My passion and life’s work is empowering people to feel connection and safety in their relationships.
Common Issues Brought to Counselling:
Difficulties in finding or sustaining healthy, intimate relationships
Generally agitated and/or anxious, overwhelmed, depressed and/or stressed
Hurtful expressions of anger
Internal critical voice, shame, and insecurities
Feeling easily offended
Struggle to stand up for oneself
Feeling overwhelmed in life transitions such as break-up, changing jobs, etc
Family of origin issues
Enduring sense of loneliness and social isolation
Grieving the loss of a loved one
Experiencing discrimination, microaggressions, racism
My role as your counsellor is to support you to feel empowered in your life and in your mental well-being. I will respect your values, choices, lifestyle, and pace. I will also encourage and support you in making choices and changes that feel right for you. I work through a feminist, intersectional, and anti-oppressive lens which means I keep the structural and societal influences such as systemic racism, patriarchy, individualism, and capitalism, gender role, etc at the forefront. I am also aware that my position or intersectionality gives me privilege that can be very different from someone with different positions or intersectionality.
A common misunderstanding is that the word trauma refers ONLY to abuse or a single incident that threatens a person's life or safety, or the lives of people around them such as a car accident or a natural disaster. This is a limited view as trauma can get lodged in our nervous system in many ways.
This term refers to the negative or harmful experiences and/or emotional unmet needs one experiences in their family as a child and youth. This can include abuse or neglect but also other maybe less pronounced negative experiences can lead us to react to certain triggers when we are adults as if we are still in the same environment we grew up in. This is what trauma does. For instance, maybe as a child, one shut down when yelled at by an angry parent. The impact of that may be that as an adult one still has the same reaction of shutting down when their spouse yells at them even though as an adult it is necessary to set a boundary by asking a spouse to stop or one can remove themselves from the situation. That’s why trauma can make having healthy relationships with others or with ourselves difficult.
Collective and/or Cultural Trauma
In a sense, we are universally exposed to trauma. A socio-political lens helps us to focus on collective trauma and not just focus on individual adverse childhood experiences. It looks at wounds carried in our bodies and psyches from: colonialism, patriarchy, ancestral wounding, environmental degradation, forced migration, racism, genocide.
“Let us find a way to belong to this time and place together. Our future, and the well-being of all our children, rests with the kind of relationships we build today”
HEALING APPROACH - INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS
My main approach is Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy which attests that our system can heal itself. I can help you to work with your own internal system to safely process trauma and achieve integration so that reactivity and negative beliefs can transform to healthy and adaptive ways of being.
Self and Self Energy
Beneath the wounding is our Essence or Self Energy. This is the part of ourselves that trauma could never put a dent on. When we are in Self Energy we experience: compassion, creativity, curiosity, clarity, calm, courage, connectedness, and confidence. Self Energy is the key to moving towards healing our trauma.
Protector and Exiled Parts
Protector Parts are the behaviors, feelings, and reactions we have when we are triggered and their purpose is to protect us from feeling the more vulnerable feelings that are connected to hurtful experiences when we were young. An example of a Protector Part is being defensive when receiving feedback from others. That Part prevents us from going down a shame spiral, one that we most likely experienced when we were growing up. The Protector Part’s intention is good, however it has a detrimental impact on our current day relationships. The healing process starts with the Self befriending Parts. Parts often just want appreciation and acknowledgement of just how hard they worked to protect us throughout childhood. Usually, they are quite relieved to find out they no longer have to do this same job and want to move on to a healthy role in our psyche or system.
An Exile is the wounded and often very young child version of ourselves. They are the ones who experienced the trauma and felt the unbearable feelings such as fear, hurt, loneliness, etc. They also internalised negative core beliefs such as not being loveable or not being good enough. Protector Parts work hard so as adults we do not blend or experience the beliefs and feelings of our Exiles. Consequently, Exiles get buried deep within our system.
Once our Protector Parts feel understood and are befriended, they often stand back so that in Self Energy, you can connect with the Exile, be the compassionate witness, and show understanding for what the Exile experienced. Once this is complete, the Exile can let go of the extreme feelings and negative beliefs. That's when Protective Parts can move towards new, healthy ways of being in our system.
Increased self-esteem and self-awareness
Valuable and meaningful relationships
Direct and relational communication skills
Asserting healthy boundaries and respecting others’ boundaries
Healthy coping strategies to deal with life stressors
Self-regulation meaning you can manage feelings and emotions that once were overwhelming
More on Trauma
The Trauma Foundation - Trauma and the Nervous System: A Polyvagal Perspective
Ted Talk - How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Life Time by Nadine Burke Harris
More on IFS
Art by Mira Baldwin