I work from the belief that each individual has the ability to grow, heal and change. Growth occurs when a safe and supportive environment is created in which to experiment with new awarenesses. By paying attention to one’s experience, be it feelings, thoughts or sensations, one can learn more about the self and change unhelpful patterns. Counselling can help by offering a non-judgemental and safe place in which to explore these possibilities and increase resilience to life’s challenges.
I like to use a psychoeducational as well as a therapeutic approach to give people information about their body’s physiology and natural responses to trauma and stress. With this knowledge we can work together to explore issues such as anxiety, pain, and difficulty with relationships.
We heal and grow from being in healthy relationship with ourselves and others. The safety of a counselling relationship can provide a way to work through problems, transform trauma, make meaning of experiences, express feelings, and develop as a person. Through slowing down and paying attention to here-and-now experience, counselling can support people to learn the skills to understand and nurture the self. Inherent in healing is the potential to reach a deeper relationship with the self and with a larger sense of life energy outside the individual.
My approach is one that treats each individual as whole and possessing many strengths and resources. I offer my knowledge, skills, and humour as we explore together what needs attention in your life. This may mean becoming aware of physical, spiritual, cognitive or emotional needs and experiences. It may mean practicing new ways of managing change and living more effectively. You may wish to seek counselling in order to work on small changes as well as large ones.
A particular area of interest for me is working with trauma healing. This includes shock trauma, or problems arising from specific injuries/life events, and developmental trauma, or problems from early life experiences. What does trauma look and feel like? An individual may experience symptoms such as:
- hyperarousal, or becoming over-alert to potential or perceived danger
- mood swings
- being easily overwhelmed
- difficulty sleeping
- difficulty with relationships
- feeling worthless
- chronic pain and other syndromes
- dissociation, or feeling disconnected from one’s body and environment
- a feeling that things just don’t make sense
NeuroAffective Relational Model
My work is deeply informed by the NeuroAffective Relational Model of working with developmental trauma. This is an exploratory approach that pays attention to the cognitive, emotional, and physical parts of a person’s experience. https://narmtraining.com/what-is-narm/
NARM is an elegant and clear model for exploring adaptations to early environmental failure. The focus is not so much on what happened in the past, but the processes that keep one stuck in the present and that can be changed. NARM addresses the adaptations in identity that occur in response to early trauma, and the ways that these affect the body and the person as a whole. NARM holds as core principles non-judgement, curiosity, and heartfelt presence.
Somatic Experiencing is a gentle and profound way of healing trauma. It assumes that each person has powerful resources and the innate ability and drive to heal. Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, this naturalistic approach focuses on bodily sensations and experiences in order to resolve the unfinished business of trauma. Trauma is seen as a disorder of the nervous system: the body has learned patterns of coping with enormous stress that are not necessarily helpful in the long run.
Somatic Experiencing helps the nervous system to begin to self-regulate, or find its own pace of arousal and relaxation, through tracking one’s physiological experience. This tracking of internal states allows uncompleted responses to threat to be completed and released from the body. This enables an individual’s life energy and sense of well being to be experienced in a safe and contained way.
Somatic Experiencing Practitioners have completed a three year training program that is based on working directly with the physiology of trauma. Extensive practice and consultation is paired with classroom learning and considerable reading in the area of trauma treatment. For more information about Somatic Experiencing and the work of Dr. Peter Levine, click here.