing and self-discovery.
Please take time to browse through some of the articles on the website. These are designed to bring awareness to certain difficulties people might be experiencing as well as offering strategies to manage them. I will also provide links to other sites which might be able to offer additional support. Remember - you don't have to be alone with in your struggle for positive mental or physical health.
Heartbreak and the Loss of Identity
Many clients come to counselling after experiencing a crisis of some kind - frequently it is a loss - the loss of a loved one through death, divorce, relationship break down, or the loss of a job, etc.
Accompanying this life change is often the loss of one's identity. I have heard many clients say after a relationship breakup, "I just don't know who I am anymore."
This is often because the change not only impacts you directly but also many other areas of your life such as your finances, your family, your social life and so on.
Break ups not only divide partners but might also divide up friends - your social circle might change dramatically and unexpectedly thereby generating further losses.
The attached article provides some healthy tips on how to manage your emotional reaction to a breakup and how to regain your identity. Remember - your identity is about far more than who you are with or what your job is!
I often read books or articles or watch videos which help me support my clients in whatever struggles they might be experiencing. While I don’t often provide couples counselling, I regularly explore relationship issues with each of my clients.
Marriage (or any long term relationship with a partner or friend) has its ups and downs. Sometimes we grow and change at different rates or in different ways. It is not always easy to adapt or know how to respond to these changes in a positive and loving way. Couples and friends can grow apart, feel misunderstood or invalidated.
An intern I was working with recently recommended a book to me entitled, “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This is a fast and easy read. The message is surprisingly simple yet captures the dynamics within relationships in an amazing way. It discusses the ways in which each of us seek love from another person. Unfortunately we might not be able to clearly articulate these needs or even recognize them within ourselves. Similarly, our partners might not know to adequately meet our needs.
Gary Chapman clearly delineates the 5 Love Languages and offers ideas to help couples identify their own love language. Once these are identified he provides a number of simple and effective strategies to help us meet the needs of our partners.
This book is inexpensive but worth every penny. With over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, it is obvious how helpful this book can be in rejuvenating a stale relationship. There is an tool on his website which allows you to find out what your love language is. There is also a book for understanding the love languages of your children. So consider purchasing this book - you might be surprised by the results.
Are you anxious in social situations? Do you worry all the time about what others think about you?
The reality is that everyone experiences anxiety at some time in their life. Anxiety is a very normal human experience and in fact, we NEED anxiety in order to keep us safe from harm. An anxiety response to a potentially dangerous situation helps our body to prepare for the fight or flight response. It enables us to protect ourselves through physical action or running away.
However, the problem is often that our brain begins to view many things as potential dangers when in reality there is no real risk of harm. Our brain can become over active in it’s anxiety responses and therefore activates our bodies into a flight/fight response when it is unnecessary.
We can generally tolerate the anxiety we experience when we are going for a job interview or meeting someone for the first time, starting a new career, etc. Anxiety only becomes a problem if it begins to hinder you in actively engaging in normal life activities (i.e. unable to shop, go to work/school, isolating yourself, etc.).
Social anxiety can cause us to feel too nervous to meet new people or stops us from engaging in activities such as spending time with friends, avoiding work/presentations and so on. There is a great site which can help you address social anxiety concerns. It was developed by a social worker who experienced anxiety and shyness and wanted to find ways to help himself. Check it out for a variety of helpful tips, stories and strategies to combat your social anxiety.
For more information on anxiety disorders in general you can also check out this site:
Anxiety can feel extremely overwhelming but the good news is that it is treatable. With counselling and practice, you can manage all of your anxious symptoms. The first step is to conquer your fear of reaching out for help.